A GRIP ON SPORTS
There are a lot of things in life we all have to do. Pay taxes. Change diapers. Eat a balanced breakfast. Rake leaves in the fall. There are not fun, but we have to do them. It's expected. I feel that way about one task this morning. Read on.
• I know I have to pick the Washington State game today, in that you folks anticipate it all week (hah). But I'm torn and I'm not sure I want to go on record with a pick. Torn between believing this is a chance for WSU to pull an upset and between my memory of California's domination up front against the Cougars last season. The fact the Bears' offensive line opened huge holes against Washington State – Isi Sofele (above), who seemed to be headed to Pullman early in his recruiting process, rushed for 138 yards on 23 carries – that worries me. I believe the Cougar defense is sounder than last year, especially against the run. No, it's the way the Bears defense showed indifference about the run – WSU's Rickey Galvin and Carl Winston combined for 107 rushing yards – and rushed the passer with impunity. The idea was simple: Cal didn't believe any of the Cougar running backs could really hurt them with long runs (and the WSU passing attack could), so they tried to force Marshall Lobbestael into quick throws. It worked. Despite not turning the ball over (their usual drive-killer), the Cougar offense gained just 224 yards, and didn't score until early in the fourth quarter after a Bears fumble at their 26. Heck, WSU's longest drive was 53 yards. And, remember, that offense was moving the ball better than the current one. So where do I go today? I'm thinking this will be the Cougars best chance for an upset this season – this is a sandwich game for Cal, the meat between rivals UCLA and Stanford – but they will come up just short. It's quite possible this game could come down to the final possession once again. Call it 28-24 California.
• Washington State: Christian Caple has all his usual Saturday items, with a bit of a basketball twist in this morning's post (the best link he has is the story about West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen, Lubbock and Mike Leach; don't miss it). He also has an advance of today's game and his two-minute drill. ... We always link the Friday mailbag from ESPN.com, so why should today be any different?
• Gonzaga: Practice is officially underway at Gonzaga and Jim Meehan was at media day Friday. He filed this story and a blog post. ... The game-fixing scandal at USD is starting to result in jail time.
• EWU: Big doings in Bozeman today, with No. 6 Eastern trying to upset No. 2 Montana State and solidify its position atop the Big Sky. Jim Allen has an advance in today's paper along with a blog post this morning. FYI: 65 percent of you think the Eagles are going to win today. ... Jim has some Big Sky links this morning, but I can add one concerning Weber State and Sacramento State and one from Southern Utah.
• Idaho: The Vandals are in Texas to face WAC newcomer Texas State in what might be one of their two best shots for victory the rest of the way. Josh Wright has an advance. ... Utah State and San Jose State will face off in San Jose today.
• Whitworth: It's another road test for the Pirates, who have passed them all this season. Jim Meehan has the advance of today's game at Linfield.
• CCS: The Sasquatch have a new basketball coach.
• Preps: A full night of high school football last night as Brett Rypien took over first place in the Greater Spokane League single-season passing rankings, Rypien-family division. He passed uncle Mark in Shadle Park's 34-9 win over North Central. Greg Lee was at Albi on a rivalry-game night and has the story plus one on Ferris' shutout win over Lewis and Clark (pictured). ... West Valley won the showdown with rival East Valley, 30-27, on a last-second Tyler Stavnes field goal. Jess Brown has the story. ... University got one of its offensive weapons back and breezed past visiting Mt. Spokane, 38-14. Mike Vlahovich was there. ... We also can pass along roundups of the rest of the football and soccer action.
• Mariners: This blog post from Geoff Baker makes a good point. It's not the players the M's go after this off-season that matter; it's the process. He has some thoughts on that.
• NBA: Let the lawsuits begin over the proposed arena.
• We'll be up late tonight, what with the WSU game not starting until 7:30 on the Pac-12 Network. Then there is the hour-long postgame show prior to the Cougar Calls show with Dennis Patchin and yours truly. I screwed up the phone number here last week, so I won't do that again. It's 1-866-268-4825 or 1-866-CougTalk. Call in and share your thoughts. Until later ...