Fans: Get off your butts!

PULLMAN -- The leaves are turning, the air's a little crisper and the question still remains: Do you believe yet?

What's it gonna take to make people believe in the 2001 Cougs? 5-0? 6-0?

Since the Mighty Cats of the Palouse can only play one game a week we'll have to settle on the notion of 5-0 for a bit.

Getting there, however, will be no easy task with the likes of Dennis Erickson, Ken Simonton and Dennis Weathersby lurking on the other sideline.

A huge push from the home field crowd could be what tips the scales, says Cougar head man Mike Price, a man underwhelmed by the patently pathetic fan support his team receives.

"Right now, it's not an advantage for the Cougars to play at home because the crowds aren't loud and it's not filled and it's not a negative for the opponent at all. But it can be. I've been here 13 years and I guarantee you, it can be. It can be (difficult) to play here, and that's the way I would like it to be this weekend."

If the Cougs are able to put the hurt on OSU on Saturday it would almost guarantee WSU a place in both of the Top 25 polls. The Cougars are currently No. 29 in the Associated Press poll and No. 33 in the USA Today poll of coaches. The Insiders.com network has the Cougs at No. 21, while ESPN analyst Chris Fowler pens them in at No. 20.

"This is a point in the season when they (WSU) can rise up and show that they are a contender," ESPN analyst Mike Hayes said Thursday on College Gameday.

Through four games at least, the Cougars have played the part of conference contender, averaging over 44 points a game and allowing only 68 yards a game on the ground.

One reason for WSU's strong start is the schedule of early, very winnable games. Oregon State (1-2) on the other hand has faced two teams now in the Top 10: Fresno State and UCLA.

"I think our schedule's been good for us and not so much for them (OSU)," Price said. "They've played two top ten games and we haven't. We're improving with every game we're playing and I'm pleased with that."

Another thing Price should be pleased with is a quick, opportunistic defense that ranks fifth in the conference and has drawn comparisons to the squad Erickson boasted a year ago.

The loss of standout cornerback Marcus Trufant for up to six weeks with a broken wrist is big blow, Price knows his team is a confident bunch that won't be intimidated by the Beavers.

"I think our confidence level has really helped," Price said. "Our schedule is really conducive to helping us improve. It's been a nice gradual thing. Our players have great maturity, and it all goes back to last year. We were very close last year, and people don't realize that. Our guys are a lot better than a year ago."

INJURY UPDATE

POSSIBLE: OT Billy Knotts (dislocated knee cap), RB Jimmy Wilson (quad bruise)

DOUBTFUL: LB Alex Nguae (ankle sprain), Tomasi Kongaika (knee patella)

OUT: LB Will Derting (ACL, right knee), OL Gerald Cook (left knee) CB Marcus Trufant (broken wrist)

SCORING STREAKS

WSU currently has three significant scoring streaks on the line:

  • The Cougars have scored in 199 consecutive Pacific-10 games, the longest active streak for any league team ... the last time WSU was shut out in Pac-10 play was at Oregon State in 1975;
  • WSU has scored in 193 consecutive games since a 44-0 shutout at Ohio State in 1984;
  • The Cougars have scored in 164 consecutive home games since a 21-0 loss to Oregon State in Pullman in 1956.

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