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Archive for December 2013

Chiefs’ trade may provide multiple benefits

This week's Western Hockey League notebook leads with trades, including the Spokane Chiefs' Tuesday deal with Kootenay that sent defenseman Tyler King to the Ice for forward Hudson Elynuik. Read story

Chiefs trade King to Kootenay for Elynuik

The Spokane Chiefs announced Tuesday that they have traded defenseman Tyler King to the Kootenay Ice for forward Hudson Elynuik. Read story

Day after San Francisco

The Zags' injury list continues to grow, as does the list of players who have stepped up to replace the walking wounded.

Drew Barham led Gonzaga with 15 points and nine boards and Gerard Coleman chipped in 10 points in a 69-41 rout of San Francisco on Monday night.

Here's my game story and a short update on Gary Bell's broken hand. Jesse Tinsley has the picture story.

More below in my day-after post.

 

Short-handed doesn’t mean short on the scoreboard

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Shoot, if the Gonzaga Bulldogs lose any more players to injury, they just might win the NCAA title. Read on.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — A couple more Pac-12 teams had their bowl games on Monday, and while Oregon cruised past Texas, Arizona State was carved up by Texas Tech. In the paper we've got an update on sidelined WSU basketball player DaVonte Lacy and the info on how you can watch football coach Mike Leach take on some different challenges.

On the other side of the state, Washington's top runner announced his intentions to go pro, and new coach Chris Petersen announced nearly all of his new assistants. 

UCLA coach Jim Mora thinks QB Brett Hundley will forego the draft … A few more coaches joined the conga line heading from Seattle to Los Angeles … The New York Times takes a look inside Stanford's weight training program.

Short-handed Bulldogs rout USF

Gonzaga was down another starter — Gary Bell Jr. is out 4-6 weeks with a broken right hand — but the Bulldogs didn't miss a beat in thumping San Francisco 69-41 on Monday. Sam Dower Jr. (back) didn't play for the second straight game.

Drew Barham had 15 points and nine rebounds as Gonzaga improved to 12-2, 2-0 in the WCC. USF dropped to 8-6, 1-1.

My unedited game story is below. I've also posted a short update on Bell below.

Gonzaga defeats San Francisco

S-R photojournalist Jesse Tinsley covered Gonzaga's victory over San Francisco in the college basketball game at the McCarthey Athletic Center, Monday, Dec. 30, 2013. Check out his big picture story! 

DaVonte Lacy update

From Pullman — Davonte Lacy is back from the hospital and his coaches say he's in good spirits. He even participated in Monday's practice, albeit as a manager for the WSU men's basketball team.

“As of now he's up and about, he came home from the hospital yesterday,” coach Ken Bone said on Monday. “He was at practice today as a manager. Handed the guys towels and water and did a good job of it.”

More on Lacy, after the jump.

Mike Leach to appear on the Outdoor Channel

Washington State football coach Mike Leach will make a guest appearance on Gridiron Outdoors with Mike Pawlawski on the Outdoor Channel. In the show Pawlawski, a former professional quarterback, and his guests venture into the wild to pursuit wild species. Former guests include Urban Meyer, Gerald Sensabaugh and Joe Staley.

Leach has appeared on the show previously and went hunting in New Zealand. A photo gallery from that excursion can be found here.

The new episode will air on Saturday, January 4th at 5:00 p.m.

Well, maybe

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl! The Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl! The Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl! Or are they? Read on.

Monday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The Pac-12 men's basketball coaches will have their first teleconference of the season tomorrow, and then will host them ever Tuesday thereafter, so look for some news out of that. There was a little news yesterday, as WSU Athletics provided some updated pictures of the Football Operations Building and we put up a blog post on the status of WSU guard DaVonte Lacy, who is out for awhile.

A number of Pac-12 teams had games on Sunday, and all earned victories over small-conference opponents. Oregon continued its hot start with a win over Morgan State … J.T. Terrell showed Trojans fans he's back in USC's win over the Buffalo Bil, er, Howard Bison … Cal Poly was no match for Stanford … In the conference's closest game, Washington pulled out a win over Hartford … Oregon State capped off a good day for the conference with a win of its own.

The Advocare V100 Bowl will feature a pair of feature backs … The Sun Devils are ready for Texas Tech's star tight end.

Banged-up Zags face USF

It's probably a good thing I don't predict WCC games because I would have gone 1-3 on opening night. I would have correctly predicted Gonzaga to defeat Santa Clara, but I would have taken BYU over LMU, Portland over USF and San Diego over Pepperdine.

Now it's on to Monday's games and Gonzaga, which hasn't lost to San Francisco in Spokane since 1989, entertains the Dons at 6 p.m. It's anybody's guess who will be in Gonzaga's starting lineup, though it's probably a safe bet Kevin Pangos, David Stockton and Przemek Karnowski will be with the first unit. After that, it depends on the health of Sam Dower Jr. (lower back) and Gary Bell Jr. (right hand).

My game preview here.

 

Washington State Football Operations Building making progress

Photo courtesy of WSU Athletics

 

Pullman — Washington State Athletics has an update today on the status of the Football Operations Building (FOB), which is still under construction next to Martin Stadium. The 84,000 square foot facility will house training rooms, weight rooms, coaches' offices and more.

Schedule to be completed in the Spring of 2014, you can watch a live feed of the construction here. If you watch at night, you'll notice that the building appears to have electricity, a recent development (recent relative to the final bowl practices).

The FOB is part of the Cougar Football Project, a two-part renovation of Martin Stadium. More updates and photos from the Cougar Football Project can be found on its Facebook page.

Cougars likely won’t have DaVonte Lacy for Arizona swing

From Pullman — As we wrote in yesterday's game story, Davonte Lacy went to the hospital following WSU's pre game shoot around to have surgery for appendicitis. There is no firm timeline for Lacy's recovery, but coach Ken Bone says he has been told anywhere from three days to a few weeks.

Losing Lacy is a big blow to the Cougars. The junior was leading the team with 18.9 points per game, and is considered by the players to be the team's vocal leader. In his absence, freshman Que Johnson was the team's go-to scorer on Saturday, taking 17 shots and scoring 19 points. Bone has said this season that he'd like the scoring load to be distributed more evenly than it has been this season, and that'll probably be the case with Lacy out.

It's an inopportune time for WSU to lose its leading scorer. The Cougars begin Pac-12 play next week at No. 1 Arizona. The undefeated Wildcats are No. 8 in the country in field goal percentage defense, meaning that WSU was going to have to work to score the ball even with Lacy. Now, the team is probably relying on a freshman playing in his first truly hostile environment against an excellent defensive team.

That recipe for disaster isn't exactly a family secret.

Johnson will have some help however. In Saturday's game against Mississippi Valley State, Royce Woolridge and D.J. Shelton combined for 30 points on 12 of 15 shooting. Woolridge especially has been coming on lately, and as had a lot of success driving to the basket. The guard transferred from Kansas and has plenty of experience going up against elite athletes. That experience will be valuable Arizona's Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon, or Jahii Carson and Shaq McKissic of Arizona State.

Day after Santa Clara

Back with my day-after post from Gonzaga's 74-60 victory over Santa Clara on Saturday. Here's my game story, Jesse Tinsley's photo gallery and John Blanchette's column. Another gamer from Vince Grippi working for AP.

UPDATE: According to Gonzaga, junior guard Gary Bell Jr., who injured his right hand in the first few minutes against Santa Clara, will see a hand specialist on Monday.

Read on.

 

Another year, a different look

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The Gonzaga Bulldogs reached unprecedented heights during last college basketball regular season. How unprecedented? How about No. 1 in the land? Hard to get any higher than that. But that was last season. In our what-have-you-done-for-us-lately culture, we put that away with the Christmas decorations and ask about this year's team. Especially after a less-than-daunting preseason still resulted in two losses, an odd occurrence around the program. Which brings us to last night, the West Coast Conference opener against Santa Clara. Read on.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The Washington State basketball team didn't learn until a couple hours before the game that they would be without leading scorer DaVonte Lacy, who is in the hospital recovering from appendicitis surgery. Fortunate, then, that the Cougars were playing Mississippi Valley State, who they easily beat … CougCenter's Brian Floyd has a nice profile of WSU defensive line coach Joe Salave'a … 

In other basketball news Shaq McKissic continues to ball for Arizona State … Oh, wow! The Utes made St. Katherine look like some overmatched sacrifice team! … Down two starters, Cal still rolled … The Pac-12 had its way with the SEC, with Colorado dispatching Georgia and UCLA beating Alabama.

