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A big weekend is ahead

A GRIP ON SPORTS

You know, this weekend might be the best weekend ever in terms of sports depth around here. The Seahawks are playing the Broncos in a rematch from last year's Super Bowl, the Cougars host No. 2 Oregon, the Mariners face a key series at Houston in their chase for a postseason berth for the first time in 13 years and there are a bunch of other games. Too bad I won't be around. Read on.

Week four Pac-12 power rankings

The out-of-conference games took their toll on the Pac-12 and now that the conference’s teams are sufficiently beaten up they’ll start to play each other. With a 25-4 record in nonconference games the Pac-12 mostly solidified its reputation as one of college football’s top conferences.

Still, it’s hard not to think that the Pac-12 missed an opportunity to really be considered elite. USC is still one of the conference’s most talented teams and could certainly win the Pac-12 South. If it does, it will make every good program it beats look bad in the process, losing to the team that lost to Boston College.

Even though UCLA went undefeated, the Bruins’ six-point average margin of victory against what wasn’t thought to be an imposing schedule is going to diminish the national perception of one of the Pac-12’s most talented teams for the rest of the year.

At least Oregon took care of business.

Eastern football notes

Has it really been two weeks since we chatted about Eastern Washington football? We'll do it again today at noon, right here at SportsLink. One topic of conversation should be new Montana State quarterback Dakota Prukop. who's the subject of today's Big Sky notebook. …MSU's underdog status is personified by Bobcat lineman Taylor Dees, according to this article  in the Billings Gazette, which also has a preview of Saturday's Montana game at North Dakota State. … Two weeks from now, Idaho State will bring a veteran offensive line against Eastern. …Suddenly, the Eagles' win over Sam Houston State doesn't look so impressive.

Ewu sports chat Sept. 18 (noon)

 

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Washington State’s receiving corps runneth over

Heading into the 2014 football season the WSU receiving depth appeared pretty set. The Cougars returned their top eight receivers from the previous season and there seemed to be a defined pecking order.

Or not.

Three games into the season and last year's most productive receiver, Gabe Marks, is redshirting and Isiah Myers has already matched his production from a year ago and is on the Biletnikoff Award watch list. I wrote about Myers' emergence the in paper today, and our practice report includes a number of big plays from redshirting freshman receiver who isn't waiting to make an impact.

We have more links after the jump.

A big day for backups

Washington State's depth is starting to catch up to the starters. Or maybe the backups just had a good day. Either way, Wednesday's WSU football practice saw some big plays from players you don't normally hear about.

Our practice report is after the jump.

Nunez waiver denied; schedule released

Busy day on the Gonzaga beat and a couple of hours this afternoon spent co-hosting a weekly radio show with Toby Howell on KGA AM-1510.

I put together a Gonzaga notebook for Thursday's S-R with the first item concerning Angel Nunez's hardship waiver appeal. It was denied by the WCC, which means Nunez is now listed as a senior. Gonzaga plans to appeal the decision to the NCAA. I've added notebook items on Matt Santangelo returning to the analyst role on GU radio broadcasts, Mike Hart returning to the program to be the video coordinator and John Jakus being hired as director of operations. He'll spend this season learning from Jerry Krause, who is stepping down from the director of ops position he's held since 2001.

—The Bulldogs also released their non-conference schedule. Most of the matchups have been publicized (UCLA, Arizona, WSU, Memphis, SMU, etc.) but there were a few new names dotting the home schedule (an exhibition game vs. Thompson Rivers from Kamloops, B.C., Texas Southern, Southeastern Louisiana, etc.)

More on the schedule here and here and more below.

 

Recapping yesterday’s practice

Because we were caught up in the hubbub of some late-night scheduling news and other stuff for the paper we never got a practice report up last night. We make amends for that omission after the jump.

WSU Football live chat

 

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Schedule makers always keep your budget in mind

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Who knew attending a college football game might actually be good for your budget? It just may be that way next year. Read on.

