Cougars Open Conference Slate Saturday Against California

Sept. 1, 2008

PULLMAN, Wash. -

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SATURDAY'S MATCHUP: First-year WSU Head Coach Paul Wulff makes his Martin Stadium debut against California Sept. 6 at 3:30 p.m., the Pacific-10 Conference opener for both teams. The game will be broadcast live by FSN Northwest, with Kevin Calabro calling play-by-play and former Cougar quarterback Jason Gesser serving as analyst.

LAST WEEK: WSU (0-1) is coming off of a season-opening 39-13 loss against Oklahoma State at Qwest Field in Seattle Aug. 30. The Golden Bears (1-0) knocked off Michigan State 38-31 in their season-opener in Berkeley, Calif.

WASHINGTON STATE vs. CALIFORNIA - THE SERIES: The 2008 meeting between the Cougars and Golden Bears marks the 69th time the two teams have met on the gridiron, and is the earliest date the two teams have met in a season. Including the first meeting in 1919, WSU trails in the all-time series 25-39-5, though the Cougars hold a 14-9-1 record when playing at home. The Cougars also hold a 15-10-1 advantage since the formation of the Pacific-10 Conference in 1978. Though California was victorious in the last meeting at Martin Stadium in 2006 (21-3), WSU is 9-1 in the last 10 games played in Pullman. California has not won back-to-back games in Pullman since defeating the Cougars in 1975 (33-21) and in 1979 (45-13). The Golden Bears have won each of the last three games played between the two schools (2005-07), following a four-game streak of victories for the Cougars from 1999-2002.

LAST MEETING: Justin Forsett rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns, and California snapped its three-game losing streak in a 20-17 victory over Washington State, Nov. 3, 2007. Forsett had a 44-yard scoring run with 2:42 left to play, and receiver Lavelle Hawkins clinched it by recovering an onside kick after WSU receiver Charles Dillon's 18-yard scoring catch and a WSU two-point conversion with 19 seconds left in the game to bring the Cougars within three. Quarterback Alex Brink completed 22-of-45 for 306 yards (168 in the fourth quarter), and wide receiver Brandon Gibson hauled in four passes for 136 yards, including 115 yards on two fourth-quarter receptions.

EARLY CONFERENCE GAMES: A Pacific-10 Conference game this early in the season may seem a little strange, but WSU has faced a conference foe in either the first or second week of the season nine times since the formation of the Pac-10 in 1978. The Cougars are 4-5 in those games, including a win against California in 1985. WSU knocked off the Golden Bears 20-19 that day, at home in the second game of the season.

TRUE HOME OPENERS: The Cougars have won seven consecutive Martin Stadium openers, and 14 of their last 16. Since the formation of the Pacific-10 Conference in 1978, the Cougars have played their first Martin Stadium game of a particular season against a league foe nine times. WSU is an even 4-4-1 in those games.

NEARING HISTORY: Senior middle linebacker Greg Trent led the Cougars with nine tackles against Oklahoma State, and if he can match that total against California he will become only the 17th player in WSU history to record 250 tackles in a career. A four-year starter with 25 consecutive starts, Trent currently has 241 career tackles.

FIRST STARTS: Redshirt senior quarterback Gary Rogers made his highly anticipated first career start last week against Oklahoma State, but he was not the only Cougar to receive his first starting nod. WSU had six offensive players and three defensive players starting for the first time. Rogers, wide receivers Jared Karstetter (freshman) and Michael Willis (redshirt junior), offensive linemen Steven Ayers (redshirt freshman) and Brian Danaher (redshirt sophomore), tight end Ben Woodard and defensive backs Romeo Pellum (sophomore), Myron Beck (redshirt sophomore) and Tyrone Justin (redshirt freshman) each made their first career starts as Cougars.

ALOHA BOWL REUNION: Members of the 1988 Washington State University Aloha Bowl team will be honored at halftime of the WSU-Cal game. This season marks the 20th anniversary of the Cougars' 24-22 victory over No. 14 Houston. Current Head coach Paul Wulff and running backs/special teams coach Steve Broussard were members of the team, which ended an 82-year bowl victory drought.
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