The Pac-12 will resume football action when Oregon and Arizona State will play their bowl games tomorrow.

Chiefs slip when faced with Ice

The Spokane Chiefs and Kootenay Ice completed a back-to-back, home-and-away series Saturday night at the Arena. Kootenay's 2-1 win avenged Spokane's 6-4 win at Cranbrook, British Columbia, on Friday night and gave the Ice a 2-1 lead in a season series that will ultimately include five games. It also ended Spokane's four-game winning streak, tied for the tops of the Chiefs' season. Read story

Stockton and company defeat SCU

David Stockton scored a career-high 21 points, Kevin Pangos added 17 and Gonzaga received contributions from nearly everyone on its roster in a 74-60 win over Santa Clara on Saturday.

My unedited game story is below.

More tomorrow morning in my day-after post.

Gonzaga defeats Santa Clara 74-60

S-R photojournalist Jesse Tinsley covered Gonzaga's win over Santa Clara, 74-60, in the college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013 at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Check out his big picture story!  

Idaho collapses late in loss to Montana

Home games have been rare for Idaho this month, but it hasn't been a pleasant December for the Vandals at Cowan Spectrum. Just like it hasn't been a pleasant last few years against Montana.

The Vandals suffered their second consecutive last-second home loss on Saturday afternoon — a 72-71 decision to the Griz — after missing 15 free throws, 10 of which came in the second half. They led for all but the final 4.1 seconds. And they blew a 15-point lead for the second straight year against Montana at home.

“We basically gave them a Christmas present,” coach Don Verlin said.

Our story is below.

GU opens WCC campaign at home

Gonzaga begins the WCC season at home against Santa Clara tonight, and the Zags will follow that up with visits from USF on Monday, Saint Mary's on Thursday and Pacific next Saturday.

Yes, it's an odd way to open the conference season. Just about every WCC team has an extended home stretch and an extended road stretch, despite the league now having 10 members (with the addition of Pacific), an easier number for scheduling purposes. We addressed this topic months ago, but here's a bit of a refresher in my GU-SCU preview that ran in today's S-R.

 

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Another Pac-12 team played its bowl game, yesterday, with Washington defeating BYU in San Francisco. The Huskies may have won the game, but they lost their star tight end, who will enter the NFL draft … In basketball the Huskies beat Mississippi Valley State, who the Cougars will host tonight.

Links from around the conference after the jump.

Christmas break is a time to reconnect

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Isn't Christmas time supposed to be a time of cheer and good will toward men? Always thought so. But I'm not so sure everyone does. It's also a time of being with family, no matter what form that takes. Read on.

Chiefs extend winning streak to four

Jackson Playfair and Riley Whittingham scored two goals apiece Friday night as the Spokane Chiefs roared back from their holiday break with a 6-4 Western Hockey League victory at Kootenay. Read story

WSU rounds out non conference schedule with MVSU, kids clinic afterwards

From Pullman — Washington State (6-5) will play its last non conference basketball game of the regular season tomorrow, taking on the Delta Devils at 5 p.m. in Beasley Coliseum. It's about to get real for the Cougars, who tipoff the Pac-12 season next Thursday on the road against No. 1 Arizona.

Think about that. The Wildcats, in theory, would be favored against Duke, Kentucky, Syracuse, Louisville, Michigan State, and the of them. Gosh. Still, first thing's first and the Cougars will first have one more tuneup against 3-7 Mississippi Valley State. 

The Delta Devils have a suspect defense, and are allowing opposing teams to make over 50 percent of their field goal attempts. 

About half an hour after the game, the Cougars will host a free kids clinic for children in K-6 who attended the game. Register at wsucougars.com

Game notes in all their glory, courtesy of WSU athletics, after the jump.

Hughson gives Chiefs solid backup in goal

The Spokane Chiefs returned from their holiday break tonight (Friday) for a road game against the Kootenay Ice at Cranbrook, British Columbia. The Chiefs are also hosting the Ice on Saturday night. Here's a feature on Chiefs backup goalie Garret Hughson in preparation for the first Chiefs home game in two weeks. Read story

Friday morning Pac-12 picks

From Pullman — With no football or basketball games in the Pac-12 yesterday, it was what we in “the biz” like to call a “slow news day”. Still, we managed to scrounge up a few links:

  • Three newcomers will need to continue to improve for the WSU men's basketball team to have a shot in conference play.
  • Could the Cougars have a top-50 football team next season?
  • A holiday break did nothing to blunt ASU's edge.
  • After a month of distractions, the Huskies will finally get to play a game.
  • Vote for your favorite bowl performance by a Pac-12 player.

My jaw is also really sore

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Boxing Day is over. And I survived with just one black eye. What do you mean you're not supposed to box on Boxing Day? What are you supposed to do, put all your Christmas stuff away in boxes? No? It's a day for shopping and watching soccer? Really? Well, I like my idea better. It is a lot less painful. Read on.

Dower “day to day”

Gonzaga returned to practice on Christmas Day and it was Media Day on Thursday at the MAC. Sam Dower Jr.'s health was the main topic of discussion but it's still not clear if the senior forward will be able to play in the WCC opener against Santa Clara.

The guess here is Dower's lower back will have to make measurable improvement in the next 48 hours if he plans on playing Saturday. He's limping — nothing like Saturday when he hobbled off the court — and hasn't practiced the last two days.

Meanwhile, Kevin Pangos' right toe is getting better, but it appears to be one of those nagging injuries that will be with the junior guard for quite a while.

More below in my unedited article that will run in Friday's S-R.

 

WCC race about to begin

In a couple of days, Gonzaga will open its WCC schedule against Santa Clara. It seems odd that GU will be playing two WCC games before New Year's Eve, but that's how the 18-game schedule shakes out with 10 members.

The WCC started off white-hot in the pre-conference but has slowly cooled off, including a rough stretch of late. Still, all 10 programs boast winning records. Gonzaga is 10-2 and ranked 24th, which is pretty much what I expected at this point of the season. Saint Mary's is 9-3 after dropping three in a row in Hawaii. BYU is 8-5 but has played one of the toughest schedules in the nation. 

More on the WCC, the good and bad, in my article that ran in today's S-R with the debut of our weekly Four Corners page. There's also a glance at GU's opponents this week.

Programming note: Media day later this afternoon (GU returned to practice Wednesday evening).

 

 

It’s time to get back into the usual routine

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Before we get into today's post, I hope everyone had as nice a Christmas as we did. It was just a relaxing, calm day at home with the family. Now back to sports. Read on.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

The Cougars must have been nice this year, picking up Christmas commitments from a highly-regarded defensive tackle as well as a receiver from Texas (both stories are behind a paywall). On the basketball side of things we have our first Four Corners of the season, and a notebook. As we get deeper into bowl season you'll notice these morning links metamorphose from a football-specific feature into a post focused on basketball stories. Did you forget to buy a present for WSU coach Mike Leach? 

Links from around the conference, after the jump.

WHL notes: Home sweet home for Pats

This week's Western Hockey League notebook leads with the Regina Pats, who have forged a solid record despite crucial injuries and a road-heavy schedule. Read story

It went as well as could be expected

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Did anyone really think the Falcons were going to score in the fourth quarter and upset the 49ers? Me neither. Not on the final day of a football weekend from hell. Read on.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

Our photographer, Tyler Tjomsland, and I spent all day yesterday getting back to the Evergreen State from New Mexico. So of course, all heck broke loose. First, Colorado State forcefully massaged assistant coach Greg Lupfer's wrist for his homophobic outburst directed at Connor Halliday on Saturday. Then, we got word that linebacker Feddie Davey may be done at WSU.

As if that weren't enough, it appears that defensive line coach Joe Salave'a may be mulling an offer to join Steve Sarkisian at USC. We'll pass along more info when we can get it.

 

 

We also put our our report card from the New Mexico Bowl. Both Arizona and Oregon State won their basketball games.

WSU may be losing a linebacker

The Spokesman has learned that there is a strong possibility that sophomore linebacker Feddie Davey will not return to Washington State next semester. The school is currently between semesters and the students are on break. Davey saw most of his action on special teams, and accumulated two tackles on the season. He also excelled at times during WSU's Thursday Night Football underclassmen scrimmages, and earned a reputation as a big-hitter.

Davey did not play in the New Mexico Bowl last weekend, and it is unclear if he traveled with the team. Davey did play in WSU's previous game, the Apple Cup at Washington.

