Cougars Play Bruins In Football Finale
Dec. 2, 2002
THE COACHES: WSU - Mike Price (Puget Sound '69) has an 82-77-0 (.516) record at WSU in 14 years and a career mark of 128-121-0 (.514) in 22 seasons at Weber State (1981-88; 46-44-0) and WSU (1989-present). UCLA - The Bruins are coached by Bob Toledo, 49-31 in his seven seasons at UCLA and 78-67 in his 12 career seasons.
WSU VS. UCLA: WSU and the UCLA Bruins are 5-5 since Mike Price took over as the Cougars' head coach in 1989...overall the Bruins hold a 34-13-1 series advantage. Last year WSU took a 20-14 decision at home...the Cougars also won back-to-back contests from UCLA in 1994-95...UCLA's last win was in Pasadena in 1998, while the Cougars last win at UCLA was 21-0 in 1994...the home team has won the last five games and seven of the last 10.
GESSER MAKES TWO SEMIFINAL LISTS: WSU record setting quarterback Jason Gesser has been named a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Quarterback Award and is one of 10 players selected by the Walter Camp Foundation for their player of the year award...Gesser now owns WSU quarterback records for passing yards (8,344), total offense yards (8,574), touchdown passes (67), TD passes in consecutive games (23), career games with TD passes (29), and career games with multiple TD passes (20)...he is also the winningest starting quarterback in Cougar history, 23-10...in the past two seasons he has directed WSU to a 19-4 mark, the fourth best record by any D-I team. . (For details see Gesser pages 3-5)
GESSER INJURY UPDATE: Senior quarterback Jason Gesser is listed as questionable for Saturday's final regular season game at UCLA after suffering a high ankle sprain against Washington...Gesser has undergone treatment several times a day since the injury and is walking without the aid of crutches or a walking boot, but has not returned to the practice field.
LONG, ROCHE CAPTURE NATIONAL HONORS: Junior defensive tackle Rien Long has been named one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy (interior linemen) and by the FWAA to their All-America first team, while senior offensive guard Derrick Roach will be named to an All-America first team later this week.
2002 CAPTAINS: WSU - QB Jason Gesser (17), CB Marcus Trufant (45), RS Curtis Nettles (18). UCLA: CB Ricky Manning (9), LB Marcus Reese (44), DE Rusty Williams (94), TE Mike Seidman (18), OT Mike Saffer (65).
TRUFANT GRABS 11TH INTERCEPTION: Marcus Trufant intercepted one pass against Oregon to give him 11 career thefts...he is now sixth on WSU's career list, tied with Don Paul and Torey Hunter...Trufant grabbed two interceptions as a freshman (1999), then three each of the last three years...he has 139 interception return yards.
TRUFANT MOVES UP PUNT RETURN LISTS: Marcus Trufant returned four punts 110 yards against Montana State earlier this season, including returns of 52 and 47 yards...only two players have returned punts for more yards in a game than Trufant...Shawn Tims, in 1997 against USL, and Kitrick Taylor against Oregon in 1983...Trufant has also moved into second on the single season list with 341 punt return yards this season...in addition, he is now ninth on the career list with 388 return yards:
DUNNING CLIMBS LIST: Junior Drew Dunning, who set a WSU record for kickers with 101 points last year, is on track to break his own record next week...he has 99 points this year and has moved into a tie for fourth on the WSU career list...with two games to play this year and another full season, he is on track to top Jason Hanson's school record 328 points...he also needs just six points to break Steve Broussard's single-season WSU record of 104 points in1989
LONG DRIVE: WSU's 96-yard TD drive against Oregon was the longest of the season...previous long - 81 at California.
COUGS IN THE POLLS: WSU climbed two notches this week, moving to seventh in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls and sixth in the BCS poll...WSU has now been included in 25 consecutive rankings over two seasons, the most ever for the Cougars...prior to this year, WSU's best rankings were:
NEWCOMERS SCORE FOR WSU: The Cougars have scored 44 touchdowns this season, 41 offensively and three defensively...29 of those touchdowns have been scored by first-year players...on offense Devard Darling has scored 11 TD's, Jermaine Green nine, Jonathan Smith seven, Troy Bienemann and Sammy Moore one each...redshirt freshman Will Derting has one of WSU's three defensive touchdowns.
DARLING NEARS RECORD: Devard Darling has caught 10 touchdown passes this year, one short of the Cougar record...Chris Jackson and Kevin McKenzie each caught 11 TD receptions during the 1997 season.
