Left Coast Hidden Gem: Wazzu Faces Test With Eastern Washington

Mark Lathrop

Wednesday, September 12, 2018 1:25 PM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 12, 2018 1:25 PM UTC

Coverage doesn't get more local than this, as Mark Lathrop breaks down his alma mater's trip to Pullman for a matchup with the Cougars. Just so happens his Eastern Washington Eagles are good at football.

2018 NCAAF Record: 7-4, +6.28u
*Note: Record includes official Twitter selections (@mlathrop3)

Eastern Washington (2-0 SU) at Washington State (2-0 SU)Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)Free NCAAF Picks: Eastern Washington +17 and Over 65Best Lines Offered: 5Dimes

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In the pass-happy offense of Washington State, you had better protect the quarterback. That was one of the more surprising statistics I found while breaking down the Cougars this week, in that they have yet to give up a sack this season. That is a reasonable expectation against San Jose State in Week 2, but not of Wyoming in Week 1 on the road. And maybe it could just be the fact that the Cougars have played very bad teams – with Wyoming losing an NFL QB and all. Their line will be tested against Eastern Washington, which recorded five sacks against Northern Arizona last week. In fact, my parlay was busted because they hit the Lumberjacks’ QB and took him out of the game in the first quarter – leaving an EWU side cover to wilt as Northern Arizona’s offense wilted and couldn’t cash the "over."

Getting all of this time for the Cougars is ECU transfer Gardner Minshew, who is averaging 366 yards per game over his first 2 games as a Cougar with a 66.7 completion rate. That yardage is not actually good for a QB playing in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, nor is his 6/3 TD/INT rate. Again, he has thrown 3 picks without being sacked once.

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4️⃣0️⃣2️⃣ Total Yards, 4️⃣ TD’s & a Top 25 Road Win earns @Gagegubs his 1st @ROOTSPORTS_NW #BigSkyFB Offensive Player of the Week of 2018#ProtectTheRed #GoEags pic.twitter.com/ucy4GgUIFB

— No. 5/6 EWU Football (@EWUFootball) September 10, 2018
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The Eagles are ranked sixth in the FCS, and always bring their A-game when matching up with Wazzu or the University of Washington. Their players were likely passed up from these FBS programs on their way to playing for Eastern Washington, after all. They’ve destroyed two teams in their first two weeks, and even I was concerned about a look-forward spot last week against Northern Arizona. That didn’t happen and they covered the -1 line with ease. They have been placed as a 16.5-point underdog against the Cougars.

I believe that line is set up to be a trap, as it sits next to the important number of 17. This will be a defensive test for the Cougars for sure, especially with EWU quarterback Gage Gubrud healthy and carrying a 9/0 TD/INT rate into this game. The total is also of interest to me as EWU tends to be able to score on anyone and has another Cooper Kupp-caliber receiver on their hands with Nsimba Webster, who is averaging 194 yards per game. The total was 65 at 5Dimes at press time and I’m all over it thinking one team scores in the 40s with ease. That’s two picks for this Inland Empire matchup and I won’t be surprised if EWU threatens to upset the Cougars outright.

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