David Saez

Prep Football Rally: Sheldon Overcomes Flat Start to Win, Advance in 6A Playoffs

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The Sheldon High football machine sputtered in the first half of its Class 6A first-round game against Lincoln on Friday night, but the Irish rediscovered their dominant ways with a 28-point third quarter to dispose of Lincoln, 56-28. The No. 4 seed in the 32-team 6A playoff tournament, Sheldon (8-2) remains on track to defend its state championship and will play host to 13th-seeded Tualatin (7-3) next Friday in the second round.

Sheldon's Yadie Dunmore finished with 107 yards rushing and three TDs against Lincoln on Friday.
Sheldon’s Yadie Dunmore finished with 107 yards rushing and three TDs against Lincoln on Friday. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

“We were flat as a pancake,” Sheldon coach Lane Johnson said. “If our kids don’t learn from this, we won’t be playing for much longer. There was no enthusiasm, no run to the ball, and I have to tip my hat to Lincoln because they played hard.”

The Cardinals (2-8) entered the game as the 29th seed, so Sheldon was favored to win the game. Yet in the first two quarters of play, Lincoln kept pace with Sheldon, entering halftime tied 21-21. Lincoln never trailed in the first half and scored on two big touchdown passes, one for 57 yards and another for 63, and on a short 2-yard run after a 55-yard drive. At halftime, Lincoln quarterback Quentin Lake had completed 12-of-17 passes for 232 yards and two TD passes, while receiver Nate Ostmo had six receptions for 119 yards and a TD.

After each Lincoln score, though, Sheldon replied with TDs of its own, never allowing the Cardinals a chance to extend their lead. The Irish scored on two TD passes by quarterback Joseph Kuehn and a Yadie Dunmore 4-yard run. While they scored on all but two of their possessions in the first half, the Irish needed something to change if it was to overtake the game.

Sheldon found its answer on the first play of the second half after it received the opening kickoff. The Irish received excellent field position after an unsportsmanlike penality by Lincoln put Sheldon on the Cardinal 41-yard line. That mistake was only compounded when Lincoln played only 10 players on the first play from scrimmage. Dunmore took the hand-off and scored on a 41-yard run.

“We went in at half time and got together as a team, and then we came back strong,” Kuehn said. “(Dunmore’s run) was good for our confidence. More importantly, though, was that we got a quick stop on defense after that.”

The Irish followed Dunmore’s opening TD run of the second half with three more scores: a 2-yard TD run by Dumore, a 35-yard TD pass from Kuehn to Mitchell Herbert after Sheldon recovered a Lincoln fumble, and a 49-yard punt return by Kellen Strahm.

Kuehn completed 13-of-19 passes for 185 yards, four TDs and one interception. Herbert caught eight passes for 70 yards and two TDS, while Strahm added three receptions for 69 yards and a TD reception. Peter Wood caught two passes, including one TD for Sheldon.

Irish quarterback Joseph Kuehn threw four TD passes in the win Friday against Lincoln. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)
Irish quarterback Joseph Kuehn threw four TD passes in the win Friday against Lincoln. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

“Our kids are capable when they’re dialed in,” said Johnson, Sheldon’s coach. “We played exactly the same defense in the second half. The difference was that we weren’t dialed in to play.”

As well as the offense played, Sheldon’s defense also turned a corner in the second half. The Irish allowed just one Lincoln score in the second half and prevented the Cardinals from running the ball effectively. Lincoln finished the game with 20 total rushing yards on 29 carries. The inability to run the football was the biggest surprise to Lincoln coach Adam Grimes.

“We couldn’t get anything going,” Grimes said. “The second half came down to a five-minute span where they score, we go three and out, they score again, and all of a sudden they’re up two (touchdowns) on us. That changed our plan. They did a great job of grinding it out…When you’re playing the defending state champion, you have to play perfect, and we didn’t play perfect.”

Lincoln’s top two receivers, Ostmo and Jaray Kindell, each caught nine passes and each had 153 yards. While Ostmo finished with two TD catches, Kindell had one.

One notable streak for Sheldon was extended with Friday’s win. The Irish have now won 14-consecutive, first-round playoff games. The last first-round loss the Irish suffered came in 1999. Looking ahead to Friday’s game, Sheldon has a streak of seven-straight wins in the second-round of the playoffs.

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Prep Football Rally: Springfield Millers Overcome Churchill, 27-10

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Word was it would be a blood-letting. With Churchill High doing both the bleeding and the letting against Class 5A football’s fourth-ranked Springfield. At least this was one sentiment cast within earshot of the public address announcer’s table at Churchill’s Halverson Field prior to the Midwestern League game. But through three quarters on Friday night, the Churchill Lancers neglected any unbelievers and quarantined a Millers’ offense to just 13 points while scoring 10 of their own. The Lancers were taming an offense that had averaged 51 points a game in its last three games. The problem was that Springfield’s defense proved more stubborn, and the Miller’s offensive weapons found their footing to score two fourth quarter touchdowns, closing out the regular season with a 27-10 win. 

Churchill's defense put pressure on Springfield quarterback Trever Watson. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)
Churchill’s defense put pressure on Springfield quarterback Trever Watson. | image Gary Breedlove/EDN

“Both teams were getting after each other,” Springfield coach Dave Heuberger said. “Not fun to watch, but like (one of my player said) that’s a wrap…In the second half, we held onto the ball and were able to establish drives. In the first half it was hard to get a rhythm going.”

Leading the Springfield (7-2 overall, 6-1 MWL) cause was wide receiver Taylor Travess, who finished with 108 yards of total offense and three touchdowns (one receiving and two rushing). The senior also had an interception in the end zone with the Lancers (3-5, 3-3) on the 9-yard line with just 1:11 before halftime.

Following the interception with SpringfieId leading 13-3, the Millers drove the ball 79 yards to the Churchill 1-yard line. Then two seconds before halftime the Millers fumbled, and Churchill linebacker Mitch Hindrum took the ball 100 yards for the Lancers’ lone TD of the night. “It was time for us to make a stand,” Hindrum said. “We did and the ball popped out…I was in disbelief. I think we worked really hard this week. Sometimes this season we underachieved, but I think tonight we made a pretty good statement.”

