Coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Colorado Buffaloes, the Washington State Cougars will have a tough go of it in their redemption game against the Oregon Ducks.
Oregon, who proved it was much more than an offensive team with a 49-0 shutout of Arizona, is coming into this game not only as heavy favorites, but also as the number two team in the nation. The Ducks leapfrogged LSU after the the Tigers failed to get anything going against the Auburn Tigers, barely coming out of their contest with a win.
The game between Oregon and Washington State, technically considered a home game for the Cougars, will be played at Centurylink Stadium in Seattle, Washington. Though the Cougars have played games in Seattle before, playing a conference opponent outside of the Washington Huskies at this venue is somewhat odd.
"We're excited to play anywhere," said Washington State Head Coach Mike Leach about playing a home game in Seattle during his weekly press conference. "I think it's exciting to go over there and see those folks (the Cougar fans in the Western portion of Washington State)."
Washington State players were less enthusiastic about having to travel to Seattle to play a home game.
"It's not a true home game," said Cougar quarterback Connor Halliday. "It's kind of frustrating that we don't get to play in Martin Stadium. I wish all of our home games were here. I don't see why we need to go somewhere to play a home game."
Xavier Cooper, a defensive lineman for the Cougars, also echoed his quarterback's thoughts on playing in Seattle.
"I wish the game was here," said Cooper. "We deserve to have the game here, but that's not my decision."
Travis Long, who fills the role of the Buck position on Washington State's defense, had the most accurate statement about Saturday's game in Seattle.
"It's obviously not Martin Stadium."
Despite being away from Martin Stadium and their home Cougar crowd, Washington State is still preparing the same way they would for a dangerous Oregon Ducks football team.
"We want to limit the big plays," said Cooper about Oregon's offensive attack. "The big thing for us is that we just have to bounce back."
With Oregon's offense being one of the more publicized offenses in college football, the Cougars know that they will need their best effort to match Oregon's speed, something Xavier Cooper believes Washington State is more than capable of.
"We have to respect them," said Cooper on Oregon's speed. "But we have speed on this team too. I think if we knock them around and shove them down, I don't think they're going to want up and play no more."
Does Washington State need to prove themselves by shocking the world with a win over Oregon?
"I don't think we need to shock anybody," said Cooper on the matter. "Washington State is right there. We can compete with anybody. I don't think about shocking anybody, I just think about playing Cougar football."
Though Xavier Cooper exuded more than enough confidence to rile up his teammates, Travis Long knew that a Cougar win would be quite shocking to the college football nation.
"If you don't have that mentality, you get crushed," said Long on having a shock the world mentality heading into Washington State's matchup with Oregon.
If the Cougars do want to shock the college football world, they will have to play sound football both offensively and defensively.
"(We have to) be where you're supposed to be and don't hesitate," said Long on what it will take to contend with the Duck offense. "They run that read-zone real well and they get on the edge. We have to work on setting the edge and getting to the ball."
Overcoming Oregon's offense is not the only thing the Cougars will have to do against the Ducks on Saturday night, as Oregon's defense flexed its true potential against the Arizona Wildcats.
"Oregon's very sound defensively," said Cougar quarterback Connor Halliday. "They give you a bunch of different looks. The whole defense is fast and they give you a bunch of different things that you have to prepare for."
Though not officially named the starting quarterback for the Cougars when they take on the Ducks, Halliday has found himself plenty of playing time this season after early struggles by Jeff Tuel, Washington State's other quarterback. Under Mike Leach's pass-heavy offense, Halliday has already thrown for over 850 yards while also connecting for eight touchdown passes in shared time with Tuel.
And, while the Cougars do have a tough task ahead of them, Halliday made sure to note that Washington State players are going into this game as excited as ever.
"Everybody's pretty excited to go out on Saturday and show the nation what we're made of."
You can catch the Ducks take on a confident Washington State squad when they travel to Centurlink Stadium in Seattle, Washington for a Saturday night contest that kicks off at 7:30.