Choice: Why Washington State will beat California?Washington State University

Oct. 1 – Pullman – This past weekend, Washington State defeated the Pac-12 heavyweight in 5 minutes. The Cougars crumbled in crunch time, and Oregon bounced back with a two-point comeback in the closing minutes of the game.

WSU failed to achieve national recognition. There is no doubt that this loss is distressing. But this defeat doesn’t signal a downward trajectory for the Cougars. We believe a 44-41 gap at Gesa Field will power WSU.

“We’re losing for a reason, and I think that gives us an edge and gives us the hunger we need to get through these kinds of games early in the season,” receiver Lincoln Victor said.

The Cougars (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) will learn from the wake-up call early in the season. They learned more about their flaws while proving to themselves and a wider audience that WSU was capable of making noise in the Pac-12.

If the Cougars make up for those shortcomings this week — even if slight — they should have the upper hand against a California team that doesn’t have as many matchup issues as the 13th-ranked Ducks.

Saturday’s game at Gesa Field could see a rebound on WSU’s sturdy defensive line that doesn’t give much of a boost to Oregon’s fast-paced offense and elite O-line. The Golden Bears (3-1, 1-0) have a rhythm of true freshman running back Jayton Otter, but their offensive line has cracked early in the season.

“Those offensive forwards kind of banded together and started to find their pace,” said WSU edge rusher Brennan Jackson. “So, it’s going to be a very important game for us to get us back together.”

Oregon State took advantage of its inexperience in middle school to take apart WSU’s deep passing coverage. Carl’s air strikes were far less explosive. And the Cougars could return to veteran strong safety Jordan Lee, who has missed the past two games with injury.

The Cougars’ passing game seems to have found a rhythm. Quarterback Cameron Ward played three quarters last weekend. We’re giving WSU the advantage of improving airstrikes against a California middle school that gave up a 400-yard pass in last week’s win over Arizona.

Buoyed by the returning crowd at Geza Field, the WSU offense took the advantage early, defensively rebounding, and back and forth to keep the lead throughout the second half. The Bears, who got off to a good start this year, aren’t going to lose without a fight. Expect a few odd moments, a typical WSU/Cal matchup.

Pick: Washington State 31, California 23

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