JASON DAVID'S RECORD STREAK: WSU's junior cornerback Jason David picked off opponent passes in five straight games before being sidelined with a broken cheekbone...he started the streak against Montana State with one interception...then, in order, he had interceptions against California (1), USC (1), Stanford (2) and Arizona (1)...no other WSU player has ever had interceptions in five straight games, including school career record holder Lamont Thompson...David is now tied with Greg Burns for ninth on the Cougar career list with nine career interceptions.
COUGS OVERCOME OPPONENT LEADS: WSU has had to come from behind in all but the Idaho (WSU led 21-0), Stanford (23-0) and ASU (17-0) games...Nevada led 7-0, Ohio State 3-0, Montana State 7-0, California 14-0, USC 7-0, Arizona 10-5, Oregon 21-17 and Washington 7-0...the Cougars came back to take the lead in every game, including the losses at Ohio State and to Washington.
JEROME RILEY WSU'S HOT RECEIVER: Jerome Riley leads WSU in receiving yardage, 730 yards, and average, 17.0 yards per catch...in a five-game stretch after returning from a hamstring pull, Riley made 32 catches for 562 yards and four touchdowns...he has over 100 receiving yards in four games this season, 117 against Nevada, 139 against California, 173 against Stanford and 131 against ASU, when he also caught two TD passes and was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week.
DOES 6-0 START MEAN THE ROSE BOWL? WSU has started league play 6-0 twice, in 1930 and this season...in 1930 WSU ended Pacific Coast Conference play 6-0 and met Alabama in the 1931 Rose Bowl...no other WSU team has started 6-0 in league.
COUGS HALT PAC-10 RUSHERS: WSU has allowed just 99 rushing yards in the last four games, Arizona -17, ASU 37, Oregon 60 and Washington 19...in seven Pac-10 games, WSU has allowed 422 rushing yards, an average of 60.3 yards per game...WSU's 1994 defense allowed just 78.0 rushing yards per league game, the best ever for a Cougar defense...California's Joe Igber, with 111 rushing yards, is the only Pac-10 running back this year to go over the century mark...the only other running back to do so against WSU's defense is Ohio State's Maurice Clarett with 230 yards.
HENDERSON THE BEST QB?: Collin Henderson has completed all but one of his 10 passes in his four-year career for an amazing five touchdowns and 433 yards...that's a QB rating of 571.56...he completed one as a freshman in 1999 for 24 yards and a TD...in 2000 he was 4-for-4 for 154 yards and two scores...in 2001 he threw three passes for 71(td)-62(td)-63 yards...this year he is 2-for-3 for 59 yards...his only incomplete pass was against Washington following a bobbled center snap on a field goal attempt.
GREEN OVER CENTURY MARK: Jermaine Green rushed for a career high 180 yards against Oregon, the third time he's been over the 100 yard mark...he had 123 against Montana State and 119 against Arizona, his first start.
GESSER ON WSU SINGLE-SEASON LISTS: Jason Gesser can become the first WSU player to record two seasons with over 3,000 yards passing and total offense...he is 78 passing yards short of the 3,000 yard mark this year and 141 total offense yards short of the mark:
JASONGESSER.COM: Washington State and the Official College Sports Network maintain JasonGesser.com, a website that promotes and tracks the senior quarterback's bid for the prestigious Heisman Trophy. The site can be accessed through the WSU Athletics main page, or browsers can type in jasongesser.com for the most direct route...Gesser's weekly teleconferences will be included, as will highlights from his first three seasons.
GESSER TELECONFERENCES: Senior Jason Gesser will participate in weekly teleconferences each Tuesday at 11:40 a.m. Each teleconference will last 20 minutes...to access the teleconference, contact the WSU sports information office...his weekly teleconference will also be available on the Cougar web site at www.wsucougars.com.
GESSER ON FOX: Jason Gesser does a weekly 10 minute radio interview with FOX Sports Radio each Tuesday at 11:05 p.m. PT.
SUCCESS ON THE ROAD: Washington State has won seven of its last eight road games in Pac-10 action...WSU closed out the end of the 2000 season with a win at USC...last year the Cougars defeated Arizona, Stanford and ASU on the road before a loss at Washington, while this year WSU has defeated California, Stanford and Arizona in Pac-10 action.
GESSER CLIMBS PAC-10 LISTS: Jason Gesser's career totals in touchdown passes, passing yards and total offense rank among the all-time best for players from the Pacific-10 Conference...he is third in career TD passes, needing 10 to catch Stanford's John Elway at 77...Gesser's career totals now rank him ninth in both passing and total offense with two games to play.
GESSER WINNINGEST COUG QB: Jason Gesser is 23-10 as a starting quarterback for WSU, the most wins ever by a starting signal caller...during his 1999-2002 career, WSU is 26-19...Mark Rypien was 11-13 as a starter, Ryan Leaf 15-9, Jack Thompson 14-15-1, Drew Bledsoe 14-14 and Timm Rosenbach 12-11-1...Rypien was a member of four WSU teams with a combined record of 25-19-1.
