The No. 2 ranked Oregon Ducks travel to Seattle for this week's matchup vs. Washington State. Chip Kelly faces off for the first time against Mike Leach in what guarantees to be a shootout. That's why we're going to discuss three players who will be responsible for lighting the scoreboard up.
We start with the 4-0 Ducks. They're coming off a 49-0 trouncing of Arizona.
On paper, everything in this game is pointing towards an offensive explosion for Oregon. John Breech of CBSSports.com reports that the fifth ranked Ducks offense (571 ypg) will be facing a WSU defense ranked 105th overall (471.5 ypg), and 122nd against the pass (344.5 ypg).
Look for QB Marcus Mariota to easily throw for more than his current career-high of 308 yards in a game. Two weeks ago, he became the first freshman signal-caller at Oregon to throw for 300 yards since 1991.
He and RB De'Anthony Thomas should be able to score at will with their run-first, spread offense. Even if the Ducks pass a little bit more than usual, Thomas always finds himself involved somehow.
He leads the team in receptions (13) out of the backfield, and already has seven touchdowns through the first four games. After tearing it up as a freshman last year with 18 total TDs, he finds himself in the midst of the Heisman discussion in 2012.
It's not a question of whether or not Oregon will put up points against the Cougars. That's a given. But can WSU hold the Ducks under 50? Not a chance.
From the other perspective, the only hope Leach's Washington State squad has is to outgun Oregon. One thing we learned from his decade at Texas Tech is that he's not afraid to throw the ball 60 times in a game.
Regardless of the outcome, watch for junior WR Marquess Wilson to have his third straight multi-TD performance for WSU. He, again according to John Breech of CBSSports.com, needs only 46 yards in this game to become the all-time leading receiver in school history.
Yes, it's true that the Ducks are coming off an impressive shutout of Rich Rodriguez's Arizona team. The Wildcats came into that game ranked in the top-10 in offense.
But this is the first time a much-improved Oregon secondary will have faced an aerial master such as Leach. Not to mention, the Ducks have only nine sacks through their first four games, meaning Wilson should have plenty of time to get open.
With the amount of scoring that figures to take place in this game, these three will hardly be the only ones to make a difference. Yet, when it comes to lighting up the scoreboard, there's no better candidates than Oregon's QB and RB tandem, and Washington State's soon-to-be record-setting WR.
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