Hope everyone had a great Halloween (sugar-high anyone?) and remembered to fall back. The clocks in the hotel are self-correcting, so I got started an hour later then I thought. No matter. Our links are up. Read on.
• Washington State: First, a mea culpa. In my haste to get everything in to the office last night, I made a mistake in one of the stories, labeling a player with the wrong position. You won’t see it on-line either in my post or the linked story – those are easy to fix – but it did appear in the paper because I didn’t catch it until after the paper went to press. My bad. … Now to some thoughts about the game. … The Cougars defense gave up 592 yards yesterday but I don’t believe I’ve seen them play harder from the first whistle in the past two years. Led by linebackers Jason Stripling, a career-high 13 tackles, Alex Hoffman-Ellis, 12 despite splitting time with Mike Ledgerwood in the middle, and Andy Mattingly, who had seven, WSU’s defense flew around all game. The problem was they were also getting knocked around. Notre Dame’s offensive line, especially left guard Chris Stewart, controlled the line of scrimmage. That opened huge holes for Robert Hughes, and the 5-foot-11, 234-pound back took advantage, hitting them hard and knocking Hoffman-Ellis, Stripling and any defensive back who happened to come up, back a yard or two most times at impact. … Defensive co-coordinator Chris Ball was pleased with the effort and praised it afterward. But the two big plays – the end-of-half Hail Mary and the long touchdown pass in the fourth quarter – stuck in his craw. Of the Hail Mary he said he thought his players were in the right position but “they caught it, we didn’t.” Coach Paul Wulff also praised the defense, but pointed out the time of possession (Notre Dame more than 2-to-1) and said that just can’t overcome that. … On offense, the Irish also dominated the line of scrimmage. The five sacks were one thing, but Notre Dame also was able to hit Jeff Tuel almost every time he threw the ball. Sometimes the Irish overpowered the offensive lineman. Sometimes there was a breakdown in protection. Sometimes Tuel held the ball too long. Whatever the reason, the Cougars are not going to take consistent steps to get better offensively until the offensive line improves. It’s as simple as that. … The Cougars injury woes continued. Safety Chima Nwachukwu was lost with a first-half ankle sprain. It’s not known how long he’ll be out. Cornerback Brandon Jones was taken off in a cart after the first half, had a sore foot X-rayed (negative) and returned to play most of the second. On the Notre Dame side, quarterback Dayne Crist will have an MRI on the knee he injured trying to get away from tackle Toby Turpin. … OK, on to the links. … We had our game story and notebook, both of which you can also find on this post. (By the way, interesting conversation some of you were having on the halftime post. Please remember to not let it get personal and keep it clean. Thanks.) We also have the statistics, the scoring and the grades. … Freelancer Howie Stalwick had this story in the Kitsap Sun and other papers, along with a notebook. … From the Midwets, here is the Chicago Tribune story and one from the South Bend Tribune.
• Around the Pac-10: The big game, of course, was in Eugene. According to Buster Sports’ Nick Daschel, Oregon’s big win should earn a BCS title shot. Will it? No way in heck. … …Washington: Bye week. … Oregon State: The Beavers keep rolling with a 26-19 win over UCLA, though they squandered a late lead and had to rally to win. … Oregon: The win was so big, we’re giving it two stories, this one from the Oregonian and another from the Register-Guard. Cal: What a win. The Bears go down the field for a late field goal and defeat Arizona State 23-21. … Stanford: Maybe the Cardinal should be Oregon’s biggest fans. … USC: We had the game stories in the Oregon section. For this we went with a scathing column. …UCLA: The Bruins did some good things but still lost. Sound familiar? … Arizona State: Speaking of scathing columns, this one takes Dennis Erickson to task. … Arizona: No game.
• That’s all for this morning. We’ll post our look back and follow on the game this afternoon or evening. Until then …