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Vikings struggle with their offense

Portland State heads into its Big Sky Conference football opener after a solid effort against Oregon and the largest crowd any PSU team has played in front of: 56,066.

About 7,000 people should show up for the PSU-Northern Arizona game Saturday afternoon in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Having played at Autzen Stadium, the Vikings are prepared for being the visiting invaders against the Lumberjacks.

'I love being the underdog,' sophomore linebacker Tolo Tuitele said after the Viks lost 41-0 at Oregon. 'I love it when people think you shouldn't win.'

Portland State's defense continues to be the impressive part of the team. It stopped the Ducks on six of 12 third-down conversions, including five of seven in the first half, and held Onterrio Smith to 115 yards on 21 carries. Those are stats that most Pacific-10 Conference teams would celebrate.

'We know we can hang with Pac-10 speed, and that will help us in our conference,' coach Tim Walsh says. 'But we have to get our offense going. If we want to win the Big Sky title, we have to be more consistent on offense.'

Ryan Fuqua impressed the Oregon coaches with his ability, running for 88 yards on 24 carries.

Quarterback Juston Wood completed 14 of 27 passes against a strong defensive unit. He connected on a number of short passes, finding Jesse Levin five times for 51 yards and Jay Williams four times for 31 yards.

Wood is the focus of concern, though, because the offense continues to struggle with scoring. He missed badly on two passes to open the third quarter, when the Vikings could still legitimately think about winning.

'We have to get Juston in synch,' Walsh said. 'And we have to do it quickly.'

NOTES: PSU won on its last trip to Flagstaff, 42-10, in 2000. É Northern Arizona quarterback Clint Womack was the national offensive player of the week two weeks ago when the Lumberjacks beat No. 14 Sam Houston State 40-14. PSU is minus-4 in turnovers, while NAU is plus-2.