PULLMAN – The Cougars are fully committed to the idea that every game is a substantial one. Which is to say, it’s substantial until it’s over. Then the following game becomes the most substantial, and so on and so forth.
Those are the guidelines at WSU – every game is treated equally – but there’s also a whole pile of evidence that suggests the Cougars sure do enjoy their games against Oregon.
They’ve now beaten the Ducks three times in three tries for the first time since the 1980s – perhaps the best indicator of the power shift that’s taken place in the Pac-12 North – and lest you think it’s getting old for WSU, the worldwide web strongly suggests otherwise.
Go back two years, when Washington State clipped the Ducks at Autzen Stadium in overtime, the @WSUCougars Twitter account had a few laughs at the expense of the web-footed foes from Eugene.
That week, Oregon unveiled a new line of apparel commemorating pioneers Lewis & Clark and the Oregon Trail. The grey uniforms tinted with navy blue were offbeat even by the Ducks’ zany standards, but UO ran with the theme and early that same week, the Twitter account run by Oregon’s mascot (@TheOregonDuck) opened friendly fire by taking shots at WSU’s mascot, Butch the Cougar. It was a play off the Oregon Trail video game. The Oregon Duck suggested that Butch had cholera, that Butch had a fever, then that Butch died – a common sequence of events when users are playing the game.
It was only appropriate, then, that @WSUCougars shot back with another one of the game’s well-known prompts – “You have died of dysentery” – moments after the Cougars edged the Ducks in overtime.
WSU officially stole Oregon’s place among the Pac-12 hierarchy last season with a 51-33 win – and maybe Stanford’s too, though that’s still to be determined – and cemented that fact again Saturday night in Eugene. The Cougars, thanks to unrelenting defense and a trusty kicker, drop-kicked the Ducks out of their home venue, 33-10.
The three-game run vs. Oregon isn’t significant one way or the other, according to Mike Leach, but the WSU coach might suggest you stick an asterisk next to it. It should be four wins, says Leach, quick to point out the Cougars let one slip away in 2014, when the Ducks won by seven points in Pullman. WSU fans would suggest officials missed a pass interference late in the game, too.
“No, not really,” Leach said, asked if the streak meant anything. “Because we felt like the time before last at our place, we should’ve won. So might as well get this streak going as best we can, as far as we’re concerned. Understandably, I’m on – there’s two different sides of it – I’m on ours.”
The Cougars, now No. 8 in the country with a perfect overall record (6-0) and conference record (3-0), did have fun with No. 3.
After a touchdown in the third quarter, WSU receiver Isaiah Johnson-Mack flashed an Oregon “O” to the collection of Duck fans behind the end zone.
Wazzu’s social media team got cheeky on Twitter again, too.
Some 20 minutes after the game ended, the @WSUCougars page posted a photo of the No. 3. Underneath, the Oregon Duck lay seemingly in a daze with stars around his head. The caption read, “Oops, we did it again.”
A few WSU coaches took it further, adding the hashtag “#DidSomething” to their own tweets. Stroll through the Oregon football operations building and you’re sure to see first-year coach Willie Taggart’s motto “Do Something” scripted on a wall, T-shirt or business card.
The Cougars did something on Saturday at Autzen Stadium. It clearly meant something, too.