GESSER FIRST THREE-TIME CAPTAIN: Senior quarterback Jason Gesser was named one of three team captains for the 2002 season, along with cornerback Marcus Trufant and wide receiver Curtis Nettles. Gesser was also selected captain as a junior and sophomore, making him the first three-time captain in the 108-year history of Cougar football.
GESSER HOLDS MOST WSU CAREER QB RECORDS: Jason Gesser is WSU's career passing leader...this year he has surpassed WSU career records held by Jack Thompson and Ryan Leaf, including total offense yards, passing yards, consecutive games with at least one TD pass, total TD passes and games with two or more TD passes:
GESSER TOSSES TD PASSES: In 2001 Jason Gesser had 26 TD passes, second only to Ryan Leaf's 34 in 1997, while this year he has 25, third on the Cougar single-season list...all of Gesser's 67 TD passes have come in his last 31 games.
BASLER DOING THE JOB: Kyle Basler, WSU's redshirt freshman punter, was named Pac-10 Special Teams POW following the Oregon game when he hit six punts for a 40.3 average...four of his punts were downed inside the Oregon 20...WSU has not allowed a punt return in four games and just one in the last five games...the lone return was for minus one yard by Stanford...in WSU's first six games opponents returned 13 punts 173 yards (13.3 yard return average).
WSU SACK/TFL RECORDS: The Cougars currently have a school record 48 (-328 yards) sacks (ties 1989 team) and 88 (-434 yards) TFL's, which ranks second on WSU's Top 10 list...the TFL record is 100/-432)...WSU currently leads the Pac-10 in sacks.
FOUR COUGS AMONG SACK LEADERS: Four Cougar linemen, including three juniors, are ranked among WSU's career sack leaders...Isaac Brown currently ranks 4th (18.0), Rien Long 6th (17.0), D.D. Acholonu 8th (-15.0), while senior Fred Shavies is tied for 10th (12.0)...in addition they are among the sack yardage leaders: Long 6th (-119), Brown 7th (-115), Acholonu 9th (-108) and Shavies 10th (-94)...in the last three games WSU has registered 22 sacks, 19.5 by the linemen.
LONG MOVES INTO SINGLE-SEASON SACK/TFL LIST: Junior Rien Long, with 19.5 TFLs for -103 yards and 13.0 sacks for -85 yards this year, has jumped near the front of WSU's single season lists...with one regular season game to play, Long ranks second in TFLs and third in TFL yardage...he also is third in both single season sacks and sack yardage...Long is currently third nationally in sacks and fourth in TFL.
SENIORS TO PLAY FINAL PAC-10 GAME: Washington State will send 19 seniors to their last Pacific-10 Conference and final regular season game when the Cougars and UCLA Bruins square off Dec. 7...the list of 19 includes 15 players on scholarship and nine current starters, five on offense and three on defense...the offensive starters are WR Mike Bush, QB Jason Gesser, C Tyler Hunt, WR Jerome Riley and OL Derrick Roche...defensively, the starters are LB Mawuli Davis, DE Fred Shavies and CB Marcus Trufant, while Adam Holiday is WSU's regular kickoff artist on special teams.
EIGHT COUGS PAC-10 ACADEMIC PICKS: Eight WSU football players have been named to the 2002 Pacific-10 Conference all-academic team, including three to the first team - Collin Henderson, Jeremey Williams and Pat Bennett...Henderson and Williams were named to the team for the third time in their Cougar careers...WSU's eight picks include:
FIVE COUGS PICKED ALL-PAC-10 FIRST TEAM: Jason Gesser has been named Co-Offensive Player of the Year in the Pacific-10 Conference and four of his teammates have been named to the all-league first team by the Pac-10's 10 coaches...11 other Cougars received honorable mention recognition...Gesser and USC's Carson Palmer shared the league's top offensive award...Derrick Roche was named to the team for the second straight year, while Marcus Trufant was one of three unanimous first-team honorees...Washington State has never before had five first team all-conference picks...the Cougs have had four first-team selections six times, the last in 1994 when all four were on the defensive side of the ball
WSU DEFENSE HALTS LONG RUSHES: In the last 14 years WSU has allowed just 163 runs of 20 yards or longer in 159 games...this year the Cougars have allowed nine runs of 20 or more yards and 33 runs of 10-19 yards.
COUGS AGAINST RANKED TEAMS SINCE 1995: WSU is 9-17 against ranked teams since 1995...when WSU has also been ranked, the Cougars are 4-5.
COUGS SCORE OFTEN: Since 1980 WSU has averaged more than three touchdowns a game, currently boasting an average of 26.0 points per outing, including 33.5 points per game this year.
