Nov. 2, 2000
SPOKANE, Wash. - For Oregon coach Mike Bellotti and Washington State coach Mike Price, it's a three-game season.
No. 7 Oregon is a leading contender for the Rose Bowl, but the Ducks (7-1, 5-0 Pac-10) must get past Washington State and California before closing the regular season at No. 14 Oregon State, tied with No. 8 Washington for second place in the Pacific-10.
To qualify for a bowl appearance, the Cougars (3-5, 1-4) must beat Oregon, Southern California and Washington.
The Ducks are off to their best start since 1959 and enter Saturday's game at Martin Stadium in Pullman with their highest ranking since 1964.
"That's exactly what it is for them as well as for us. I don't know that anything we've done in the past, or anything they've done, really matters," Bellotti said. "I think every game is a new opportunity."
The Ducks beat Arizona State 56-55 in double overtime last weekend, exposing a defense that allowed 667 yards of total offense. The Ducks still lead the conference in total defense, allowing an average of 262.4 yards per game.
Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington threw for 434 yards and tied a school record with six touchdown passes.
Washington State has had its own problems stopping the opposition, but the Cougars can move the football. Sophomore quarterback Jason Gesser has thrown for 1,932 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, including a record six in a triple-overtime loss to Arizona.
The loss to Oregon State was only the second time this season the Cougars failed to score 20 or more points.
"I have grave concerns about Washington State in terms of trying to defend Jason Gesser," Bellotti said. "He's the leading passer in the conference. He has great scrambling ability ... ability to create."
Although his team has had three consecutive losses, Price won't have difficulty getting players ready for Oregon.
"For us, maybe last week was a wakeup call, in a sense," Bellotti said. "We have to realize that every week you have to come ready to play in this conference, especially when you go on the road and especially when you're ranked. I think it obviously gives added impetus or motivation for teams to play their best games against us."
By JOHN K. WILEY
Associated Press Writer