Two teams, both alike in dignity—two teams traveling in similar directions.
After another heartbreaking loss last week, Oregon State has fallen to 2-3 (1-1 Pac-10) on the season. Luckily two of their losses have been to undefeated teams out of conference, one to a very powerful Penn State team and the other to the solid Utah Utes.
Washington State comes off a 28-3 loss at the hands of the UCLA Bruins. The Cougars, after losing QBs Kevin Lopina and Gary Rogers, have turned to Marshall Lobbestael to lead them through the rest of the season.
Though they are 1-5 (0-3 Pac-10) on the season, the Cougars are looking for another win against a solid opponent. Coach Wulff has the team playing hard, and it was evident after they played solid for much of the game last week against UCLA.
Washington State heads into ever-dangerous Reser Stadium in Corvallis to take on the Oregon State Beavers.
Oregon State Offense
Lyle Moevao has become one of the most efficient passers not only in the Pac-10, but in the nation as well. Bleacher Report's own Lew Wright has compared him to former California QB Joe Kapp. On the season, Moevao is 118-188 for 1,402 yards, 10 TDs, and four INTs.
While short in stature (5'11"), Moevao makes up for his height with a strong, accurate arm. He has plenty of talent to spread the ball around to, including All-American Sammie Stroughter, possession receiver Shane Morales, and the fabulous Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz and James.
Jacquizz has become a freshman sensation, rushing for 550 yards and seven TDs so far this season. While Morales is Moevao's favorite receiver of late, James Rodgers is a speedy slot option that is always poised to strike. Sammie Stroughter, bothered by injury of late, is always clutch.
Washington State Offense
Marshal Lobbestael has played solidly since taking over for the Cougars. He is keen to turn the ball over but has a very talented receiver in All Pac-10 performer Brandon Gibson. On the season, Lobbestael is 46-86 for 492 Yards, four TDs, and four INTs.
On the ground, the Cougars' rushing attack is led by Dwight Tardy (83 carries, 300 yards), but behind him five Cougars have run for over 100 yards. A consistent running game would complement Lobbestael well and cause less pressure on him. This would also help sustain Washington State drives as well.
As mentioned before, senior Brandon Gibson is the leading receiver for the Cougars. Gibson could have left last year to play in the NFL, but returning for another year really showed the character of this kid. He leads the team with 36 receptions for 460 yards and two TDs on the season.
Oregon State Defense
The Beavers come into the game ranked 40th in the nation in total defense. They are 71st against the run, a far cry from the Beavers of '07, who were ranked in the top 10 most of the season.
The defensive line has shown itself to be a strength this season, with DEs Slade Norris and Victor Butler strong on the pass-rush, and the run-stuffing abilities of the DTs inside. Senior safeties Greg Laybourn and Al Afalava have been strong at times but have also given up the big play.
Consistent play from the linebacking corps and the secondary will only strengthen this defense, which seems to have an identity crisis at times.
Washington State Defense
The Cougars come in ranked 100th in the nation in total defense. This is quite evident by the drubbings they have received against California (66-3) and Oregon (63-14). Still, the Cougars have proved that they play strong against opponents. In the UCLA game they stacked the box and managed to slow down the UCLA rushing attack very well.
The secondary has collected only three interceptions on the year, and the defensive line has only managed to sack opponents six times in six games. If the Cougars can get pressure on Moevao and/or contain the elusive Jacquizz Rodgers, then they may have a chance.
Overall, Oregon State has been terrible on the special teams side of the ball. Sammie Stroughter hasn't been returning because of injuries, the kickers/punters have been terribly inconsistent, and overall play has just been sloppy.
Nico Graso has been solid for Washington State, going 5-7 on field goals. Punter Reid Forrest averages 40.0 yards per kick, and overall Washington State has been average on special teams. That will be their advantage if Oregon State plays sloppily on special teams as they have been.
Oregon State 30, Washington State 10