October 29th, 2016 Washington State will be making its bi-annual stop at Reser Stadium for a battle against Oregon State. Last year when these two teams squared off there wasn’t much defense played, especially from the Beavers’ side as the Cougars went on to win 52-31. The score is a lot closer than the actual game was, which was very bad. The Beavers trailed 38-10 at one point before Washington State put in the backups allowing OSU a few more scores.
While this is a new year, it is almost the same matchup. The only huge difference is that Oregon State’s offense will look better than it did last season, barring any injuries. Washington State was a very young team last year and expectations were low once they lost to Portland State at the beginning of the season. But they established themselves at the top-half of the Pac-12 by the end of the season finishing with a final record of 9-4. Starting quarterback Luke Falk threw for 4561 yards and 38 touchdowns last season as the air-raid offense in Pullman, Washington shined bright again. Even when they weren’t winning a lot of games in years prior their offense has usually been a threat since Mike Leach took over. They do still possess a weakness though and that is their defense.
The reason they were able to win 9 games last season was because their offense was good enough to outscore most of the teams that they played against. They still gave up 416 yards of offense per game to opponents, winning games by scores of 45-38 over Oregon in overtime in which the Ducks still had 533 yards of offense, 45-42 over Arizona, giving up 483 yards of offense, and 37-34 over Rutgers, where they gave up 402 yards of offense. That seems to be the Cougar strategy, trying to outscore the team rather than stopping them. Sadly, last year the Beavers did not have a consistent threat in the backfield that could air it out. Darell Garettson has the potential to be that guy this year and if both offenses are clicking the Beavers could get into a shoot out with the Cougars. However if it is anything like last year, the Cougars are going to have their way against the Beavers again. The Beavers defense is going to need to step up BIG if they want to win this game.
It is nice that the Beavers get to play the Cougars in Corvallis this season, but this game comes after two tough games against Utah and Washington. Oregon State shouldn’t get handled like they did last year, but with Oregon State’s defense still working to improve this season, and Washington State’s offense having another year of experience the firepower may be a little too much. Look for the Beavers to keep it close through the first half and Washington State pull away for a 35-21 victory in the end.