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Originally published Sunday, September 7, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Cougars no match, sent to their worst loss ever

California running back Jahvid Best is looking forward to watching game films this week. Washington State will probably want to burn any...

The Associated Press

Cougars 2008 schedule
Aug. 30 Oklahoma St. L, 39-13
Sept. 6 California L, 66-3
Sept. 13 at Baylor 9:30 a.m., FSN
Sept. 20 Portland St. 4 p.m., FSN
Sept. 27 Oregon 3:15 p.m., FSN
Oct. 4 at UCLA TBA
Oct. 11 at Oregon St. TBA
Oct. 18 USC 12:15 p.m., FSN
Nov. 1 at Stanford TBA
Nov. 8 Arizona TBA
Nov. 15 at Arizona St. TBA
Nov. 22 Washington Noon, FSN
Nov. 29 at Hawaii TBA

PULLMAN — California running back Jahvid Best is looking forward to watching game films this week.

Washington State will probably want to burn any reminders of its historic loss.

Best ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns Saturday as California blasted Washington State 66-3, spoiling coach Paul Wulff's first game back in Pullman since he was a star player in the late 1980s. It was the worst defeat in the history of a program that dates to 1894.

"I thought our guys kept competing and the bottom line was that we were outmanned; they were a lot bigger, a lot stronger and a lot faster," Wulff said.

Best, a sophomore, opened the game with an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage, and averaged 14.3 yards on his 14 carries. The 5-foot-10 Best earned the start after rushing for what was a career-high 111 yards last weekend against Michigan State.

California (2-0, 1-0 Pac-10) produced 505 yards. The Cougars' second-worst loss in history was also against the Golden Bears, a 61-0 drubbing in 1922.

Washington State (0-2, 0-1), picked for last in the Pac-10, looked inept for the second week in a row. The Cougars lost 39-13 to Oklahoma State last week.

"We've just got to ignore it," WSU defensive lineman Kevin Kooyman said. "The feeling is so horrible."

California piled up 391 yards on the ground, including 80 yards from Shane Vereen and 45 from quarterback Kevin Riley. Washington State was held to 167 yards of total offense, the second week in a row under 200.

The 66 points yielded by Washington State was the second most in its history. The Cougars allowed 70 to USC in 1970.

Washington State barely preserved its string of scoring in 275 consecutive games, second-longest streak in the nation after Michigan's 300 straight. They have not been shut out since 1984.

"This is our home field," WSU linebacker Greg Trent said. "We take it personal, and we're going to try to come back."

Best's long run on the first play set the tone for the entire day.

Kooyman said the Cougars had been expecting just such a play to open the game, and had practiced against it all week.

"We were ready for it, but it didn't work out for us," he said.

Best also scored on runs of 5 and 86 yards.

"When you get Jahvid in a foot race, there are very few of those he's going to lose," California coach Jeff Tedford said.

Wulff, hired in December, is the first WSU alum to lead the team since Phil Sarboe in 1949. Washington State, which is riddled with injuries and scholarship losses, opened the season with two losses for the first time since 1999.

The Cougars have 11 games left and will improve, Wulff said.

This game was over early as California scored on its first three possessions. After Best's opening touchdown, WSU quarterback Gary Rogers was intercepted by Syd'Quan Thompson, who returned it 18 yards to WSU's 12. Kevin Riley hit Sean Young for a 12-yard touchdown pass and a 14-0 lead only 1:31 into the game.

On California's next possession, Vereen dashed up the middle for a 39-yard touchdown run and a 21-0 lead.

WSU's Chris Ivory returned the kickoff 68 yards to Cal's 22, but the Cougars were pushed back and had to settle for Nico Grasu's 43-yard field goal, their only points.

Cal's Zack Follett returned a blocked field-goal attempt 65 yards for a touchdown and Riley dashed 27 yards for a score to make it 34-3.

Thompson's 90-yard interception return set up Best for a 5-yard TD off a direct snap that put California up 42-3 at the half.

Kevin Lopina replaced Rogers at quarterback for WSU to open the second half, and marched the Cougars to California's 13 before throwing an interception. Two plays later, Best ran 86 yards for a 49-3 Golden Bears lead.

Despite the 63-point win, Tedford was unhappy with his passing attack. Riley, Nate Longshore and Brock Mansion combined to complete 14 of 24 passes for just 114 yards.

"We need to throw it more," Tedford said, noting that many of California's points came on "weird turnovers" that did not give his offense much opportunity to perform.

"If we are going to be a championship team, we've got to put drives together," he said.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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UPDATE - 8:27 PM
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