A team official was unable to comment on the situation, as Davey has not yet formally left the team and the program's policy is to not comment on personnel matters. The situation is fluid and it is still possible for Davey to rejoin the Cougars.

Colorado State coach suspended for two weeks

Early in Saturday's New Mexico Bowl, Colorado State defensive line coach Greg Lupfer launched a tirade (scroll down) at Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday. It appeared during the replay that one of his profanities was a gay slur. Today, the school decided to suspend Lupfer for two weeks without pay and mandated that he undergo anger management and diversity training.

“I accept these consequences—two weeks without pay and the training programs—and I am thankful for this second chance to continue coaching at Colorado State and be a part of the Ram Family,” Lupfer said in a statement released by CSU. “I am deeply sorry for my behavior, which does not represent who I am or my values. I embrace the opportunity to participate in anger management and diversity sensitivity training. I was angry and careless with my words, and my words hurt many people. I sincerely apologize to the GLBTQ community for causing pain by using a slur without considering its meaning. I take ownership of my words and fully understand why people are very upset.”

 

Unit Grades: New Mexico Bowl

From Phoenix Airport — It's that time again. Time to take an analytical eye and breakdown the performance of WSU's individual units in the New Mexico Bowl. While there were lots of impressive individual statistics for the Cougars, to give great grades after a 48-45 loss would make me guilty of worse grade inflation than Griffin Elementary School.

Grades after the jump.

Why has this plague visited us?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

What's next, boils, frogs and locusts? Read on.

Monday morning Pac-12 links

From Albuquerque — Fun fact: It's actually cheaper to stay an extra day in New Mexico than it is to fly out the day after a bowl game with Christmas right around the corner. I guess there was a demand for Southwest Airlines' supply of tickets. But enough advanced Smithian economics for today, you're here for the links.

I've got a story on how Washington State is trying to shake off its New Mexico Bowl loss … It's something that Jim Moore is having difficulty with … Howie Stalwick thinks it will be awhile before the Cougars recover … DCSU defensive line coach Greg Lupfer used profane and bigoted language during a volatile exchange with WSU quarterback Connor Halliday … Lupfer has “apologized” via Twitter and the incident is under investigation by CSU … Also subscribe to the Lewiston Tribune? Check out Dale Grummert's Monday Morning Quarterback.

More links, after the jump.

Vandals ‘out-toughed’ by Northridge

Idaho's top two rebounders in a 79-69 loss to Cal State Northridge on Sunday night were small forward Stephen Madison and guard Connor Hill. Together they had more rebounds (13) than all of the Vandals' big men combined (seven).

That's an indication of Idaho's struggles on the boards — both on Sunday night and early in the season. Playing at Northridge, the Vandals (6-7) chipped away at a double-digit hole and used a 10-0 surge to take a 61-59 lead with 5 minutes, 39 seconds left. But the Matadors (7-5) scored 14 of the game's final 18 points.

“They out-toughed us, no question about it,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “They ended up outrebounding us by 14, and that’s a margin you just can’t overcome on the road. We had a number of opportunities around the rim that we just couldn’t finish. I didn’t think our guys paid enough attention to the details tonight.”

Madison led the Vandals with 17 points, while Hill had 12 and Sekou Wiggs had 11.

More below.

Day after Kansas State

Gonzaga received some good news in the aftermath of its 72-62 loss to Kansas State. According to GU, X-rays on Sam Dower Jr.'s lower back were negative and he's heading home for Christmas with his family.

Here's my game story. More on Dower's nasty fall and other items below in my day-after post.

 

It was a day we will not soon forget

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I really wanted to wait until later to begin writing today. I wanted to make sure the sun was going to come up. I had my doubts after Saturday, a day that probably should have its own wing in the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame. You know, “Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013: The Day of Despair.” Read on.

Sunday morning postgame links

From Albuquerque — Well, Washington State certainly provided a memorable start to the 2013 bowl season, even it was due to an 18-point collapse in the fourth quarter. The Cougars lost, 48-45, and we've got a game story for masochistic WSU fans and Rams who have wandered over in search of links. It wasn't all bad, however, as Connor Halliday and company wrote their names in permanent ink in the record books.

Tyler Tjomsland has a photo gallery from the game … John Blanchette notes that the Cougars could have benefitted from better clock management at the end of both halves … We've got a notebook from the game, featuring breakout Cougar Theron West … Thomas Clouse filled in for me yesterday, and watched the WSU men's basketball team fall to UTEP, and watched the women's team fall to Gonzaga.

 

Zags fall to Wildcats, 72-62

Good evening from icy/snowy Wichita. The Bulldogs didn't enjoy their trip here, losing to Kansas State 72-62 and playing the final 24 minutes without forward Sam Dower Jr., who took a nasty fall late in the first half.

UPDATE: According to GU, X-rays on Dower were negative, it sounds like a deep bruise. Dower is heading home for the holiday with his family.

My unedited game story is below. Day-after post coming in the morning.

Mike Leach and players after the New Mexico Bowl

UPDATE: We’ve got a higher quality video now, courtesy of WSU Athletics.

Towson defeats EWU

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Towson's victory over EWU, 35-31, in the college football game, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, in Cheney, Wash. Check out his big picture story!

WSU plays Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl

S-R photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland is in Albuquerque covering the New Mexico Bowl.  Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.

WSU bowl rewind: 2003 Holiday Bowl

We've come to our final bowl rewind, the 2003 Holiday Bowl. Coach Bill Doba and No. 15 WSU upset Mack Brown's No. 5 Texas Longhorns.

Each team scored a touchdown in the first half, with the Longhorns starting things off on  Cedric Benson's 12-yard touchdown pass. However, Matt Kegel responded with a strike to Sammy Moore. Following a field goal, Texas held a 10-7 halftime lead.

In the second half Kegel hit Moore again for a 54-yard touchdown, and Jonathan Smith ran one in from 12-yards out to give WSU a 20-10 lead. The Cougars piled on when Jason David picked up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown. A safety forced by the WSU defense made it 28-13 for the Cougars.

Future NFL wide receiver tacked on a touchdown for Texas, but that's as close as the Longhorns would get.

New Mexico Bowl: pregame chat


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New Mexico Bowl: the pick

From Albuquerque — Less than three hours until kickoff here at University Stadium. We've spent the week watching practice, speaking with coaches and players from both teams, and enjoying the fine Southwest cuisine. After all that, I think I'm ready to make a prediction. I'll make my pick after the jump.

I hope we’re not all lemmings

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Ever get caught in a large crowd, look around and realize you just might be going the wrong way? Me neither. Until today. Read on.

Eastern playoff links

The first thing I did this morning was look out the window - no snow on the South Hill since Friday evening. That's just one of many factors that could play into today's semifinal between Eastern Washington and Towson. The winner will play North Dakota State - an easy winner Friday night over New Hampshire - in the FCS title game on Jan. 4. … Don't know enough about today's game? There's plenty of info from Eastern and from Towson, and the Baltimore Sun.

Bowl-drought ending Pac-12 links

From Albuquerque — The day is finally here. In five short hours, WSU's decade-long bowl drought will finally be in that over. A lot has happened in that decade. Coaches have come and gone,  control of the House of Representatives, Senate, and Presidency have all changed hands, and the scourge known as Biebermania has made itself known.

Here is our advance for the New Mexico Bowl, which kicks off at 11 a.m. … John Blanchette may descend into madness if he hears one more speech by a bowl representative comparing the WSU and CSU colors to red and green chilies. But hey, he thinks the Cougars are a lock to win … Some timely quotes from former WSU coaches Mike Levenseller and Jim Walden … Our 2 Minute Drill explains how the Cougars can win the game, just don't show it to anybody from Colorado State … S-R photographer Tyler Tjomsland has a gallery of yesterday's bowl festivities … Yesterday's WSU bowl rewind looked at the 2003 Rose Bowl. Don't miss today's final installment of the series … Bud Withers of the Seattle Times has made a list and checks are involved. Wait, is Withers Santa Clause? 

Note: If you're in town for the game, do yourself a favor and check out Rudy's for some excellent BBQ. If you're looking for some Southwestern flavor, you can't beat El Pinto. It's one of those places with a wall full of photographs of the rich and famous who have dined at the establishment, though they somehow seem to have missed Tjomsland, Blanchette and I.

Vandals survive against Idaho State

More than a month into the season, Idaho finally has back-to-back wins. The Vandals held off Idaho State 69-65 in Boise after the Bengals — a future Big Sky opponent — nearly erased a 10-point deficit in final 3 minutes.

