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Washington State vs. Cal: The Cougars and 3rd downs

The Washington State Cougars have had trouble staying on the field in 2012, as their offense has only converted 36 percent of their third downs this season, according to Cougcenter's Craig Powers.

But while that number may rank 92nd in the nation, Football Outsider's Bill Connelly's adjusted third down ratings tell a far different story. By evening out a team's third down chances compared to other teams, WSU's adjusted third down rate sits at 46 percent (33rd in the nation).

If that doesn't make much sense to you, Powers has a theory to help explain it:

"...Washington State is one of the worst teams on first and second down, but better than most on third down. The Cougars are among the most impacted by their poor performance on early downs, as they are 59 spots higher in adjusted third down rate than raw third down rate. Only Maryland makes a bigger jump than that."

Powers goes on to elaborate that he think's the Cougars early down performance will get better once they start clicking on the shorter routes of the Air Raid offense. And once they do, the rest of the Pac-12 could be looking at an offense close to that of the 2008 Texas Tech Red Raiders. Scary thought, folks.