Washington State (3-1) at UCLA (2-3)
How about those Cougars! Last week’s game at Colorado yielded their most exciting victory yet. They rallied from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit and won a thriller thanks to a 63-yard touchdown strike from Marshall Lobbestael to Marquess Wilson with just over a minute remaining.
Can WSU follow up that triumph with a second straight road win at UCLA this week?
I take my hat off to Marshall Lobbestael. Last week, I challenged him, questioning if he was up to the task of battling Colorado’s 27th-ranked pass defense. He rose to the occasion, going 32 of 49 for 376 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. I said that last week gave him one more chance to stake his claim to the starting job with Jeff Tuel returning – and Lobbestael did it.
Head coach Paul Wulff officially changed his tune after the comeback win, stating that “The Lobster” will remain the Cougars’ starter. “We are going to stay with our guy until there’s a better player than him,” Wulff said.
It’s a fair decision considering that Lobbestael has led Washington State to its best start in five years.
Given that UCLA has the country’s 97th-ranked defense, including a 73rd-ranked pass defense, we should expect the Cougars’ passing game to go wild again. Washington State has the fourth-ranked passing offense in the nation. Seriously. It’s time to respect that this team can really throw.
However, UCLA’s offense will throw something different at a WSU “D” that has been just so-so. The Bruins are one of the country’s better running teams, averaging 199.4 yards per game.
They feature a multi-pronged attack, as Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman are both over 300 yards and quarterback Richard Brehaut gets involved with his feet, too.
The only team to beat WSU this year was San Diego State and the Aztecs succeeded by gouging the Cougars for 227 rushing yards. UCLA’s running game is ranked higher than San Diego State.
By the looks of it, Washington State will pass the ball at will and UCLA will run the ball at will.
This has all the makings of a high-scoring game and, as I’m predicting, another heart-stopping finish.