WSU'S DAZZLING DAY IN EUGENE

EUGENE -- Dazzling? Cool? With the Cougars clicking on all cylinders, <I>Sports Illustrated</I>'s proclamation of Oregon's glory looked woefully off target Saturday. And rest assured, the magazine's notorious jinx had nothing to do with it. This was just a good ol' fashioned fanny kicking, with the blasting and blitzing Cougar defense setting the tone and the opportunistic offense making big play after big play.

Washington State 55, Oregon 16.

Believe it.

"Does this make the Cougars a 43-point favorite against Michigan?" quipped color commentator Jim Walden.

The No. 21 Cougars, four-point underdogs to the No. 10 Ducks, immediately go to the head of the Pac-10 class with Cal's gigantic upset of No. 3 USC, and surly will return to the place in the polls where they've spent most of the previous two seasons: in the top 15.

Their work Saturday, in a place where the home team rarely loses, was a thing of beauty. Flea flickers, halfback passes, big sticks, great picks, blocked kicks, batted balls. The most points ever surrendered by a vistor at Autzen, and the worst beating of a Duck team since 1977. This one had it all.

Maybe not rich (at least in the Phil Knight sense), but definitely cool and now 4-1.

Long live Damage Inc. (a.k.a. Jeremey Williams, Will Derting, Erik Coleman and the rest of the Cougars' merry band of defenders.

There was defensive back Jeremy Bohannon recovering a fumble, nabbing an interception, and scooping up a blocked punt by Jason Hill and taking it five yards to paydirt.

There was Sammy Moore and Devard Darling grabbing long first quarter passes from Matt Kegel for TDs, turning the vaunted Oregon audience from loud to low-key.

There was D.D. Acholonu serving notice early on that these Cougars weren't impressed by SI's gushing over Oregon's fancy new lockers, wacky uniforms and victory over Michigan. He blocked a punt, posted a sack and generally let Duck QB Kellen Clemens know his day was going to be a bruising one.

And who could forget Jason David, the master of trash talk, whispering sweet nothings into Samie Parker's ear after the Duck standout dropped what seemed a sure TD. Parker takes a swing, earns a personal foul, and Jason Fife gets picked off by Don Jackson on the very next play. Five snaps later, the Cougs are up 24-2, courtesy of the first of Jermaine Green's two TDs on the day.

The highlight reel is so long it will be playing from here to eternity.

The Cougar D came up with a school record nine turnovers --- two fumbles and seven interceptions. Mind you, until today the Ducks hadn't tossed a single INT all season. And don't forget the two blocked punts. Or the mere 45 net yards rushing the Cougs allowed Oregon.

WSU defensive coordinator Robb Akey had so much to cheer about that his hoarse voice at game's end sounded all the world like a cross between Sly Stallone and Waylon Jennings, with a little Jessie Ventura sprinkled in.

Kegel, despite battling center snap woes with youngsters Nick Mihlhauser and Riley Fitt-Chappell filling in for Mike Shelford, completed 13 of 33 passes for 244 yards, three TDs and no interceptions.

The Cougars led 17-2 after the first quarter and 38-2 at intermission. Oregon coach Mike Belotti was aghast. "That was the worst half of football I've ever seen."

Speak for yourself, Mike.

Except for the usual plethora of penalties, Bill Doba & Co. had no complaints.

NEXT WEEK: Cougars at home vs. Arizona. Some tickets still available.

SCORING SUMMARY

1st QUARTER
WSU - Sammy Moore 41 yard pass from Matt Kegel (Dunning kick)
WSU - Drew Dunning 41 yard field goal
WSU - Devard Darling 38 yard pass from Kegel (Dunning kick)
ORE - Safety/punt blocked through endzone

2nd QUARTER
WSU - Jermaine Green 1 yard run (Dunning kick)
WSU - Virgil Williams 45 yard interception return (Dunning kick)
WSU - Jeremy Bohannon 5 yard blocked punt return (Dunning kick)

3rd QUARTER
ORE - Terrence Whitehead 4 yard run (Siegel kick)
WSU - Jermaine Green 23 yard run (Dunning kick)
ORE - Demetrius Williams 26 yard pass from Kellen Clemens (Siegel kick)

4th QUARTER
WSU - Troy Bienemann 13 yard pass from Kegel (Dunning kick)
WSU - Dunning 45 yard field goal

INDVIDUAL STATS

Passing:
WSU - Kegel 13-33-244-3-0; Swogger 1-1-42-0-0; J. Smith 1-1-30-0-0
Oregon - Clemens 16-35-232-1-4; Fife 8-24-137-0-3.

Rushing:
WSU - Green 11-48-2; Smith 15-45; Kegel 7-12; L. Anderson 4--3; Swogger 1--13
Oregon - Whitegead 11-48-2; Vincent 7-17; Clemens 10-10; Washington 1-4; Fife 1-0.

Receiving:
WSU - Moore 3-103-3; Darling 3-71-1; Harvey 1-42; Jordan 3-36; Boyd 2-33; Bienemann 2-19-1; Green 1-12
Oregon - Williams 9-175-1; Parker 4-57; Taylor 3-50; Maxwell 2-30; Whitehead 2-21; Weatherspoon 2-20

Interceptions:
WSU - Bohannon 1, Coleman 1, David 2, Wagner 1, D. Jackson 1, V. Williams 1.

Sacks:
WSU - Acholonu 2

Tackles (leaders only):
WSU - Coleman 8, Acholonu 6

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