No. 8 Wash. St. rides strong defense into tilt with Cal

The whispers that Washington State could become part of the College Football Playoff discussion are getting louder each week.

The Cougars (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) are up to No. 8 in the rankings following a convincing 33-10 road win over Oregon. While Washington State continues to operate an efficient passing game under coach Mike Leach, it now has something that could push the Cougars to the elite level — a defense.

The Cougars are off to their best start since 2001 after winning their first road game of the season in Eugene, Ore.

“It’s a starting point,” Leach said. “We play on the road again next week and we’re going to have to improve.”

DEPLETED RECEIVERS: Burmeister’s debut was impacted by key injuries among Oregon’s receivers. Senior Charles Nelson remained out with a right ankle injury while Dillon Mitchell, who was also injured in the first half against Cal, was unavailable because of a concussion.

NOT FOOLED: Leach said Washington State was prepared for either Burmeister or Alie.

“They did all that cloak and dagger, `Guess who’s going to play?’ which we didn’t care because they have an offensive identity that they’ve had for a long time and obviously that guy was going to try and duplicate that.”

It’s troubling to see Hoffman on the third line for the Senators. His minutes are fine through two games, thanks to time on the power play, but he’s not going to achieve his potential Kids Football Jerseys Cheap as a 250-shot, 30-goal scorer by playing away from Mark Stone, Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan and Derick Brassard at Good Quality Cheap Jerseys even strength. Right now he’s skating with Tom Pyatt and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. This could — and will — change at some point, as Hoffman is too good to bury here. But for now, his stock is sinking.

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