No. 11 Oregon proved to be human defensively last week in a 35-31 win at Washington.
Now the Pac-12 North leader faces what might be its toughest defensive challenge this year on Saturday night.
When the Ducks play host to Washington State at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, they'll have to deal with the Cougars' top-ranked passing attack, one that has put up big numbers on every opponent except Utah.
With first-year starter Anthony Gordon leading FBS in passing at 425.9 yards per game, Washington State (4-3, 1-3) is averaging 42.7 points per game. It has four players on pace to catch at least 50 passes and two others who should reach at least 40.
Of course, the Cougars haven't faced any elite defenses except for Utah, which limited Gordon to 252 yards on 30-of-49 passing Sept. 28 in a 38-13 defeat. And Oregon (6-1, 4-0), which has allowed only 11.9 ppg, rivals Utah a heck of a lot more than, say, New Mexico State.
"They have a super high-powered offense with some impressive skill players and a great offensive line," Ducks coach Mario Cristobal said. "We recognize it's a challenge."
It's a challenge Oregon has failed the last four years. Washington State has owned the Ducks, thanks to the Air Raid offense and an unusual defense that takes its share of chances. The Cougars took a 34-20 win last year in Pullman, their last win over a top-15 opponent.
Oregon senior offensive lineman Shane Lemieux is tired of losing to Washington State.
"That's going to be a huge test this week," Lemieux said to the Eugene Register-Guard. "Obviously, they do a lot of crazy stuff on defense and a lot of stuff on offense. That's a really big emphasis for me this year, beating Washington State."
The Ducks got through the Emerald State's other FBS team up in Seattle, erasing a 28-14 third-quarter deficit behind 280 yards and four touchdowns from quarterback Justin Herbert.
Washington did compile 414 total yards and 20 first downs. But in the fourth quarter, when the Huskies needed one more touchdown to hold off Oregon, they managed only 52 yards and two first downs.
While the Ducks were surviving, the Cougars were romping. Colorado arrived as a seemingly ideal foil to end a three-game losing streak, and Washington State led 21-3 after a quarter on its way to a 41-10 victory. Gordon threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns, while Max Borghi added 105 rushing yards and a score.
"Max is a baller," said wide receiver Brandon Arconado to the Spokane Statesman-Review. "You just give him the ball and he makes guys miss."
--Field Level Media