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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Newly Ranked Cougars Look to Go 7-0 In Matchup with Montana State
Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 10/19/2001
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Washington State should be able to stay in the polls for at least one more week. After that, it's tough to say.

Ranked for the first time in four years, the unbeaten Cougars get a non-conference tuneup Thursday night against Division I-AA Montana State before playing back-to-back games against Pac-10 powerhouses.

Washington State (6-0) had not been ranked since 1997 until climbing to No. 19 in the AP Top 25 this week on the strength of Saturday's 45-39 win at then-No. 23 Stanford.

This contest against Big Sky Conference foe Montana State (4-2) comes 10 days before the Cougars play host to fifth-ranked Oregon. One week later, they face another undefeated team from the Pac-10 as No. 4 UCLA visits Pullman.

Star tailback Dave Minnich hopes to be ready for those showdowns, but he will miss his second straight game Thursday due to torn knee cartilage.

Without Minnich, who rushed for 598 yards in the first five games, the Cougars still put together a strong offensive performance in the win over Stanford.

John Tippins was Washington State's most effective rusher with 75 yards on 13 carries, and quarterback John Gesser was the difference. He was 15-of-28 for just 178 yards, but threw his second touchdown pass of the game midway through the fourth quarter to put the Cougars ahead for good.

"I think this team is for real because we won and we're not at full strength," Cougars coach Mike Price said.

The Bobcats (4-2) are enjoying a thoroughly successful season, considering they went 0-11 last year. They ended an 18-game losing streak with a win at Weber State on Sept. 8 and, following a loss to Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Montana State has won three in a row.

The latest of those victories came Saturday in a 20-0 blanking of Sacramento State. It was the Bobcats' first shutout of a Division I opponent in 17 years.

Ryan Johnson led the offense with 176 yards rushing and a touchdown in that win. He has 809 yards and six touchdowns on the ground this season.

Washington State Cougars Football