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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Idaho at Washington State

The Spokesman-Review

The records: It’s the season opener for both teams.

Last time: WSU beat Idaho 49-8 in Pullman on Sept. 18, 2004.

What it means for WSU: While the Cougars are about a four-touchdown favorite against their Palouse rival, it’ll be important to get off to an impressive start with a bunch of new players potentially seeing significant playing time. WSU has to be thinking that an early lead – such as the one it took in last year’s game – would provide a golden opportunity to get some of those younger players valuable experience. This will also be a good test for Alex Brink, taking his first snaps as the chosen starter for the Cougars. His performance will be watched closely.

What it means for Idaho: An upset win would give an enormous boost to the Vandals as they begin their first season in the WAC. Really, after last year’s drubbing, even a close game would probably serve as a positive sign of progress in the rebuilding process. This game also provides a good opportunity for Idaho to see some of its newcomers against BCS-conference competition, and the lessons they learn about those players could help immensely down the road.

Idaho’s best:

“Head coach Nick Holt is in his second year with the Vandals and is trying to build a winner in a hurry by bringing in a slew of new players to the starting lineup this season. Last season, Holt’s first as a head coach, resulted in a 3-9 mark, including a 2-5 record in the Sun Belt Conference.

“Many of those newcomers are junior college transfers, and as many as seven could start against WSU. Two of them, Jason Martin and Tone Taupule, will be in a secondary that WSU is sure to test.

“Another, Steven Wichman, is still battling for the starting quarterback job with incumbent Michael Harrington. It’s probable that a decision on that job will be announced in the next day or two.

The numbers:

WSU wideout Jason Hill had one of his biggest games of 2004 against Idaho, catching three passes for 105 yards. All three of those catches also went for touchdowns, one of them a dazzling 76-yard catch-and-run.

The Cougars nearly pitched a shutout in last year’s game, giving up Idaho’s lone score with 17 seconds left, a 6-yard catch by Ryan Heacock.

Glenn Kasses

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

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