The teams went into the halftime with Springfield ahead 13-10. The Millers had a total of 222 yards in that first half to Churchill’s 127, but the half-ending fumble return by Hindrum changed the game’s tone. “It put us right in the heart of the game. We just had a hard time sustaining anything,” Churchill coach Darrell Mehl said.

Churchill linebacker Mitch Hindrum returned a fumble recovery 100 yards for a touchdown. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)
Churchill linebacker Mitch Hindrum returned a fumble recovery 100 yards for a touchdown. | Gary Breedlove/EDN

Offensively, Churchill stumbled often and was only able to produce three points, a 32-yard field goal by kicker Giovanni Brigola in the second quarter. Springfield’s two scores in the first half were a 14-yard pass from quarterback Trever Watson to Travess and a 46-yard TD run by Watson. Springfield’s quarterback completed 13 of 24 passes for 135 yards a touchdown and ran 14 times for 87 yards.

Neither team scored in the third quarter. In fact the first five possessions of the second half ended in punts. The Millers finally broke through with a 17-play, 80 yard drive that ended when Travess ran it in from five yards. That put the score at 20-10. And on its second play of its following possession, Churchill fumbled it over to Springfield with 5:12 left in the game.

The Millers drove it 58 yards on eight plays and scored on a Travess 2-yard run. “Tonight we came out flat,” Travess said. “They came out with nothing to lose.

“Normally we’re a big-play team, but we didn’t click tonight…They fought. They had a little bit of life after the 100-yard fumble recovery and run, but we had the last punch.”

Springfield ends the season second in the Midwestern League standings behind Ashland (9-0, 6-0), and Churchill finished fourth in league play.

As one of the top eight teams, Springfield will have a week off before the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. Churchill is hoping to earn an opportunity to play into the playoffs in a game this coming Friday. Entering their game against Springfield, the Lancers were ranked No. 24. If that ranking stands, they will face the No. 9 team. More definitive post-season schedules will be known once the Oregon School Activities Association finalizes the rankings.

 

Prep Football Rally: Sheldon Rides Quick Start to 56-23 Win Over Colts

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They grinned. They laughed. And they posed for pictures. The 25 seniors on the Sheldon football team closed out their final regular season home game at Ludwig Stadium with a 56-23 bruising of Thurston on Friday night. Then, after Sheldon head coach Lane Johnson huddled all his players for a straight-faced, post-game chit-chat, one final bit of youthful fun was in order. So Sheldon junior receiver Kellen Strahm grabbed a white rose that had been given out after the game and he knelt on a knee before starting quarterback Joseph Kuehn, who played along and clutched the rose to his jersey. They laughed, and Strahm made for the locker room like an airplane with his arms stretched to his side weaving past teammates and fans. The hard work done on the field, it was time to enjoy it.

Sheldon running back Yadie Dunmore scored three TDs in the win against Thurston. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)
Sheldon running back Yadie Dunmore scored three TDs in the win against Thurston. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

“Our coaches tell us we have to earn it ourselves,” Kuehn said. “Each year is new, and each senior class is new. Our senior class has to develop its own legacy, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

It took no time for the Sheldon Irish to secure its claim to the Southwest Conference game against Thurston. The Irish  (6-2 overall, 5-1 in conference) struck fast on two plays after receiving the opening kickoff. A quick 45-yard pass from Kuehn to running back Yadie Dunmore put Sheldon 35-yards from a score. On the next play, Kuehn hit senior receiver Mitchell Herbert for the first score of the game.

“We executed as a team, and that’s what we’re looking to do from the start,” Kuehn said. “It was cool to get the ball first and score on two plays. We were just gaining confidence over time, and we could see they were starting to put their heads down.”

Kuehn completed 13 of 15 passes for 317 yards and threw four touchdown passes. Herbert caught three passes for 100 yards and two of the receptions went for scores. He also had an interception, which the Irish offense converted into an 8-play, 90-yard touchdown drive that ended with a Dunmore touchdown. That was the first of three touchdown runs for Dunmore, who was returning to the field after sitting out last week’s game because of concussion. The senior carried the ball six times for 110 yards, and he caught three passes for 59 yards.

“(Dunmore) didn’t practice in pads until (Thursday), so we didn’t know what we’d have with him,” said Johnson, the Sheldon coach. “The guys behind him did a great job in his place. He just gives us a big-play threat.”

“We knew we needed to be ready from the get go, and we were. And we took the wind out of (Thurston’s) sails early.”

The Colts (1-7, 1-6) used a trick play to score and cut the Irish lead to 14-7. Thurston’s scoring-play started with quarterback Brendin Quinn tossing a lateral pass to tight end Johnny Contreras. The junior then threw his own pass to wide receiver Carson Cook who caught it and ran to complete the 61-yard TD reception. “They got us with the double pass, but other than that, our kids did great,” Johnson said.

Thurston receiver Carson Cook caught two TD passes in the loss to Sheldon. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)
Thurston receiver Carson Cook caught two TD passes in the loss to Sheldon. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

Sheldon took no time to respond. On its next possession, the Irish gave the ball to Dunmore for an 80-yard TD run. That began a 35-0 run for the Irish. Sheldon finished with 557 yards of offense, 431 of which came in the first half. Irish receivers averaged 25 yards a reception and running backs averaged 7 yards a carry on the ground. Meanwhile, Thurston struggled early with two interceptions and allowed a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown by Sheldon’s Strahm. “We were physically outmatched,” Thurston coach Justin Starck said. “They have a tremendous program. They have a lot of resources that their kids take advantage of…Totally outmatched.”

In the second half, the Colts outscored Sheldon 16-0, but the first-half deficit was too much. Along with a 20-yard TD catch from Cook, Thurston received nine points from kicker Jay LaVesque’s three field-goals. The sophomore made kicks from 35, 28, and 39 yards.

The Irish are tied for second in the conference with Grants Pass (6-2, 5-1) and will head south to face the Cavemen in the final regular season game for each team. Both Sheldon and Grants Pass have lost to North Medford (7-1, 6-0).

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2013 Pac-12 Pick’em: Week Seven

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Pac-12 football is back and we at EDN Sports will do a weekly Pac-12 Pick’em. Each week we’ll give you our picks and track how we’ve done so far.

