Sept. 6, 2004
The Washington State Cougars, 31-8 over the past four years, will host the Colorado Buffaloes Saturday at Qwest Field in Seattle, home of the Seattle Seahawks.
Both teams enter the non-conference contest with 1-0 records. WSU came back from a 10 point deficit at New Mexico to win 21-17 and Colorado held off rival Colorado State 27-24.
WSU is 2-0 at the home field of the Seattle Seahawks, having defeated Nevada in 2002 and Idaho last year, both season openers for the Cougars.
The Sept. 11 game with Colorado was originally to be played Sept. 15, 2001, in Pullman, but along with most college games, was cancelled the weekend after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast.
Last year WSU defeated the Buffaloes 47-26 in Boulder, before a crowd of 48,146. Colorado now leads the series with WSU, having won three of the five games since the first contest in 1981.
The Cougars are coming off their fourth straight season opening win. After a scoreless first half, the Cougars fell behind 17-7 in the third quarter, then scored two more touchdowns in the final period to win the Friday night game televised by ESPN. The Cougars are riding the best four-year span in team history, including three 10-win seasons. Only three other teams have won 10 games each of the past three seasons.
Last weekend's game at New Mexico was tied 0-0 at halftime, marking the seventh time in Bill Doba's head coaching career the Cougars have held the opponents without a touchdown in the first half.
When Chris Jordan hauled in Josh Swogger's touchdown pass in the third quarter to put WSU on top 7-0, it marked the 228th straight game WSU has scored. Only three other schools, Texas, Washington and Michigan have longer scoring streaks. Several newcomers played key roles in WSU's win at New Mexico. Alex Teems, a junior making his first start, intercepted two passes, knocked down three passes and forced one fumble.
Ropati Pitoitua, a true freshman starting at defensive tackle, made seven tackles, including 1.5 sacks and two tackles-for-losses. Josh Swogger was another first time starter and he performed well, hitting 24 of 38 passes for 240 yards. He had three touchdown passes in his starting debut and threw two interceptions.
Teems and Kyle Basler lead the Pacific-10 in interceptions and punting, respectively. Basler averaged 47.0 yards with seven punts, three over 50 yards. He also averaged 44.4 net yards.
WSU IN SEATTLE: WSU will be making its third appearance in as many years at Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks...in 2002 WSU defeated Nevada 31-7, thanks to three interceptions by linebacker Will Derting...he returned one a school record 98 yards...in 2003 WSU shutout the Idaho Vandals 25-0 in Matt Kegel's debut as WSU's quarterback...both games were the season opener for the Cougars.
ABC TV: The WSU-Colorado non- conference football game Saturday at Qwest Field will be televised live on the West Coast, with kickoff set for 12:35 p.m...Gary Thorne will call the action, with Ed Cunningham providing commentary from the press box and Suzy Schuster from the field.
2004 CAPTAINS: WSU - QB Josh Swogger (9), OL Sam Lightbody (75), FS Hamza Abdullah (28), LB Will Derting (51). COLORADO: QB Joel Klatt (14), DT Matt McChesney (60), TB Bobby Purify (42), OT Sam Wilder (74)
KICKING BATTLE: Veteran junior Graham Siderius and newcomer Loren Langley, who last year was kicking for Puyallup High, are locked in a battle to see who will handle placement kicks...Langley got the nod in the opener and hit all three PAT kicks...Siderius handled kickoff duties, as he did last year...in four scrimmages this fall, Langley made 22-of-31 field goals, including a 52-yarder...Siderius also made a 52-yarder and was 20-of-31...inside 40 yards both kickers made 15-of-20 attempts...from 40-49 yards Langley was 6-of-10 and Siderius 4-of-10.