NOTHING LIKE HOME: WSU performs better at home than on the road during Mike Price's 14 year tenure...at home the Cougars are 45-32 (58.4%) and on the road the team is 37-45 (45.1%)...WSU's 6-0 Pullman record in 1997 is the best ever for the Cougars, while the 2001 record of 6-1 is the best on the road since the 1988 team also went 6-1.
RUSHING TOTALS UNDER 100: In the last 14 years WSU has held 61 of 159 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing...the lows include Montana State -35 (1993), Arizona -17 (2002), Pacific -6 (1993) and Montana's -6 (1995)...in those 159 games, WSU held opponents to 50 or less yards 17 times.
100-YARD RUSHERS FEW: Only 60 running backs have been able to crack the 100-yard mark in the last 14 years and 159 games against WSU's defense...USC's Mazio Royster, Washington's Beno Bryant, UCLA's Skip Hicks and Reuben Droughns from Oregon are the only backs to have done so in back-to-back seasons.
COUGS BOAST STARTING EXPERIENCE: WSU fields an experienced team in 2002, with 43 players having started at least one game...this season alone 40 players have started at least one game...in all, the Cougars boast a collective 566 starts, 245 by defensive players, 286 by offensive players and 35 by kickers.
RED ZONE: WSU has scored 41 times in 57 trips into the Red Zone, 28 touchdowns and 13 field goals...the failures have been five missed field goals, three lost fumbles, an interception, three on downs and four at the end of a half...opponents have scored 17 touchdowns and nine field goals in 35 Red Zone appearances and failed three times by interceptions, missed three field goals and failed on downs three times.
MIKE PRICE NOTES: WSU head coach Mike Price, the dean of Pac-10 coaches, will serve as head coach at this year's East-West Shrine Game January 11...Price is the second winningest coach in WSU history...his 82-77 record at WSU is second only to Babe Hollingbery, who was 93-53 in 17 years as WSU's head coach (1926-42).
TURNOVERS: WSU is -3 in turnovers for 2002...the Cougs have turned the ball over 24 times (14 fumbles, 10 interceptions) and taken the ball away 21 times (six fumbles, 15 interceptions)...WSU didn't have a turnover against MSU, the Cougs' first no-turnover game since playing Oregon last season...in Mike Price's 14 seasons at WSU, only the 1994 and 2001 teams finished on the plus side in turnovers.
BREAKING DOWN TOP 22-44: WSU's starting lineup against UCLA of 22 players includes 2 freshmen, 3 sophomores, 8 juniors and 9 seniors, while the top 44 (two-deep) consists of 6 freshmen, 9 sophomores, 16 juniors and 13 seniors...in the two-deep, WSU lists 15 freshmen and sophomores and 29 juniors and seniors.
BUSH HAS A CATCH IN EVERY GAME: Mike Bush has caught at least one pass in each of his 23-games as a Cougar...he averages 17.2 yards a catch, hauling in 92 career passes for 1,579 yards...last year he caught 10 TD passes in his first collegiate season...only Kevin McKenzie with 11 (1997) had more TD catches in a season...Bush has started every game of his WSU football career, having joined the team following his third year with the Cougar basketball team...he completed his fourth varsity basketball season in 2001-02.
WSU IN PAC-10 RANKINGS: WSU ranks second in passing efficiency and rushing defense and third total offense, scoring offense, rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense...individually Drew Dunning leads the league in scoring, kick scoring and field goals, while Jason Gesser is tops in passing efficiency, fourth in total offense and fifth in passing yards...Rien Long is tied for second in sacks and tied for third in TFL, while Jason David is third in total passes defended.
WSU IN NCAA RANKINGS: WSU ranks seventh nationally in rushing defense, 11th in passing efficiency, 13th in passing offense, 16th in total offense and 17th in scoring offense...individually Drew Dunning is third in field goals and Rien Long is third in sacks and fourth in TFL...Jason Gesser is fifth in passing efficiency and 19th in total offense.
COUGS 19-4 IN LAST TWO SEASONS: Since the start of the 2001 season, WSU has won 19 of 23 games, equaling the best 22-game record in WSU history...in the 1929-1930-1931 seasons WSU went 21-3, including 10-2 (1929) and 9-1 (1930) seasons...WSU is currently fourth among D-I teams the past two years: Miami is 23-0, Texas 22-4, Oklahoma 21-4, and Washington State 19-4.
WSU TOPS 400 YARDS: WSU notched four straight games with over 400 yards in total offense this year...in consecutive games, WSU ran and passed for 400-plus against: Montana State 405, California 578, USC 516 and Arizona 410...after falling below the 400-yard mark against Arizona State, the Cougars came back against Oregon with 467 yards.
