BY Adam Lewis 08:30AM 10/12/2013

Passing yards aplenty Saturday in Pullman

Washington State has dropped five of the last six meetings with Oregon State, but comes off a big win at Cal finally matching the expectations sought with the hire of Mike Leach.

WSU quarterback Connor Halliday is coming off a 521-yard performance against Cal, the most yards in a game by an FBS quarterback this season. The Cougars host Oregon State Saturday. / WSU photo

GAME: Oregon State (4-1 overall, 2-0 Pac-12 ) at  Washington State (4-2 overall, 2-1 Pac-12). WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Martin Stadium. MEETING: 98th (Washington State leads 48-46-3). COACHES: Mike Riley, Oregon State; Mike Leach, Washington State; RANKINGS: Neither school ranked. LINE: Cougars by 1. TV: ESPNU/ESPN2. RADIO: KTTH 770 AM.

At 4-2 (2-1 Pac-12), the Cougars are relevant again. Quarterback Connor Halliday is third in the country with 1,993 passing yards. Owners of two conference road wins at the midway point, the Cougars have been won over by coach Mike Leach, from the sound of it.

The kids in Pullman are having fun and fans are suddenly excited to see the capability of Leach’s heralded Air Raid offense. How else to explain a Martin Stadium sellout for what is quietly one of the biggest games headlining this weekend’s Pac-12 slate?

What it means for WSU: A victory would push the Cougars to within a win of bowl eligibility, a feat not achieved since 2003. With two regular season home games remaining against Arizona State and Utah, it could also pave the way for a seven-win regular season. A loss would drop the Cougars to 4-3 and almost guarantees a 4-4 start because WSU travels to Autzen Stadium the following weekend to play the No. 2 Ducks. From there, it would take going 2-2 vs. ASU, at Arizona, vs. Utah before closing out the year with the Apple Cup. That wouldn’t be an easy task.

What it means for OSU: The Beavers are getting better as the season progresses, a constant during Mike Riley’s career in Corvallis. Since an unexpected season-opening loss to FCS Eastern Washington, the Beavers have reeled off four consecutive W’s. A win in a raucous, liquored-up Martin Stadium would make them 3-0 in conference and a legitimate challenger to Oregon and Stanford  (and Washington?).

Key Matchup: OSU quarterback Sean Mannion vs. WSU secondary. It’s hard to believe that Mannion, who last year was no better than average, is leading the country with 2,018 passing yards. His 21/3 touchdown to interception ratio is impressive. The Cougars need to be worried. Last week against Cal, they yielded 489 passing yards to freshman quarterback Jared Goff.

Prediction: Cougars 38, Beavers 31. Set the over/under for passing yards at 900. Cold  conditions — the temperature is expected to drop into the 30′s by kickoff — won’t deter Mannion and Halliday from finding open receivers. But the edge goes to the Cougars, who lead the Pac-12 with nine interceptions.

SERIES: Dates to Nov. 11, 1903 when Oregon State recorded a 6-0 victory in Corvallis. Although Washington State enters Saturday’s meeting leading the all-time series 48-46-3, the Cougars have dropped five of the last six meetings including the past two. The Cougars posted a 31-14 win in Corvallis in 2010. The Beavers have won the last two meetings in Pullman (2009, 2007). WSU’s last win over OSU in Martin Stadium came in 2003, 36-30.

WSU HEAD COACH Mike Leach (91-54 overall, 7-11 WSU): Hired Nov. 30, 2011 to replace Paul Wulff, who went 9-40 in four seasons, Leach’s 2012 Cougars led the Pac-12 in passing at 330.4 yards per game and finished the season by beating Washington in the Apple Cup. In 10 seasons at Texas Tech (2000-09), Leach earned 10 bowl bids. The Susanville, CA., native, who was raised in Cody, WY., recorded a school-record 84 victories. Leach’s offenses led the nation in passing six times and three times accumulated the most total yards. In 2009, the Red Raiders finished second in passing offense and fourth in total offense, both marks tops among BCS conference schools. Prior to Texas Tech, Leach spent one season as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma (1999). That year, the Sooners set six Big 12 and 17 school records.