FALL SCRIMMAGE NOTES: In four scrimmages this fall, starting quarterback Josh Swogger hit 40 of his 72 passes for 455 yards, five touchdowns, with three interceptions...Alex Brink was 23-of-49 for 239 yards, with one TD throw and one interception...Jerome Harrison was the top running back with 174 yards and one score on 27 carries...Chris Bruhn had 15 carries for 44 yards...Marty Martin was the top receiver with 12 catches for 126 yards, while freshman Michael Bumpus had 11 receptions for 115 yards...tight end Troy Bienemann caught seven passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns...newcomer Tyron Brackenridge picked off two passes, while eight other players had one interception each...Mkristo Bruce recoreded 4.0 sacks in those four scrimmages, while Adam Braidwood and Aaron Johnson each had 2.5 sacks.
TEEMS PICKS TWO: Junior corner Alex Teems clinched a starting spot in fall camp and came very close to picking off four New Mexico in his starting debut...he intercepted two passes, forced a fumble, broke up three passes and made seven tackles...one of his deflections was in the end zone when he pulled down a UNM pass, but couldn't control the ball...in the fourth quarter he also batted down a Lobo pass he nearly caught.
WSU OPENERS: WSU opened the 2004 season at New Mexico, the Cougars' first opener on the road since losing at Colorado in 1996...since then WSU is 6-2 in openers...in the last four openers, WSU has outscored opponents 113-31.
WSU COMEBACKS: Over the past four years, WSU is 31-8...in those 31 wins, WSU has come from behind five times in the fourth quarter, including New Mexico this year...in 2001 WSU trailed Stanford on the road and USC and Oregon at home, while last year WSU trailed Oregon State at home...each time WSU overcame the fourth-quarter deficit to win.
DOBA'S TEAMS SHUT DOWN FOES: Bill Doba has been WSU's head coach for 14 games and he has won 11 times...in those 14 games, his Cougar teams have held the opponents without a TD in the first half seven times...last year WSU blanked Idaho, Arizona and Stanford in the first half and held Notre Dame to a field goal, Oregon to a safety and UCLA to a pair of field goals...This year New Mexico didn't score until the third quarter.
COLORADO LAST Big 8-12 TEAM: The last time WSU "hosted" a team from the Big 8/12 Conference was Colorado in 1982, when the Buffs handed WSU a 12-0 loss in Spokane...this year the game will be played in Seattle.
WSU AMONG ELITE WITH 10-WIN SEASONS: Washington State is one of just four NCAA Div. I teams to record 10 wins in each of the last three seasons (2001-02-03)...the others are Maryland, Miami (FL) and Oklahoma.
2003 SEASON AMONG BEST: WSU's 10-3 finish in 2003 equaled the fifth best record for the Cougars since the 1920's when teams began playing 10 or more games...WSU's best records include 9-1 (90.0%) in 1930, 10-2 (83.3%) in 1929, 1997 and 2002 and 10-3 (76.9%) in 2002 and 2003.
BACK-TO-BACK 10-WIN SEASONS RARE IN PAC-10: WSU is one of just five Pac-10 teams to post back-to-back 10-win seasons since the 10-team league was formed: WSU 2001-02-03, Oregon 2000-01, UCLA twice, 1997-98 and 1987-88, Washington twice, 1990-91 and 1981-82, and USC, 1978-79...WSU is the only team with three consecutive 10-win seasons in more than 50 years...USC achieved the feat in the early 1930's.
COUGS 31-8 THE LAST THREE SEASONS: Since 2001, WSU has won 31 of 39 games and is tied for eighth among D-I teams the past three years: Miami 35-3, Oklahoma 36-6, Boise State 34-6, Texas 33-7, Ohio State 33-7, Georgia 33-8, Maryland 32-8, WSU 31-8 and Marshall 30-9.
COUGS 10-WIN SEASONS AMONG BEST: WSU and USC are the only Pacific-10 school with four 10-win seasons in a seven year stretch...USC has accomplished the feat three times...however, the Cougars are the only league school with four 10-win seasons in a seven-year stretch since the conference expanded to 10 teams in 1979...WSU was 10-2 in 1997, 10-2 in 2001, 10-3 in 2002 and 10-3 in 2003...in the last seven years WSU has made appearances in two Rose Bowls, 1998 and 2003...UCLA is the only other Pac-10 team with two Rose Bowl appearances in the last 10 years...dating back to the start of the PCC in 1916, WSU and USC are the only team to post 10 or more wins three straight years, USC doing so in 1931-32-33.
