Cougar-Vandal Notebook

THE REIGNING PAC-10 champions open the 2003 season against a cross-border rival widely considered one of the worst teams in all of Division I.

It's a mismatch of immense proportion, made more so with Idaho's decision to play a rookie QB rather than their all-conference senior. Here are all the notable notes to help you enjoy this inaugural Saturday:

WHEN: Saturday, kickoff 7:30 p.m. PDT

WHERE:Seahawk Stadium (63,000, Field Turf)

TV: Live on FOX Sports Northwest; replay Sunday 10 a.m.

THE LINE: Cougars by 28 1/2

KEY COUGAR INJURIES: Senior guard Billy Knotts, out 4-6 weeks (thumb); sophomore back up QB Chris Hurd (knee) out for the year.

THE SERIES: The Cougars and Vandals have been playing football against each other since 1894. WSU has won 65 of the 85 games, Idaho 17, with three ties. The Cougars have opened the season against Idaho 11 times, winning eight and losing three. This game will be the sixth in school history that WSU has played in the month of August. The Cougars are 3-2 all-time in the month.

DOBA NOT THE FIRST: Bill Doba will be the fourth Cougar head coach since World War II to inaugurate his crimson tenure against Idaho. The others were Mike Price in 1989, Jim Sweeney in 1968 and Phil Sarboe in 1945. The Cougars won all those games.

Another Cougar head man, legendary Babe Hollingbery, debuted against a team from Idaho as well: little College of Idaho in Caldwell. In Babe's rookie campaign of 1926 the Cougars opened with a 35-0 victory over the Presbyterian liberal arts school. The clubs would play each other in each of the next six seasons. When the series ended, the Cougars were 7-0 and held a 315-12 scoring advantage. That may help explain why C of I (now called Albertson College of Idaho) prudently decided to drop its football program.

KEGEL COMES IN HOT: Fifth-year senior Matt Kegel has shown in three scrimmages this month why he is the Cougars' starter. He went 14-for-14 in WSU's first scrimmage and in the three scrimmages he was a combined 33-for-44 (73 percent) for 394 yards and three scores. Despite being Jason Gesser's understudy all these years, Kegel is no stranger to real-game action, having tossed for more than 1,000 air yards in his career. He also guided the Cougars to a rare win over USC in Los Angeles in 2000 when Gesser was out with injury.

HEAVY HOSSES: The projected starters on WSU's offensive line weigh a combined 1,510 pounds and average 302 pounds. Three of the starters weigh in at over 300 pounds. Josh Parrish leads the way at 324 pounds, while Sam Lightbody is at 319 pounds and Calvin Armstrong at 311. The actual "lightbodies" are center Mike Shelford at 269 and right guard Nick Mihlhauser at 287. Billy Knotts, at 282, was the projected starter at right guard but suffered a broken thumb in WSU's last scrimmage and is out for several weeks.

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