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Beavers Engage Hot Cougar Action

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Oregon State has had a quiet but notable rivalry with Washington State.
Oregon State has had a quiet but notable rivalry with Washington State.
(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

Oregon St. (2-3, 0-2) at Washington St. (3-2, 1-1) / Martin Stadium, Pullman / 1 PM PDT / Pac-12 / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM

Game Notes / Washington State Game Notes

Oregon State travels to Pullman, where they will encounter Hot Cougar Action this afternoon.

"Hot Cougar Action" is the popular phrase up at the Coug Center, but its there's been precious little Cougar Action that's been more than lukewarm at a number of junctures in recent times. That's not the case right now though, even though it seemed the furthest thing from likely when Washington State appeared to have "Cuoged it" in their season opener, when FCS Portland State came from behind in the pouring rain for a 24-17 win, taking the lead late in the 4th quarter.

During overreaction Sunday and Monday that always follows opening day in college football, the only thing that kept most Cougars from jumping off a tall building or a cliff is the fact that there aren't any of either in Pullman.

But since then, the Cougars have clawed their way back out of the abys quite nicely, winning 3 of 4, and just missing upsetting then 24th (and now 23rd) ranked California in Berkeley, falling 34-28 after having an 8 point lead late in the 3rd quarter.

And then the Cougs bounced back, going into Autzen Stadium last Saturday and coming out with a 45-38 win over the Ducks in double overtime.

Luke Falk completed 50 of 74 passes, for 505 yards, and 5 touchdowns, and without throwing an interception. Falk also ran for a touchdown, part of a 136 yard rushing day after sack subtractions by the Cougs in the Mike Leach Air Raid offense.

Oh, and by the way, that Viking team is turning out to be pretty good; Portland State dropped 66 on an FBS team (albeit a bad one) last weekend, which got the North Texas coach fired. That opening day loss looks a lot different now.

It's also officially Homecoming weekend in Palouse, not just the return home after the back to back road trips the Cougs have made, so the Crim Zone will be packed and rocking. The Cougs are an 8 point favorite, and that certainly seems appropriate.

Oregon State on the other hand, comes in having gotten burned in their last experience with hot action. The Beavers were blown out of Tucson in 90+ degree heat that produced field temperatures above 120 degrees last Saturday, getting routed 44-7 by Arizona, after the 'Cats ran off 31 unanswered points after Oregon State had gotten within 13-7.

It was the second conference loss in a row for the Beavers by at least a 3 score margin.

Oregon State was unable to generate more than occasional offense in Arizona, finishing with less than 250 yards of total offense, and shy of 100 yards in the air. The resulting overexposure of the defense, and an assortment of assignment error, resulted in the 'Cats clawing out almost 650 yards of yards from scrimmage, despite the fact that they were playing clock ball before the end of the 3rd quarter.

Today's game is the 100th meeting in the series that dates back to Nov. 11, 2003, a 6-0 Oregon State win. Overall, the Cougs lead the very competitive series 49-47, with 3 ties back in the day when the rules allowed for that.

Today is also the second time this season, with the Michigan excursion, that both Oregon and Oregon State have played in the same state on the same day and it hasn't been the state of Oregon, what with Oregon visiting Washington tonight. That trip didn't work out so well for either the Beavers or Ducks, and today isn't expected to either, with the Cougars 7 1/2-8 point favorites, and the Huskies 3 point favorites tonight in Seattle.

Last year in Corvallis, Falk made his first collegiate start, and led Washington State to a come from behind 39-32 win, throwing for 471 yards and 5 touchdowns 2 in the 4th quarter. By contrast, Oregon State had to settle for field goals 4 times, and as a result, suffered their 4th loss in a row, including their 3rd loss in a row at Reser where the Beavers snatched a loss from the jaws of victory, taking but then also losing a 4th quarter lead.

Oregon State has won the last 3 games contested in Pullman, and has won as the road team 4 times in a row, including the 2011 win in Seattle.

The last time the Beavers were in Pullman, Sean Mannion threw for 493 yards and 4 touchdowns, as Oregon State ran off 35 unanswered points, overcoming a 24-17 deficit late in the 3rd quarter on their way to a 52-24 win. The Beavers scored 4 touchdowns in less than 5 1/2 minutes, and after tieing the game at 24 apiece, forced the Cougars into turnovers their last 6 possessions of the game, including picking off Coug quarterback Connor Halliday 3 times in 5 WSU plays.

Indeed, there's been something notable about almost every recent renewal of the Northwest Land Grant rivalry. It was 3 years ago when Sean Mannion led Oregon State to victory, but suffered the knee injury that produced plenty of extra drama for months to come.

The contest in the Clink was the infamous logistical nightmare where the WSU folks abdicated game ops mostly to disinterested Seattle Seahawks stadium staff, expecting at most a couple of thousand OSU fans, only to be overwhelmed when over 10,000 Beavers descended upon them.

The 2010 game was the infamous game in the rain in Reser where the Cougs and Paul Wulff got 1 of only 2 wins they would muster all season, and it ultimately cost the Beavers a bowl trip. The 2009 game in Pullman was the last game the Beavers ever played that didn't have any sort of tv or video on at least a delayed basis, and was the game in the cold and wet of Eastern Washington winter that nearly no one saw, just a week before the Civil War for the Roses.

2008 saw Oregon State score 66 points, the most they have ever posted against an FBS/Division IA (back in the day) opponent.

A Washington State win today will give the Cougars their first sweep of both of the Oregon schools in the same season since 2006. That by a WSU team that went 6-6, and against the OSU team that went 10-4, and was then coach Mike Riley's winningest. The Cougs' 13-6 win dropped Oregon State to 1-3, but the Beavers then bounced back to win 4 in a row, and 8 of 9.

What will happen today that we will remember for years to come?


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

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com