No. 6 Cougars prepare for Oregon State's potent offense

Updated: October 21, 2003, 7:39 PM ET

SPOKANE, Wash. -- The way you stop the best running back in the Pac-10 Conference is to give him a big bear hug before he gets out of the backfield, Washington State coach Bill Doba advises.

The problem is getting to Oregon State's Steven Jackson before he gets up a full head of steam, Doba said Tuesday in his weekly teleconference from Pullman.

No. 6 Washington State (6-1, 3-0 Pac-10) hosts the Beavers (5-2, 2-1) Saturday at Martin Stadium in Pullman.

The game features the conference's top pass offense and rush defense -- the Cougars -- against the Beavers, which boast the league's best pass defense and best rushing offense.

Jackson, a junior, is second in the nation in all-purpose running and leads the conference in rushing, averaging more than 132 yards per game, with 10 touchdowns.

"Try to stop him in the backfield as much as you can," Doba said. "Once he gets going, he's a load -- he's 235 pounds, 6-foot-3 -- and he has good speed. His yards after first contact are incredible.

"So you want to try to get to him early and when you get there, you'd better wrap up."

Doba said the Beavers' 38-17 loss to Washington may have hurt the Cougars' chances.

"I'd rather see them win and come in here fat and sassy," Doba said. "Some people say that created a little doubt, so that might help us. Overall, I would have liked to see them win -- not only because they were playing the Huskies -- but I think it would have helped us."

Doba predicts a tight game between teams which rank at the top of many of the conference offensive and defensive statistics.

Individually, OSU quarterback Derek Anderson leads the conference in passing average and total offense, averaging about 285 yards per game. Right behind him is Cougars quarterback Matt Kegel, with 275 yards.

Washington State's passing offense averages 294 yards per game. Oregon State's pass defense is holding opponents to 220 yards per game. The Cougars are No. 2 in scoring offense, averaging 33 points per game and just ahead of the Beavers, who average 29.

Oregon State leads the conference in rushing offense, averaging 170 yards per game, while the Cougars are best in rushing defense, limiting opponents to 76 yards.

OSU leads the conference in total offense, averaging 461 yards per game. WSU is second, with 429. In total defense, the Cougars are tops, holding opponents to 306 yards, while the Beavers are second, at 317 yards.

The Cougars lead the nation in turnover margin, taking two more than they give up per game.

"We're a high-risk offense. We're going to throw it two or three times and score, or we might be three-and-out," Doba said. "Therefore, I think we've got to be a high-risk defense and we've got to come after people."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index