Seen & Heard 10/22

IF THE PAST IS prologue, one thing is certain this Saturday when Washington State and Oregon State square off in front of a national Fox Sports televison audience: Whistles will be blowing and flags flying. This clash of Northwest rivals features the two most penalized teams not just in the Pac-10, but the entire country.

The Cougars are No. 1 for most infractions -- 87 to OSU's 81 -- while the Beavers are tops in penalty yards -- 812 to WSU's 734.

Extrapolating those numbers to Saturday's tiff and it means we're on track to see a parade of yellow hankies on the order of a collective 24 for 220 yards. Better plan on a late dinner.

Kickoff is set for 3:30 PT. The No. 6-ranked Cougars are 6-1 and the Beavs 5-2. WSU is favored by 7 1/2.

THE SERIES: WSU leads 45-39-3, and has captured 18 of the last 23 games. The Cougars won the last meeting, in 2001, 34-27. Led by Dave Minnich, who rushed for 195 yards, scored one TD and passed for another, WSU jumped to a 31-0 lead in that one.

SUPER SAMMY: Sammy Moore is averaging 132 all-purpose yards per game this season, which puts him on pace to finish the year with 1,584 yards. That would place him fourth on WSU's single season list behind Bernard Jackson (2,118 in 1971), Steve Broussard (1,790 in 1989), Rueben Mayes (1,768 in 1984) and Broussard again (1,533 in 1988). Moore has 430 receiving yards, 216 punt return yards and 279 kickoff return yards for 925 total. A week ago he was picked by Sports Illustrated to its mid-season All-America team as the return specialist.

Another Cougar who deserves some props these days is middle linebacker Don Jackson, who had nine unassisted tackles and two assisted in the win at Stanford. The former JC All-American now has 43 stops on the season, just one shy of team leader Will Derting. Erik Coleman, last year's tackling king, is close behind at 40.

SPEAKING OF GREAT performances so far this season, how about Matt Kegel? Presuming the big guy can keep his shoulders healthy, it looks like he and USC's Matt Leinart will be the the front-runners for first-team All-Pac-10 quarterbacking honors. Their TD-to-INT ratios are outstanding (Kegel 13 and 4, Leinart 17 and 7). They both have a load of air yards (Kegel 1,926, Leinart 1,824) and they're both highly accurate, with Leinart completing just over 60 percent of his tosses and Kegel connecting on just less than 60 percent of his.

What's most impressive to me about Kegel is that he spreads the ball around. At least seven players have caught passes in every game this year. In all, six wide receivers, two tight ends and three running backs have catches this season.

NO UPDATED WORD YET on the health status of offensive tackle Sam Lightbody, who left the Stanford game with a neck stinger. Latest intelligence sounded like he'd be iffy at best for OSU. But rest assured it's not considered anywhere near as serious as the stinger that has shelved senior center Mike Shelford. When Lightbody left at Stanford, I made a point to focus for several snaps on his replacement, untested Charles Harris of Spokane. And I have to say the kid did pretty darn well, validating the flyer the Cougars took on him as "project" two years ago.

A HUGE SALUTE to Coug fan Brent Schwartz who drove from Minneapolis to Madison last weekend for the Wisconsin-Purdue game. He made the trek for one reason: To hoist the Cougar-head flag behind the heads of Chris Fowler & Gang on ESPN's GameDay. Despite being pelted by who knows what all by Badger fans, he succeeded magnificiently -- the Cougar logo was broadcast prominently from coast to coast. And yes, it was the very same flag that was hoisted during GameDay's coverage in Austin, Texas, two weeks ago when Tom Pounds (a.k.a. AlbuCOUGque) let 'er fly before the UT-Kansas State game. Tom, who crafted the pole and whose visiting mother made the flag, FedExed it all to Brent following an entertaining thread on the CF.C message board trying to get someone to do the honors in Madison.

Look for the amazing tradition to (hopefully) continue this weekend when GameDay takes its show to Ohio for the Bowling Green-Northern Illinois game. ONWARD!

FINE COMPANY: Since the start of the 2001 season, WSU is 25-6 -- the sixth-best record in the nation in that span behind Miami, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Texas and Georgia. In WSU history, it ranks up there with the storied Babe Hollingbery years of 1929, '30 and '31 when the Cougars went 21-3.


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