No. 2 Oregon Ducks (3-0 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Washington State Cougars (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date and Time: Saturday, September 20th, 2014. 10:30PM EST
Where: Martin Stadium Pullman, W.A.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ORE -24/WSU +24
Over/Under Total: 75
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After a rough 0-2 start, Mike Leachs Washington State Cougars finally got in the win column last week with a 59-21 confidence boost against Portland State out of the FCS. Leach and his coaching staff have been receiving some scrutiny throughout the last few weeks after two disappointing losses to start the season in games the Cougars were actually favored to win. This week the spotlight will be on the coaching staff and the entire Cougars program yet again when the no. 2 Oregon Ducks roll into town for a late primetime showdown on ESPN.
While Washington State has been having tons of problems, Oregon rolls into Pullman appearing to be in mid-season form. The Ducks blew out the likes of South Dakota and Wyoming. However the game that thoroughly impressed most fans around the nation was the Ducks 46-27 victory over Michigan State in week 2. In that game, the Ducks trailed 27-18 early in the 3rd quarter against a stout Spartans defense. However, Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota proved why he is among the favorites for the Heisman Trophy by leading a blazing comeback where the Ducks scored 28 unanswered points to end the game. Mariota tossed 3 touchdowns and passed for more than 300 yards against the Spartans defense.
So far this season Mariota has been flawless and his Heisman Trophy stock is on the rise. Through the first 3 games, Mariota has completed 70.4% passing for 806 yards and 8 touchdowns. The junior quarterback has also rushed for 156 yards and 3 additional touchdowns to compliment the strong passing numbers. Pretty impressive for a guy that has been relieved in the 4th quarter in 2 out of 3 games this season because the score was well out of hand. This week Mariota leads the Ducks high powered offense, that is averaging 52 points per game (5th in FBS), on their first road trip of the season against a Washington State defense that is having all types of troubles keeping opponents off the scoreboard.
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The Cougars defense has given up nearly 30 points on average through their first 3 games this year and currently ranks 89th in scoring defense. A very mediocre Rutgers team was able to hang 41 points on the Cougars defense in the opener which resulted in a 41-38 loss then gave up 24 points against a rather bad Nevada offense a week later which also resulted in a loss. Of course all the blame cannot solely lie on the defense. The Cougars offense has committed several turnovers this season which has put the defense on the short side of the field. Still either way you look at it, the defense is going to have their hands full when Oregons explosive offense comes into town this Saturday.
Fortunately for Washington State fans, there is some good news to consider. Mike Leach, the master of the spread fun and gun, has the Cougars offense moving the football very well. In fact, the Cougars lead the nation in passing offense averaging 517 yards per game through the air. Quarterback Connor Halliday also leads the country with 1,465 passing yards which has resulted in 12 touchdowns. The Cougars offense ranks dead last in rushing but that is for the simple fact that they do not run the football. Leachs offenses have always been all about the pass which is exactly the case this year. Outside of Halliday, wide receiver Isiah Myers has become the go to target for this pass happy offense. Myers has hauled in 26 catches for 423 yards and 5 touchdowns already this year. If Halliday can limit the turnovers and the Cougars can get just a little help from their defense, perhaps Washington States offense alone has the firepower to keep this game in reach.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The best play for this game is the over 75. I can easily see Oregon hanging a big number and believe Washington State will put up their share as well. In the last 6 games between Washington State and Oregon, the over has hit in 5 of those 6 games. Take the over 75 again this Saturday!