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Wash. State Expects Big Crowd

August 30, 2002

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PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) _ Washington State expects a sellout Saturday when the 12th-ranked Cougars open their season against Nevada at the new 67,000-seat Seahawks Stadium.

Fewer than 200 tickets for the game remained by Friday afternoon. They were for single seats scattered around the stadium.

``We may have played in front of larger crowds, but never have we played in front of as many Cougar fans,″ Washington State athletic director Jim Sterk said. ``Just about everyone in that stadium Saturday will be there to see the Cougars.″

The largest crowd Washington State has ever drawn to Martin Stadium in Pullman was 40,306 on Nov. 15, 1997, against Stanford.

The new stadium, home to the NFL’ Seattle Seahawks, also will be a fitting stage for Cougars quarterback Jason Gesser to show why he’s on so many Heisman lists this summer.

Nevada, a 27-point underdog, is the first opponent _ other than Pac-10 rival Washington _ that the Cougars have played in Seattle since 1976.

Gesser’s likeness adorns a banner hanging from an old Seattle brewery, threw for 2,729-yards and 25 touchdowns last year, leading the Cougars to a 33-27 win over Purdue in the Sun Bowl. Washington State finished 10-2, equaling its record from 1997, when it played in the Rose Bowl.

Meanwhile, the Wolf Pack of the Western Athletic Conference are coming off a 3-8 season.

Quarterback Zack Threadgill, a senior who started two games last season, leads Nevada, but the team’s biggest star is Chance Kretschmer, who led the nation in rushing last season with 1,732 yards.

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