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Originally published September 22, 2013 at 8:27 PM | Page modified September 23, 2013 at 10:26 PM

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Cougars are clear: Stanford game is a big one

Washington State players made no secret about looking forward to facing the No. 5 Cardinal on Saturday.

The Spokesman-Review

Saturday

Stanford @ WSU, at CenturyLink Field7 p.m., ESPN

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PULLMAN – Connor Halliday has no problem speaking truths that others won’t, so it was not surprising that Washington State’s quarterback most adequately summarized the magnitude of his team’s next game.

After a 42-0 whitewashing of Idaho, Halliday was asked to look ahead to WSU’s next challenge: No. 5 Stanford at CenturyLink Field on Saturday.

Forget that faceless-opponent stuff. This is a big one.

“Nobody lives to play Southern Utah,” Halliday said. “You live to play the top five teams in the nation, and that’s where you can become something that they can say, ‘Hey, that’s where the Cougars turned their thing around. They got a big win. That was the 2013 group that started that.’ ”

Consider the stage set, then. Stanford has been a top-five team in both polls since the preseason, and punished previously ranked Arizona State on Saturday, 42-28.

Adding to the spectacle is the national broadcast of the game on ESPN and the relocation of the game to Seattle, where the Cougars (3-1, 1-0) will play against a conference opponent for the third consecutive season.

The Cardinal (3-0, 1-0 in Pac-12) will have WSU’s full attention.

“After 12 o’clock tonight,” defensive tackle Xavier Cooper said on Saturday, “we’re going to start looking at Stanford. I’m going to be dreaming about them.”

Unpleasantries

The coaches in the football battle of the Palouse didn’t have a pleasant exchange after their game Saturday.

Idaho’s Paul Petrino and Washington State’s Mike Leach both live in Pullman. When they met on the field after WSU’s 42-0 rout of the Vandals, they spoke briefly, and video replays appear to show Leach dropping an expletive in the direction of Petrino, who had already parted company.

Neither coach would talk about it after the game, saying the conversation was private.

Some speculation on the exchange centered on WSU inserting a couple of starters back into the game as Idaho threatened the shutout in the waning seconds.

The teams are scheduled to play again in 2016.

Seattle Times reporter Bud Withers contributed to this report


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