What They're Saying

From CNN to the Lewiston Trib, words of praise for Ol' Wazzu -- now ranked No. 3 in the land --- aren't hard to come by.

After Washington State suffered an ugly loss at Ohio State in September, who could've guessed that in November, the Cougars may be a Buckeye loss away from the Fiesta Bowl? WSU is among a handful of team peaking at just the right time -- Stewart Mandel, CNNSI.com

This defense isn't as good as the '94 team, the offense probably not as good as the last Rose Bowl team. But put them together, covering up for each other as they did in beating back Oregon, 32-21, this might prove to be the best WSU team in history. -- Blaine Newnham, Seattle Times

So here I sit, stuffing it in the face of traditional columnist thinking, writing about the Cougs again.Why not? They have climbed to third in the rankings. They have the inside track to the Rose Bowl. They have won 19 of their past 22 games. The following statement is amazingly possible: The Cougs -- yes, the Cougs -- have a reasonable shot at playing for the national championship. And someone wants me to stop writing about them now? As Lucy used to say: I don't think so, Ricky. -- Jim Moore, Seattle P-I

The Cougars seem to thrive on hardship, whether it comes from outside or inside their control, and they've now won four times after trailing in the second half. Even their least tenable dream took a step toward plausibility: Oklahoma's loss to Texas A&M on Saturday improves WSU's long-shot chances of a national title. -- Dale Grummert, Lewiston Morning Tribune

The true believers were well beyond this one. They had already locked in their airfares and booked their rooms in Pasadena and maybe in Tempe…. No, this one was for everybody else -- those who merely want to believe, and even those who don't. This was for those either resigned or dead sure that the Cougs would concoct some calamity on themselves in this stroll to destiny because, well, it just can't be as easy as it's looked and because that's the way it always happens. -- John Blanchette, Spokesman-Review

THE DRIVE will live long in the memories of the fans and coaches and players, a determined drive of 96 yards in the fourth quarter, a drive from behind to take the lead, a drive by a team playing for a berth in the Rose Bowl and maybe something even larger. The amazing play will endure for years in the winner's highlight films -- the defensive back tipping the ball, the wide receiver following it, catching it, scoring the touchdown that puts the game away.  For the past few years, that was Oregon, making that kind of drive, and that kind of play, in the game's decisive moments. Saturday afternoon in Martin Stadium, it was Washington State. The Ducks weren't bad, but the Cougars were just better. It happens. -- Ron Bellamy, Eugene Register-Guard

This was WSU's payback to Gesser. This was the day the Cougars thanked him for all those quick-release throws, all those shows of leadership through three years of being a co-captain, all those early mornings in the summer when he rustled guys out of bed to go work out. This was a day on which the WSU defense was simply extraordinary, and a running back named Jermaine Green showed why the Cougars were so agog about him last spring. All of them had Jason Gesser's back. Good thing, because for three quarters Gesser played like Chris Simms plays against Oklahoma. To be charitable, he was awful. -- Bud Withers, Seattle Times.

"He's one the toughest guys I've ever met in my life -- maybe the toughest." Legendary tough-guy Jason Gesser talking about receiver Mike Bush's ability to play through an infected molar that was so tender it hurt to put on his helmet.

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