Cougars Crush Ducks, Take Command Of Pac-10
PULLMAN, Wash. - Jason Gesser threw four touchdown passes and JermaineGreen ran for a career-high 180 yards as No. 5 Washington State took command ofthe Pac-10 race with a 32-21 victory over No. 15 Oregon on Saturday.
The Cougars (9-1, 6-0 Pac-10) moved within a victory of clinching a trip theRose Bowl. And with No. 1 Oklahoma's loss, Washington State might climb up fromfifth in the Bowl Championship Series rankings, which determine who plays forthe national title.
Green easily outperformed Oregon's banged-up star tailback, Onterrio Smith,who was leading the conference at nearly 127 yards a game despite missing lastweek's victory over Stanford with a sore left knee.
A year after he ran for a school-record 285 yards and three touchdowns inOregon's 24-17 victory over the Cougars, Smith was able to carry the ball justtwice for 6 yards.
Washington State beat the Ducks (7-3, 3-3) for the first time since 1996.The unusual schedule had Oregon playing in Pullman for the third straight timein the series.
Jason Fife threw a 16-yard scoring pass to Jason Willis, but it was theDucks' defense that provided the rest of the team's points, returning a fumbleand an interception for TDs. Fife finished 16 of 35 for 192 yards and aninterception.
Gesser threw TD passes of 3 and 4 yards to Mike Bush and hit Devard Darlingfor scores covering 8 and 46 yards. Gesser completed 20 of 38 passes for 277yards and one interception.
Bush caught nine passes for 107 yards and Darling added 133 yards on sevencatches.
The Cougars outgained Oregon on the ground 190-60, thanks to Green, who had113 in the first half, including a 59-yard run at the start of the secondquarter to set up a field goal.
Washington State led 17-14 at the half, with Drew Dunning providing themargin with a 45-yard field goal into the wind.
The Cougars trailed 21-17 after Kevin Mitchell intercepted Gesser's pass andreturned it 20 yards for a touchdown to open the third quarter. Dunning's35-yarder pulled the Cougars to 21-20 as time expired in the period.
Gesser's 4-yard TD pass to Bush capped a 96-yard drive with 8:56 left in thegame, putting the Cougars ahead to stay. Gesser added insurance on his 46-yardTD pass to Darling. The possession was set up when Marcus Trufant interceptedFife's pass at the Washington State 33.
WSU scored first on an 8 yard touchdown pass from Gesser to Darling afterOregon was flagged for interference as Trufant tried to field a punt at theDucks 32.
Two series later, Oregon got on the board when cornerback Steven Moorestripped the ball from Gesser's hand and ran 12 yards to the end zone.
Fife hit Willis for a 16-yard scoring pass to complete a 92-yard drivemidway through the second quarter, giving the Ducks a 14-10 lead.
Washington State came back to score on the next series, an 80-yard drivethat ended with a 3-yard TD pass from Gesser to Bush.
The Cougars have next week off before playing Washington at home and UCLA inLos Angeles Dec. 7. Oregon is at Washington next weekend before heading toOregon State Nov. 23.
By JOHN K. WILEY
Associated Press Writer