Eastern football links

Second-ranked Eastern Washington is rested and ready for No. 14 Montana State, but in this series, being favored isn't necessarily a good thing. Here's my story from Tuesday's practice, and here's a link to the game preview from the EWU Sports Information Office. … New MSU quarterback Dakota Prukop is off to a great start, and earned a big honor this week. Of course, that won't help the Bobcat defense, which is still looking for answers on how to stop EWU QB Vernon Adams and company. … You'd think No. 2 vs. No. 14 would be the biggest game in the Big Sky this week, but you'd be wrong: No. 4 Montana is at top-ranked North Dakota State. The Missoulian is rising to the challenge with this early look at the task confronting the Griz. … Look out: UC Davis has two weeks to get ready for a Sept. 27 home game against the Eagles. … Idaho State receiver Broc Malcolm enjoyed a career day last weekend. … Fresh off a blowout Homecoming loss to South Dakota State, Southern Utah will have a tough time bouncing back at Fresno State.

No weekday games in 2015, except one

With the exception of the Apple Cup, which makes a premature return to Black Friday, the 2015 Washington State football schedule doesn't include any weekday games. By contrast the Cougars have already played games on Thursday and Friday this season, with another Friday contest coming up when WSU travels to Stanford.

Now if only they can do something about those night games.

As you can tell by now, the 2015 football schedule was released yesterday and leads off our notebook in today's paper.

More links are after the jump.

Vandals turn attention to Ohio

It's one of those back-to-the-drawing board weeks for the Idaho Vandals.

Confident they had something to build on when they came home from their season opener at Louisiana-Monroe, the Vandals instead find themselves picking up the pieces after a nasty lesson delivered by Western Michigan on Saturday in the Kibbie Dome. Coach Paul Petrino dissected the 45-33 loss on Tuesday and looked ahead to another venture into the Mid-American Conference at Ohio University.

The link below will take you to more about the Vandals. 

WSU 2015-16 schedule released

The Pac-12 released its conference football schedules on Tuesday evening during the Pac-12 Football Weekly on the Pac-12 Networks. Washington State's schedule is as follows:

Week 1: 9/5 Portland State
Week 2: 9/12 @ Rutgers
Week 3: 9/19 vs. Wyoming
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: 10/3 @ California
Week 6: 10/10 @ Oregon
Week 7: 10/17 vs. Oregon State
Week 8: 10/24 @ Arizona
Week 9: 10/31 vs. Stanford
Week 10: 11/7 vs. Arizona State
Week 11: 11/14 @ UCLA
Week 12: 11/21 vs. Colorado
Week 13: 11/27 @ Washington

Superlative WSU statistics

Through three games Washington State has put up some impressive stats, and not just because of its high-volume passing offense. The Cougars are also rank highly in certain special teams and defensive categories.

We'll take a look at some of the Cougars' superlative statistics after the jump.

Isiah Myers added to Biletnikoff Award watch list Edit

Washington State receiver has been added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List following his 227-yard, three-touchdown performance against Portland State last weekend the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation announced Tuesday.

The award will be given on December 11, 2014 to the best receiver in college football as determined in part by online fan voting. Were Myers to win it would mark the third time a receiver has won the award while being coached by Mike Leach – the first two were in 2007 and 2008 when Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree won back-to-back.

 Myers currently leads the Pac-12 conference with 26 receptions and 423 receiving yards. He's likely to continue putting up big numbers; quarterback Connor Halliday says Myers is the receiver he has the best rapport with as well as the team's best route-runner.

Talk about missing the mark …

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's hard to admit when you are wrong. But it's also good for the soul. Cathartic is the term, I believe. But I could be wrong. Again. Read on.

Washington State’s focus will be tested

The schemes may vary and the personnel is obviously never the same but for all other intents and purposes the Washington State football team considers all opponents to be one in the same.

If the Cougars can maintain that inward focus and block out the fastest, flashiest, highest-ranked team in the west all week then they can do it against anybody. No. 2 Oregon comes to Pullman on Saturday with ESPN in tow. Whether or not the Cougars like it this is a big game, and a big win or even a good performance this weekend could propel the team to some badly-needed wins against Utah and California in the following weeks. But it would be tough to recover from a bad loss or some critical injuries.

Yesterday the Cougars addressed Oregon during their weekly press conference and there were even a few basketball items throughout the day. All that and more is after the jump.

Chiefs’ division loaded again Edit

The U.S. Division was the toughest of the Western Hockey League's four divisions last season. The Spokane Chiefs finished fourth in the five-team U.S. Division last year and face some tough prospects for the 2014-15 season, which begins Saturday in Kennewick. Read story

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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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John Blanchette (@SRjblanchette) John Blanchette is a freelance writer who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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