What to Watch: Oregon Ducks vs. No. 11 Washington State Cougars
No. 11 Washington State (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) at Oregon (4-1, 1-1), Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (FOX)
Line: Washington State by 1½.
Series record: Oregon leads 47-40-7.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Washington State, enjoying its highest ranking since 2003, takes its first road trip of the season to visit Oregon. The Ducks were struck by injuries in last weekend’s 45-24 victory over California. Quarterback Justin Herbert left with a broken collarbone, and then backup Taylor Alie left in the fourth quarter. Alie and freshman Braxton Burmeister competed this week for the starting nod. The Cougars are coming off last Friday night’s memorable 30-27 victory over then-No. 5 USC.
Washington State QB Luke Falk against Oregon’s improved defense. Falk threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in the win over the Trojans. This season the senior has thrown for 16 TDs with just two interceptions. He’ll test Oregon’s defense, which is seeing improvement this season under new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt. The Ducks’ D was ranked 128th in the nation last year, but they’re now ranked 30th, allowing opponents 332.2 yards a game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Washington State: As his Heisman stock rises, the Cougars’ player to watch from here on out will be Falk, who is ranked fifth nationally with 1,178 passing yards this season, an average of 343.6 per game (sixth nationally).
Oregon: Alie or Burmeister. Last week against Cal, Oregon’s beat-up running back corps (minus injured senior Royce Freeman) took over. Oregon threw for 131 yards in the game, and just 41 in the second half.
FACTS & FIGURES
Freeman practiced this week so it’s likely he’ll play against the Cougars. The senior back leads the nation with 10 rushing touchdowns this season. He needs just one more score to set a new Oregon career record. .. While Oregon leads the overall series, Washington State has won the last two. ... The Cougars have opened the season 5-0 for the first time since 2001. ... Washington State LB Jahad Woods was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the week, while kicker Erik Powell won the honor for special teams.