Of the many crimson stars to shine in the first half, quarterback Alex Brink muted critics after a poor showing at Auburn by going 12 for 15 with 231 yards and three touchdowns on an interception-free afternoon. Chris Jordan lit up the scoreboard with a career best three touchdowns, catching four passes for 57 yards as the Cougs piled up 344 rushing yards on offense, with 637 hashes all told.
By early in the third quarter, Cougar fans were checking their game programs trying to keep up with the substitutions, with Bryan Tarkington, Scott Selby, Kevin Kooyman, Finas Rabb, Charles Dillon and Chris Ivory among those seeing extended duty.
The Cougars belted out 25 first downs, averaged 9.5 yards per play, no interceptions and amassed 636 net yards -- sixth highest in school history -- to Idaho's 301.
Jason Hill - who broke into Washington State's top ten list for career receptions - had two catches for 92 yards while Michael Bumpus led all receivers with six grabs (55 yards, 1 TD.)
Freshman running back Dwight Tardy gained 92 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Jordan and Hill, a preseason All-Pac-10 senior, had all their catches in the first half.
Washington State was in control from the outset. Scott Davis, one of three Cougars named to the Sporting News preseason All-Pac-10 team, laid a crushing hit on Idaho's Wendell Octave, and right cornerback Tyron Brackenridge grabbed what appeared to be a fumbled ball. But Erickson successfully used Idaho's only play review call and Idaho retianed possession. No matter, Brian Williams, playing in place of injured cornerback Don Turner, broke up the third down pass play, and it would be Idaho's fifth possession before they garnered a first down.
Brink used his feet as well as his arm to get the Cougs on the board, running for 14 yards and picking up another 14 through the air to Michael Bumpus. The pair hooked up again on a 12-yarder to begin the crimson onslaught.
Idaho tried to burn the Cougar defense with a screen pass, but junior split end Lance Broadus ended the Vandals second drive with an acrobatic, leaping one-handed interception that had the Cougars knocking on the door again on Idaho's 10-yard line. That drive ended, however, when a 36-yard field goal attempt was missed by Loren Langley, one of the few miscues on the afternoon by Washington State.
After the teams traded punts, Bumpus' fourth catch on the afternoon gained 22 yards and three plays later, Brink found a diving Chris Jordan in the end zone, giving the Cougars a 14-0 advantage.
Brink completed five of his first seven passes, with 71 yards and two touchdowns on the first two Wazzu drives. The Vandals found some brief offensive rhythm, logging five first downs on a drive and traveled to the Washington State 4-yard line before the Cougar defense limited the Vandals to a 21-yard Tino Amancio field goal.
The Cougars, starting on their own 20-yard line, needed seven plays to score on a 21-yard pass from Brink to Jordan, extending Washington State's lead to 21-3. Idaho's one attempt to make it a game came next.
The Vandals drove to the Washington State 2-yard line with a first and goal, but the Cougar defense denied three runs and a pass attempt, Idaho lost two yards on the series that ignited a 21-0 Cougar run before halftime. On the gaol line stand, strong safety Eric Frampton led a four-Cougar tackle on Jayson Bird, standing him up inches from the goal line. An incomplete pass and another stop on Bird put the Vandals on their heels. When linebacker Scott Davis tripped Bird for a loss, causing a turnover on downs, defensive coordinator Robb Akey exploded with excitement, as did the Crimson faithful.
But the crimson juggernaut was just getting warmed up -- Brink found Hill for a 70-yard catch and run, leading to Brink's 1-yard touchdown sneak, and the rout was on.
Backup quarterback Gary Rogers came in towards the end of the half, something WSU plans to do in the second or third quarter over the course of the season. The sophomore from Kamiak High completed his first pass for 28-yards to Brandon Gibson. Rogers later connected with Jordan for his third first-half touchdown just before halftime, leading to a 35-3 Cougar advantage.
The Cougars gained 302 net yards to the Vandals 146 in the first half, with 232 through the air. Brink was 10 of 12 for 192 yards and three TDs. Not everything was perfect as the teams headed into the locker room, however, with coach Bill Doba lamenting a few missed tackles.
Brink and Co. opened the second half and didn't miss a beat. On the opening play, Brink found tight end Jed Collins for a 25-yard net gain. The Cougars methodically marched down to the three-yard line but the drive fizzled when a fumble by Tardy was recovered by Idaho linebacker Robert Davis.
That momentum switch in Idaho's favor didn't last, as Cougar DT Aaron Johnson, who had his second strong outing in as many weeks, smashed Vandal running back Brian Flowers at the line of scrimmage, forcing a fumble that gave Washington State the ball on Idaho's 1-yard line. Tardy made up for his fumble with his first collegiate touchdown run that put the Cougars ahead 42-3 after Langley's sixth extra point.
The Cougars were playing without running back DeMaundray Woolridge, who suffered a deep thigh bruise late in the first half against Auburn. Tardy and Derrell Hutsona -- 67 yards on nine carries -- each performed well in the Texan's stead, and while good receiver blocking usually goes unheralded, Dillon couldn't help but be noticed Saturday, helping to repeatedly spring Cougar ballcarriers. Ivory, from Longview, Texas, started the fourth quarter, and promptly scooted 80 yards down the right side into the end zone for the Cougars' penultimate touchdown, with Dillon leading the way.
Wichman then led Idaho's only touchdown drive, completing three passes for 60 yards on a seven-play drive that started from the Vandals' 20-yard line. A two-yard run by Bird put Idaho in the end zone, to cut the Cougars' lead to 49-10.
But when the seemed like Idaho's pounding couldn't get worse, Kevin McCall, a junior running back from Carson, Calif., scored his first NCAA touchdown on a 53-yard left-side run. Junior backup Romeen Abdollmohammadi kicked the PAT, capping the score at 56-10.
The Cougars travel to Qwest Field in Seattle next Saturday to face Baylor, a Big 12 South Division team who took on Northwestern State Saturday. Baylor lost their opener 17-7 to No. 23 TCU after leading late in the third quarter.
Wichman finished 11 for 31 with 171 yards, one sack, an interception and no touchdowns. Haynes had a team-high four catches for 64 yards. Bird led the Vandals rushers with 33 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
Senior receiver Chris Jordan pulled in three touchdown catches against Idaho -- all in the first half.