Turning up heat on nervous Pete sits w/ fans

A SUGGESTION FOR the folks who operate the replay screen at Martin Stadium: About two hours before kickoff on Saturday, start running a continuous loop of footage from the Cougars' 30-27 overtime win over USC in 2002. And turn the sound up loooouuuddddd. <b>Pete Carroll</b> told reporters this week that it gave him heartburn to relive that game in the film room the other day. So let's turn up the juice.

Let's get up-close-and-personal with those heart-warming visions of Rien Long bolting into the Trojan backfield. That long bomb from Jason Gesser to Sammy Moore is sure to tickle Pete's fancy as well. And you know Drew Dunning's 35-yard field goal to win it is one sharp burr in Pete's rear-end.

The Trojans are 27-1 since that glorious day on the Palouse two years ago. But it seems bad memories are hard to shake for ol' Pete.

"It was hard watching the film, because we didn't play very well and we had a game where we could have won, but we didn't," he said. "It was a hard fought game and we didn't take advantage of our opportunities. So it (the pain of looking at the film) doesn't go away.

"We had some guys who didn't survive it last time we went up (to Pullman). It's a typical turf field. The stands are very close and the crowd does a really good job of hollering at the right time and supporting their team. It's a little bit of a funky atmosphere …. It's not an easy place to play. It's a good home field advantage for them," he added.

Those comments echo the thoughts of Stanford head coach Buddy Teevens. After his team pulled out a nail biting win over the Cougars two weeks ago, he asked, "Is this place always this nuts?"

That helps explain why Pete, with thoughts of consecutive national titles dancing in his head, sounds like he's gearing up for a tour through downtown Fallujah.

"Here we go," he told reporters as the countdown to Pullman began. "We have a new adventure coming up, going up to the Northwest this week. We've had a great homestand. We've got to get our travel gear going and get ready to go again. WSU has been up and down a little bit, but they've shown some really good stuff on both sides of the ball. We've got to play really well, make sure we bring our game and get it done."

Does that sound like a guy whom oddsmakers have installed as a 24-point favorite?

So Coug fans, let's take advantage of that insecurity. Or paranoia. Or delayed-stress syndrome. Or whatever it is going on in Pete's head.

Our team on the field is young and mistake-prone. But those of us in the stands are seasoned veterans of three consecutive 10-win seasons.

We remember the last time the Cougars were this big an underdog to the No. 1 team in the nation – UCLA, with Troy Aikman, in 1988 – and how the mighty cats scratched and clawed back from a 21-point deficit to shock the nation.

That fabled game was in Los Angeles. This one is at home. We know the power of a unified and vocal crimson throng. We know how to turn up the juice at Martin Stadium. Let's give the Cougs a shot in the arm Saturday by turning the place into Pete Carroll's loudest nightmare. Let's have that big screen flashing with Carson Palmer going down in a heap and Jermaine Green sprinting 75 yards to paydirt.

Bill Doba acknowledges the scale of the hill his troops are being asked to take. "This is a tough challenge this week. It's the first time we've had a No. 1 team to Martin Stadium. It's a chance for our kids to make something happen and we're looking forward to it."

Let's give Bill a helping hand. We can turn Martin Stadium into Pete Carroll's very own Halloween house of horrors. This needs to be a case where Matt Leinert had better have a good grasp on sign language. From the moment the game starts, we faithful need to be deafening loud.

Strange things came happen in college football. And even stranger things happen when the home crowd is fired up.

No one is giving the Cougars a chance on Saturday.

All of us know better. We helped make the '82 Apple Cup a stunning upset. We were there in '86 when undefeated USC was the toast of Sports Illustrated and then got thrashed by Ed Blount and the Cougars. We welcomed the snow and laughed at the ice in '92 when another defending national champion came to town --- and went home with a Bledsoe-induced wimper.

"I think we have to look at it as having everything to gain and nothing to lose," says Doba. "We need to relax and try some things we haven't tried before. And really, USC has to help us. They have to put the ball on the ground. They have to make mistakes. They have to make incompletions or throw passes at us so we can get turnovers."

You, my friends, have the power to help make it happen. Show up early, stomp your feet and never, ever stop yelling. Ya gotta believe.

This is college football. This is Martin Stadium. These are our beloved Cougars. Anything can happen.

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