What they're saying: post-Oregon edition

THE COUGS' 34-23 dismantling of Oregon wasn't that close, according to reports across the Pacific Northwest. Scribes found several crimson-clad playmakers worthy of praise, dotting the WSU roster like so many ducks lined up in a pond. The Cougar stop corps brushed aside the No. 4 offense in the land, while Washington State's offense 'smacked somebody in the mouth' on their way to five touchdowns.

Here's what the media is saying Sunday morning.

Brink finished 20 for 23 for 179 yards, two touchdowns and an early interception when a receiver ran a bad route. "I didn't want it to be a big deal during the week, but this game means a lot to me," Brink said. "It always does. It's going to forever, so to stick it to 'em like that and play well feels good." One week after he was booed at home during a 21-3 loss to 10th-ranked California, Brink and his teammates were mobbed by hundreds of fans who poured out of the stands after WSU's biggest win since the 2003 Holiday Bowl victory over No. 5 Texas. A sellout crowd of 35,117 whooped it up on a gorgeous autumn afternoon. -Howie Stalwick, The Kitsap Sun

Like a weighty chain letter, Washington State passed along all of its previous problems to No. 16 Oregon on Saturday. Now, let the Ducks inherit the burden of red zone deficiency, quarterback second-guessing and even a Cougar-esque failed rally at the end. WSU will take the renewed enthusiasm and a 34-23 Martin Stadium upset. -Jamahl Corner, Tri Cities Herald

On a crisp, crimson fall afternoon in the Palouse, they jumped on top of 16th-ranked Oregon and held it together through some shaky moments in the fourth quarter to win 34-23 and capture their biggest victory since bringing down Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl. "We hit 'em in the mouth," said Dwight Tardy, the sophomore running back who had 145 yards, "and they kind of folded." -Bud Withers, The Seattle Times

The phone rang for backup defensive tackles Bryan Tarkington and Matt Eichelberger in the first quarter Saturday when starters Ropati Pitoitua and Aaron Johnson went down with injuries. The backups delivered... Tarkington said the injured starters plus Fevaea'i Ahmu, who has been out since reinjuring a foot against USC, "were there supporting us, telling us our reads and helping us. We're a family. We're always watching each other's backs." -Craig Smith, The Seattle Times

Oregon (5-2, 3-2) wasn't good enough on either side of the ball, not for a team with a top-20 ranking and Bowl Championship Series aspirations. Now, the national ranking looks like so much wishful thinking, the postseason aspirations will be scaled back, and the Washington and Oregon State games no longer look like sure victories. The Pac-10's two best teams, No. 3 USC and No. 11 California, rolled into Pullman and won. By the end of the season, those might qualify as quality wins, because if the Cougars can patch together a defensive line, they're going to be a factor. -Ken Goe, The Oregonian

Ducks coaches and players pretty much put Saturday's unexpected loss on themselves, citing their four turnovers as a bigger factor than Washington State's solid play. -Steve Bergum, The Mail Tribune

Even when it's 58 degrees and sunny here, there can be some vicious snowballs. Quarterback Dennis Dixon and running back Jonathan Stewart, the leaders of the Pacific-10 Conference's top offense, made mistake after mistake and played their way to the bench Saturday in a 34-23 loss to Washington State. -John Hunt, The Oregonian

A big key to the Cougars' success on defense was their ability to shut down Jonathan Stewart and the Oregon ground game. Stewart, one of the more celebrated prep recruits in state history two years ago after becoming Washington's all-time high school rushing leader with 7,755 yards in four years at Timberline High School, was held to 28 yards on 11 carries. -Craig Smith, The Seattle Times

There was an ugly case of indecent exposure Saturday in Martin Stadium. Oregon got exposed. For UO fans, the result was indecent. Washington State dominated the No. 16 Ducks on both sides of the line of scrimmage en route to a 34-23 victory before a crowd of 35,117, including a flood of students who abandoned the stands at the end to celebrate on the field. -Ken Goe, The Oregonian

