Since a surprising season-opening loss at home to Eastern Washington, Oregon State has looked much more like the team that earned a preseason spot in both major polls. The Beavers are on a four-game winning streak that includes a pair of wins against conference foes.
Washington State, meanwhile, has taken some important steps forward in Mike Leach's second season at the helm. The Cougars already have two conference wins, doubling their total from a year ago, and that includes a road win at USC. The Cougars also acquitted themselves well at Auburn, and they've positioned themselves for a potential bowl bid.
Rankings and records: Oregon State is 4-1 (2-0) on the year, and Washington State is 4-2 (2-1). Neither squad is ranked. The Cougars are 48-46-3 against the Beavers all-time.
Vegas: Washington State is a 1-point favorite, while the over/under opened at 63.
Weather: The high in Pullman is expected to reach 54 degrees, and there is a 30 percent chance of rain.
Three names to know
Sean Mannion -- Everyone's familiar with Marcus Mariota, but there's another quarterback in the state of Oregon putting up impressive numbers, and that's Mannion. He's quietly in the midst of a brilliant season, in fact. He has yet to throw for fewer than 367 yards in a game, he has a 21-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio and his completion percentage is 67.2. He threw for 2,446 yards all of last year and could eclipse that total on Saturday.
Gabe Marks -- After a solid freshman debut for Washington State last season, Marks has assumed the role of go-to guy in the Cougars' offense. He has 41 receptions for 478 yards and four scores this season, putting him on pace to easily surpass his output in 2012.
Brandin Cooks -- Cooks has been on the receiving end of a lot Mannion's throws, and he leads the nation in receptions (52), receiving yardage (807) and receiving touchdowns (nine).
Two things at stake
There is no margin for error in the Pac-12 North, where Stanford and Oregon are a combined 5-0. If the Beavers want to maintain any shot at a stunning division title, they've got to keep pace by taking care of Washington State. With Cal up next, a 4-0 start to league play is doable and essential with the Cardinal, Ducks and Washington looming on the back half of the schedule. A victory over the Cougars would also have the Beavers one win away from bowl eligibility.
Washington State is also a pair of victories away from bowl eligibility, but getting there appears a bit more iffy in the Cougars' case, which is why a win over Oregon State would be meaningful. The Cougars also haven't won five games or more in a season since 2007.
How to witness
TV: ESPNU, 10:30 p.m. ET
Online streaming: WatchESPN