MIKE PRICE TV SHOWS: 'KXLY Cougar Football Saturday presented by your Northwest Dodge Dealers' airs each Saturday during the football season at 12:00 p.m. PT, leading into ABC's Pac-10 Game of the Week...Rick Lukens, Dennis Patchin and Bud Nameck host the shows...FOX Sports Net Northwest's nightly (7:00 p.m.) Northwest Tonight program also gives extensive coverage to Price and Cougar football.
WEEKLY WSU PRESS CONFERENCES: WSU hosts a weekly press conference each Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. in the Media Information Conference Room, Bohler Addition 195. All in-season head coaches and selected players (when available) will be available for the phone conference and in-person interviews. Contact the WSU Media Information Office for more information. Members of the media may attend in person or participate by use of the telephone.
LISTEN TO COUGAR GAMES ANYWHERE: Cougar football fans can listen to the Voice of the Cougars Bob Robertson's broadcasts, even if a network station is not in your locale. TRZ Sports Service Inc.'s 'Teamline' provides the hookup directly into the Cougar Sports Network. Call 1-800-846-4700 and punch in the Cougar access code 5938. The cost is charged to your VISA or Mastercard.
LIVE TELEVISION: The only Pacific-10 Conference action this week is WSU's game at UCLA: Dec. 7 WSU at UCLA, 1:30 PT ABC
FSNW-TV: FOX Sports Net (Northwest) will replay WSU's Dec. 7 game with UCLA Sunday, Dec. 8, at 10:00 a.m., and Monday, Dec. 9 at noon.
TICKETS: Tickets for all Cougar home and away games are available through the WSU Ticket Office, North 225 Grand, Pullman, Wash. 99164-1910, or by calling 800-GO-COUGS (available toll free from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands).
SATELLITE: The Pacific-10 office transmits a weekly 30-minute highlight package each Wednesday at 11:30 - 12:00 PT on GE 2, Transponder 11, C-Band (if trouble, call 310-543-1835 or the Pac-10 office).
AUDIO ON INTERNET: WSU's football broadcasts are available on the Internet through OCSN, WSU's Web provider, and also at Yahoo.com...the address is: http://www.wsucougars.com.
WSU RADIO: Bob Robertson, Jim Walden and Bud Nameck combine talents on the 28-station Cougar Sports Network. Robertson is in his 36th year of broadcasting Cougar sports, while Walden, a former Cougar head coach (1978-86), is in his second season as a Cougar broadcaster. Broadcast time is 60 minutes prior to kickoff. Additionally, the one-hour 'Mike Price Show,' produced and distributed by the Cougar Sports Radio Network and KXLY, airs weekly on most network stations live Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. Robertson is the show's regular host...all broadcasts are available via the internet. To listen, and for complete broadcast schedules, connect to www.wsucougars.com.
PAC-10 TELECONFERENCE: The Pacific-10 Conference hosts a weekly teleconference call each Tuesday during the football season...the teleconference call begins at 10 a.m....Mike Price participates at 11:10 a.m....contact the Pac-10 media relations office for details, 925-932-4411.
PRICE AND PLAYERS AVAILABLE: WSU head football coach Mike Price is available for individual media interviews 11:00 a.m.-Noon each Wednesday. Arrangements for Price interviews must be made through his office, 509-335-0250. WSU players are available for interviews before and after practice each Tuesday and Wednesday and before practice each Thursday. Contact Jason Hickman at the WSU Media Information Office.
PRICE PHONE CONFERENCES: Mike Price is available for media interviews three times weekly via a conference phone hookup, Sunday at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. and Thursday at 2:30 p.m. For access information contact the WSU Media Information Office.
PRICE ON ESPN NEWS: National cable outlet ESPN News is showing Mike Price's weekly Tuesday press conferences live...audio portions of the teleconference are also used on ESPN Radio.
GESSER TAKES MEDIA CALLS EACH TUESDAY: Senior quarterback Jason Gesser conducts a weekly teleconference each Tuesday at 11:40 a.m. Media wishing to talk with Gesser must contact Asst. SID Jason Hickman. Gesser's media time is 11:00-noon each Tuesday, which includes the weekly teleconference call.
INTERNET: WSU releases, statistics, notes and depth chart information are loaded weekly on the WSU Athletics Home Page. The address is: http://www.wsucougars.com.
