The PAC-12 conference, as we know it, will cease to exist at the end of this season, but for now, it is one of the most entertaining conferences in the country. Two teams that have created a lot of buzz for the conference this season are the Oregon State Beavers and Washington State Cougars. Both sides enter this weekend undefeated and ranked within the Top-25, which sets up an exciting matchup on Saturday in Pullman.
After scoring 40+ points in their first two games of the season, the Oregon State Beavers were slowed down by San Diego State in their week three matchup. While the Beavers still came away with a 26-9 victory, it was the first time we saw transfer quarterback DJ Uiagalelei struggle this season. The former Clemson signal-caller finished the game with a 46.7% completion percentage while throwing for one touchdown and two interceptions.
While their passing offense didn’t look as sharp as most Oregon State fans would hope heading into conference play, the Beavers rushing attack remained impressive against the Aztecs. In 32 attempts, the Beavers racked up 191 rush yards, with 102 coming from Damien Martinez. Through three games, the Beavers now have an EPA per rush play that ranks 7th in the country, so they will need to continue their dominance on the ground and the defensive end to pull off the road win this weekend.
There is no denying Oregon State did not have the most daunting non-conference schedule, but regardless, they still enter this weekend ranked 26th in yards allowed per game. According to CFB Graphs, the Beavers also rank 9th in defensive EPA per pass play, which sets up a very intriguing matchup with Cameron Ward and the Cougars offense. Through their first three games, Washington State is averaging 444 yards per game and has an offensive success rate that is 7th in the country.
Unlike Oregon State, the Cougars want their quarterback dropping back to pass often, which is clear when you see their 29th in pass play percentage. The real question for the Cougars this weekend is, can their defense limit another power five offense like they did Wisconsin in week two.
Washington State is currently listed as (+3) point home underdogs, and I’ll be backing them for my play. Since 2021, the Cougars are 5-2 ATS as home dogs, while the Beavers are 2-4 ATS as road favorites and 5-7 ATS in all road games. I thought week three showed that DJ Uiagelelei is still an inconsistent passer against strong defenses, much like we saw at Clemson, but relying entirely on the run game this weekend might not work for the Beavers.
Oregon State is 25th in average rushing yards per game, but now they face a Cougars defense that is 18th in EPA per play on rush plays and 14th in defensive success rate against the run. Washington State has already faced a team with a solid rushing attack in Wisconsin, and they held them to 90 rushing yards on 29 attempts.
As I mentioned, Wazzu wants to throw the ball around the yard, and they’ve succeeded in doing so behind Cam Ward. The Cougars' offensive success rate on offense of 42.4% ranks 4th in the country, and while the Beavers’ defense is 9th in EPA per pass play, they have yet to face a passing offense like the Cougars. Behind their home crowd, I think the Cougars offense can continue to play mistake-free football and put themselves in a position to win this game.
Washington State (+3)