Idaho (6-6), which had yet to win consecutive games before Friday, got a career-high 17 points from freshman Sekou Wiggs. Glen Dean, who had a team-high 18 points, made two free throws with 8 seconds left to seal the win. Stephen Madison had 17 points and seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

The Vandals have one more road game Sunday, at Cal State Northridge, before returning home on Dec. 28 to host Montana.

More below.

New Mexico Bowl pre-game festivities

S-R photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland covered the Gildan New Mexico Bowl pre-game festivities in Albuquerque.  Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.

WSU bowl rewind: 2003 Rose Bowl

Video courtesy of huff99 on YouTube.

The talent on the field in Pasadena in 2003 was truly exceptional. No. 7 WSU boasted future NFL players such as Devard Darling, Hamza Abdullah, Marcus Trufant and others, while No. 8 Oklahoma would have four players picked in the upcoming NFL draft. The Cougars, coached by Mike Price, were 10-2, while Bob Stoops' Sooners boasted an 11-2 record.

The game, played after the 2002 season, was the first time that a Big-12 school could match up with a Pac-12 school due to the nature of the BCS. Because Ohio State was sent to the Fiesta Bowl to play Miami for the national championship, the Sooners were sent to the Rose Bowl.

A game summary, after the jump.

Zags, Wildcats tangle in Wichita

Gonzaga is back on the road for its fourth trip — Maui, West Virginia, Seattle and now Wichita to take on Kansas State on Saturday afternoon.

It won't be an easy task. The Wildcats have won five straight and rank among the nation's best defensively. Gonzaga, winners of six in a row, rate among the nation's top offenses. Something's gotta give, as they say. GU's Angel Nunez is now eligible and the first game he's available to play will come against a friend and fellow AAU New York Gauchos' product, K-State guard Shane Southwell.

My unedited game preview is below.

Eastern sports chat replay

Here is the full transcript of our live chat from Thursday. Spokesman-Review beat writer Jim Allen is answering questions:

Jim: Let's talk Eastern sports!

 Ryan_31088: Ok, I'll ask the first question. What's the health situation for both teams?

 Jim: Hello, Ryan. Eastern is healthy, apart from safety Tevin McDonald. The same for Towson, but they lost their two top receivers a few weeks ago.

 

The drought ends Saturday

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's been a long time. A really long time. But tomorrow morning Washington State University football fans can root for their team in a bowl game. What has the last decade meant? Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

Eastern Washington is running the ball with authority - and with the authority of head coach Beau Baldwin, whose tailback-by-committee approach is paying big dividends in the playoffs. The biggest beneficiary is tailback Quincy Forte, who appreciates what his teammates have done.

More links after the jump …

Friday morning Pac-12 links

From Albuquerque — Thursday was eventful for the Cougars, who regained the services of defensive end Kalafitoni Pole … It was eventful for us on SportsLink as well, as we hosted a live WSU chat … The Cougars will hope for another big game from senior linebacker Justin Sagote … The rebuilding process appears ahead of schedule for the Cougars … Our WSU bowl rewind from yesterday took a look at Jason Gesser and the 2001 Cougars' Sun Bowl victory.

Links from around the conference after the jump.

WSU bowl rewind: 2001 Sun Bowl

Video courtesy of Kristopher Jones on YouTube.

The 2001 Sun Bowl featured Mike Price's No. 13 Washington State against unranked Purdue, coached by Joe Tiller. The Cougars, 9-2, had already beaten No. 9 UCLA in Pullman and No. 23 Stanford in Palo Alto. Purdue began the season 4-0, but lost five of its final seven games to finish 6-5. The Boilermakers would send linebacker Akin Ayodele to the NFL, along with punter Travis Dorsch, who was drafted in the fourth round. Future NFL starting quarterback Kyle Orton was under center for Purdue.

More on the game, after the jump.

Nunez adds to GU frontcourt

Angel Nunez, who transferred from Louisville roughly a year ago, is now eligible and provides another option for Gonzaga's frontcourt heading into Saturday's game vs. Kansas State in Wichita.

The 6-foot-8, 200-pound Nunez talked about what he hopes to add to the program — coach Mark Few and point guard David Stockton add their thoughts as well — in my article that will run in Friday's S-R. Here's a link.

 

UPDATE: Kalafitoni Pole will play in the New Mexico Bowl

From Albuquerque —

On Wednesday it was widely reported that Washington State defensive end Kalafitoni Pole would not play in the New Mexico bowl and had been sent home. However, after practice on Thursday WSU coach Mike Leach said that is not the case.

“He’s here, he just had to take care of an academic issue. But he’s here,” Leach said.

UPDATE: Jessamyn McIntyre, WSU's sideline reporter, tweeted that Pole flew back to New Mexico today and has apparently taken care of his academic concerns.

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More after the jump.

Eastern Sports chat, noon (Dec. 19)

Try Relay: the free SMS and picture text app for iPhone.

 

10:30 a.m. WSU football chat

 

Try Relay: the free SMS and picture text app for iPhone.

 

It’s been a while

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's a problem Washington State hasn't had for, oh, a decade or so. But it reared its ugly head yesterday. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

The honors keep rolling in for the Eagles, especially for freshman wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who was named a first-team All-American.  Here's a video of Cooper Kupp, and we also have an overall story from The Sports Network … Of course, Towson running back Terrance West is no slouch either. … From Maryland, here's a feature on Towson All-American offensive lineman Eric Pike. … Towson held a special graduation ceremony Wednesday night.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Albuquerque — News broke yesterday that WSU won't have defensive lineman Kalafitoni Pole available in Saturday's New Mexico Bowl. The junior was sent home per NCAA guidelines because he is academically ineligible … So you think you know WSU football history, huh? Test your knowledge in John Blanchette's WSU bowl trivia, if you dare … Bud Withers has a column about how WSU's NFL alumni finally have some locker room ammo … Colorado State has been keeping busy in New Mexico … The second season has been the charm for both New Mexico Bowl coaches … Ben Reynolds has the story from WSU's win over San Francisco State.

In other basketball news, Stanford upset No. 10 UCONN on the road and Oregon State won an eventful game against Towson.

Don't forget, we'll be live-chatting at 10:30.

Football links from around the conference, after the jump.

Men’s basketball: WSU 80, SFSU 50

From Albuquerque — The Washington State men's basketball team cruised to an 80-50 win over San Francisco State on Wednesday in an, ahem, neutral arena. Kennewick was once again kind to the Cougars, who won by the largest margin since the last time they headed to the Tri-Cities a season ago and beat Idaho State, 74-39. Stop me if you've heard this before but DaVonte Lacy once again led all scorers, putting up 22 points in the rout. The Cougars got a good game out of D.J. Shelton who finished with 9 points and 11 rebounds.

Also encouraging was the 10 points scored by Royce Woolridge, his fourth time in double figures in the last five games.

It wasn't immediately a romp, however, as SFSU led, 16-15, with 8:48 left in the first half. But the Cougars raced out to a 43-31 halftime lead and never looked back.

Follow the jump for the box score.

WSU’s Pole sent home for academic reasons

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—Washington State defensive end Kalafitoni Pole is academically ineligible and will not play in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday, the Spokesman-Review learned Wednesday evening. After traveling with the team to New Mexico on Tuesday, Pole was sent home once the team learned of his academic status.

More after the jump.

WSU bowl rewind: 1998 Rose Bowl

Video courtesy of jcbakkar on YouTube.

Mike Price and the Cougars returned to the postseason following the 1997 season. With ultra-talented quarterback Ryan Leaf at the helm of WSU's offense, the Cougars were 10-1 and ranked No. 8 in the country. Their opponent in Pasadena was Michigan, the consensus No. 1 team in the country with an 11-0 record.

It was a matchup of heavyweights, to be sure, as nine players from the game would go on to be selected in the 1998 NFL Draft including Leaf with the No. 2 overall pick and Michigan's Heisman Trophy winning cornerback, Charles Woodson, with the No. 4 overall pick. The Cougars also had a pair of defensive tackles, Leon Bender and Dorian Boose, selected in the draft's second round, while Michigan fullback Chris Floyd and quarterback Brian Griese were pick in the third round of the draft.

Griese's father, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Griese, announced the game for ABC along with Keith Jackson.

