Opinion: football key matchups

Cougars open season against Aggies with multiple advantages on offense



Sophomore running back Max Borghi runs and scores a touchdown during the Crimson and Gray game on April 20 in Martin Stadium.

SHAWN P. O'CONNOR, Evergreen reporter

Expectations have never been higher for No. 23 WSU football. A year after posting a program-record 11 wins, the Cougars find themselves in the AP preseason poll for only the fourth time since 1952.

How can WSU get its season off on the right foot this weekend? Here are three key matchups as Washington State looks to defeat the Aggies.

  1. WSU run game vs New Mexico State front seven

The Aggies had one of the worst run defenses in the NCAA last year, giving up 268.4 yards per game on the ground. WSU returns its best runner from 2018 in Max Borghi along with a talented short-yardage back in redshirt junior Clay Markoff. First-time starter Anthony Gordon will likely be eased into his new role, feeding his backs carries as the veteran offensive line for the Cougars look to roll over the Aggies.

2. WSU scoring offense vs New Mexico State scoring defense

The Cougars had a tremendous scoring offense last season, scoring 37.5 points per game, good for 15 in the nation. New Mexico State’s scoring defense was one of the worst in DI last season, giving up the fifth-most points per game in the nation at 496 points. Expect Washington State to score early and often over the Aggies.

3. WSU pass rush vs New Mexico offensive line

WSU’s pass rush was lethal last season, collecting 38 sacks in 13 games. New Mexico State’s signal-callers were sacked 40 times last year, fifth-most in the nation. Expect the Aggies to pass the ball on nearly every down as they fall behind Mike Leach’s Air Raid, opening pass-rushing lanes for the WSU front seven.

The Cougars have a marked advantage on all levels of this contest. Expect WSU to coast to an easy victory Saturday night.

WSU wins 45-10.