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October 11, 2013

NOTEBOOK: Pivotal game for WSU

PULLMAN, Wash. | It's week seven of the 2013 football season and Washington State has a pivotal game this weekend against another four-win Pac-12 foe in Oregon State. Sean Mannion and the Beavers come to Martin Stadium boasting the country's top pass offense in what could amount to a classic shootout.

Though it seems the importance of this weekend's matchup has been shoved to the back burner, hiding in the shadow of ESPN's College GameDay setting up their production in enemy territory on the University of Washington campus. Flags, Ducks and Huskies have dominated the WSU social-sphere -- a perplexing yet understandable topic for Washington State fans.

Saturday night's game between WSU and OSU (7:30 p.m., ESPNU) has implications for both teams seeking to establish a firm grip on bowl game hopes and a huge game for WSU, who has suffered as a conference doormat for the better part of a decade.

That label could change in a hurry on Saturday night. Call me crazy, but there should be more talk about this game and less talk about whether a few Huskies fans try to tear down 'Ol Crimson on its 138th consecutive appearance on the ESPN Saturday set.

A resurgent and resilient Connor Halliday has a chance to establish his mark on this season in front of a sellout in Martin Stadium. The offense seems to be gelling at the right time and for the first time in what seems like an eternity there is jitters, nerves and excitement for a Cougar football game this late in the year. It's a chance to rise to the occasion, a chance to make a statement and win a game that many should be upset should they lose, yet look back on as a turning point in WSU football should they win. Forget the losing and the "2014 is the year it all comes together" talk.

The Cougars have a chance to speed up that process and make 2013 the year things turned around, starting with Oregon State on a brisk Pullman Saturday night in front a packed house.


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