The Cougars also received invaluable contributions from their receiving corps, affectionately known as the “Fab Five” and consisting of: Shawn McWashington, Kevin McKenzie, Shawn Tims, Chris Jackson and Nian Taylor.

More on the game, after the jump.

Kelowna moves up to No. 2

The Kelowna Rockets, who have the best record (28-3-0-2) in the Western Hockey League following a 12-game winning streak, moved from No. 3 to No. 2 in this week's Canadian Hockey League Top 10 poll. The Rockets, on the list for nine weeks, trail only the Eric Otters (29-5-1-0) of the Ontario Hockey League. The other WHL teams in the poll are Portland (23-8-2-2) at No. 5 and Calgary (22-7-2-3) at No. 8. Calgary entered the poll for the first week after winning nine of its last 10 games. Read story

Idaho football adds eight JC players

After Idaho won just one game this fall in his first season as coach, Paul Petrino saw a number of holes on the Vandals' roster. He took a key step in filling a few of them today with the signing of eight junior-college players — two defensive tackles, two offensive linemen, two linebackers and two defensive backs.

” … Those are all places that we felt like we had needs and needed to improve,” Petrino said. “I think it was a really good job by the whole staff in going out and finding guys that we feel like can fit the system and are good guys and can come in here and can compete right away.”

We have all the details below, as well as a few notes and quotes from Petrino on each signee.

Kupp named first-team All-American

It’s been a freshman year to remember for Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp.

Just two days after winning the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, Kupp was named to The Sports Network All-America first team on Wednesday.

Afternoon Pac-12 links

From Denver — We're taking a brief pit stop on our journey to the Great Southwest to refuel both the plane and our bodies. Since we have a little time, I thought I'd pass along some links from around the Pac-12 that we didn't get to this morning.

  • It's a consensus: Ka'Deem Carey is an All-American.
  • ASU offensive coordinator Mike Norvell is getting promoted.
  • Want a seat at Colorado's Folsom Field? It'll cost you.
  • Cal's backup quarterback is set to be a Beaver.
  • UCLA's Jim Mora doesn't want the Texas job, either.
  • Chris Petersen's staff at UW is starting to come together.

WSU chat postponed

Tyler Tjomsland, our industrious photographer, and I are en route to New Mexico right now, so we'll have to take a rain check on our usual Wednesday morning chat. Join us on SportsLink tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. to talk about the Cougars, the bowls, and anything else, really.

Pangos fights through toe injury

Media day Tuesday and the primary topic was the addition of forward Angel Nunez, who transferred roughly a year ago from Louisville.

Naturally, I put together a notebook on Kevin Pangos' toe, Przemek Karnowski's parents, Finals Week and Christmas wishes. You can read it here.

OK, I also checked in with Nunez, who adds to GU's thin frontcourt. He's the subject of my article for Thursday's S-R. I'll probably post it tonight.

 

Building success isn’t as easy as writing a book

A GRIP ON SPORTS

You know, devoted fans of books should never get too excited when they are turned into movies. There are too many differences in the visual elements of film vs. the imaginary vision of each reader. It's as simple as that. So today I sit at my computer ready to churn out the screenplay for the upcoming “A Grip on Sports” movie. I promise it will stay true to the “artistry” of the written word. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

I learned a lot about Vernon Adams and Cooper Kupp this week, mostly that they really mean it when they say that individual honors come after team. On Tuesday before practice, I spoke with Adams about his second-place finish in the Walter Payton Award balloting, and reminded him that as a sophomore, he would have two more chances.

That's right, he said. “I still have two more chances. If we win these next two games, we'll be national champs.” Wow.

See links after the jump….

Wednesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Today's morning links will be short, since I'm about to head to New Mexico for the game and will be in transit for most of the day. However, I'll try and put up some more links early this afternoon. Unfortunately, we also won't be able to do our usual Wednesday morning chat, so we'll postpone that until Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m.

For the paper today we have a story on Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson and his Cougar ties … Yesterday's Bowl Rewind turned back the clock to the days of the Palouse Posse and the 1994 Alamo Bowl … Safety Deone Bucannon is a First-Team All-American according to the Associated Press.

WHL notebook: time to reflect at halfway point

The Western Hockey League is basically at the halfway point as the players head home for the holiday break. The big winners this season are the Western Conference in general and the Kelowna Rockets in particular. Read story

Honors keep coming for Rehkow; other Idaho football notes

Austin Rehkow keeps adding All-America honors after a superb freshman season punting for Idaho. We have an update on Rehkow's postseason awards and other Idaho football news below — including a note on the start of the junior-college signing period on Wednesday.

Mead boys defeat Gonzaga Prep 57-53

Mead boys defeat Gonzaga Prep 57-53 at home, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013.

Gonzaga Prep girls defeat Mead 63-48

S-R photojournalist Jesse Tinsley covered Mead's home game against Gonzaga Prep.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

Aviani earns another award

Spokane Chiefs forward Mike Aviani was named Western Hockey League player of the week on Monday. On Tuesday, the Canadian Hockey League bestowed the award on the Spokane 20-year-old player. Aviani had three goals and five assists last week as the Chiefs went 3-0. Aviani has 26 goals and 50 points this season. Mitch Holmberg (Sept. 23-29) was the other Chiefs player to win the award this season. Just five WHL players have been selected for the CHL honor this season. Read story

WSU bowl rewind: 1994 Alamo Bowl

The above video, courtesy of sedihawk on YouTube, is not from the 1994 Alamo Bowl. But it illustrates the dominance of the Palouse Posse, Washington State's fearsome defense that ranked No. 2 in the country, as it held Napoleon Kauffman and the No. 18 Huskies to just 6 points in the Apple Cup. The Cougars finished the 1994 season with a 7-4 record, collecting wins against No. 21 Illinois at Soldier Field and No. 18 UCLA in the Rose Bowl on the way.

WSU, coached by Mike Price, entered the Alamo Bowl ranked No. 24 in the country and ready to face Baylor, also 7-4, coached by Chuck Reedy.

More on the game, after the jump.

Zag women turn focus to WSU

The end score of 87-43 Monday night wasn’t able to erase the depth of the struggles that the No. 25 Gonzaga women’s basketball team endured in the first half against UC Riverside.

The (9-2) Zags went one-for-eight from free-point land and numerous layups that turned into bricks. As a result, Gonzaga trailed several times before the defense of Haiden Palmer allowed the Bulldogs to make a run late in the first half.

In one series alone before the half, the Zags missed four shots as the seconds ticked off right before halftime.

“It’s super frustrating,” said forward Sunny Greinacher, whose eyes widened as she spoke. “We practice those shots. They are supposed to go in during the game. You definitely feel bad for the coaches.”

 

Deone Bucannon a First-Team All American, and a practice report

From Pullman — Chalk up another award for Washington State safety Deone Bucannon. Today, the Associated Press announced their All-American teams and the WSU senior made First-Team. He becomes the first Cougar to earn AP First-Team All-American honors since running back Jerome Harrison in 2005, and just the second safety to do so (Lamont Thompson also did it in 2001).

Bucannon and the Cougars are on their way to Albuquerque for the Gildan New Mexico Bowl after finishing up a brief practice this morning.

Read about WSU's short morning practice after the jump.

And some days there is nothing

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I was talking to someone the other day about this column and they asked me a question. They wanted to know how I came up with my ideas each day. I told them there is no magic formula, I just read the news and something comes to me. At least that's how it works most days. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

Another year, another big award for Eastern Washington football. On Monday night, wide receiver Cooper Kupp took center stage by winning the Jerry Rice Award for top FCS freshman, while quarterback Vernon Adams finished second in the Walter Payton Award balloting. A bigger prize would be a spot in the title game, but Towson stands in the way. … Another Big Sky Conference player took home one of the big prizes Monday night, and the conference also has a roundup of the awards.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Game week has started and that means it's time to take a First Look at WSU's opponent, Colorado State … We relive the 1992 Copper Bowl in yesterday's bowl rewind … WSU picked up a verbal commitment from a Herculean recruit … The Cougars got some bad news yesterday when the women's soccer coach left for Troy … Bud Withers has a timeline of WSU's parabolic decade … Robin Dich of the Daily Evergreen answers questions about the Cougars.

Links from around the conference after the jump.

WSU is in the market for a women’s soccer coach

From Pullman — After two successful seasons at Washington State, Keidane McAlpine is on the move again, this time to Los Angeles to take over as head coach of the USC Trojans. McAlpine guided the Cougars to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, and a program-best second place finish in the Pac-12 this season. USC hasn't made the postseason since 2010, but won a national championship in 2007.

