Washington State at BYU
Kickoff: Thursday, 10:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Spread: BYU by 12.5
Watchability: Find a TV and get in front of it. Mike Leach is back on the sideline for the first time since 2009. Craig James probably won't be watching, but if you're a college football fan and its not past your bedtime, you'll probably want to tune in.
Shining stars: Washington State: No one's sure if Washington State's defense is any good, so you'll only want to keep your eyes on the offense. Quarterback Jeff Tuel could put up some big numbers, especially since he'll be throwing to preseason All-Pac-12 wide receiver Marquess Wilson. BYU: Quarterback Riley Nelson has had an up-and-down career at BYU, but he might play a little better this season now that he's the definitive starter. For the past two years, Nelson had been competing with 2011 opening day starter Jake Heaps for the job. However, Heaps is now at Kansas, which means the pressure is now on Nelson.
Who could steal the show: Washington State: True freshman wide receiver Gabe Marks could make a name for himself on national television. Leach has been high him throughout camp and if BYU starts to focus their defensive attention on Wilson, Marks could make them pay. BYU: If anyone's going to steal the show Thursday, it's the BYU defense. If the BYU defense shuts down WSU's offense, then the game could turn into a blowout, which means everyone on the east coast could be in bed by halftime.
You going? Ranking the road trip: If you're a Washington State fan looking to party, this probably isn't the game you want to attend. BYU has been named the Princeton Review's No. 1 "Stone-Cold Sober" school for 15 years running. That being said, the Leach era is being ushered in Thursday, so if you're a Washington State that lives within a two-hour drive of Provo, you should probably be at this game.
Magic number for Washington State: 38. Washington State surrendered 38 sacks last season, which was the 10th-highest total in the country. The offensive line has to do a better job of protecting Tuel against BYU. If Tuel doesn't get time to throw, WSU will be in big trouble.
Magic number for BYU: 13. In 13 games last season, BYU only surrendered 13 touchdown passes -- an average of one per game -- which was the 13th-best showing in the country. If BYU only gives up one touchdown pass to Washington State Thursday, WSU will be in a load of trouble.
The game comes down to: Leach's Air Raid offense. If Washington State is running the Air Raid well, this game will turn into a shootout. WSU won't have much margin for error in Provo, as BYU is the more talented team. Washington State's best chance for winning this game is if Tuel and the offense can hit the 35-point mark. That may seem obvious, but the WSU defense probably won't be much help, as the unit surrendered 31.8 points per game last season.
Prediction: Washington State 37, BYU 34