What They're Saying: Post USC edition

THE PUNDITS WERE out in full force following Washington State's 47-14 fall to Southern Cal on Saturday. With quips, quotes and takes on another dominant performance from the No. 1 ranked Trojans, Cougar Charles Dillon's near game-changing kick-off return, quarterback Alex Brink's strong start and more. From Spokane to Los Angeles, here's what they're saying.

The amusement in the run-up to this game was the notion, apparently held by many of the Cougars and their most hopeful votaries, that the Cougs have so much deadly ordnance on their side that they had a reasonable chance of simply outscoring USC in a matchup of the Pac-10's two all-conference gunslingers, John David Booty and Alex Brink. John Blanchette, Spokesman-Review

Booty spread the outgoing bounty like bread to city-square birds. Nine Trojans receivers caught at least one pass and eight players had at least one carry. "Nice to see the balance," Trojans left tackle Sam Baker said. So when the lights literally went out on Washington State Coach Bill Doba's postgame news conference, it was . . . "Fitting for the night," Doba said. "I'm done." Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times

Midway through Bill Doba's postgame news conference, the lights went off in the interview tent just outside the Coliseum. "This is fitting for the night," the Washington State coach quipped. And with reason. -- Craig Smith, Seattle Times

With hopeful trepidation, Washington State's small contingent of fans here Saturday dared dream of an upset, ignoring good sense and all the guys who run 4.4 on the USC sideline. Look at Appalachian State, they figured. How about Syracuse waylaying Louisville, and Ball State nearly upending Nebraska and Mississippi bothering Florida? There was more. It was in Southern California that the Cougars of 1988 pulled off the program's only shocker over a No. 1 team (UCLA). There was the Sports Illustrated jinx, poised to bedevil the Trojans, whose running game at Nebraska was splashed on the cover this week. Bud Withers, Seattle Times

Brink did some good things early. He hit Brandon Gibson on a 44-yard pass in Washington State's first drive, the one that ended in a touchdown to tie it, 7-7. But after that, the pocket collapsed on him and opportunities diminished. Mark Saxon, Orange County Register

Maybe it's the impossible task. The impervious opponent. The one barbed thorn in the side. Whatever it is, the Washington State Cougars can't seem to beat the Southern California Trojans. It's senseless to point that out now, after the No. 1 Trojans knocked WSU silly, 47-14, on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Todd Milles, The (Tacoma) News Tribune

The national radar will have been shut down for the night by the time the Cougs and Arizona meet for the honor of keeping Stanford company in the south end of the standings. But for Washington State, it's the fulcrum upon which the season teeters. John Blanchette, Spokesman-Review

Washington State (2-2, 0-1), which had rebounded from a season-opening loss to Wisconsin with routs of San Diego State and Idaho, came in buoyed by hope sprung from last season's game against USC, which was not decided until USC safety Taylor Mays intercepted a pass by quarterback Alex Brink in the final seconds. Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times

Washington State's Charles Dillon saw the one crease – the one chance – he needed to not only make a big special teams play against No. 1 USC on Saturday, but one that could finally pick up a slumbering unit. Dillon cut left and had one man to beat to the end zone – first-year starting kicker David Buehler. But slumps are slumps, and wouldn't you know it, Buehler –who has played some safety and fullback at USC – had more closing speed than Dillon thought, and pushed him out of bounds after a 48-yard return. Todd Milles, The (Tacoma) News Tribune

From their opening drive to their second drive of the second half, the Cougars (2-2, 0-1 in the Pac-10) had 1 yard of total offense in six possessions. Those drives, if they can be called that, ended with a punt, a dropped punt snap by Darryl Blunt, a Brink interception and three consecutive Reid Forrest punts. When the stretch was over, USC (3-0, 1-0) led 34-7 and the game was over. Vince Grippi, Spokesman-Review

And maybe another matter to consider was the Coliseum, of all things - especially for the visiting Cougars. "A lot of guys came in here and their eyes were (huge)," Washington State tailback Dwight Tardy said. Scott Wolf, LA Daily News

So, at long last, almost two months after the Cougars convened for fall camp, their season can begin next weekend at Arizona. That's when the real reckoning starts. -- Bud Withers, Seattle Times

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