“Thank you to Pat Haden, Max Nikias and Steve Lopes for the opportunity to come to such a prestigious institution,” McAlpine said. “I'm excited to get to work and be a part of the Trojan family. I thank (WSU president) Elson Floyd, (WSU Director of Athletics) Bill Moos and (WSU Senior Associate AD/SWA) Anne McCoy for all their wonderful support and guidance. It was great to work with the student-athletes at Washington State, and I thank them for their hard work and dedication. I'm looking forward to working with a new set of women with the goal of bringing the national championship back to USC.”

You can read USC's full press release on the hiring of McAlpine here.

Gonzaga women defeat UC Riverside 87-43

S-R photojournalist Jesse Tinsley covered the GU women's game against UC Riverside.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

WSU bowl rewind: 1992 Copper Bowl

It was a Pac-12 pre-union of sorts when No. 18 Washington State took on Utah, then of the Western Athletic Conference. While Hawaii and Fresno State were the class of the WAC at the time, Utah (6-5, 4-4 WAC) was returning to postseason play for the first time since the 1964 Liberty Bowl.

The Cougars (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12), coached by Mike Price, were coming off a 42-23 win over rival their rival, Washington, who was ranked No. 5 in the country when the Apple Cup kicked off. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe was about to become the first pick in the NFL draft, and he would be joined on draft day by fourth-round linebacker Lewis Bush and seventh-round defensive tackle Clarence Williams.

More on the game, after the jump.

Rod Sandberg will be Whitworth football coach

Rod Sandberg has been picked as the new football coach at Whitworth, replacing John Tully. Here is the early story, which will be update.

Kupp is FCS freshman of the year

Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp has won the Jerry Rice Award given to the top freshman in the Football Championshp Subdivision, The Sports Network announced this morning.

The award will be presented later today at The Sports Network's FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation in Philadelphia. The winners of the Walter Payton Award (FCS outstanding player), Buck Buchanan Award (FCS outstanding defensive player) and Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) also will be awarded.

Eastern and Big Sky links

Eastern Washington is in the FCS semifinals partly because of some clutch plays against Jacksonville State. Here is our follow-up story, along with a preview of tonight's FCS awards in Philadelphia. I'll be standing by tonight with a story on the awards. Meanwhile, the Eastern men's basketball team came up short Sunday against UC Irvine. … Elsewhere in FCS football, two-time defending champ North Dakota State hired a new coach. … Here's a roundup of the four quarterfinal games. …The Baltimore Sun had a nice piece on Towson's win at Eastern Illinois.

Not to pick any nits or anything …

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There is a line in that great Christmas movie, “Die Hard” in which Bruce Willis calls himself “the fly in the ointment.” I know how he feels. Read on.

Monday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The Washington State football team has just one more day in Pullman before heading south for the New Mexico Bowl. It'll be a business trip for the Cougars, but they're looking to have some fun as well … Maybe as much fun as the basketball team had beating Pepperdine yesterday … Here is the box score from that game … As well as postgame videos of coach Ken Bone and some players  … Yesterday's bowl rewind took a look at the 1988 Aloha Bowl.

Links from around the conference, after the jump.

WSU bowl rewind: 1988 Aloha Bowl

The video below, courtesy of wazzulibrary on YouTube, is not of the 1988 Aloha Bowl, but of WSU's win over Tennessee that season.

Head coach Dennis Erickson led WSU to an 8-3 record and a No. 18 ranking in the Associated Press college football bowl. The Cougars reward? An Aloha Bowl date with No. 14 Houston, coached by former Redskins and future Oilers coach Jack Pardee. Played on Christmas Day in front of 35,132 fans in Honolulu, Hawaii, the bowl game became WSU's second-ever bowl victory thanks to a number of timely plays.

Read on, after the jump.

Day after South Alabama

Early wake-up call and an early flight so we'll get right to it. Here’s my game story from GU’s sluggish 68-59 win over South Alabama in Seattle. Here’s the AP report, another in the Seattle Times.

Gonzaga attempted to schedule Ohio State in its annual game at KeyArena but the matchup didn’t materialize. Turns out South Alabama of the Sun Belt was a  tougher challenge than most expected.

Read on for my day-after post.

Are the Hawks part of your plans for today?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

What are your plans for this fine, pre-Christmas, December Sunday? Shopping? Cleaning? Cooking? OK, I'm guessing not. I'm guessing you have some plans that are, at least, a little sports related. Read on.

Sunday morning links

From Pullman — In the paper today we have a story on WSU's new weight room, and what it could mean for players and recruits … In yesterday's Bowl Rewind we took a look at the 1981 Holiday Bowl against BYU … The Cougars went back outside for practice yesterday … WSU's big recruiting weekend appears to be a success, so far.

Links from around the conference, after the jump.

… 

Chiefs reach 20-win mark

The Spokane Chiefs became the ninth team in the 22-team Western Hockey League to collect its 20th win on Saturday night by dispatching the Prince George Cougars 6-3. Four of those teams have exactly 20 wins, so the Chiefs are essentially tied for sixth in league wins. Read story

Zags hold off Jags, 68-59

Gonzaga dominated the first 10 minutes and squirmed for the better part of the last 30, holding on for a 68-59 win over South Alabama on Saturday at KeyArena.

Gary Bell Jr., from nearby Kent, had 20 points.

My unedited game story is below. More tomorrow in my day-after post.

Dean, Hill help Idaho edge Portland State

Once again, it was Idaho's backcourt that carried the Vandals offensively. And this time, the guards' contributions were enough to propel UI to a 76-75 win at Portland State on Saturday night.

Point guard Glen Dean poured in 26 points and shooting guard Connor Hill had 21 to help Idaho withstand the Vikings in a matchup of future Big Sky members. The Vandals (5-6) had lost two straight and four of their last five.

Idaho has received little production from its big men this season. On Saturday night, its true post players — Joe Kammerer, Paulin Mpawe and Ty Egbert — combined for six points and three rebounds.

More below.

EWU vs. Jacksonville State

S-R photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland covered EWU's win over Jacksonville State, 35-24, in Cheney, WA., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. Check out his big picture story!

WSU bowl rewind: 1981 Holiday Bowl

Video courtesy of wazzulibrary on YouTube.

After a 50-year bowl drought, the Cougars returned to postseason play with the 1981 Holiday Bowl played against BYU. Coach Jim Walden led Washington State to an 8-2-1 record, and the Cougars were ranked No. 20 by the Associated Press. BYU, coached by the legendary LaVell Edwards, was ranked No. 14 in the country following a 10-2 season.

The Cougars nearly staged one of the biggest comebacks in school history. But which Cougars? Find out, after the jump.

Saturday WSU practice and underclassmen scrimmage report

From Pullman — The Washington State football team returned to Martin Stadium on Saturday afternoon, practicing outdoors for the first time in over a week. With temperatures in Pullman below zero at times recently, the Cougars have been making use of their inflated indoor practice facility.

“We could've (practiced outside) pretty much every day,” coach Mike Leach said. “Because we just clear (the snow) off. But it's fine, I don't know where we'll be on Tuesday but if it's like this we'll be out here.”

Leach also spoke a bit about senior safety Deone Bucannon, who has been invited to participate in the Senior Bowl while earning some awards and honors at the end of the season. Leach said that among all the defensive backs he's ever had on his teams, Bucannon is “Better than average, he's a good one. He plays good, he's very physical, maybe the most physical one … In particular I like his leadership qualities. He's a relatively quiet guy but when he says something he's got something to say and he commands attention when he says it.”

More on practice, after the jump.

 

Another great weekend on tap

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's the weekend. Is there anything better? Read on.

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — After taking Thursday off from practice, the Cougars took to the field on Friday and we've got a report … We continue our WSU bowl rewind with a look at the 1931 Rose Bowl … A number of recruits are in town for the weekend.

Links form around the conference after the jump.

Friday WSU practice report

From Pullman — Once again the Cougars practiced late at night on Friday because of finals, and indoors because of the snow on the ground. But the day wasn't done when practice ended for the WSU football players. According to the recruiting websites, a whole host of recruits are in town to visit the school and check out the football team, and many of the current players will spend the weekend hosting the prospects.

“Who they have in common with, sometimes what position they play or where they're from, that type of deal. And then you get an idea of their interests and major,” coach Mike Leach said of how they determine the players who will host individual recruits. 

A list of the recruits who are thought to be visiting this weekend can be found here. As you can see, they hail all the way from Hawaii to Florida.