Season Pick’em Standings:

  • Alex Shoemaker: 40-6 (4-1 last week)
  • Corey Buchanan: 38-8 (2-3)
  • David Saez: 37-9 (3-2)
  • Franklin Bains: 37-9 (4-1)
  • Isaac Rosenthal: 37-9 (4-1)
  • Ryan Beltram: 37-9 (4-1)

Thursday 
Arizona (3-1, 0-1) at USC (3-2, 0-2) 7:30 p.m. Fox Sports 1 (Comcast 408)

The USC Trojans welcome in new head coach Ed Orgeron in a must-win game against Pac-12 South foe Arizona. With Lane Kiffin now slumming on the beaches of Southern California, what differences will there be with the Trojan offensive attack? The defensive guru Orgeron isn’t likely to implement anything completely foreign from Kiffin’s operation, but with a new play caller running the offense we might not see a screen pass on every play.

X-factor: Kadeem Carey vs USC Run Defense. The Wildcats struggle to throw the football. It’s pretty simple. Arizona ranks 121st in the country with just over 111 yards per game. However, on the ground they dominate with Carey and the running abilities of quarterback B.J. Denker. If the Wildcats are able to run the football and aren’t forced to go to the air, they’ll have a chance to pull off the upset.

Alex: USC  Isaac: Arizona   Corey: Arizona   Franklin: USC   DavidArizona   RyanArizona

Saturday

No. 2 Oregon (5-0, 2-0) at No. 16 Washington (4-1, 1-1) 1 p.m. Fox Sports 1 (Comcast 408)

Not only the game of the week in the Pac-12, but the border war between the Oregon Ducks is the best game for week seven in the entire country. These two rivals will square off Saturday afternoon in a game that could be crucial for the Pac-12 North race. Both ranked in the top-25, Washington has a legitimate chance to break the Ducks’ current nine-game winning streak in the rivalry. Check HERE for predictions by EDN’s experts.

X-factor: Oregon Offense vs. Washington Crowd. While the Ducks have road wins against Virginia and Colorado, neither opponent has posed nearly the challenge that Washington does this weekend. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota hasn’t faced a more hostile crowd in his collegiate career, and you can take it to the bank that Husky fans will be geared up for the game.

Alex: Oregon  Isaac: Oregon   Corey: Oregon   Franklin: Oregon   DavidOregon   RyanOregon

No. 5 Stanford (5-0, 3-0) at Utah (3-2, 0-2) 3 p.m. Pac-12 Network (Comcast 420)

Both of these teams are coming off of close games the week before. Stanford a a three-point win over the Huskies and Utah a tough loss at home to the UCLA Bruins. While the Cardinal are favored by double digits, road games after close wins can be very dangerous.

X-factor: Will Stanford have a letdown week? After a, physical, draining, nail-biter against the Washington Huskies last week how will the Stanford Cardinal come out and perform? Will the Cardinal be up for an inferior opponent and give a 100% effort? While coaches and players can regurgitate “Win the day” or whatever mantra they may choose to use, no one really knows if this team is recovered enough for another football game.

Alex: Stanford  Isaac: Stanford   Corey: Stanford   Franklin: Stanford   David: Stanford   RyanStanford

Colorado (2-2, 0-2) at Arizona State (3-2, 1-1) 7 p.m. Pac-12 Network (Comcast 420)

Offenses should take center stage as the Buffs take to the road once more after taking tough defeats the last two weeks against Oregon and Oregon State. The Sun Devils are going to be angry as well, dropping a tough late game to Notre Dame last week. ASU is among the conference’s best in scoring offense this fall, but nowhere to be found in the defenses — an odd spot for usually defensively solid Arizona State. So this should be a pretty even offensive matchup, and whoever develops a stronger running presence will have an advantage.

X-factor: Colorado Run Game vs. Will Sutton. Paul Richardson proved last week that he can pick up yards no matter who the opposing defense is, cresting 600 season receiving yards against Oregon. If Christian Powell and the other Buff rushers can get going, Colorado might be a popular, and wise, upset pick.

Alex: ASU  Isaac: ASU   Corey: ASU   Franklin: ASU   DavidASU   RyanASU

California (1-4, 0-2) at No. 11 UCLA (4-0, 1-0) 7:30 p.m. ESPN2 (Comcast 36)

The UC showdown this year probably couldn’t be more lopsided. Jared Goff leads a talented Bears offense, but Cal — without an FBS win to their name — takes to the Rose Bowl to face a UCLA team on top of the world. Anthony Barr and the UCLA defense is more than enough to keep the Bruins ahead, as Brett Hundley and co. should be able to follow Oregon’s blueprints to run straight through Cal’s line.

X-factor: Jared Goff. The true freshman quarterback is really Cal’s only opportunity to stay close as Barr should keep Brendan Bigelow and the Bear running game neutralized fairly easily. Goff finding Harper and Treggs for big chunks of the field will give Cal a puncher’s chance.

Alex: UCLA  Isaac: UCLA   Corey: UCLA   Franklin: UCLA   DavidUCLA   RyanUCLA

Oregon State (4-1, 2-0) at Washington State (4-2, 2-1) 7:30 ESPNU (Comcast 411)

It’s probably a must-win for both teams as the Beavers take north to Pullman. Mike Leach’s team could come within one game of bowl eligibility with a win here, but they’re up against Mike Riley’s squad, who’ve been an electric bunch since dropping the opener to Eastern Washington. Don’t count on a lot of running from either team, as the OSU rushing game has been struggling for weeks and Wazzu prefers to air it out anyway.

X-factor: Connor Halliday vs. OSU Secondary. Oregon State’s defense has gotten eaten up through the air in several contests this year. Their biggest challenge this year will come in the Cougar offense that hasn’t struggled to reach its targets early and often in the fall. If the Beavers hope to stop the aerial attack, the proven method of success is attacking Halliday. The Coug cabal of receivers is too successful and speedy to slow down, and it will take opportunistic takeaways to give Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks the advantage in a shootout.

