Desert Disaster: Cougs run over by Mildcats

TUCSON -- Arizona's Mike Stoops was battling kidney stones with no medication, but it was WSU's Bill Doba who was suffering. With a defense as bad as any in modern school history and an offense unable to keep pace, WSU absorbed a 48-20 butt-kicking Saturday night courtesy of one of the weak sisters of the Pac-10. Forget Jim Walden's old Moped. The Cougs were run over by a tricycle.

This marked only the second time in five years that Arizona managed to break 40 against a Pac-10 team.

Remember Mike Price's "Poop Island?"

Houston, we may be making a return trip.

WSU didn't necessarily stick a fork in its season but the Cougs made a convincing statement that Stanford might get a challenge for the conference cellar.

In two weeks of Pac-10 play WSU is 0-2 and has been outscored 95-34.

A week after getting throttled by USC, the Cougars spent much of Saturday making previously hapless Arizona -- at least the offensive side of the Wildcat equation -- look like a national title contender. And freshman running back Nicholas Grigsby (186 yards) look like a Heisman contender.

So much for the 3-3-5 defense Doba employed to contain Arizona's multi-receiver sets.

Doba, the picture of mild mannered, was so furious with his D that he tersely told a TV reporter after halftime that his stop corps was "terrible" and "you can guess" what kind of mesage was delivered in the lockerroom.

His words apparently struck a cord with the offense, which came out in the second half with a picture-perfect TD drive that featured big-time extra efforts from Jed Collins and Dwight Tardy.

But the defense must have had wax in its ears. After the Cougar O knotted the score at 20 to start the third quarter, Arizona proceeded to march almost effortlessly down the field to go up by 7. The Wildcats followed that by scoring TDs on two of its next three possessions.

The Wildcats came into the game converting 36 percent of their third-down plays. Against the Cougs they made 73 percent.

The Wildcats came into the game averaging 72 ground yards per outing. Against the Cougs they racked up 122 -- in the first half alone!

The Wildcats came into the game with their coach widely viewed as occuypying one of the hottest seats in the West. Against the Cougs, Stoops may have escorted Doba into that chair.

Combined, the two teams collected nearly 1,000 yards of total offense -- close to 600 of them belong to Arizona.

If this contest was a "must win" for the Cougs, as most observers contended, then next week's Homecoming battle with Dennis Erickson's 5-0 Arizona State team is nothing less than a life-support situation. The Devils beat Stanford 41-3 today.

The loss overshadowed huge days by Collins (10 catches, 88 yards, 1 TD) and Brandon Gibson (11 catches, 127 yards, 1 TD).

Alex Brink threw a whopping 56 passes, completing 35 for 347 yards, 3 TDs and one INT. Arizona's Willie Tuitama completed 22 of 31 passes for 346 yards and 5 TDs.

The Cougs are now 2-3 overall, Arizona 2-3.

* At the 5:50 mark of the third quarter, the Arizona's Wildcats, facing a fourth-and-12, lined up and punted. It was the first punt forced by he Cougar D since Sept. 15 against Idaho. There were six-and-half quarters between boots.

* With the Cougs trailing 41-20 in the fourth quarter, receiver Michael Bumpus nabbed an Alex Brink pass and then, as an Arizona defender wrapped him up, tossed it to Charles Dillon. It is believed to be the Cougars' first truck-and-trailer since the fabled Love Jefferson play in the 1998 Rose Bowl that helped set up the controversial clock ending.

* Bumpus, pressed into punting duty because of injuries a year ago at UCLA, was sent out again against Tucson. He was victimized by a bad snap and ended up throwing an interception. He apparently was in the game because regular punter Reid Forrest dropped the snap on the Cougs' previous punt. Forrest became the No. 1 punter last week after Darryl Blunt dropped a snap at USC.

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