“It's great,” offensive line coach Clay McGuire said. “We've got a lot to offer, Washington State's a great place and when you've got a good product to sell you're going to get some good kids up here and I definitely think we've got a big weekend with some real quality talent here.”

More on practice and WSU's recruiting weekend, after the jump.

Zags, Jags in Seattle

Gonzaga, with a win over South Alabama on Saturday night in the Battle in Seattle, would match last year's 10-1 start.

A short preview of the matchup here.

Mead girls defeat Ferris 74-48

S-R photojournalist Jesse Tinsley covered the Mead vs. Ferris game.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

Ferris boys defeat Mead 67-63

S-R photojournalist Jesse Tinsley covered the Mead vs. Ferris game.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

Pochiro gives lift to Prince George

The Prince George Cougars will make their second and final stop in Spokane this Western Hockey League season on Saturday night. The Chiefs defeated the Cougars 5-2 on Nov. 15. PG forward Zach Pochiro is featured in this article. Read story

WSU bowl rewind: 1931 Rose Bowl

Video courtesy of wazzulibrary on YouTube.

As part of the build up to Washington State's showdown with Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl, we're going to take a brief look every day at one of the Cougars' previous bowl appearances. Today we kickoff the segment with the 1931 Rose Bowl, WSU's second bowl game.

Heading into the 1931 Rose Bowl both Alabama and Washington State were 9-0. The Crimson Tide were led by College Football Hall of Fame coach Wallace Wade, who later left Alabama to coach at Duke. Wade finished his career with a 171-49-10 coaching record in football, a 24-16 record in basketball and an 87-45-2 record coaching baseball.

Coaching the Cougars was Orin “Babe” Hollingberry, who achieved a 93-53-14 at WSU but only coached in one bowl game. Hollingberry led the Cougars to national rankings in 1941 and 1942 when the Associated Press ranked the team No. 19 and No. 17, respectively. Suiting up for WSU were future College Football Hall of Famers Mel Hein and Glen “Turk” Edwards.

More on the game, after the jump.

Deone Bucannon racks up honors

Video courtesy of WSU Athletics

Deone Bucannon has been a force for the Cougars at safety for four years. This season he lead the team in tackles with 109, forced fumbles with three, and his five interceptions are tied with Damante Horton for the team lead. More importantly, in his senior season Bucannon has led the Cougars to their first bowl game in 10 years.

With only one game left in his collegiate career, Bucannon has been piling up the awards and honors recently. Here's a list of the most prominent (bonus points for guessing which is my personal favorite):

  • Pre-NFL draft Senior Bowl invite.
  • Walter Camp Second Team All-American.
  • Athlon Sports First Team All-American.
  • First Team All-Pac-12.
  • Thorpe Award Semifinalist
  • CBS Sports Third Team All-American

Will there be regrets down the road?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There is a little snow on the ground this morning, which probably makes it a bit slick around the Spokane area. And certainly changed my plans. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

A big reason for Eastern Washington's football success is the offensive line, which includes senior guard Brandon Murphy. Here's our feature, and a transcript from yesterday's live chat. We also have a look at the Eastern men's basketball team going into Sunday's game against UC-Irvine. Back to football: The Eagles face Jacksonville State on Saturday, who are embracing an “us against the world” mentality. … Elsewhere, Weber State has hired a new football coach…. The Missoulian wraps up the Montana season.

Friday morning WSU links

From Pullman — The Cougars didn't practice yesterday but will return to the field this afternoon. My story in today's paper focuses on how the Washington State's coaches have used the bowl practices up to get extra time with young players and improve for next season … We go back in time to 1916 and take a look at WSU's first bowl game … John Blanchette has a feature on Colorado State coach Jim McElwain, who hails from Spokane … The Cougars continue to rack up the offensive tackle recruits.

Links from around the conference, after the jump.

Idaho’s Rehkow named All-American

Idaho freshman Austin Rehkow, who starred at Central Valley High, was selected as a first-team punter on the Walter Camp All-America team on Thursday. Rehkow, the nation's leader in punting average this season at 47.8 yards, became just one of eight freshmen to be honored on the Camp first-team in its 124-year history.  

“It’s definitely an honor to be recognized as such,” Rehkow said in an an Idaho press release. “It’s a pretty cool thing.”

Rehkow set Idaho's single-season punting record, surpassing T.J. Conley’s 2008 average of 47.4 yards per punt. Conley, a senior in 2008, also was a Camp All-American. Rehkow garnered numerous weekly national awards this fall, including the Ray Guy Award Punter of the Week.

Karnowski shows signs of growth

The big man has made some big and small steps forward.

Przemek Karnowski is coming off his best game as a Zag — 19 points and 13 rebounds — and seems to be improving on several other fronts. More on PK below, also an update on the health of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. as well as Elias Harris' next move.

Read on.

Gonzaga women rolling

Coming into the 1 p.m. Saturday showdown with No. 6 Stanford, the No. 23 Gonzaga women’s basketball team has all the marks of a good team that has yet to find it’s true identity.

Despite off nights Tuesday against Wisconsin for Haiden Palmer (6 points, 6 rebounds) and Lindsay Sherbert (9 points, 6 rebounds), the Zags got a huge lift from senior guard Jazmine Redmon. She scored 15 points on 5-of-8 from the floor and 3-for-3 from the 3-point line.

Graves sang her praises, noting that Redmon currently has 45 assists to only nine turnovers on the year.

“Both Taylor Karr and Courtney (Vandersloot) twice led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio. For Redmon to be 5-to-1 (in the same category) is incredible,” Graves said.

 

WSU bowl rewind: 1916 Rose Bowl

Video courtesy of Tom Benjey on YouTube.

As part of the build up to Washington State's showdown with Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl, we're going to take a brief look every day at one of the Cougars' previous bowl appearances. Today we kickoff the segment with the 1916 Rose Bowl, WSU's first-ever bowl game.

Back in 1916, the Rose Bowl was known as the Tournament East-West Football Game, and didn't officially become known as the “Rose Bow” until 1922. It was played as part of the Tournament of Roses starting in 1916. However, the 1916 game was actually the second ever East-West Football Game. The the first was played in 1902, but was so uncompetitive — Michigan beat Stanford, 49-0 — that it was dropped from the festivities. Football returned to the Tournament of Roses after the organizers decided that the chariot races that had taken its place were too dangerous.

Washington State, coached by William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz entered the game undefeated with a 6-0 record on the season. The Brown Bruins, coached by Eddie N. Robinson, entered the game 5-3 with one tie. Brown also had a running back by the name of Fritz Pollard, who was the first African-American to ever play in the Rose Bowl.

Find out what happened, after the jump.

Eastern Sports chat, noon (Dec. 12)

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It is a very good year

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Will we look back on 2013 as the year everything turned around in Northwest sports? Maybe. Read on.

Eastern playoff links

The Jacksonville State football coaches are trying to prepare for Eastern Washington, but it's not easy, as our story shows … We can talk about that and more in today's live chat, right here at noon. … Eagle defensive coordinator John Graham is a finalist for the head coaching job at his alma mater, Central Washington. … Back to the FCS playoffs:  here's the official release from Eastern, and here's a feature on JSU's tight end, courtesy of the Birmingham News. … The Sports Network offers this preview of all four quarterfinal games.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Just nine more days until the Cougars take on Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl, which means Washington State needs to make the most of its extra practice time. The upperclassmen are now spending all of practice with the younger players as the team gets ready to implement the game plan. We cover that in last night's practice report … In today's paper we have a story where some former coaches and players weigh in on WSU's return to the postseason … coach Mike Leach briefly flew down to Albuquerque yesterday for the bowl game's introductory press conference, and we've got a transcript … Yesterday we had our weekly WSU football chat and you can read the transcript here … Could the Cougars pick up a transfer at quarterback? … Both WSU and Colorado State's programs are in their formative years.

In basketball news, New Mexico State tried to knock No. 1 Arizona from its perch. It failed.

Football links from around the conference after these messages.

Wednesday WSU practice report

From Pullman — The Cougars had a 9 p.m. practice today to accomodate the players' finals schedules, and they will take tomorrow off. It was also the first bowl practice that the veteran players fully participated in, as WSU coaches devoted the first few to getting extra work for the underclassmen. The Cougars coaches said they practiced mostly 1's vs. 1's and will get into the game plan later in the week.

