SPOKANE, Wash. -- Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday said Monday that he would rather play No. 2 Oregon in Pullman this weekend instead of in Seattle.
But this is Washington State's annual game in Seattle, intended to appeal to the sizable alumni base in the state's largest city, and a big crowd is expected at CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.
"It's not a true home game. It's frustrating we don't get to play the game in Martin Stadium," Halliday said in a conference call from Pullman. "I wish all of our home games were here. I don't see why we have to go someplace else to play a home game.”
Washington State began playing an annual "home" game in Seattle about a decade ago, often in front of crowds of 50,000. Martin Stadium has a capacity of 33,000.
The game used to involve only non-conference opponents, but last year they played Oregon State in Seattle, losing 44-21 before 49,219 fans.
This year's game with Oregon is expected to draw a huge crowd of Ducks fans, as well as WSU fans, which could push the crowd to more than 60,000, WSU officials have said.
"The state is full of Cougar fans, and more of them are over there than any other area," coach Mike Leach said. "Martin Stadium is my favorite, of course, but we are excited to play anywhere.”
Going into the game, Halliday appears to have solidified his grip on the starting quarterback job over senior Jeff Tuel. Leach said Halliday would take snaps with the first team offense in practice this week.
Leach, who called the Cougars "mentally weak" after they gave up three touchdowns in the last seven minutes of a loss to Colorado on Saturday, said his team needs to improve mentally.
"We need to embrace the competition of tight, tough situations," Leach said. "We play hard selectively.”
"We'll work through it," Leach said. "Each week we get to know these guys better, and who is ready to play and who is not.”