Oct. 26, 2001
Oregon will attempt to rebound from its first defeat of the season as the Ducks visit the surprising leader of the Pac-10, Washington State on Saturday.
The 11th-ranked Ducks (6-1, 3-1) are coming off their first loss of the season, a 49-42 decision against No. 20 Stanford. It was a major setback for Oregon's title aspirations.
"The best thing we can do is climb back on that saddle and get going," Ducks coach Mike Bellotti said.
The 14th-ranked Cougars (7-0, 4-0), meanwhile, have a good opportunity to help their national championship cause as they follow this game with matchups against No. 4 UCLA and No. 13 Washington.
Washington State, which defeated Montana State 53-28 Thursday, has already qualified for a bowl game and leads the conference.
On Monday, the Cougars were ranked 10th in the first Bowl Championship Series standings of the season, which determine the teams that will play for a national championship at the Rose Bowl in January.
The Cougars are led by a dynamic offense. Quarterback Jason Gesser leads the Pac-10 with 272 yards of total offense a game. Gesser's favorite target has been Nakoa McElrath, who is ranked 18th nationally in receptions with 6.7 per game.
Oregon fell from No. 5 to No. 11 in the rankings.
Oregon led 42-28 early in the fourth quarter Saturday and appeared certain to extend its NCAA-best home winning streak to 24 games. But the Ducks were downed by two blocked punts, a recovered onside kick and a late interception by Joey Harrington that allowed the Cardinal to score 21 unanswered points.
The Ducks, who lead the all-time series 36-35-7, have won the last three meetings.