PULLMAN, Washington (Ticker) -- Perhaps Washington State was underrated and Oregon State overrated in the preseason.
Dave Minnich rushed for a career-high 195 yards on 34 carries as Washington State remained unbeaten with a 34-27 victory over disappointing Oregon State.
The Cougars are off to their first 5-0 start since 1997 when Ryan Leaf led them to the Rose Bowl. They also have won their first two conference games.
Washington opened a 31-3 halftime lead and held off a furious second-half rally by Oregon State.
Along with Oregon, the Beavers received much of the attention in the Pac-10 in the preseason following the first 11-win season in school history.
But Oregon State has dropped three of its first four games and is 0-2 in the Pac-10.
Ken Simonton, touted as a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate, was limited to 19 yards on 12 carries.
Three minutes into the game, Erik Coleman returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown on Oregon State's fourth play from scrimmage to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead.
Five and a half minutes later, Jason Gesser tossed a seven-yard TD pass to Minnich, a 27-year-old former Marine, to make it 14-0.
Drew Dunning's 37-yard field goal gave Washington State a 17-0 lead with 3:17 left in the opening quarter.
The Cougars scored again 40 seconds into the second quarter following a strange sequence of miscues.
Gesser was intercepted by Oregon State's Terrell Roberts but Roberts fumbled on the return. The fumble was recovered by the Cougars' Joey Hollenback at the Beavers 23.
On the interception, Gesser was injured and replaced by Matt Kegel. The backup handed off to Minnich, who found Nakoa McElrath for a 22-yard score on a halfback option pass.
Gesser returned and connected with Mike Bush on a 13-yard TD that put the Cougars up 31-0 with still 10 minutes left in the half.
Jonathan Smith completed 16-of-26 for 180 yards and a touchdown for the Beavers.
Oregon State trailed, 34-13, entering the final period but made it close with two defensive scores. Jason Lowe returned a blocked punt four yards for a touchdown and Mitch Meeuwsen returned a fumble 35 yards for a score with 35 seconds to play.