STREAKING COUGARS: WSU has won six of eight and 10 of 13 Pac-10 road games, seven of eight Pac-10 games in California, 11 of 12 games against California schools and seven of the last nine league games.
SCORING STREAKS: WSU currently has three significant scoring streaks on the line:
WSU SCORING STREAK FOURTH: Here are the longest current scoring streaks among NCAA Div. I teams: Texas 279, Washington 266, Michigan 239, WSU 228.
COUGS LEAD PAC-10 LAST FOUR YEARS: The WSU Cougars boast the best record among Pacific-10 Conference schools over the past four years, topping the list in overall wins and in conference victories (tied with USC).
OLD FACE, NEW NUMBER: Several members of the 2004 football team opted for new uniform numbers when camp opened in August...among the prominent players wearing new numbers are running back Chris Bruhn, who now sports #3, dropping one three from last year's #33...backup quarterback Alex Brink wore #18 last year and now is wearing #10...Allen Thompson is another regular who switched, going from #38 for his first two seasons to #4 this fall.
SACKS AND INTERCEPTIONS: WSU was the national leader with 168 sacks over2000-01-02-03 seasons, while Texas was second with 161, then TCU 160...WSU had 92 interceptions since the start of the 1999 season, ranking fifth nationally behind Oklahoma, 103, Kansas State, 99, Nebraska 96 and Miami 93...this year WSU started off the season with three sacks at New Mexico and three interceptions.
COUG TD STREAK: WSU quarterbacks threw touchdown passes in every game during the 2001 and 2002 seasons and in 11 of 13 games in 2003...this season WSU started with three TD passes in the opener at New Mexico...the two games in 2003 when WSU didn't throw a TD pass were against Idaho in the opener and at home against New Mexico...WSU won both games without going to the air for a score...the last time WSU didn't throw a TD pass at an opponents home field or in a bowl game was at Hawai'i to close out the 1999 season...since then WSU has thrown at least one TD pass in 25 straight games played at the opponent's field or in a bowl game.
WHEN DEFENSE SCORES, WSU WINS: WSU has won 16 of its last 17 regular season games when the defense or special team units score...the exception was in 2003 at Notre Dame.
ROPATI PITOITUA DEBUT SOLID: Ropati Pitoitua admitted to teammates he was nervous before his first college football game, but his performance made him look like a veteran...he had seven tacklees, 1.5 sacks and two TFL's in WSU's 21-17 win at New Mexico...The Clover Park graduate is a true freshman, enrolling at WSU in January, 2004...he participated in spring drills and wrapped up a starting spot at tackle in fall camp.
COUGS DOWN 10, WIN BY FOUR: WSU led UNM 7-0 early in the third quarter, fell behind by 10 points 17-7 in the fourth quarter, then scored two late touchdowns to overcome a 10-point deficit for the first time since 2003 when OSU led 28-16...in 2002 WSU trailed California 14-0 in the second quarter and 21-9 at halftime, but came back to win 45-28 in Pullman.
BASLER PUNTING HURTS UNM: Kyle Basler averaged 47.0 yards with seven punts at New Mexico and more importantly, averaged a net 44.4 yards...UNM's punter, meanwhile averaged just 32.6 with his six punts and just 25.6 yards net...Basler had two punts downed inside the UNM 20 and two others could have been downed near the goal line had Cougar defenders been able to catch the punts...he had punts of 59, 51 and 50 yards, giving him 23 punts of 50 yards or longer in his career.
