Football

Ducks go on offensive

EUGENE, Ore. - Fog encased the picturesque Willamette Valley on Saturday morning, eventually giving way to afternoon sunshine.

The Washington State Cougars, however, played in a fog all afternoon.

The Cougars, hopelessly overmatched from start to finish, fell behind 40-0 after two quarters and lost 53-7 to ninth-ranked Oregon. The Ducks were every bit as sensational as the Cougars were inept at sold-out Autzen Stadium.

"It's unacceptable," WSU receiver Michael Bumpus said.

"I did not play well," quarterback Alex Brink said after his three first-quarter turnovers led to Oregon's first 17 points. "It's frustrating. I want to publicly apologize to my teammates."

The most lopsided game in the 106-year history of the Oregon-WSU series may prove the kiss of death to Bill Doba's head coaching career.

The Cougars, last in the Pacific-10 Conference at 0-4, fell to 2-5 overall. WSU has lost by an average margin of 43-15 during a four-game losing skid that has increased calls for a coaching change.

By the time Washington State returns from a bye week to play UCLA (4-2, 3-0) on Oct. 29 in Pullman, more than a year will have passed since the Cougars' last conference win. WSU is 0-7 in the Pac-10 since beating UCLA 37-15 on Oct. 28, 2006.

"No one expects us to win another game," Bumpus said. "All we can do is keep playing hard."

Athletic director Jim Sterk has said no decision on Doba's future will be made until the end of the season. Doba has two years left on his contract.

Records are incomplete on halftime margins, but 40 points was the largest Oregon lead or WSU deficit that could be verified. The 53 points is the most Oregon has scored in 85 meetings with WSU.

"I'm really pleased with how we played," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "I told them at the half that I was proud of them, and I wanted to be more proud of them at the end of the game, and I am."

"They are a great football team," Brink said.

A failed onside kick attempt to open the second half led to a 47-0 deficit before the Cougars scored for the 268th consecutive game (fifth all-time among major colleges). Brink's third-quarter touchdown pass to Bumpus is all that separated WSU from its first shutout loss since a 44-0 debacle at Ohio State in 1984.

Brink, a Eugene native who grew up a Duck fan, struggled in his first-ever game at Autzen. On WSU's first two possessions, Brink forced passes that were intercepted by linebackers John Bacon and Jerome Boyd inside the Oregon 10-yard line.

"He pressed," Doba said.

Boyd also recovered a Brink fumble (WSU's final turnover) late in the first quarter. All three turnovers led to Oregon scores, including a pair of Jeremiah Johnson touchdown runs - the first coming on Oregon's first play from scrimmage following Bacon's 49-yard interception return - through gaping holes in a WSU defense that tackled poorly all afternoon before 58,749 witnesses.

Brink, who was sacked six times (once for a safety), completed 15 of 33 passes for 251 yards. Oregon QB Dennis Dixon went 21 for 28 for 287 yards and three TD's before senior Brady Leaf (brother of former WSU quarterback standout Ryan Leaf) played most of the second half.

The Cougars dropped their standard 4-3 defensive front for a 3-4 look to try to deal with Oregon's spread offense, superior speed and occasional option plays. The Ducks (5-1, 2-1) topped WSU 551-314 in total yards, 338-251 in passing yards and 213-63 in rushing yards.

Extra points:The 47-point loss was WSU's worst since a 51-3 loss to Washington in 2000. Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart, the all-time Washington high school rushing leader out of Timberline in Lacey, led all players with 13 carries and 66 rushing yards. Johnson had 65 yards on four carries before he suffered an apparent season-ending knee injury. Bellotti said starting wide receiver Cameron Colvin was lost for the year with a broken ankle. True freshman Aaron Pflugrad, the son of Oregon (and former WSU) assistant coach Robin Pflugrad, replaced Colvin and caught his first touchdown pass. Doba said WSU starting offensive tackle Micah Hannan may have suffered a broken leg. WSU true freshman Jeshua Anderson made his first start in place of injured wide receiver Brandon Gibson. Anderson made tough catches and had career highs of four receptions for a game-high 127 yards. Doba had said outside linebacker Kendrick Dunn, who missed last week's game against Arizona State with a hamstring injury, would go back into the starting lineup ahead of Andy Mattingly despite the latter's impressive first start. Both started in the 3-4, however. Dunn edged Mattingly 14-13 for game honors in tackles. Mattingly led all with four tackles for losses and two forced fumbles. The 40 points in one half is the most against the Cougars since BYU scored 41 in the second half of a 50-36 win in 1990. The win was Oregon's 12th straight after a bye.

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