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Hawai'i 38, Washington State 20

We're big picture folks here at CougCenter. For weeks, we've been rambling on about how Paul Wulff has this program headed in the right direction. How he's turning things around. It's a lengthy process, for sure, but we knew that coming in. He wasn't exactly handed a program with USC talent, but he's done his best so far to build the foundation. Recruiting is on the upswing even for a team near the bottom of the conference. Hope, if not near, is at least on the horizon. And there's always that overtime thriller in the Apple Cup last year to keep our spirits up.

But then, you watch a game like this.

You see Hawai'i - a team that has never, ever beaten a BCS opponent on the road since that acronym was invented - jump out to a 35-0 lead on us a week after scraping by Central Arkansas. You see mental errors and a lack of execution. A lack of preparation. A lack of any spark or signs of life until the second half. By then, of course, it was too little too late. For much of the first two quarters of play, this game resembled the apocalypse that was last year's USC game. Only this wasn't USC. This was a team returning one lonely defensive starter and a program that is now a far cry from its Sugar Bowl glory of two years ago. And, if you don't remember, they got creamed in that Sugar Bowl.

Sorry, Hawai'i, I don't mean to disrespect you, but you aren't USC. You know that as well as I. The Warriors can take pride in the fact that they came out looking like they desperately needed to win this game. WSU didn't. Forget the fact we ended the game on a 20-3 run. All that did was prevent total embarrassment.

It makes you wonder. Is Wulff the right fit for this program? How much is the buyout anyway? How did we get to this point? Did Doba sink this program with apathy and his recruiting of now-gone athletes with character issues? Or did Wulff take a competitive program and throw it into the blender, with all its creamy goodness left behind to be the laughingstock of the Pac-10?

You'd never know we were in the Rose Bowl seven years ago. That we actually beat USC this century. That we were a team that put Vince Young on the losing end of a ball game; a program that teams used to hate to play on the road. Where'd Wazzu go? The stands are now filled with the most die-hard of die-hard fans, and the student section is loaded with kids who have never seen a season that resulted in a Bowl game.

In the big picture, though, we can't fire Wulff. It's bad for us financially, and it's bad for us in that we'd be making a similar bet on someone else to rebuild a program out of the ashes of its former self. For now, we have to wait. Hope for the best. And, most importantly, forget about this week.

Player of the Game: James Montgomery. 6.9 yards per carry! 117 yards! A thingy where you go in that one zone that scores points! What's that called? I forgot. Anyway, Monty is for real, and he keeps convincing me that we need to put the ball in his hands more often. A bright spot in a sea of gloominess.

Unsung hero: Jeffrey Solomon, Nico Grasu (tie). Solomon came out of nowhere to notch six receptions for 71 yards. Grasu continues to erase the memory of his awful first miss of the season, with two good field goals that I'm pretty sure none of us wanted to see kicked in the first place, given the game situation (down 35-0, 35-3).

Play of the Game: Montgomery's 2 yard TD run in the third quarter that made us believe for a half second we might have a chance to come back.

It was over when... Bill Doba was resign-fired, and Paul Wulff was hired to take over the Cougar program. Or, if I must, when Leon Wright-Jackson from Pasco, Washington scored on a run with 8 seconds left in the first to put the Warriors up 21-nil.