2002 WASHINGTON STATE FOOTBALL IN REVIEW
#12 WSU 31, NEVADA 7
August 31, 2002, Seattle, Wash. - WSU took a veteran team to Seattle for the first official game in the newly constructed Seahawk Stadium (63,588), but it was a rookie that stole the show. Will Derting, who played in the opener a year ago and suffered a season-ending knee injury, battled back to the field in this year's opener and picked off three passes. One of his returns went for a 98-yard scoring run and a school record. His 98 total return yards was also a Cougar record. Only 11 Pac-10 players have had longer returns than Derting. The Cougars spotting the visitors a 7-0 first quarter lead before scoring twice in the second quarter and 17 points in the final quarter. WSU's defense gave up 127 first-quarter yards, then clamped down, limiting the visitors to 95 in the second half and 155 over the last three quarters. WSU cranked up the offense in the second quarter with 169 yards and added 103 in the third quarter. Jason Gesser hit 17 of his 29 passes for one score, 242 yards and no interceptions. Jonathan Smith, in his first Cougar game, scored twice and gained 50 yards with nine carries. Freshman Kyle Basler boomed endzone punts of 57 and 56 yards and averaged 47.2 with his four punts. WSU had three sacks and four players each had seven tackles.
#11 WSU 49, IDAHO 14
September 7, 2002, Pullman, Wash.- Devard Darling and Jonathan Smith each scored three touchdowns as WSU cruised to a 49-14 win over rival Idaho. Darling opened the game with a 15-yard reverse on the Cougar's first scrimmage play, then later caught two scoring tosses from Jason Gesser. Smith meanwhile, scored once in the first half and twice in the fourth quarter while gaining 121 yards on 12 carries. In all the Cougs rushed for 240 yards and passed for 277 to amass 517 yards in total offense. The Cougar defense was equally efficient, allowing no runs longer than 18 yards while holding the Vandals to 51 rushing yards and 318 in total offense. After each of Idaho's scores, WSU responded with quick touchdowns. In the second quarter WSU scored 65 seconds after Idaho got their first touchdown and in the third quarter the Cougs hit the endzone 3:15 after Idaho scored its second and last TD. Gesser was extremely efficient, hitting 12 of 16 passes for 220 yards and three scores. He did have one first-quarter interception. WSU had six sacks, three by Rien Long. Kevin Sperry led WSU with eight tackles and Marcus Trufant had his ninth career interception.
#6 OHIO STATE 25, #10 WSU 7
September 14, 2002, Columbus, Ohio - Playing in front of 104,533 Ohio State fans, the tenth ranked WSU Cougars played the sixth ranked Buckeyes even for two quarters, but fell to the punishing running of Maurice Clarett in the second half as OSU pulled out a 25-7 win. WSU led 7-6 at halftime and could have scored more in the opening two quarters, had it not been for mistakes. The Cougars held the host school to 52 rushing yards in the opening half and held a 189-109 lead in total offense at the mid-game break. But in the second half the Buckeyes started pounding their freshman running back at WSU and Clarett responded with 194 second half rushing yards to finish with 230. In all OSU gained 292 yards on the ground. WSU took a first quarter lead by driving 80 yards for a 7-3 advantage. The score came on a Jason Gesser to Devard Darling five-yard pass. Ohio State's only scoring in the first half came on a pair of 43-yard Mike Nugent field goals. Virgil Williams led all WSU defenders with 10 tackles. The Cougs also registered four sacks, but could not force a turnover. Gesser, who finished the day 25-for-44 for 247 yards, was picked off twice, once at the OSU four yard line. Scott Lunde led all WSU receivers, catching eight passes for 64 yards, while Devard Darling and Mike Bush each grabbed six Gesser passes. WSU's ground game netted just 17 yards, with John Tippins gaining 35. The announced attendance was the second largest crowd to witness a Cougar football game.
