PALO ALTO, California (Ticker) -- Jason Gesser and Washington State needed far less drama this week.
Gesser had an efficient day, passing for 297 yards and three touchdowns, as the 13th-ranked Cougars remained unbeaten in Pac-10 Conference play with a 36-11 victory over Stanford.
Washington State (6-1, 3-0 Pac-10) opened conference play with thrilling victories over California and Southern California. The Cougars never trailed against the Cardinal as Gesser completed 17-of-23 passes and patiently led his team to four scoring drives of more than 60 yards.
"Our team did a really good job in preparing for this game," Washington State coach Mike Price said. "We were ready to go, we weren't taking our opponent lightly."
Gesser had a pair of touchdown passes and Jermaine Green ran for another as Washington State built a 23-0 halftime lead. Green's 42-yard TD run opened the scoring and Gesser hit Jerome Riley for a three-yard TD and a 14-0 lead.
"Jason Gesser is very impressive, a sharp guy," Stanford coach Buddy Teevens said. "Obviously, their team has a strong leader. They have several receivers to throw to and their offense is very respectable."
Gesser added a two-yard TD pass to running back Jonathan Smith in the second quarter. The Cougars got a safety when Stanford punter Eric Johnson let a snap get through his legs and he was tackled in the end zone.
Stanford (1-4, 0-2) finally got on the board on a 28-yard field goal by Michael Sgroi with 7:15 left in the third quarter. The Cougars added a field goal of their own and a 10-yard TD strike from Gesser to Smith gave them a 26-3 cushion.
Riley became Gesser's favorite target with nine catches for 173 yards. Riley stepped up as Devard Darling and Mike Bush combined for just three catches for 26 yards.
Kenneth Tolon rushed for 89 yards on 14 carries for Stanford, which lost its third straight. Tolon scored the lone touchdown for the Cardinal on a one-yard TD plunge with 5:50 remaining.
"Our offensive line wants us to run the ball," Stanford quarterback Chris Lewis said. "If that's what's working, then we're going to run the ball."
But the Cardinal's passing game was unable to generate much all afternoon as Lewis was 13-of-27 for 102 yards. Stanford turned to backup Kyle Matter but he was just 7-of-14 for 56 yards.
"Chris did some nice things out there," Teevens said. "Kyle did some nice things as well. Chris is our starter, and we're planning to move forward with him."
Stanford's young defense features five sophomores and a pair of redshirt freshmen and it was unable to generate any kind of pressure on Gesser, who was sacked just once. Washington State backup Matt Kegel completed 7-of-11 passes for 38 yards.
Washington State's Jason David had a pair of interceptions, one against each quarterback.
"J.D. was over there making it happen and I have all the confidence in him," Cougars defensive back Marcus Trufant said. "He's a little guy over there playing it big."
The Cougars have won two straight against the Cardinal after losing the previous three meetings.