Alex: Washington State  Isaac: Washington State   Corey: Oregon State   Franklin: Washington State   DavidOregon State   RyanOregon State

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2013 Pac-12 Pick’em: Week Six

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Pac-12 football is back and we at EDN Sports will do a weekly Pac-12 Pick’em. Each week we’ll give you our picks and track how we’ve done so far.

Season Pick’em Standings:

  • Corey Buchanan: 36-5 (5-0 last week)
  • Alex Shoemaker: 36-5 (5-0)
  • David Saez: 34-7 (5-0)
  • Franklin Bains: 33-8 (4-1)
  • Isaac Rosenthal: 33-8 (5-0)
  • Ryan Beltram: 33-8 (5-0)

Thursday

No. 12 UCLA (3-0, 0-0) at Utah (3-1, 0-1) 7 p.m. Fox Sports 1 (Comcast 408)

A matchup of two of the top teams in the Pac-12 south division should be pretty even. Both teams have above average rushing games and really good passing games led by smart QBs and athletes catching the ball. Dres Anderson is a sleeper pick for first-team all-conference at wideout and should be a lock for the second-team if he keeps making big plays for the Utes. On the other side, Shaq Evans leads a deadly efficient Bruin squad of skill players, but Jordan James has received notice as he ranks No. 5 in the nation and No. 3 in the conference in rushing yards per game.

X-factor: Brett Hundley vs. Travis Wilson. Hundley’s among the conference’s elite among QBs, but Wilson hasn’t been too bad himself. Though Wilson is thought of as more of a pocket threat, he had a breakout game against the Beavers choosing he can tuck and run if he sees a crease. In a battle of good quarterbacks, you tend to favor the team with better skill players — which would be UCLA — but don’t count out Wilson in a duel.

Alex: UCLA  Isaac: UCLA   Corey: UCLA   Franklin: UCLA   DavidUCLA   RyanUCLA

Saturday

Washington State (3-2, 1-1) at California (1-3, 0-1) 1 p.m. Fox Sports 1 (Comcast 408)

From a battle of the best in the south, we take to probably the worst of the north. Make no mistake, Cal and Washington State aren’t terrible; however, they just lost by a combined score of 110-33 on Saturday and 13 of their points came in the last minute. The Cougs and Bears are led by a pair of trigger-happy quarterbacks who fit the mold of their coach’s brains. Both Connor Halliday and Jared Goff are among the conference leaders in passing yards per game, but both got benched on Saturday as their teams got walloped. Cal’s defense is not very good, but Wazzu’s is on the rise, so that might just be the difference.

X-factor: Cal Front 7 vs. Teondray Caldwell/Marcus Mason. Wazzu’s running game, by Mike Leach‘s design, is not performing anywhere near the rest of the conference. Though Cal’s defensive line got gashed in the Oregon game, they have a lot of tenacity and will come to play angry after that display. Cal knows that to hang with WSU, it will have to  take the running game completely out of the picture, force the shaky QB play to take more chances and drive the barely positive running game into the negative with tackles for loss. That all starts up front.

Alex: Washington State  Isaac: Washington State   Corey: Cal   Franklin: Washington State   DavidWashington State   RyanWashington State

No. 2 Oregon (4-0, 1-0) at Colorado (2-1, 0-1) 3 p.m. Pac-12 Network (Comcast 420)

In Colorado’s two years in the league, the Buffaloes have started with 45-2 and 70-14 beatdowns at the hands of Oregon. The first one featured a Ducks team that missed starting QB Darron Thomas and RB LaMichael James — and the only Buffalo points scored were on a bad punt return from troubled CB Cliff Harris. To be clear this is neither of those Colorado teams, but they’re still in the middle of a rebuilding process. Paul Richardson and Connor Wood should test the Oregon secondary, but Colorado’s defense won’t leave enough breathing room for a Colorado offense that only mustered 14 against Oregon State.

X-factor: Don’t Get Hurt. We’d like to see a good Colorado team as much as the next sports team, but it’s just not the case for this year. The first half will be another test of how quickly the Ducks can put points up on the board, but it’s another case of get in, get out and move on.

Alex: Oregon  Isaac: Oregon   Corey: Oregon   Franklin: Oregon   DavidOregon   RyanOregon

No. 22 Arizona State (3-1) vs. Notre Dame (3-2) at AT&T Stadium, 4:30 p.m. NBC

Arizona State and Notre Dame battle on a neutral site this week in the first of three games the Pac-12 gets with the Catholic football power school. The teams have matched up twice, a home and home in 1998-1999 that went to the Irish both years. Taylor Kelly‘s squad has had a bit of a bumpy road, but the Sun Devils remain ranked in the top 25, mostly thanks to the sheer force of Marion Grice. He’s ASU’s main weapon and expect Kelly to go to him early and often against an unpredictable ND team.

X-factor: Grice vs. the world. The senior halfback does a little bit of everything for Sparty — sitting at 11th in the nation for all-purpose yards and tied for 20th for points responsible for. Being that it’s Notre Dame, the defense is probably a bit overrated, so the shifty Grice will test every edge of the Irish, trying to add to his 12 touchdowns on the season.

Alex: Arizona State  Isaac: Arizona State   Corey: Arizona State   Franklin: Arizona State   DavidArizona State   RyanArizona State

No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) at No. 5 Stanford (4-0, 2-0) 7:30 p.m. ESPN (Comcast 35)

Keith Price and co. take to the road in one of the first forks in the road of this Pac-12 season. Stanford had some question marks early but put most of them to bed with a complete effort against Washington State in Seattle last Saturday. Price and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan are two of the conference’s most efficient quarterbacks and the two defenses are suddenly a pair of the conference’s best. Expect an exciting finish much like last year and an unexpected turning point, much like last year.

X-factor: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. ASJ remains the key for Washington to pull off an interesting upset pick. The teams match up remarkably well, as Justin Wilcox has the Husky defense playing about as well as anyone, and neither squad lacks for offensive weapons. But if ASJ can get back to firing on all cylinders, Stanford might not have an answer for the matchup problem. The team that springs a leak first is the game here in what should be a low-scoring affair that Washington’s TE could have a lot to say in.

