Ducks say ground game, Cougars say air strike

SATURDAY'S 80th renewal of the Cougar-Duck football rivalry figures to add up to a day of serious paint swappin'. The Ducks, behind all-world <b>Onterrio Smith</b>, lead the Pac-10 in rushing with nearly 160 hashes per game. And the Cougars, behind all-world tackle <b>Rien Long</b>, are surrendering just 69 ground yards per game since losing to Ohio State and <b>Maurice Clarett</b>.

Smith, who sat out last Saturday's win over Stanford with a sore knee, has looked very sharp in practice this week. He's taken part in every drill, save a few wind sprints, and seems to be cutting and running like his usual self, though he contends he's still only at 85 percent of full power.

A year ago, Smith scorched the Cougars for 285 yards in the Ducks' 24-17 win in Pullman. So far this season he's rumbled for 1,015 yards and is on track, along with Clarett, to be a top five contender for the Heisman Trophy.

Duck coaches said Smith might not return kicks against the Cougars to reduce the number of exposures to his sore knee. But word from Eugene is that Smith has been back deep in every kick return workout so far this week.

Whether Smith does or doesn't line up deep on Saturday might be a mute question, however, with news at Cougar kickoff specialist Adam Holiday will be back in action after serving a one-game suspension. He consistently boots the ball into the endzone, making opponent returns a rarity.

HAT'S OFF TO Cougar senior receiver Jerome Riley. He was named the Pac-10's offensive player of the week following his eight catch, two TD and 131-yard effort against ASU last Saturday.

Fully healthy, he's been a man on a mission the last five weeks. And with Oregon's play at cornerback being highly suspect this season, look for Jason Gesser to look early and often for Riley, Mike Bush and Devard Darling.

THE LINE: Cougars by 6 1/ 2

THE TEAMS: The Cougars are 8-1 (5-0 conference) and ranked No. 5 in the nation. The Ducks are 7-2 (3-2) and ranked 15th. Oregon has won four straight vs. WSU to take a 37-35-7 series lead. Before Oregon's four-game win streak WSU took three of four games.

KICKOFF: 12:30 PT in front of a sold-out Martin Stadium crowd. Live regional TV coverage by ABC, with Keith Jackson and Dan Fouts on the call.


Cougar corner Marcus Trufant's interception against ASU gives him 10 career thefts --- good for eighth on WSU's career list. One more INT moves him into a tie for sixth with a pair of crimson legends, Don Paul and Torey Hunter.

In the past three seasons, WSU's defense has scored in 12 of 32 games. In addition, special teams have scored in four games in that span, each time with a blocked punt. Last season the Cougar D scored eight TDs and so far this year it has five, with safety Erik Coleman accounting for two.

Coach Price announced this week that linebacker Ira Davis would return to the team as soon as Jason David can – probably in time for a bowl game. In better linebacking news, Al Genatone has been upgraded to probable this week after missing the last two games with a high ankle sprain.

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