It’s Washington State’s turn to attempt to completely upend the national championship race by upsetting the No. 2 Ducks of Oregon.
To most everybody outside of the city of Pullman, WA where the students and staff of WSU reside, this task has already been labeled as a suicide mission. Odds-makers calculate the Cougs as 38.5 point roadkill. Playing into that equation is a deceiving 52-24 “blowout” loss to Oregon State late last Saturday, after the Ducks had pretty much wiped their web-feet on the Huskies on their way through Seattle.
People that saw both those games automatically wrote Wazzu off. Perhaps it was justified, but Oregon coach Mark Helfrich isn’t so quick to dismiss the Cougs. “Their defensive line is outstanding. As a group, they’re playing as well as anybody. I think Joe Salave’a does a great job coaching those guys and intimidating the other coaches”.
The Cougars are definitely bigger and better than they’ve been in a long time, but will it be enough to even hope to challenge Oregon on Saturday? Every coach challenges their team to step up and not underestimate their opponent of the week, but how much do they really believe what they’re preaching?
For Helfrich, it seems he’s putting credence into more than just lip-service this week. “They’re playing a ton better than their numbers show up. Watch their film, look at their body types, look at how they play, they’ll wake you up in a hurry.”
We’ll see just how asleep the Ducks are on Saturday, it sure seems on the surface like a game they should be able to sleep through. But this is the Pac-12 and we all saw what happened to Stanford less than a week ago.