Alex: Stanford  Isaac: Stanford   CoreyWashington   Franklin: Stanford   DavidWashington   RyanStanford

Prep Football Rally: Marist’s Jumbo Effort Stalls Willamette, 46-0

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The call came in for the “jumbo” play, and Korey Thompson-Falconer knew just what to do. It was time for the big boys to carry the football and plow into the end zone from one yard away. Marist’s 6-foot, 281-pound offensive guard dropped back from his offensive line position into the backfield, real estate generally occupied by smaller, lighter runners.

Marist Football
Marist’s defense played big by shutting out Willamette on Friday night, 46-0. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

“My mind just went blank. I just wanted to score,” Thompson-Falconer said. “All I did was get the ball and run straight.” That’s exactly what the Marist Spartans needed to start the second half of their Class 5A Midwestern League game. Thompson-Falconer’s first touchdown as a high school player was the first of four TDs the Spartans scored in the third quarter on their way to a 46-0 win over the Wolverines.

For the second-straight week, the Spartans (3-2 overall, 1-1 MWL) held their opponents scoreless. In those two games, Marist has outscored its opposition 101-0. The offense sputtered some in the first half against Willamette (2-3, 1-2), but the Spartans still lead 12-0 at halftime. “We know we could do better. Twelve to nothing at half time? We did’t feel that was out top level,” Thompson-Falconer said. “We just turned it up more.”

Marist finished the game with 467 yards of total offense, including 229 running the ball. The Spartans scored on all four of its possessions in the second half. Sophomore quarterback Brody Cooper completed 11-of-19 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Cooper also ran in Marist’s first TD from the one-yard line. His first TD pass of the night came on a third down and 31 in the second quarter. Cooper hit sophomore receiver Matt Haney on a 60-yard scoring pass. Cooper caught five passes for 135 yards. In the second half, Cooper threw a 39-yard TD pass to Clark Morton.

“We came out stronger in the second half and came out and got the job done,” Cooper said. “I passed a little better than I have in the past. I’m just trying to open up the offense a little bit more.”

Marist Football
Marist quarterback Brody Cooper threw two TD passes and ran for one against Willamette. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

Running backs Justin Enseki-Frank and Kashi Hall spearheaded the Spartan running game. They combined for 152 yards rushing and one touchdown, a 28-yard burst by Hall that made the score 39-0.

“The running backs lit their tails on fire a little bit more and the young quarterback keeps getting better,” Marist coach Frank Geske said. “…We’re not a done deal by any stretch of the imagination, but we keep getting better. I didn’t think our defense could get any better. (Willamette) ran all over other teams in the first half of their other games, and they didn’t tonight. I’m really proud of that.”

Willamette finished the game with just 74 yards of offense, all of which were running yards. Playing without their starting quarterback Kosey Mitchell, who injured his knee in last week’s game, the Wolverines turned to Darius Jackson. Normally a wide receiver, Jackson never threw a pass in the game and then was injured while punting the ball in the second quarter. He never returned to the game, and Willamette moved tight end Geoff Kastel to quarterback. Jackson had 35 yards on 12 carries and Kastel had six carries for 27 yards.

Though he only had two carries, Marist’s Thompson-Falconer scored twice against his former school. The senior attended Willamette before transferring to Marist as a sophomore. Geske said his staff had been working to have Thompson-Falconer carry the ball on short-yardage situations since the season began. “It was nice to let him score a couple of times,” Geske said. “And he’s a phenomenal football player on both sides of the ball. We were getting it a little from the (Willamette) coaches for letting him do it, but this was the perfect time for him to do it.”

SCOREBOARD:

In other 5A Midwestern League action:

  • Ashland took possession of first place in the league with a 34-28 win over the Springfield Millers.
  • The Grizzlies remain undefeated at 5-0 and 3-0 in league play. Springfield is 3-2 overall and 2-1 in league.
  • The North Eugene Highlanders lost at Eagle Point, 32-12. The Highlanders are 0-5 overall and 0-2 in league.

In the 6A Southwest Conference:

  • Sheldon defeated South Medford, 49-14, to improve to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in conference.
  • Thurston went to Grants Pass and lost 45-21 to fall to 1-4 overall and 1-2 in conference.
  • South Eugene played at Roseburg and lost 34-21 to drop to 2-3 overall and 0-3 in conference.

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2013 Pac-12 Pick’em: Week Five

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Pac-12 football is back and we at EDN Sports will do a weekly Pac-12 Pick’em. Each week we’ll give you our picks and track how we’ve done so far.

Season Pick’em Standings:

  • Corey Buchanan: 31-5 (6-1 last week)
  • Alex Shoemaker: 31-5 (6-1)
  • Franklin Bains: 29-7 (6-1)
  • David Saez: 29-7 (6-1)
  • Isaac Rosenthal: 28-8 (6-1)
  • Ryan Beltram: 28-8 (7-0)

Colorado (2-0, 0-0) at Oregon State (3-1, 1-0) 12 p.m. Pac-12 Network:

This is the first game between Colorado and OSU since the Buffs joined the Pac-12. Colorado leads the nonconference series, 3-2, but the last time they matched up was in 1988 — a 28-21 Buffalo win. The game matches up two of the conference’s best wide receivers in Paul Richardson and Brandin Cooks; Richardson and Cooks rank number one and number two, respectively, in the nation for receiving yards, though the Buffs have missed the last two weeks after the Boulder flooding. Sean Mannion should be once again excellent for the Beavers, but this is a different Colorado defense from years past.

X-factor: Connor Wood vs. Oregon State’s Secondary. Wood has been a revelation for the Buffaloes this season, managing the game well, and getting the ball to Richardson with space to work. The Wood-Richardson connection has four touchdowns in two games; two of them are for 75+ yards and all four are more than 30 yards. Meanwhile, though Oregon State’s secondary has been ball-hawkish, it’s been surprisingly poor at tackling execution. Steven Nelson and the Beavers’ pass defense has to step up against Colorado’s sneakily deep receiving corps or it’ll be a long day.

