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WSU faces tough task at Stanford

A GRIP ON SPORTS

For a season that started with such promise, I'm not sure there's much in the way of anticipation today for Washington State's game with Stanford. Well, there is some anticipation. Anticipation it won't be close. Read on.


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• Stanford is a physically dominant football team, especially up front on defense. The Cardinal's front seven is as good as just about anyone's in the nation. Of all the teams WSU plays this season, no one should put more pressure on the Cougars offensive line (a group that's struggled to protect the quarterback at times this season) than Stanford. And that might play into the lack of interest in today's game. With little chance the struggling WSU offense will score a lot of points, there just doesn't seem to be much in the way of a buzz. Which is kind of sad. By this time, seven games into Mike Leach's first season, folks felt the Cougars would have a handle on the Leach offense and would be putting up points. Maybe not winning, though a lot of the Cougar faithful had their fingers crossed for a bowl game, but at least striking fear in everyone's heart with their potent passing game. That has just not come to pass. For whatever reason, WSU is not scoring a lot of points. And that makes today's game in Northern California so tough. Even if the Cougar defense mans up and shuts down the Stanford running game and harasses quarterback Josh Nunes relentlessly, it's hard to envision the offense scoring often enough to put a scare into the Cardinal. There is one thing going for the Cougars, however. The Cardinal is coming off a rivalry game win against Cal and may not be as focused as usual. But still, let's say it finishes 35-14, Stanford.

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• Washington State: Christian Caple has more on the Cougars offense against the Stanford defense in his advance of this afternoon's game. He also has his two-minute drill (a Saturday staple) and a blog post containing the answers to five questions from Tom Fitzgerald, the Chronicle's Stanford beat writer. Finally, Christian has a morning post with links and coverage of other Pac-12 games. … It's Saturday, so we link Ted Miller's mailbag on ESPN.com.

• Gonzaga: The Zags open the 2012-13 season unofficially tonight with an exhibition against Northwest Nazarene. We have a short advance. … Former Bulldog Adam Morrison was informed yesterday he would be waived by the Portland TrailBlazers. … CBS.com's Gary Parrish thinks the WCC race may be one of the more exciting conference battles in the nation.

• EWU: The road awaits No. 1-ranked Eastern today, with a challenging game at pass-happy Southern Utah. Jim Allen has his advance in this morning's paper. We also found this one in the Salt Lake City Tribune. One oddity about the Thunderbirds: They've won both their Big Sky road games and lost all three home contests.

• Idaho: The Vandals have a bye this week as they get to know interim coach Jason Gesser's plans but the top three of the WAC – Louisiana Tech, Utah State and San Jose State – all play.

• Chiefs: Spokane can't wait to get home after another road defeat.

• Preps: A typically big Friday night in prep football with an untypical result out at Central Valley, where the Bears upset Gonzaga Prep, 37-35. Jess Brown has the story. … Greg Lee was at Albi, where he watched Shadle Park defeat Lewis and Clark (pictured) and Mt. Spokane stop Rogers. … Mike Vlahovich covered U-Hi's home win over North Central. … Pullman has put itself in the GNL driver's seat after a win over West Valley. That's part of our roundup. … Lake City qualified for state with a win over Post Falls. Jim Meehan has the story. … We also can pass along a roundup of all the other prep sports from Friday.

• Seahawks: The Hawks won't be at full strength in Detroit on Sunday, as they'll probably be missing inside pass rusher Jason Jones with an ankle injury. Not a good time to be missing a pass rusher as the Lions have a potent passing attack.

• Sounders: Though their postseason spot is set, Steve Zakuani and the Sounders still have one more MLS regular season match left. … Eddie Johnson's team goals supersede personal ones.

• Mariners: Even if the front office really doesn't understand how to treat their season-ticket holders, at least its been stockpiling young starting pitching. Though one of those might be on the block.

• NBA: With David Stern setting a retirement date, he has a chance to make up with Seattle fans before he leaves.

•••

• That's it for this morning. We'll be involved in some basketball-related business this morning than in front of the TV this afternoon to watch the Cougar game. Then it's in the radio booth for our postgame call-in show with Dennis Patchin on KXLY920. Tune in about an hour after the end of the game and share your thoughts. Until then …


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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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Sean Kramer Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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