SWOGGER DEBUT AMONG BEST: Josh Swogger completed 24-of-38 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns in his first collegiate start...his 240 yards against New Mexico ranks well in comparison to some of WSU's recent quarterbacks in their first start:
Ryan Leaf, 291 yards vs. Washington, 1995 (freshman) [L]
Jack Thompson, 265 yards vs. Idaho (sophomore) [W]
Josh Swogger, 240 yards vs. New Mexico, 2004 (soph) [W]
Mark Rypien, 209 yards vs. Arizona, 1983 (sophomore) [L]
Drew Bledsoe, 188 yards vs. OSU, 1990 (freshman) [W]
Jason Gesser, 141 yards vs. Hawaii, 1999 (freshman) [W]
Timm Rosenbach, 58 Yards vs. Oregon, 1986 (freshman) [L]
FEW FIRST QUARTER TDs: WSU has not allowed a first quarter touchdown in 11 of the last 14 games...and WSU has not scored a first quarter TD in its last six season opening games.
PAC-10 PICKS WSU FIFTH: Despite the loss of 27 letter winners, including seven offensive starters and nine on the defensive side of the ball, WSU was picked fifth by the media covering the Pacific-10 Conference when they gathered in late July...the 2004 Pac-10 Media Poll: 1. USC 240 points, 2. California 210, 3. Oregon 192, 4. Oregon State 138, 5. Washington State 133, 6. Arizona State 131, 7. Washington 100, 8. UCLA 98, 9. Stanford 40, 10. Arizona 38.
ANOTHER BIG 12 FOE FOR WSU: When WSU and Colorado line up Saturday, the Cougars will be facing their fourth opponent from the Big 12 Conference over the last 16 games...the other three opponents were Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl at the end of the 2002 season, Colorado last year in Boulder and Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl in San Diego.
WSU LIKES MT. TIME ZONE: WSU has now won seven straight games in the Mountain Time Zone...the Cougars have now won 12 straight games against teams located in the Mountain Time Zone and face Colorado next.
WSU STARTS STRONG AFTER BOWL GAMES: The Cougars, in recent years, have started the season strong coming off a bowl game appearance...in 1989 (after the 1988 Aloha Bowl) the Cougars started 6-1...in 1993 (after the 1992 Copper Bowl) WSU started 5-2...in 1995 (after the 1994 Alamo Bowl) WSU started 3-2...in 1998 (after the 1997 Rose Bowl season) WSU started 3-0...in 2002 (after the 2001 Sun Bowl) WSU started 9-1...in 2003 (after the 2002 Rose Bowl season) WSU finished 10-3 with a Holiday Bowl win over Texas.
WSU JUMPS TO EARLY LEADS: In 2003 WSU outscored opponents 123-25 in the first quarter and 218-104 in the first half...WSU held a 95-79 second quarter scoring advantage, a 84-67 lead in the third quarter and 92-83 in the fourth quarter...the only first quarter points allowed by the Cougs were touchdowns by Colorado, Oregon State (interception return) and ASU, a safety by Oregon, and a field goal by USC...this year in the opener WSU held New Mexico scoreless in the first half...WSU was also scoreless in the opening two quarters.
BLOCK THOSE KICKS: WSU has blocked four placement kicks and four punts in the last two years...in 2003 the Cougs blocked three punts and this season Wally Dada blocked one at New Mexico...last year in WSU's opener against Idaho, freshman Cody Boyd got his hand on two field goal attempts helping preserve WSU's shutout...he also had a blocked PAT against New Mexico...at Colorado defensive tackle Steve Cook blocked a PAT attempt...against Oregon D.D. Acholonu and Jason Hill each blocked a Duck punt, while Erik Coleman blocked a punt against ASU.
SUCCESS ON THE ROAD: WSU has won 10 of its last 13 Pac-10 road games...WSU closed out the end of the 2000 season with a win at USC...in 2001 the Cougars defeated Arizona, Stanford and ASU on the road before a loss at Washington, while in 2002 WSU defeated California, Stanford, Arizona and UCLA in Pac-10 action...in 2003 WSU won at Oregon and Stanford and lost at USC and Washington.