Alex: Oregon State  Isaac: Oregon State   Corey: Oregon State   Franklin: Colorado   DavidOregon State   RyanOregon State

Arizona (3-0, 0-0) at No. 16 Washington (3-0, 0-0) 4 p.m. FOX

Washington announced its presence this fall with a big 38-6 billboard win over Boise State. The Huskies are led by Bishop Sankey (Pac-12 leader with 148.7 rushing yards per game) and Keith Price (Pac-12 leader in pass efficiency), and oh yeah, maybe the country’s best tight end in Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. The three will get a huge test in the intriguing Wildcats. Against three cupcakes, Arizona’s allowed 26 total points and has scored 42.7 per game. Ka’Deem Carey leads the Wildcat attack, and would be ahead of Sankey (149.5 per game) if he didn’t miss week one. Arizona’s defense might be its talking point; the defense has allowed one touchdown and 12 points in non-garbage minutes.

X-factor: Jake Fischer vs. Sankey. Fischer, the senior Wildcat, leads the Arizona defense from the middle linebacker position. He might not total that many stats (12 combined tackles on the year), but he’s well experienced in the 3-3-5 playbook they feature. If Sankey is well contained, this game will be closer than suspected as the two teams both feature solid offenses. But if Sankey scampers, Washington has the advantage.

Alex: Washington  Isaac: Washington   Corey: Washington   Franklin: Washington   DavidWashington   RyanWashington

No. 5 Stanford (3-0, 1-0) vs. Washington State (3-1, 1-0) 7 p.m. ESPN (CenturyLink Field, Seattle):

Both teams take to the road as the Cougars welcome the Cardinal to their Seattle game. Very different offensive strategies will clash as Mike Leach’s air attack is starting to warm up, while David Shaw’s power-I grinds forward. Connor Halliday is a turnover machine (8 interceptions to 10 touchdowns), but the Wazzu pass attack is 16th in the nation with 328.8 yards per game. However, it’s been the Cougar defense that’s been a surprise this game, keeping USC to seven points and shutting out Idaho. Stanford is favored (-10) in this one, and have no doubt, they are a superior football team. Ty Montgomery is third in the Pac-12 in all-purpose yardage and will be looking to have a big day against the Cougs, but this one will be on the Stanford defense to keep the Cardinal on offense where they can wind down the clock.

X-factor: Stanford D Line vs. Connor Halliday. Forcing Halliday to make mistakes — something he does well enough on his own — will be huge towards keeping this Cougar offense off the field. In the first half of the USC game, WSU crossed the 50-yard line twice and while there, Halliday was 4-for-7, he had one pick, he was sacked twice, and he had one fumble. WSU is one-dimensional enough already so shaking Halliday’s confidence will be a key to knocking off the electric and eclectic Cougs.

Alex: Stanford  Isaac: Stanford   Corey: Stanford   Franklin: Stanford   David: Stanford   RyanStanford

USC (3-1, 0-1) at Arizona State (2-1, 0-1) 7:30 p.m. ESPN2:

USC is 12-1 in this series since 2000, with the Sun Devils’ one win coming in 2011. USC won last year in the Coliseum and so the Trojans take their trip to Tempe this year with a bit of a shaky entrance. After backing into a win against Hawaii, USC lost to Washington State. They’re led by Cody Kessler under center, though their true strength is on the ground and in defense where HB Tre Madden and DT George Uko have shined thus far. HB Marion Grice, a JuCo transfer, has been huge for ASU through three games, leading the nation in scoring and taking No. 5 with six rushing touchdowns. Sun Devils DT Will Sutton is a sheer force to be reckoned with, so don’t be surprised if this one turns into a defensive battle (no offense intended to ASU’s offense).

X-factor: Morgan Breslin vs. Grice. Breslin, a USC OLB, missed the first game with injury, but leads the Pac-12 in sacks and tackles for loss per game. Grice is the first truly dynamic tailback the Trojans will face this year, so Breslin gets his first big test of the season trying to keep the do-everything back at bay. USC’s offense has been disappointing this year, to say the least, so Breslin’s task is even more key on this day.

Alex: Arizona State  Isaac: Arizona State   Corey: Arizona State   Franklin: Arizona State   DavidArizona State   RyanArizona State

California (1-2, 0-0) at No. 2 Oregon (3-0, 0-0) 7:30 p.m. Pac-12 Network:

The Ducks have left a trail of smoke in their wake through the lower tiers of the FCS, the ACC and the SEC, and take to their Pac-12 slate with about as much national acclaim they’ve ever had. After a bye week, the Ducks should return Colt Lyerla to an offense that didn’t seem to be lacking for playmakers against Tennessee. Cal brings true freshman Jared Goff to Autzen Stadium as he continues to do outstanding things with the Berkeley offensive slate of talent. But being a freshman in Autzen is no easy task and Cal is seriously lacking on defense; the Bears gave up 139 yards to Portland State HB DJ Adams. For reference, De’Anthony Thomas is a better running back than DJ Adams.

X-factor: Chris Harper/Bryce Treggs vs. Terrance Mitchell/Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. As indicated, Oregon will get their points in buckets in this game. The question is, at will always seem to be this season, will Cal follow up with points on their own. After three rush-heavy attacks, the Ducks finally face an opponent that likes to lob the ball and test the secondary. Oregon probably has the best pair of cornerbacks in the nation, and this week, they’ll get to show it off. If Cal can’t keep up, Oregon’s rushing attack will stomp all over them.

Alex: Oregon  Isaac: Oregon   Corey: Oregon   Franklin: Oregon   DavidOregon   RyanOregon

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Prep Football: Willamette-Marist Duel in Important League Game Friday

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All eyes will be on Willamette’s match-up with Marist in the only high school football game among Eugene-Springfield area schools on Friday. Since moving into the Class 5A Midwestern League in 2010, Marist has dominated and won the conference each year. However, this year has been different. Ashland dropped the Spartans 21-7 two weeks ago, handing Marist its first loss to a Midwestern League opponent since entering the league.

The loss put the Spartans (2-2 overall) in fifth place in the league with an 0-1 record. Last week, Marist rebounded with a hardy 55-0 win over Bend. Meanwhile Willamette (2-2 overall) picked up its first league win last week in a 63-21 blow-out of North Eugene, this after losing big, 54-6, to Springfield. The Wolverines stand at third place in the league behind Ashland and Springfield.

Willamette Football
Willamette may have to do without quarterback Kosey Mitchell on Friday. Mitchell injured a knee last week (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

In their game against North Eugene, the Wolverines lost quarterback Kosey Mitchell to a knee injury and had to turn to junior Darius Jackson as the backup. Leading up to that game, Jackson had limited practice time at quarterback and had been playing receiver.