So much for the Oregon Ducks playing for a Bowl Championship Series berth or a Pac-10 title. Four turnovers, lack of balanced offensive execution and an inability to stop Washington State's efficient, Alex Brink-led offense spelled doom for the Ducks on Saturday at Martin Stadium. -Jason Vondersmith, Portland Tribune

Collins had not scored his first TD until WSU's victory against Stanford in late September. In recent weeks, he started to become a bigger part of the game plan – Brink even predicted a couple weeks ago that Collins would have a few big games ahead. Was he really the red-zone savior WSU sought? "Not at all," he said, chuckling at the notion he could be a go-to threat. "I'm not the cure." But he was the answer Saturday, in time for the Cougars to get their first victory against a ranked team in three years and move one game closer to a bowl bid.-Todd Milles, Tacoma News Tribune

When it was done, fans poured onto the field. You'd have thought WSU had beaten Florida, not Oregon. "It's a big victory," Akey said. "That's a quality opponent we played." Evidence was considerable the Ducks could say the same thing. -Bud Withers, The Seattle Times

After a brief hesitation, Washington State students decided to rush the field, not because the pregame odds had been daunting or because the game had been dramatic. They rushed the field because they had waited so long for the chance. The Cougars hashed out their most satisfying win in years Saturday, capitalizing on four takeaways and rolling up a 24-point lead in a 34-23 upset of 16th-ranked Oregon. It came on a brisk and sunny afternoon at Martin Stadium and was witnessed by a capacity crowd, several hundred of whom climbed the student-side rails and joined the Cougars in celebration. -Dale Grummert, Lewiston Tribune

WSU cornerback Tyron Brackenridge picked off a Dennis Dixon pass and returned it 24 yards for a score early in the third quarter. He ran over to the Martin Stadium tunnel, pointed to the cheering crowd and sent a spiraling pass into the stands. Since it was an Oregon football, he was assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. "Best throw I ever had," Brackenridge said. -Todd Milles, Tacoma News Tribune

The lackluster first quarter landed the sophomore tailback on the bench for the second. Bellotti felt the fact both of his ankles were taped and a shortened week of practice hurt his tailback's psyche for the game. "I was just trying to get my head right," he said. "That's why they sat me out." Nothing much changed, however, as the Ducks turned 152 yards of offense into only a field goal. -Craig Smith, The Seattle Times

"I would like to say we're the better team," UO coach Mike Bellotti said. "We didn't show that today." Not to quibble, but the Ducks are suspect. Their come-from-behind victory over Oklahoma gets an asterisk because of officiating errors. It took a trick play to beat a 1-6 Fresno State team. -Ken Goe, The Oregonian

Jed Collins is sure to be on someone's radar now. The little-used tight end caught a touchdown pass and rushed for another score as Washington State upset No. 16 Oregon 34-23 Saturday, dealing a blow to the Ducks' hopes for a BCS bowl appearance. "Today, I think they just underestimated me. They didn't hear of me before this game," the 6-foot-2, 250 pound junior said. "If I can fly under the radar and get a couple of catches, I'm happy." -John K. Wiley, Associated Press

Chalk this one up to flexibility and resourcefulness, and that inevitably leads you to Collins, who in the constellation of Cougars playmakers ranks somewhere down in double digits. Understand that this is a banged-up team on both sides of the ball, only a facsimile of what its coaches might have imagined back in August. On offense, it has started four different line combinations, and the past two weeks, it's been minus its Nos. 1 and 3 tight ends. -Bud Withers, The Seattle Times

The loss of the two starting tackles prompted the Cougars to use a lot of 3-4 defense, with sophomore linebacker Cory Evans inserted as the fourth linebacker. He made the third-quarter interception at the Cougars 14 that put Dixon on the bench. -Craig Smith, The Seattle Times

The Ducks are trailing 13-3 at WSU, which means I'm planning a trip to the Vegas Bowl...WSU has not really stopped the Ducks but Oregon's offense has not looked sharp and the Cougars are not allowing it to get big plays. If Stewart can hold on to the ball in the second half, the Ducks should come back. Still--Las Vegas, where the fourth place Pac-10 team would end up in the Vegas Bowl, sounds really good to me right about now. -Aaron Fentris, The Oregonian

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