Bring on da Bears

ELEVEN-POINT favorites? The Cougars? A team that has won all of three --- yes, 3 -- Pac-10 games in the last three seasons is favored to open their conference season with a nearly-two-TD margin?

GAME AT
A GLANCE

CAL PLAYERS
TO WATCH:
Cal OLB Scott Fujita is as good as they get and tailback Joe Igber is a fiesty little devil.

KICKOFF:
2 pm Saturday at Martin Stadium.

TELEVISION:
No Live coverage, but Fox Sports Northwest will air the replay Sunday, at 10 am.

LAST WEEK:
The cancellation of games last Saturday hurt both WSU and California. For Cal, scheduled to play Rutgers, it removed a legitimate shot at getting a win before diving into the meat of its Pac-10 schedule --- WSU, then Washington, Oregon, UCLA and Oregon State. For the Cougars, a win against high-profile Colorado would no doubt have brought on a Top 25 ranking. The loss of the Colorado game, which was to be televised, also cost the Cougars a $300,000 pay day.

LAST SEASON:
Erik Coleman' blocked a Nick Harris punt late in the fourth quarter to set up a 10-yard TD pass from Jason Gesser to Marcus Williams, giving the Cougars a 21-17 come-from-behind victory in Berkeley. The Cougar D, which held the Bears on four downs inside the Cougar 11-yard-line with a minute to play, limited the Bears to 89 passing yards on the day.

THE SERIES:
WSU is 13-5-1 against Cal since 1979, but still trails overall 36-23.

Oh, the times, how they are a changin'!

Apparently domination of the Potato State's finest has Las Vegas odds makers believing in Mike Price's undefeated bunch for the first time since 1997.

Or maybe it's just that they think California's Golden Bears — 0-2 with a pair of nearly identical drubbings at the hands of lowly Illinois and resurgent BYU — are that bad. And maybe, just maybe, the sporting world has resigned itself to the fact "Jesus In Cleats" — the moniker hung around the neck of Cal junior QB Kyle Boller before he'd even set foot on campus — is no messiah after all.

Of course, it doesn't hurt matters any that two of the Cougars' three Pac-10 wins since 1997 have come at the expense of these very same Berkeley Bears. Or that the Cougars have won ten straight over the Bears when playing at home.

Fourth-year Cal head coach Tom Holmoe stated at season's start that he'd be gone if a winning campaign didn't materialize this season. To stay employed, a win at WSU is pretty much a necessity.

The Bears' rocky start has deflated the hype that surrounded Holmoe's biggest off-season move: Hiring Al Borges away from UCLA to become the Bears' offensive coordinator. Surrendering 44 points each to Illinois and BYU while posting but 17 and 16, respectively, one has to presume the Borges Bears are still more teddy than Kodiak. A year ago, Cal ranked dead last in the Pac-10 with a 22-point per-game scoring average.

NOTABLE NOTES

WSU ranks 13th nationally in rushing defense -- its Achilles heel a year ago — allowing 64 yards per game.

Senior Cougar slotback Nakoa McElrath leads the nation in receiving yards with 251 on 18 catches.

Brent Woodall, a Cal tight end in the early 1990s, is one of the thousands of people missing terrorist attack, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Woodall, a member of Cal's Citrus Bowl team in '91, worked as a stock trader on the 89th floor of the South Tower. Woodall called his father immediately after the North Tower was hit to tell him he was fine.

Two members of Cal's coaching staff were tabbed by Cougfan.com two years ago for it's All-Century All-Pac-10 Team: former Stanford receiver Ken Margerum and former Cal tackle Ed White.

Five true freshmen have played in WSU's first two games this season: linebacker Will Derting (Okanogan), receiver Trandon Harvey (San Diego), running backs Jimmy Wilson (Phoenix) and Allen Thompson (National City, Calif.) and defensive back Jeremy Bohannon (Richland).


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