Cougars vs. the Washington secondary
Coming into the game this was one of two strength on strength matchups. Wazzu’s receivers against Washington’s defensive backs. UW has the best secondary in the country and they proved it. Cougars receivers had a hard time getting open the way they have all season long.
When Gardner Minshew was able to complete a pass there was always a defensive back within a few yards. UW might have bent a few times however they never broke. A season-low 152 passing yards was all Washington State could muster. Taylor Rapp and Byron Murphy from UW will be impact players at the next level.
Cougars vs. the power running game
The other marquis matchup featuring both team’s strengths was the Washington running game against Washington State’s active defense. All season long, Wazzu held the best running backs in the conference to totals far below their respective per game averages. Oregon had a physical offensive line and dynamic running back, CJ Verdell, and the Cougars shut them down. It was the same against California and Patrick Laird
The first question asked to Leach at his weekly press conference was about his impressions of UW. Without hesitation, he answered that the Huskies were very physical. Knowing the other team is physical, and stopping them are two different things. Huskies running backs Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed were able to effectively run behind their big blockers. Washington took advantage of their huge size advantage in the trenches and easily pushed the undersized WSU defensive line around. The result was 258 rushing yards.