A GRIP ON SPORTS
Sometime in the fourth quarter Saturday at Martin Stadium, public address announcer Glenn Johnson asked what was left of the crowd of 31,668 to grab the WSU flags left on their seat for homecoming and wave them. It was an impressive sight as the little flags fluttered and waved to the music. There was only one problem. The flags were white. And the football team took it as a cue to surrender. Read on.
• The Colorado Buffaloes had 531 yards of total offense against Washington State on Saturday, a total that would make any defensive coordinator in America cringe. But consider this. The Buffs posted 252 of those yards in the final eight minutes of the game. On 19 plays. Those 19 plays led to 21 points and a deflating 35-34 upset win for a Colorado team that had been beaten soundly in its first three games. To recap, WSU led 31-14 with a bit over eight minutes left. From there, the Cougars had four yards and three points – in large part thanks to a long kickoff return by Teondray Caldwell. Colorado had 252 yards – including a 70-yard touchdown pass (above) and an 84-yard scoring run – and pulled out the win. You think coach Mike Leach was ticked off afterward? You would be right. So were Cougar fans (and I know, having listened to more than a dozen of them blow off steam on the postgame call-in show). There were decisions that left Leach open to second-guessing – disdaining a pretty-sure field goal that would have given WSU a 34-14 lead with those eight minutes left to go for a knockout on fourth down instead being the main one – and the second guesses came. There were mental errors, physical ones – a late Colorado fumble that could have killed the comeback was taken away in the pile by tight end Nick Kasa, overpowering two Cougars who had a chance to grab it – and emotional letdowns. When it was over, the Buffs gathered in Martin Stadium's southeast corner and serenaded the handful of fans who made the trip. And I was left remembering last year's trip to Boulder, when the Cougars scored twice in the final minutes and stunned Colorado. The large contingent of WSU fans in the stadium that day – about a dozen times larger than Colorado's group – celebrated uproariously as the Cougars left the field. I don't know if there was umbrage taken by the Buffaloes for that, but payback was probably sweet, even if it took 12 months in coming.
• Over in Moscow, the Vandals staged a late comeback to tie Wyoming in a battle of 0-3 teams. As we waited for our turn on the postgame show, we watched the updated score on our smart phone, learning UI had come up short in overtime. The 40-37 defeat may ensure another losing season for the Vandals, as coming up with six wins in their final eight games – which includes trips to Utah to face BYU and Utah State, along with a trip to North Carolina next week and a home game with resurgent San Jose State – might be a difficult task. The smoke that hung heavy on the Palouse as the two games began seemed almost like a funeral pall when they were over.
• But there were two Inland Northwest schools that pulled out victories, with Eastern Washington and Whitworth both holding on down the stretch. If you are looking for silver linings to a disappointing day, then you found it. The Eagles and Pirates both look to be on track for the postseason, though EWU seems to have a bit of a quarterback controversy and the Whits are dealing with a boatload of injuries.
• Washington State: I have a personal limit of linking no more than three post-game videos and Christian Caple exceed that number yesterday. So we will pass along links to interviews with coach Mike Leach, quarterback Connor Halliday and receiver Marquess Wilson. For the rest, you have to go back to the SportsLink front page and forage for yourself. ... Christian also transcribed Leach's comments, if you would rather read than watch them. And he had a post-game post along with one this morning. ... In the paper, he has his game story, a notebook, the keys to the game, statistics and the scoring. His report is augmented by John Blanchette's column and Tyler Tjomsland's photo gallery.... Christian has the rest of the links, both Cougar-related and the Pac-12 ones but I wanted to add one note. Next up for WSU is Oregon, who we all know features one of the best offenses in America. But the Ducks showed they can defend a bit too, shutting out an Arizona offense that came into Saturday's game sixth in the nation in total offense. There's that to look forward to.
• EWU: Jim Allen was in Ogden last night and filed this game story concerning the Eagles' 32-26 hang-on win at Weber State. ... From the Weber perspective, there is this Deseret News story. ... I expect Jim to pass along some Big Sky links late but to hold you over until then, I found stories from NAU's upset of Montana in Missoula, Montana State's easy win in its conference opener, Southern Utah's win in Portland over the Vikings and North Dakota's grind-it-out win at Sacramento State. ... The Missoulian has an interview with Newport's Jake Wiley, now playing basketball at Montana.
• Idaho: Josh Wright not only has his game story from the overtime defeat, he also added this blog post with more information last night. ... Around the WAC, San Jose State came up with a big road win at San Diego State and Utah State continued to roll.
• Whitworth: Chapman University had a chance to tie the game with the Pirates as time ran out Saturday, but a field goal that would have done just that was called back due to holding. The ensuing effort missed and Whitworth held on for a 17-14 victory and a 4-0 start. Jim Meehan has the story.
• Chiefs: A good opening night for the Chiefs in Kennewick as they defeat the Tri-City Americans 5-2.
• Preps: Cross country takes center stage as part of our Saturday prep roundup.
• Softball: I'm passing along this obituary from today's paper for one reason. I caught Don Stoddard in the 1980s as his fastpitch career was winding down. And I can attest catching his drop ball made my left thumb hurt.
• Seahawks: A Sunday without the Hawks. But not without stories, including more on the phenom that is Russell Wilson, the stress Seattle's defense will face on Monday night, Danny O'Neill's NFL column and power rankings, and the doubtful status of Seattle's leading receiver.
• Mariners: If there is one thing the M's are doing right this season, it's winning 1-0 baseball games. They did it again Saturday, riding Blake Beavan, the bullpen and a Michael Saunders solo home run (pictured) to a win over A.L. West-leading Texas. ... Carlos Triunfel has a cannon at shortstop. ... It's Sunday so there is the Larry Stone column and he writes something I agree with 100 percent. There is something troubling about suspending a rule just to feel good about not allowing Melky Cabrera to win the National League batting title. Stone also has his power rankings and awards.
• Sounders: A bad first 20 minutes cost the Sounders a 2-1 loss to San Jose on Saturday night, disappointing the CenturyLink crowd and dropping Seattle a couple key spots in the MLS standings. On what could have been a great soccer night in Seattle, the offense was AWOL.
• That's our Sunday morning post. As you can tell from the time it was posted, we didn't sleep well last night. It was a combination of a late meal, an antsy dog and the looming pressure of putting together this post. Add it up and you have a conspiracy to destroy my REM sleep. But we're done now and, because the sun is still asleep, maybe we can too. Until later ...