When Jackson replaced Mitchell, Willamette turned exclusively to the run game. That meant Jackson and running back Sam Aguirre carried the load offensively. Willamette coach Adam Kennybrew says Mitchell was awaiting medical clearance on Thursday, but, if Mitchell remains out tonight, Marist’s defense may force Jackson to throw his first pass of the season. If he does, Jackson will have to play smart against a Marist team that has an interception in each of its games and a total of six. Senior linebacker Cameron Jack leads Marist with three interceptions.

Willamette wasn’t the only team that had success running the football. Marist used a powerful rushing attack against Bend last week for season-high 357 yards. The Spartans scored eight total touchdowns, seven were rushing scores.

A win for Willamette could move the Wolverines up to second place in the league and end a three-game losing streak to the Spartans, who have outscored Willamette 183-26 the last three years. If Marist wins, the Spartans could move up in the league standings for a third-place tie with Churchill, which has a bye week and is 1-1 in league play.

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Prep Football Rally: Willamette Douses North Eugene With Run Game, 63-21

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When his starting quarterback was sidelined with a knee injury in the second quarter, Willamette coach Adam Kennybrew tossed his script of offensives plays and put the ball in the hands of receiver Darius Jackson and running back Sam Aguirre.

Sam Aguirre
Willamette RB Sam Aguirre ran for 231 yards and four touchdowns in a 63-21 win over North Eugene (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

The result proved brutal for North Eugene, as Willamette overwhelmed the Highlanders 63-21 in a Class 5A Midwestern League game on Friday. The Wolverines (2-2 overall, 1-1 in conference) scored 42 unanswered points. The win snapped Willamette’s two-game losing streak and was despite losing junior quarterback Kosey Mitchell to a right knee injury.

“I told (Mitchell) on the sideline that you guys would have his back,” Kennybrew told his players after the game. “And you did.”

“I had to put our best athlete out there. Really, we didn’t have a backup,” Kennybrew said. “And not having prepared for something like this, the players took the injury and used it as motivation to have our quarterback’s back.”

Jackson took the quarterback role and made off with it. Along with his 170 yards on 11 carries and four rushing TDs, Jackson caught two passes for 82 yards, including a 70-yard TD pass from Mitchell. “I had no idea I was going in as quarterback,” Jackson said. “I heard coach say, ‘Darius, you’re quarterback.’ I was speechless.”

Jackson and Aguirre combined for 401 of Willamette’s 455 rushing yards and accounted for all nine Wolverine touchdowns. Aguirre ran the ball 18 times for 231 yards and four rushing TDs. “I was worried (about losing Mitchell). But I thought about it, and I knew the offensive line was going to work hard,” Aguirre said.

The Highlanders (0-4, 0-1) answered Jackson’s 42-yard TD run in the second quarter with an 80 kick-off return by Aaron Thompson to make the score 21-14 just three minutes before halftime. But Willamette replied with a six-play drive that ended on a 10-yard TD run by Jackson, putting the Wolverines ahead 28-14 at halftime.

Darius Jackson
Willamette’s Darius Jackson ran away from defenders for five touchdowns, including a 70-yard TD reception. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

The rain held off, but Willamette didn’t. North Eugene ran three plays to start the second half and punted it back to the visiting Wolverines. Two plays later, Jackson ran 16 yards for a TD and a 35-14 lead. On the subsequent kickoff, Willamette recovered the ball after it bounced off a North Eugene player’s leg. That Wolverine possession led to a five play scoring drive, which ended with an Aguirre 6-yard TD run. The score was set up in part by Aguirre’s 52-yard run earlier in the drive.

North Eugene fumbled its next possession, and again Willamette turned it into points, a 9-yard TD run for Aguirre. The lead was 49-14 with 6:12 in the third quarter. The Highlanders did score with less than a minute in the game when quarterback Joey Butterfield finished off a five-play drive with a one-yard  TD run. Sophomore running back Zach Haxby had 103 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown in the game.

“We’re not very physical, and we don’t do very well when people come at us,” North Eugene coach Edmund Rivera said. “They are great kids, and they work hard, but having a little nasty helps.”

OTHER PREP SCORES

In the 6A Southwest Conference, North Medford upset defending state champion Sheldon 21-17, as the Irish lost a conference game for the first time since 2008. Roseburg remained undefeated by beating Thurston, 28-14. And South Medford traveled north and dominated South Eugene, 32-7.

In other 5A Midwestern League action, Springfield pounded Eagle Point, 48-0, and Ashland remained undefeated with a 51-21 road victory over Churchill.

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2013 Pac-12 Pick’em: Week Four

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Pac-12 football is back and we at EDN Sports will do a weekly Pac-12 Pick’em. Each week we’ll give you our picks and track how we’ve done so far.

Season Pick’em Standings:

  • Corey Buchanan: 25-4 (9-1 last week)
  • Alex Shoemaker: 25-4 (9-1)
  • Franklin Bains: 23-6 (7-3)
  • David Saez: 23-6 (6-4)
  • Isaac Rosenthal: 22-7 (8-2)
  • Ryan Beltram: 21-8 (7-3)

Idaho State (2-0) at No. 17 Washington (2-0), 12 p.m., Pac-12 Network (Comcast 420)

The first meeting between these two border schools is all about Washington. The Huskies have had two tough non-conference games thus far against Boise State and Illinois, passing those hurdles, and get one cupcake matchup before hitting the Pac-12 slate. Washington RB Bishop Sankey is the nation’s leading rusher, and Sankey and the Huskies rank fourth in the nation in total offense.

X-factor: Don’t Get Hurt. Idaho State leads the Big Sky conference after winning resounding games over the powerhouses of Dixie State and Western State. But this is the best Huskies team in at least a decade, so as long as they don’t stub their toe, the Bengals shouldn’t pull any Appalachian State nonsense.

