Washington State took a commanding lead after eight events of the Pacific 10 track and field championships Friday night as six Cougar athletes won or finished second in six events.
Washington State led with 77 points, followed by Oregon with 43 and Oregon State with 23.
While the Cougars took charge in the team battle, USC's Darwin Cook took command in the sprints with fast clockings in the 100- and 200-meter preliminaries.
Cook flashed to a 10.10-second time in the 100, then recorded a personal best of 20.42 in the 200.
Cook provided one of the few bright spots for the Trojans, who finished the evening tied with Washington for fourth place with 22 points.
Washington's Steve Erickson won the decathlon with a total of 8,063 points.
UCLA was sixth with 19 points.
"I wouldn't say we're on course to finish second," USC Coach Ernie Bullard said. "I don't think we're doing poorly, but we're not getting the big efforts that we need to do well in the meet."
Bullard was deeply concerned about sprinter Antonio Manning, who reinjured his groin in a 200-meter heat and is questionable for today's final.
"I don't know his status," Bullard said. "His leg's bothering him. We'll just have to see when he warms up tomorrow."
The Trojans' biggest disappointment came in the long jump, where pre-meet favorite Ed Tave finished third with a leap of 25 feet 1 inches.
"I missed the board four out of six times," Tave lamented. "I can't tell you what went wrong. I guess when you don't know, it's a choke."
UCLA's best performance came from shotputter John Frazier who finished second with a throw of 63-4.