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Originally published Sunday, November 18, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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WSU Notebook | Cougs face empty campus

So you think this was a turnover-fest by Washington State? Well, it was, but the WSU-Oregon State game Saturday didn't quite match the school-worst...

Seattle Times staff reporters

PULLMAN — So you think this was a turnover-fest by Washington State?

Well, it was, but the WSU-Oregon State game Saturday didn't quite match the school-worst effort in giving away the ball. School publicists were consigned to that sordid research after OSU's 52-17 victory over the Cougars, and discovered it to be tied for the fourth-worst in school history.

WSU's poorest day at taking care of the ball was a 10-turnover nightmare against Michigan State in 1970, by what is generally considered to be the worst team in school history.

Oddly, the Cougars lost that road game only 28-14. Records show quarterbacks Jack Wigmore and Ty Paine threw three and four interceptions, respectively, and Bob Ewen, listed in the WSU media guide as a fullback, tossed the eighth. The Cougars also had two fumbles.

WSU had two nine-turnover stinkers in 1974 (California, just a 37-33 defeat) and in 1978 to Washington (a 38-8 loss). Tying Saturday's giveaway were the 1971 UCLA (34-21 defeat) and 1975 Stanford (54-14) games.

"How do you explain it?" asked Bill Doba, the WSU coach. "Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way."

This game topped every one but the '70 Michigan State loss for interceptions. Alex Brink, who tossed six of them, said a wet ball early was a problem, but didn't blame the tough day on the conditions, saying, "Everybody had to deal with it. But it dried out after half a quarter or so, so you can't put too much on it."

One more chance

Doba and the Cougars tried to emphasize that they can recoup some of what was lost Saturday with a victory in the Apple Cup.

"It would be a lot warmer this winter, with a win against the Huskies," Doba said.

Said receiver Michael Bumpus, "They've got our trophy. I had it two years since I've been here [in 2004-05], and they took it from us last year. That's what I said in the locker room: This is our bowl game."

Brink concurred, saying, "This game means a lot to a lot of people, including the two teams. We're going to prepare as hard as we ever have. I certainly want to go out on a good note, and I know the rest of the team does, too."

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Facing empty campus

Washington State football players will prepare for the Apple Cup on a deserted campus this week.

This is Thanksgiving break at WSU, a school on the semester system where classes started Aug. 20.

In most years, the Apple Cup is played on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and players leave for home after the game.

A team Thanksgiving dinner for the Cougars is planned for Thursday. Scout-team players who want to go home will be allowed to leave Wednesday.

Doba also said he is allowing some deep reserves whose relatives unknowingly bought them discounted plane tickets for early in the week to use the tickets and go home.

NOTES

• Nineteen seniors and redshirt junior wide receiver Scott Selby were honored before kickoff in their final game in Martin Stadium. Selby is a graduate student who has earned two degrees and doesn't plan to play next year. Selby arrived at WSU with several college credits after taking Running Start classes while attending Castle Rock High School. He has played on special teams this year.

• The Cougars were outscored by the two Oregon schools 105-24 this year. The "Northwest championship" will be decided Dec. 1 when Oregon State plays at Oregon.

• WSU gap-shooting linebacker Cory Evans set a school record with 6 ½ tackles for loss, including one of two sacks, in the defeat. Evans finished with a career-high 13 tackles (nine solo) to share the team lead with safety Alfonso Jackson. Evans, a junior from Boyce, La., had his right arm in a sling after the game but said it was a recurrence of a rotator cuff injury "nothing major" and he expects to play in the Apple Cup.

• WSU tight end Jed Collins tried to play on his sprained ankle but lasted only a series. Collins set the WSU record for catches by a tight end this season with 52. "He went out there and battled and you can't ask much more than that, but his ankle injury is pretty bad. ... He's a big target on third downs and in big situations so that hurt."

• Commenting on the empty stands they played in front of, Brandon Gibson said it felt more like a "high school game."

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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