One Pac-12 team will clinch bowl eligibility and the other will have to try again next week, as the Washington State Cougars play host to the Oregon State Beavers this weekend. Kickoff is set for 9:00 EST on Saturday, November 23 at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Washington. Fans can find the game on the Pac-12 Network.
Current odds list the Cougars as 11.5-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is an ambitious 75 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 13 college football odds.
One year after winning 11 games and finishing the season in the top-10 nationally, it would be a massive setback for Washington State if the 5-5 Cougars failed to reach a bowl game in 2019. That puts a lot of the pressure in this game on Mike Leach, who has taken Wazzou to bowl games in four straight years.
With five losses in their last seven games, the Cougars are just 2-5 in conference play and are in danger of finishing last in the Pac-12 North if they don’t win at least one of their remaining games. Keep in mind that the Cougars are set to visit in-state rival Washington the final week of the season. WSU has had trouble with the Huskies traditionally, so this week’s game with Oregon State might be their best chance of getting win no. 6.
Meanwhile, the Beavers are practically playing with house money at this point. After going 2-10 last year and winning just one conference game over the last two seasons, few expected Oregon State to be 5-5 at this point in the season, much less 4-3 in conference play and second place in the Pac-12 North.
To the surprise of many, the Beavers have come on strong late in the season, winning three of their last four games to get within one win of bowl eligibility. At this point, getting to a bowl game would almost be the icing on the cake for Oregon State. Much like Washington State, the Beavers will wrap up their season next week with their in-state rival. For OSU, that means no. 6 Oregon, meaning this could be Oregon State’s only realistic chance to get their sixth win.
Of course, Oregon State will have to snap a five-game losing streak at the hands of the Cougars. The Beavers haven’t beaten Washington State since 2013 with three of their five losses to the Cougars since then coming by at least 19 points.
To be honest, I don’t love this pick because Washington State has been a difficult team to judge all season. They’ve lost five games, which is obviously a concern. But with the way they can score points, there’s almost no line they can’t cover if they have a good game. That being said, I’ve seen enough of Oregon State to think that they can keep up in a shootout. The over/under is a little too high, even for Washington State. However, I’ll take my chances with the Beavers beating the spread.
Not enough people realize that the Oregon State offense is for real. In fairness, they’ve been stifled against the likes of Utah and Washington, both teams that boast strong defenses. But the Beavers have had their way with most other defenses they’ve faced this year, even scoring enough points to beat Cal. Senior quarterback Jake Luton has been extraordinary, tossing 23 touchdown passes to just two interceptions. His top target, Isaiah Hodgins has already amassed over 1,000 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns on the season with few teams being able to contain him.
The Beavers also deserve a lot of credit for staying balanced on offense. Senior running back Artavis Pierce has given them steady production all season, gaining close to six yards per carry. Backup Jermar Jefferson has also been a frequent contributor. Unlike Washington State, the Beavers aren’t solely reliant on their quarterback producing all of their offense, which gives them a chance in a game like this.
Given the balance of the OSU offense, a veteran at quarterback, and several capable playmakers, I’m not sure I see the Washington State defense having a good night. After all, the Cougars have allowed at least 33 points in five of their seven Pac-12 games, all games that they’ve lost. Even teams like Cal with rather modest offensive talent have found success against the Wazzou defense.
In other words, it’s a safe bet that the Beavers will make it to at least 30 points in this game. That means it’ll take well over 40 points for the Cougars to cover. In fairness, the Washington State offense is capable of that behind quarterback Alan Gordon. I’m also not expecting much support from the OSU defense. But the Cougars have hurt themselves with turnovers this year, including 11 interceptions from Gordon, which could hinder their chances of pulling away in this game.
All things considered, the Cougars just don’t have much margin for error in this game with regard to covering the 11.5-point spread. I think the Beavers are capable of keeping up in a shootout, so maintaining a comfortable lead will be difficult. I also wouldn’t count out Oregon State pulling off another surprising win, which is why I like the Beavers as underdogs against the spread.