Questions for Cougs after OSU's beat down

PULLMAN -- With everything to play for, favored Washington State put a definitive fork in its bowl hopes Saturday against Oregon State. In the wet, miserable process, off target Alex Brink -- aided by the porous left side of his offensive line -- ensconced himself as the most jeered Cougar of the modern era. And Bill Doba's hot seat may finally have reached the boiling point.

The final score was 52-17. But that is almost immaterial to the lopsidedness. The Cougars, installed by oddsmakers as 2 1/2-point favorites, were never in it. This was was like the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. Michael Jordan on Craig Ehlo. Simon Cowell debating Paula Abdul.

One rain-soaked fan in section 26 summed up well the sentiment of the WSU faithful: "It's a good thing we're a basketball school."

It was such a maddening day that even loquacious color commentator Jim Walden was rendered speechless at one point -- when receiver Brandon Gibson was ruled down on the OSU 1 in the second half after having seemingly scored a TD.

On a day when all the intangibles seemed to be crimson -- home field advantage, Senior Day, bowl eligibility on the horizon, and two starting OSU defensive backs on the bench for the first half -- it was the orange and black who played with purpose and discipline. They scored on their first series, driving 76 yards in a methodical 11 plays, and never looked back for even a moment.

The Cougars tried to turn the mo with a first-half fake punt at midfield. Like virtually every trick play of the Doba era, it failed. Jeshua Anderson, taking a reverse from the up-back, lost two yards. Even if he had made the first down, a flag was thrown on the play for an illegal WSU block. It was a metaphor on the day: The Cougars could do nothing right.

The Beaver offense was led by a sophomore quarterback, Lyle Moevao, who came into the game with one career TD pass and five interceptions. Brink,a fifth-year senior making his 39th straight start, looked like the rookie. He threw behind receivers. He threw wobblers. He threw into double and triple coverage. He was picked off five times in the first half and once in the second (though in fairness that last theft was due to a receiver's bobble).

Still, Doba refused to try backup quarterback Gary Rogers until the 11-minute mark of the fourth quarter, when both sides started emptying their benches after OSU scored its 52nd point.

Brink has fired for more yards and more TDs than any quarterback in WSU history. Today made official the one stat his detractors have never forgotten: In four seasons at the helm, he's never had a winning record.

Granted, the Cougar offensive line -- nor any part of the defense, for that matter -- did any favors for Brink. Even when a tight end was put in to shore up the flood gate of the left side, it was to no avail. Oregon State looked every bit the 10th-best defense in the nation -- putting pressure on Brink almost exclusively with its four down linemen.

The halftime score was 31-3. The way the Cougars moped into the locker room, you'd have thought they'd just let another Apple Cup game get away from them. But that's a topic for another story.

Statistically speaking, the game was mismatch. But several numbers stood out. WSU committed eight turnovers, OSU zero. OSU averaged 4.8 yards per rush, WSU 2.5. Indeed, in the first half WSU had minus-4 in rushing yards. And before the benches was emptied, OSU converted 50 percent of its third-down plays, WSU only 22 percent.

Instead of heading to Seattle next Saturday with the wind at their backs and a bowl invitation looming, the 4-7 Cougars will pull into Husky Stadium with a fan base wanting desperately to see Rogers starting behind center and an arch-rival that just routed Cal while Jake Locker was on the sidelines.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Both of WSU's touchdowns were scored by fifth-year senior running back Kevin McCall, who ran 19 yards for a score in the third quarter and 2 yards for another in the fourth. He had 62 total yards on the day. Both scoring tallies were set up by long pass plays -- 61 yards from Brink to Anderson and 67 yards from Brink to Gibson. McCall's cousin Patrick is a former Oregon State running back.

  • Gibson, one of the Pac-10's top receivers all season, had five catches for 155 yards.

  • Alfonso Jackson and Cory Evans were WSU's top tacklers with 13 total stops each. A whopping 6 1/2 of Evans' tackles were for loss.

  • WSU kicker Romeen Abdollmohammadi's first-half field goal of 40 yards was the eighth straight trey he's made this season.

  • Brink's six INTs tied a school record, believed to be held by Chuck Peck and Jerry Henderson.

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