Week 5 Game Matchup: Washington State Cougars VS. Oregon Ducks

By Dave Consolazio and Sam Saig, October 2, 2009 12:35 pm

Washington State Cougars (1-3) vs. Oregon Ducks (3-1)
Saturday, October 3, 6:15 PM PST
Las Vegas Favorite: Oregon -33.0

Sam’s Take (22 – 10):

I was actually quite impressed with WSU’s performance in the Coliseum last week, and Paul Wulff’s team really does appear to be making progress. Unfortunately for the Cougars, Oregon has also been making progress, as the Ducks have finally found their offensive identity. Jeremiah Masoli looked outstanding against Cal, and we finally saw the re-emergence of All-American TE Ed Dickson.

Not surprisingly, I believe the Ducks will be too much for an overmatched Wazzu team, but I do believe the Cougs can make some positive strides in this game. I am really looking forward to watching promising freshman QB Jeff Tuel, as he makes his first career start. Autzen probably won’t be kind to the rookie, but Tuel was very impressive against USC, and the experience he gains from playing in some of the best venues in the conference (Coliseum, Autzen) will be invaluable down the line.

For Oregon, the goal of this game is to stay sharp on offense, and avoid serious injuries at all cost (the Walter Thurmond III injury was bad enough). I expect Masoli to keep gaining confidence along with the rest of the offense, and the defense should pick up where they left off last week assuming they are motivated.

All signs point towards a comfortable win for the Ducks, but Tuel’s performance is also worth watching if you are a Wazzu fan.

Prediction: Oregon 42 – Washington State 14

Washington State Player to Keep an Eye On: WR Gino Simone - Simone was excellent against USC (8 catches, 83 yards), and it is easy to see why the folks in Pullman are excited about his future.

Oregon Player to Keep an Eye On: DE Kenny Rowe - Rowe was one of the biggest reasons why Oregon was able to manhandle the Cal offense. He is a very exciting pass rusher with a hybrid skill set that allows him to play LB too.

Dave’s Take (25 – 7):

It will be interesting to see how Chip Kelly and the Ducks approach this game. Regardless of the fact that Washington State has clearly made some strides in the right direction, this is a game that the Ducks aren’t in any real danger of losing. So do the Ducks treat this game like any other Saturday, or do they play it safe?

I think the natural instinct will be to play it safe. With Walter Thurmond III lost for the season, the last thing the Ducks need is another catastrophic injury on either side of the ball, especially in a game that is well in hand.

That said, I don’t think taking the safe route is the right way to approach this game, at least not on offense anyway. Jeremiah Masoli’s complete 180 was a welcome surprise for Ducks fans, and obviously the hope is that he is now back at the level we all thought he’d be at coming into the season. But are we that sure that Masoli’s struggles are completely in the past? In my opinion, Oregon should treat this game like any other, and run the offense accordingly; let Masoli and the offense head into the UCLA game with confidence in themselves instead of question marks. And I get the feeling this is the direction they will take.

For Washington State, the focus should be exactly what it has been all season; play all 60 minutes regardless of what’s on the scoreboard. Paul Wulff’s unit has been a great second half team so far this season, a positive sign of the team’s attitude and conditioning.

Prediction: Oregon 49 – Washington State 9

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