#16 WSU 45, MONTANA STATE 28
September 21, 2002, Pullman, Wash.- Washington State sprinted back from a seven point deficit with 42 second and third quarter points to hand Montana State a 45-28 loss before 23,713 fans. The Bobcats scored first seven minutes into the game, then could not dent the Cougar endzone again until late in the third quarter after WSU had built a 38-7 lead with a field goal and five touchdowns, including two each from Jermaine Green and Devard Darling. Green, who rushed for a career-high 123 yards and also caught three passes, added a third touchdown on a pass from Matt Kegel late in the third quarter, WSU's last score of the game. Cougar fans had a scare in the third quarter when star quarterback Jason Gesser left the game after taking a hit on a rollout. Later in the day head coach Mike Price announced Gesser had suffered a dislocated rib, but no shoulder damage occurred. Kegel, Chris Hurd and Dayton Dennison finished up for Gesser. Marcus Trufant nearly had a record day, returning four punts 110 yards, including returns of 52 and 47 yards. His total ranks third on WSU's all-time single game list. Gesser hit 10 of his 15 passes for 142 yards and two scores, while Kegel was 9-for-12 for 81 yards and one TD. Hurd hit 5-of-6 for 44 yards. Erik Coleman led WSU defensively with six tackles and an 11-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
#16 WSU 48, CALIFORNIA 38
September 28, 2002, Berkeley, Calif. - WSU blitzed California with 29 points in a span of nine minutes, four seconds of the third quarter, then broke a 38-38 tie with 10 straight late game points to win 48-38 before a crowd of 29,297. Jason Gesser threw for 431 yards, the fourth most ever by a Cougar quarterback, plus four touchdowns. He did not have an interception. Erik Coleman sparked WSU's defense with an interception, a blocked punt return for a touchdown, plus 10 tackles, one TFL and two pass deflections. The Bears jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter and led 21-9 at halftime on the strength of two Kyle Boller scoring passes and the running of Joe Igber. The Bear running back finished with 111 yards, but only 16 in the second half. Had it not been for a tricky lateral to an offensive tackle, the Cougars would have held Cal to less than 100 yards rushing. As it was the Bears managed just 101 yards on the ground, including just 14 in the second half. WSU exploded for 199 third quarter yards and 149 in the fourth quarter to finish the half with 248 total yards. Gesser hit 28 of his 44 passes, with three receivers going over the 100 yard mark, Jerom Riley 139, Mike Bush 125 and Devard Darling 109.
#17/17 WSU 30, #18/20 USC 27 (OT)
October 5, 2002,Pullman, Wash. - Drew Dunning hit a 35-yard field goal with 1:50 to play, forcing WSU and USC into overtime, then drilled another 35-yard kick in the first overtime to secure the Cougars' 30-27 win over the Trojans before a sold-out crowd of 36,861. The two teams combined for 969 yards, with WSU totaling 516 and USC 453 yards. The lead changed five times after USC scored first for a 7-0 advantage. WSU held a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter, 24-14, only to have USC go on top 27-24 with just over four minutes to play. It was WSU's first win at home over USC since 1986 and gave the Cougars a 5-1 record this year and 15-3 mark since the start of the 2001 season...Jason Gesser hit 23 of 45 passes for 315 yards, two scores and one interception, while his USC counterpart Carson Palmer was 32 of 50 for 381 yards, two scores and one interception. The difference in the two offenses was WSU's ability to run the ball, 201 net yards, and USC's failure to do so, 72 yards. Jermaine Green gained 92 yards, including a 75-yard scoring run, and John Tippins added 79. Jason David picked off one pass for the third straight game, while Marcus Trufant made 12 tackles and Rien Long had two sacks and four TFLs. Gesser had his 17th multiple TD pass game, a WSU record, and also threw a touchdown pass for the 18th straight game, also a WSU record. Dunning's effort, which also included a 48-yard field goal, earned him Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
#12 WSU 36, STANFORD 11
October 12, 2002, Stanford, Calif. - WSU preserved its perfect Pacific-10 Conference record by jumping to 14-0 first quarter and 23-0 halftime leads in handing host Stanford a 36-11 setback before 30,750 fans at Stanford Stadium. Jermaine Green scored on the fourth play of WSU's first possession, blasting 42 yards around right end and over several Stanford defenders. Jason David then grabbed the first of his two interceptions, setting up an 18-yard Cougar drive. Jason Gesser's three-yard pass to Jerome Riley made it 14-0. WSU added nine more points in the second quarter, the first on a Jonathan Smith two-yard pass from Gesser, then the second a safety when the Cardinal punter let the snap go through his legs and into the endzone. After field goals by both teams in the third quarter, WSU responded with another Gesser touchdown, a 10-yarder to Jonathan Smith, and a Dunning field goal before Stanford finally dented the Cougar endzone with less than six minutes to play in the game. Gesser ended the afternoon hitting 17 of his 23 passes for 297 yards, three scoring throws and one interception. Jerome Riley was his favorite receiver, hauling in nine passes for 173 yards, both career highs. Linebacker Mawuli Davis led the defense with 11 tackles, including two sacks, while David had interception returns of 36 and 35 yards.
#9 WSU 21, ARIZONA 13
October 26, 2002, Tucson, Ariz. - WSU turned in its best defensive performance of the season in turning back Arizona 21-13 before a crowd of 46,462 at Tucson. The win improved WSU's record to 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the Pacific-10 Conference standings, while Arizona slipped to 3-5 overall and 0-4 in Pac-10 play. The Cougar defense recorded seven sacks of Wildcat quarterback Jason Johnson, who threw for just 224 yards. On the ground, WSU was even more controlling, limiting Arizona to a net loss of 17 yards rushing. Fred Shavies led the Cougar defense with two sacks and one forced fumble. Jeremey Williams, Isaac Brown, Rien Long, Steve Cook and DD Acholonu each had one sack. Erik Coleman led all tacklers with six, but 10 other WSU defenders had two or more tackles. Jason David and Pat Bennett each picked off Johnson passes. It was David's sixth interception of the year, with at least one in each of the last five games. Brown also recovered a key Arizona fumble on Shavies' second sack. Offensively Jermaine Green made the most of his first start of the year, picking up 119 yards off a season-high 29 carries. He scored once, turning a rugby-style scrum into an 18-yard scoring burst midway through the fourth quarter. Jason Gesser completed 20 of his 35 passes for one score and 275 yards. His 270 total offense yards moved him past Jack Thompson as WSU's career total offense leader. He broke the record with a 38-yard sideline pass to Jerome Riley in the third quarter.