WSU STATS / NOTES

  • SEASON SUMMARY: Record: 4-2. Home: 2-0. Road: 2-2. Neutral: 0-0. Vs. Pac-12: 2-1. Vs. Pac-12 North: 1-1. Vs. Pac-12 South: 1-0. Vs. Non-Conference: 2-1.
  • Points For: 185 (30.8). Rushing Yards Per Game: 58.7. Passing Yards Per Game: 359.7. Total Offense Per Game: 418.3.
  • Points Against: 125 (20.8). Opp. Rushing Yards Per Game: 150.8. Opp. Passing Yards Per Game: 216.8. Total Defense Per Game: 367.7.
  • Through six games, five true freshmen and five redshirt freshmen made their collegiate debuts.
  • Connor Halliday’s 521 passing yards in the win at California was the most in a game by any FBS quarterback in the country this season. The mark was the fifth-highest total in Pac-12 history and the most since WSU’s Alex Brink threw for a school-record 531 yards at Oregon State in 2005. Halliday finished 41 of 67, the second-most completions and the most pass attempts in WSU history.
  • Halliday has four 300-yard games and two four-touchdown games through the first six weeks.
  • Senior Deone Bucannon enters the week tied for sixth in WSU history for career tackles (326) and fourth in career solo tackles (224). Bucannon has picked off a pass in each of the last four weeks and is tied for sixth in school history with 13 career interceptions. He also owns 14 career double-digit tackle performances.
  • Kicker Andrew Furney has made 39 career field goals, good for fourth place for the most makes in program history. He enters the week second in career field goal percentage at .765 (39-51), just behind Drew Dunning’s top mark of .773 (68-88).
  • WSU enters the week ranked fifth in the country in red zone defense (58.3), No. 27 in third-down defense (31.9) and No. 45 in total defense (367.3 ypg).
  • WSU’s 2014 season opener against Rutgers has been moved up to Thursday, Aug. 28. The game will be played at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The game was previously scheduled for Aug. 29. Rutgers begins play in the Big Ten Conference next season. The Cougars will make the return the trip to face the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, N.J. Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015.

COUGARS OFFENSIVE LEADERS

Rushing

Player G Att. Yards TDs Long Y/G
T. Caldwell 6 29 147 1 24 24.5
Marcus Mason 6 34 144 0 17 24.0
J. Laufasa 6 21 98 5 13 15.2
Austin Apodaca 6 6 18 0 10 3.0
Team Total 6 111 352 6 24 58.7

Passing

Player G Att. Cmp. Yards TDs/INT Effic.
C. Halliday 6 290 1189 1993 13/10 130.80
Team Total 6 326 207 2158 15/11 127.54

Receiving

Player G Rec. Yards TD Long Y/G
Gabe Marks 6 41 478 4 47 79.7
K. Williams 6 23 219 0 43 36.5
Rickey Galvin 6 19 155 1 17 25.8
Bobby Ratliff 6 18 185 1 53 30.8
River Cracraft 6 16 183 0 21 30.5
Marcus Mason 6 15 184 1 68 30.7
Team Total 6 207 2158 15 72 359.7

COUGARS DEFENSIVE LEADERS

Category Skinny
Tackles Bucannon 56, Coen 40, Monroe 38
Sacks Gauta 2.5, Coen 2.0, Monroe 2.0, Palacio 2.0
Interceptions Bucannon 4, Hornton 3, Brown 2
Passes Defensed Gauta 3, 5 tied with 2
Forced Fumbles Bucannon 2, Taliulu, Gauta 1, Palacio 1
Fumbles Recovered Kalafitoni 2, Bucannon 1, Sagote 1

Pac-12 Standings / North

Schools Overall Conf. Next
Stanford 5-0 3-0 Sat, at Utah
Oregon 5-0 2-0 Sat, at Washington
Oregon St. 4-1 2-0 Sat, at Washington St.
Washington St. 4-2 2-1 Sat, vs. Oregon St.
Washington 4-1 1-1 Sat, vs. Oregon
Cal 1-4 0-2 Sat, at UCLA

Pac-12 Standings / South

Schools Overall Conf. Next
UCLA 4-0 1-0 Sat, vs. California
Arizona St. 3-2 1-1 Sat, vs. Colorado
Arizona 3-2 0-2 Oct. 19 vs. Utah
Utah 3-2 0-2 Sat, vs. Stanford
USC 4-2 1-2 Oct. 19 at Notre Dame
Colorado 2-2 0-2 Sat, at Arizona St.

OREGON STATE NOTES: The Beavers opened with a 49-46 loss to Eastern Washington, then victories over Hawaii (33-14), Utah (51-48) and San Diego State (34-30) before a bye . . .  The Oregon State roster includes nine players with ties to the state of Washington: TE Kellen Clute (Spokane), DE Scott Crichton (Tacoma), G Grant Enger (Bothell), LB Charlie Gilmur (Tacoma), TE Connor Hamlett (Edmonds), OL Josh Mitchell (North Bend), LB Caleb Saulo (Kent),  TE Caleb Smith (Kent) and TE Dustin Stanton (Marysville) . . . Mike Riley is in his 13th season as head coach of the Beavers and entered with a record of 81-67. His teams have appeared in seven bowl games, including the 2012 Alamo Bowl. Riley is a graduate of the University of Alabama.

Washington State 2013 Schedule/Results

Date Opponent WSU Rnk Opp Rnk W/L Score Rec.
8/31/13 at Auburn L 31-24 0-1
9/7/13 at USC 25 W 10-7 1-1
9/14/13 vs. So. Utah W 48-10 2-1
9/21/13 vs. Idaho W 42-0 3-1
9/28/13 vs. Stanford 5 L 55-17 3-2
10/5/13 at Cal W 44-22 4-2
10/12/13 vs. OSU —– —–
10/19/13 at Oregon 2 —– —–
10/31/13 vs. ASU 22 —– —–
11/16/13 at Arizona —– —–
11/23/13 vs. Utah —– —–
11/29/13 at Wash 15

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