Alex: Washington  Isaac: Washington   Corey: Washington   Franklin: Washington   DavidWashington   RyanWashington

Utah State (2-1) at USC (2-1), 12:30 p.m., ABC

USC answered a lot of questions with its solid win over Boston College, but several still remain. None of them are on defense, however, which should be what wins or loses the Trojans this contest. Chuckie Keeton, one of my favorite players in non-AQ college football, leads the Aggies to Los Angeles. If Keeton’s allowed to run wild, I’m not sure Cody Kessler has an answer for him. Watch for a low-scoring affair that the Trojans dominate or a shootout that leans in Utah State’s favor.

X-factor: USC Defensive Backfield. USC’s top-notch defense is led by safety Dion Bailey, who leads the team in tackles and interceptions, adding one assisted sack. Ordinarily, secondary tackles are a sign of weakness, but USC’s first-team defense has allowed just 15 points on the year and no touchdowns outside of garbage minutes. Bailey and the cornerbacks get their first test of the year in the transcendent Keeton.

Alex: USC  Isaac: USC   Corey: USC   Franklin: Utah State   DavidUtah State   RyanUSC

No. 23 Arizona State (2-0, 0-0) at No. 5 Stanford (2-0, 0-0), 4 p.m., Fox

The first matchup this year between ranked Pac-12 teams features two very even teams with very dissimilar methods of attack. Arizona State is led by scatback Marion Grice who had four touchdowns in their controversial win over Wisconsin. They have a balanced attack featuring even-handed signal caller Taylor Kelly. Stanford’s defense is prominent, but their offensive attack is nothing to sneeze at — especially when it chokes the life out of you. Arizona State needs to score when they have the ball and force Stanford to take chances.

X-factor: Will Sutton. Arizona State’s pit bull of a nose tackle has to be on point and force Stanford into the air. Kevin Hogan is a solid quarterback — as he proved when Josh Nunes was not an option — but forcing him throwing the ball is not in the Cardinal’s best interests. Sutton having a big night is the first step towards the Sun Devils leaving Palo Alto with a win.

Alex: Stanford  Isaac: Stanford   Corey: Stanford   Franklin: Stanford   DavidStanford   RyanStanford

Oregon State (2-1) at San Diego State (0-2), 4:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network (Comcast 412)

The Beavers didn’t start the season with a very fun night. However, a win over Hawaii and a big conference tilt with Utah going in their favor has distanced them slightly. OSU takes to the road against Mountain West Conference foe San Diego State, led by a coaching staff with heavy Beaver ties. OSU is favored in this contest, but as they well know, they can’t quite take any enemy lightly this year. Sean Mannion’s performance should be huge again as he continues to lay out a case for the O’Brien award.

X-factor: Terron Ward. OSU shouldn’t have troubles moving the football and scoring on SDSU; the Aztecs are one of the few FBS programs behind the Beavers in scoring defense. But the OSU running game, already nothing to write home about, was dealt a heavy blow when Storm Woods had to be carted off the Utah game with what was revealed to be a concussion. Ward takes over the starting job and will get his chance to shine (or not).

Alex: Oregon State  Isaac: Oregon State   Corey: Oregon State   Franklin: Oregon State   DavidOregon State   RyanOregon State

Utah (2-1) at BYU (2-1), 7:15 p.m., ESPN2 (Comcast 36)

The “Holy War”, as they call it in Beehive State, has already started heating up on Twitter. Utah has won the last three in the rivalry game, including one with a crazy finish last year, but the rivalry will take a two-year hiatus after this game. So, as if every iteration wasn’t big enough, this one will be huge for bragging rights. Travis Wilson will march the Utes the short 45-minute journey from Salt Lake City to Provo, where Utah should be favored thanks to Wilson’s quick thinking. BYU’s rushing game took a week off after tearing through Texas.

X-factor: Taysom Hill. BYU’s sophomore quarterback almost led the Cougars to victory in Virginia before absolutely demolishing the Longhorns. For independent BYU, though they have two more ranked teams on the schedule, there is no game bigger than this one and Hill will decide their fate.

Alex: BYU   Isaac: BYU   Corey: BYU   Franklin: Utah   DavidUtah   RyanUtah

New Mexico State (0-3) at No. 13 UCLA (2-0), 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network (Comcast 420)

UCLA enters their second emotional week after the death of a freshman wide receiver, Nick Pasquale. The Bruins put up 38 straight after falling behind 21-3 last week to Nebraska, and beat the Huskers to breach the top 15. In their first contest as a highly ranked team in years, they face the FBS-worst scoring defense in the Aggies. New Mexico State gave up 56 to Texas and 44 and 42 to the high-flying Minnesota and UTEP squads. Too snarky? I don’t think so. Brett Hundley probably won’t start the third quarter.

X-factor: Don’t Get Hurt. Another cupcake for the Pac-12, one of the last ones of the season. This one is up against probably one of the most solid offenses in the conference. Bruins are the standout leaders for the Pac-12 South crown and shouldn’t struggle with the men of New Mexico State.

Alex: UCLA  Isaac: UCLA   Corey: UCLA   Franklin: UCLA   DavidUCLA   RyanUCLA

Idaho (0-3) at Washington State (2-1), 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network (Comcast 420)

The first iteration of the Battle of the Palouse since 2007, and probably the first competent Wazzu team since that game. Washington State is better than just two FBS team at running, putting up a third-worst 60.3 yards per game, but holds the 17th-best passing offense. After losing a tough game to Auburn, they stood toe-to-toe with USC and won before trouncing Big Sky Southern Utah. The Cougars are 11th in the nation in total defense, and their Vandal opponents are 117th (120th in scoring defense). With a win, Wazzu is halfway to bowl eligibility — if they reach six wins, it’ll be their first bowl game in a decade. Their last bowl game was 2003, the Holiday Bowl against Texas.

X-factor: Skill Positions. RB Teondray Caldwell and WRs Gabe Marks and Dom Williams have a chance to dominate this Idaho team. Remember how I said WSU hasn’t been to a bowl game in 10 years? Well, they haven’t exactly been entirely competent in that span. This is the first Cougar squad since then to be, like, heavy odds-on favorites to win a game. If the guys around Connor Halliday are on point, they can put the Vandals away early and start focusing on their date with Stanford in Seattle.

Alex: Washington State  Isaac: Washington State   Corey: Washington State   Franklin: Washington State   DavidWashington State   RyanWashington State

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