#8 WSU 44, #16 ARIZONA STATE 22
November 2, 2002, Pullman, Wash. - WSU took care of the two-team tie atop the Pacific-10 Conference standings by handing Arizona State a 44-22 defeat before a near-capacity 37,444 fans at Martin Stadium. The win left WSU 5-0 and the Pac-10 leader, while ASU slipped to 4-1. Jason Gesser gave the Cougars an early 14-0 lead with a 31-yard scoring pass to Jerome Riley and a one-yard toss to tight end Troy Bienemann. Drew Dunning added a field goal for a 17-0 WSU lead that stretched to 27-6 at halftime and 37-8 at the end of three quarters. ASU had a chance to cut into WSU's lead at the end of the second quarter, but a Marcus Trufant interception and then a 39-yard Gesser to Riley TD pass put WSU well out in front at the break. Riley led WSU receivers with eight catches for 131 yards and the two scores. Defensively the Cougars held ASU to 37 yards rushing and harassed Sun Devil quarterback Andrew Walter with six sacks, three by Rien Long and two by Will Derting, who had nine total tackles. Gesser finished the day hitting 18 of 32 passes for 250 yards, three scores and two interceptions. His performance broke two more school records, career passing yards and career touchdown passes.
#5 WSU 32, #15 OREGON 21
November 2, 2002, Pullman, Wash. - WSU's defense came ready to play against #15 Oregon, holding the ducks well below their season averages before a sell-out crowd and ABC Sports television audience. Oregon came into the game averaging 409 yards of total offense, but left with just 252 yards, 60 rushing. The Pacific-10's leading rusher, Onterrio Smith, had 64 yards rushing. Leading 17-14 at halftime, WSU's offense and defense took control in the second half. Oregon gained just two total yards in the third quarter and 102 in the second half. WSU, meanwhile, came alive with 267 yards in the final two quarters and 15 points. Smith came into the game with the reputation, but it was Cougar Jermaine Green who stole the ground game show with 180 yards, the best of his short WSU career. While Green was churning up yardage, Jason Gesser did his part with 277 passing yards, 190 of it in the second half. He finished the afternoon 20-of-38 for 277 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite receivers against Oregon were Mike Bush, nine receptions for 107 yards and two scores, and Devard Darling, seven catches for 133 yards and two more touchdowns. Meanwhile the Cougar defense harassed Duck quarterback Jason Fife into one interception by Marcus Trufant and a 16-for-35 passing day for just 192 yards. WSU's defense limited Oregon's two best receivers, Keenan Howry and Sammie Parker to a combined four receptions. WSU's Will Derting led all tacklers with 13, while WSU recorded four sacks, 1.5 by Rien Long. Two of Oregon's scores were gifts, a 12 yard fumble return by Steven Moore, who stole the ball from Gesser, and Kevin Mitchell's 20-yard interception return.
WASHINGTON 29, #3 WSU 26 (3 ot)
November 23, 2002, Pullman, Wash. - For 56 minutes WSU held firm to its lead and number three national ranking against the visiting Washington Huskies, then watched it slip away as the visitors pulled out a 29-26 triple overtime win before a capacity crowd at Martin Stadium. The Cougars overcame Washington's early 7-0 lead, building up a 10-point advantage by halftime, 17-7. After the Huskies cut the lead to seven, Drew Dunning's 22-yard field goal with 4:41 to play re-established the Cougars' 10-point lead 20-10. To Cougar fans, however, there were two critical plays that led to the loss. The first came with just over eight minutes to play. That is when quarterback Jason Gesser suffered a severe high ankle sprain and had to turn the offense over to Matt Kegel. Still, the Cougars kept pace with Washington through two overtimes and had a chance, had it not been for a controversial officiating call. The play started with a Kegel pass that was batted down and then recovered by Kai Ellis. The officials huddled in conference while both teams waited for a ruling. The final decision wasn't what anyone expected - Kegel's pass was ruled a lateral because the official said it traveled backwards and Ellis had instead recovered a fumble, ending WSU's possession and the game.