Baylor will get on the road in two days and head up to Seattle, but what should we be focusing on heading up to gametime?
I think there are a few very important matchups in this game.
1. Jason Hill v. CJ Wilson -
Hill is an All-American caliber receiver and Wilson is an All-American caliber cornerback. Here are both teams best players and they are going to match up in a battle that will go a long way in determining the winner. Wilson is leading the nation in interceptions with 3 INTs in two games, and Hill is averaging over 18 yards per catch with one TD.
Edge: Wilson. I usually like to give the receiver the edge, but despite his excellent average, Hill has only caught 6 passes all year, and Brink (WSUs starting QB) has thrown for less than 300 yards in both games this year.
2. Baylor DL v. WSU OL -
Washington State has good starters on the line, though without a lot of depth. Baylor's defensive line has been a weakness for many years, and despite a lot of seniors on the line, they continue to be the weakness. The ends are going to have to manufacture some sort of push against WSUs very good tackles, and our defensive tackles are going to have to hold up against their interior line as WSU will try to cram the ball down our throats. Baylor held TCU to 2.9 yards per rush, so there is a chance that we will be able to contain the WSU attack, but we will have to give a big effort here to win.
Edge: WSU OL. Baylor's DL is going to have a lot to prove in this game. Let's hope they are up to the challenge.
[Vincent Rhodes and Charles Harris pictured]
3. Woolridge v. Jones/Pawelek/Moore -
Baylor's linebackers are going to have to step up this week to control Washington State's starting running back Woolridge. He's a small back, but he has great speed and was racking up big yardage (over 80 yards in the second quarter) against Auburn before going down with a deep thigh bruise. He didn't play against Idaho, so he'll be rested and ready to go this week against Baylor.
Edge: Woolridge. Jones, JoePa and Nick are talented, but they have shown their inexperience this year. They will have to play much better to contain this back.
[I know, I know, that's Colin Allred, not any of our current Linebackers, but hey, you try and find a picture of Jones, Pawelek or Moore. It's a no-go!]
4. Zeigler/Shelton v. WSU Secondary -
Shelton is coming off of a 9-catch, 158-yard game and Zielger got some much needed rest for his shoulder last week and should be ready to return to action. With the offense struggling a little bit, Bell will likely look to these two dependable receivers when push comes to shove. WSUs secondary is not that good. They gave up 220 yards passing to Idaho last week, and 191 yards to Auburn on opening day, while those totals might not sound bad, they are giving up 16.44 yards per completion (411 yards on 25 completions). Facing a team that is going to throw it 40+ times with a QB that is completing his passes at a 63.6% clip, that is not good news.
Edge: Zeigler/Shelton. I don't expect Baylor to average 16 yards per completion, but the big plays should be there for the taking, if the Baylor receivers can hold onto the ball.
That's two for Baylor, two for WSU. I have to say, I feel really good about our receivers against their secondary, and I feel really worried about their OL against our DL. I'm having a hard time convincing myself to predict a Baylor victory, honestly. I believe we CAN win, but I have no idea what to expect out of the team.
BUT! No need to worry about a prediction, yet. There's plenty of time for that yet.