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Friday, November 21, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Cougar Notebook -- Season Is Deja Vu For Leaf

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf credits weekly meetings with the Cougars' sports psychologist, Jim Bauman, for contributing to his success this season. "He does a great relaxation and visualization thing where we sit down and I close my eyes and he goes through visualization things," Leaf said.

"He counts me down until my body is real relaxed. We visualize things I'll do in the game the next Saturday. Or maybe on some nagging injuries I want to put out of my mind. Or the media attention.

"Or how to get focused for Boise State and Southwestern Louisiana."

Leaf said that as a result of visualization he already has seen some of the events that unfold in the game.

Rose Bowl was reasonable

It has been 67 years since Washington State won a football championship, and Coach Mike Price was asked before the season if it was reasonable to think the Cougars ever could win a title.

Of course it was, the ninth-year coach said.

"Just look at who's been in the Rose Bowl in the past few years from both leagues - Arizona State, Oregon, Northwestern, Wisconsin," Price said.

"I think there might have been a time when only the elite made it. But the decline in the number of overall scholarships has helped."

If the Cougars beat Washington tomorrow and UCLA beats USC, Washington State will win its first championship in 67 years.

Leaf vs. Manning?

Sugar Bowl representatives will be at Husky Stadium tomorrow

with a close eye on Washington State. Should the Cougars win and not go to the Rose Bowl, they might be invited to New Orleans for a possible game against Tennessee.

A representative of the Sugar Bowl said a matchup of the top Heisman Trophy candidates, Leaf and Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning, would be very attractive.

Washington State also is drawing strong consideration from the Fiesta and Cotton bowls.

Play of the year

The Cougars' play of the year?

How about fourth-and-one against UCLA in the season opener?

That was Price's first choice when the question was posed.

With 2:48 to play, the Bruins, trailing 37-34, were threatening to wipe out all of what had been a 30-14 deficit. They had the ball, fourth-and-goal, at the WSU 1.

Redshirt freshman Jermaine Lewis took a handoff from quarterback Cade McNown and was stopped for no gain, and the Cougars went on to win - significant because it is the Bruins' only conference loss.

Price thinks the play helped the Cougars believe in themselves.

"Faith is what we had - that's belief without evidence," Price said. "Now we have the evidence, and it's a lot easier to have belief. And that's what these kids do - they believe they can win."

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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