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Cougs Come Calling For Dad's Day at Oregon St.

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Michael Doctor could be the ticket to successfully defending the short passing portion of Washington St.'s "Air Raid" offemse.
Michael Doctor could be the ticket to successfully defending the short passing portion of Washington St.'s "Air Raid" offemse.

Washington St. (2-7, 1-5) at Oregon St. (4-4, 1-4) / Reser Stadium / 1 PM PST / Pac-12 Channel / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM

Game Notes / Washington State Game Notes

Oregon St. continues their current 3 game home stand with a rare day-time home conference contest for Dad's Day, against Washington St.

Both teams come in to the contest reeling. The Beavers have lost 3 in a row, the last 2 by double digit margins, including last week's 45-31 loss to California, in a game Oregon St. lead in the 4th quarter, after scoring 21 consecutive points.

The Cougars have done the Beavers one better, having lost 4 in a row since upsetting Utah 28-27 after falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter, and than trailing by 13 points well into the 4th quarter.

Last week, Washington St. went down 44-17 to USC, as Trojan quarterback Cody Kessler threw for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns, and so did their bowl eligibility, and any hope of not recording their 8th consecutive losing season. The Cougs haven't had a winning season in the Palouse since 2003.

What also went down was their record setting senior quarterback Connor Halliday, who suffered a season and collegiate career ending broken leg in the first quarter.

Coach Mike Leach's "Air Raid" offense will be led instead today by redshirt freshman Luke Falk, who will be making his first collegiate career start. Falk threw 57 passes in relief of Halliday against USC, completing 38 of them, for 2 touchdowns, and with only 1 interception.

It's the 99th meeting in the series, which dates back to 1903, and if Oregon St. can come up with the win, the series will be evenly knotted after all these years, as Washington St. holds a 48-47 edge, with 3 ties back when the rules allowed for that outcome.

And though Oregon St. has won 3 in a row, and 6 of the last 7 against Washington St., its been anything but easy for the Beavers at Reser against the Cougs lately.

2 years ago, Oregon St. won 19-6 to move into the top 10, but it was the Beaver defense that carried the day, as quarterback Sean Mannio injured his knee just before halftime, and was never right again the rest of the year, which had a lot to do with it taking until last week for Mannion to become the leading passer all time in terms of yards in the long history of the Pac-12 (/10/-8/WCAA/Pacific Coast) Conference.

A record Halliday had a chance to overhaul had he stayed healthy.

And 4 years ago, the Cougs were a 1 win team when they came into Corvallis on a late November afternoon and knocked off the Beavers 31-14, which caused Oregon St. to suffer only their 1st losing season, and miss a bowl game, since 2005.

Last year in Pullman, it was a different story though, as Mannion completed 34 of 51 passes, for a school record 493 yards, and 4 touchdowns, and Oregon St. roared from being behind late in the 3rd quarter to score 35 unanswered points in 9 minutes and 20 seconds, and roll to a 52-24 win.

Brandin Cooks accounted for 3 of the touchdowns, all in the decisive 4th quarter, with an 8 yard run, and the final 2 scoring tosses of the night from Mannion. 3 interceptions of Halliday by the Beaver D in 5 offensive plays by the Cougs (2 by Rashaad Reynolds and the 3rd by Steven Nelson) had a lot to do with it too.

Oregon St. also won 66-13 at Reser in 2008, which is the most points the Beavers have ever scored in a conference contest.

Oregon St. opened as a touchdown+ (7.5 point favorite), and its since edged up to an 8 point line, in recognition not only of Washington St.'s loss of Halliday, but also the return of starting right guard Gavin Andrews, who missed the last 2 games after breaking a bone in his foot against Utah.

Mannion needs 2 touchdown tosses to tie Derek Anderson at 79 for the one remaining career record he's chasing, the Oregon St. career touchdown mark.

BuildingTheDam will be at the game, and back afterwards with coverage and analysis.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com