“It was really a chance for us to get some spring football in for the young guys,” linebackers coach Ken Wilson said. “Obviously we work with them on Thursday nights but this has been a chance for us to get them in position meetings and go over the base stuff and watch it on film, watch them get extended reps and see what we got out there.”

Wilson added that linebacker Jeremiah Allison has stood out amongst the underclassmen and has excelled at the BUCK position, a hybrid between linebacker and defensive end.

More from practice, after the jump.

 

Chiefs prefer certain parts of U.S.

With the Western Hockey League season closing in on its halfway point, the U.S. Division has proven to be, by far, the best of the four divisions. All five teams have winning records. Through Wednesday, the teams' order in the standings is: Portland, Everett, Seattle, Spokane and Tri-City. For Spokane, the division breaks down as: Portland and Seattle, which are a combined 8-0 against the Chiefs, and Everett and Tri-City, which are a combined 1-6-0-0 against the Chiefs. Everett is 0-3 after Spokane's 5-3 win on Wednesday. Read story

Vandals falter late in loss at Montana

It's hard to win on the road when you shoot 37 percent from the field. And it's really hard to win a tight game on the road when you make just 39 percent of your free throws. Outside of solid efforts from Connor Hill and Bira Seck, the Vandals shot poorly and faltered down the stretch in a 69-58 loss at Montana on Wednesday night

Idaho, which dropped to 4-6, made just 7 of 18 free throws and struggled after forging a tie at 52-all with under 6 minutes left. Hill scored 24 points, including 19 in the second half, and Seck had 11 points and 13 rebounds. But the rest of the Vandals went 9 of 25 from the floor (25 percent) and had a mere 23 combined points.

“We just didn’t make the plays we needed to — that was the bottom line tonight,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “We tied it up with about six minutes to play, and just can’t finish the job. We get the game how we want it and we don’t finish it like we need to. We miss some easy inside shots. If you’re going to win on the road you can’t shoot (7-for-18) at the free throw line. The bottom line is we didn’t do what we needed to do to finish this basketball game.”

While Idaho struggled shooting, Montana was near-perfect from the free-throw line in the final minutes, going 10 of 12.

Montana makes a return trip to Idaho on Dec. 28. First, the Vandals have three more road games in succession — Portland State on Saturday; Idaho State in Boise’s CenturyLink Arena on Dec. 20; and CSU Northridge on Dec. 22.

Spokane Chiefs defeat the Everett Silvertips 5-3

S-R photojournalist Jesse Tinsley covered the Spokane Chiefs vs. Everett Silvertips game at the Spokane Arena.  Check out this big picture gallery of photos from the game.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl Press Conference

The Gildan New Mexico Bowl held its opening press conference today with coach Mike Leach of Washington State and Jim McElwain of Colorado State. Video and audio of the press conference were not available online, and it was not televised or on the radio, but the bowl provided transcripts of the coaches' remarks.

Transcriptions available after the jump.

Anglers boost EWU football fever with fly tying contest

FLY FISHING — Some fly fishermen briefly distracted from their sport by the Eastern Washington University football team's pursuit of the FCS championship are trying to hook even more enthusiasm with a little fly-tying incentive.

Before the third-ranked EWU Eagles take on Jacksonville State at the Inferno on Saturday, the EWU alums at the Evolution Anglers blog are continuing their tradition of wrapping up championship quality “inferno” flies.

They're teaming with blogger Big Mills and running a contest in which participants can win some fan-catching and perhaps fish catching flies tied by the talented bloggers.

Read on for the details from the bloggrs:

EWU assistant Graham a finalist for Central Washington head coach

Eastern Washington University defensive coordinator and associate head coach John Graham is a finalist for the head coaching position at Central Washington, Graham said Wednesday.

Graham, 44, a defensive back at Central in 1990-91, graduated in 1992 and was an assistant for the Wildcats for 13 years under Mike Dunbar, Jeff Zenisek and John Zamberlin.

“It's always been a dream of mine to be a head coach,” said Graham, who applied for the position when Zamberlin was hired by Idaho State in 2006, and was a finalist at CWU before his current head coach, Beau Baldwin was hired. When Baldwin was hired a year later by Eastern Washington a year later, Graham followed him to Cheney.

Day after West Virginia

There was one constant throughout the many ups and downs Gonzaga experienced before rallying for an 80-76 road win over West Virginia: Przemek Karnowski.

With Sam Dower Jr. in foul trouble and the Bulldogs' offense sputtering, the 7-foot-1 center provided scoring, rebounding, a defensive presence and stability. He also didn't commit a foul until 2:07 left in the second half.

Here's the S-R game recap, another game story here and some pointed comments by WVU players in this article,

More below in my day-after post.

An impressive win for Gonzaga

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Color me impressed. With what, you may ask? With Gonzaga's win last night. Read on.

Eastern playoff links

Another team, another challenge. For No. 3 Eastern Washington, it comes this week in the form of Jacksonville State running back DaMarcus James and the Gamecocks' zone-read offense. Here's our story, along with previews from Eastern and from JSU, plus JSU stats. Here's a story on JSU's defense, courtesy of the Birmingham News. … In the other quarterfinal in Eastern's half of the bracket, No. 2 Eastern Illinois faces Towson on Friday night The Panthers picked up a couple of big honors.

Wednesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Plenty of WSU news today as we've got stories on the seniors who are continuing to add to their legacy on the football team, a notebook on why the Cougars basketball practice are extra intense this week, and blog posts looking at a pair of new offensive line commits, recapping what we saw of practice and taking a look at some extra presents WSU players will receive for the holidays.

Don't forget we'll have an 11 a.m. chat to talk football, basketball, bowls and more here on SportsLink.

Links from around the conference, after the jump.

Central Valley boys defeat Gonzaga Prep 51-43

S-R photojournalist Jesse Tinsley covered Gonzaga Prep's home game against Central Valley.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

Two more offensive linemen pledge their services to WSU

From Pullman — Reports are coming in that a pair of high school offensive tackles have declared their intentions to play football at Washington State. Andre Dillard is a 6'5, 240-pound senior at Woodinville High School, while Brandon Evers is 6'7 and 275 pounds. Rivals.com says that Evers plays center, while Scout.com maintains that he will be an offensive tackle. We suspect that the latter recruiting service is correct, unless the former was making a comment about Evers' ability to contribute to the basketball team.

Neither prospect has been given any stars from the recruiting websites yet.

Barry Bolton has the scoop on Evers, who committed on Tuesday:

Evers has been a powerhouse for Enterprise High the past two season up front. Early on in his football career he played QB and WR before finding his true calling on the offensive line. He's blocked for standout running backs the past two seasons in Brad Woods and Izzy Matthews at Enterprise.

Evers had offers from WSU and SDSU, with Oregon, Washington  and Stanford all showing varying shades of interest.

Gonzaga Prep girls defeat Central Valley 70-66

S-R photojournalist Jesse Tinsley covered Gonzaga Prep girls win over Central Valley.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

Tuesday WSU practice report

From Pullman — The Cougars again practiced indoors, meaning that we who are banned from practice (everyone) only saw the first 15 minutes (media only). What we saw was an upbeat group of Cougars who seemed excited to be heading to their first bowl game even though many of them had yet to hear about the gifts.

The Cougars won't have as many extra practice as most team thanks to an early game and finals week. But they're making the most of them, albeit with a slightly disheveled schedule.

“Well it’s a real erratic schedule, in the end you’d like to have a little more time off this week then we’re able to have,” coach Mike Leach said. “But the biggest thing, it hasn’t been too bad, you just bounce the schedule around and it seems like every day we’re practicing at a different time. That’s to accommodate their academics which is important.”

More after the jump.

Zags rally past Mountaineers

Gonzaga trailed by 10 four minutes into the second half, by eight with 8:23 left and by five with 7 minutes left.

Less than five minutes later, the Bulldogs led by 8. A 13-0 run, which included three 3s by Kevin Pangos, brought Gonzaga back and the Bulldogs went on to claim an 80-76 road win over West Virginia on Tuesday night.

This is the only road game we won't be at this season. We put together a game story, with the help of quotes supplied by Gonzaga SID Oliver Pierce. Read on for more on GU's fifth straight win.

Everett has faith in young defensemen

The Spokane Chiefs and Everett Silvertips will meet for the first time in more than seven week on Wednesday night at the Arena. Everett has established itself as one of the top teams in the Western Hockey League since losing to Spokane on Oct. 5 and 18. Young talent is part of the reason, as this week's WHL notebook examines. Read story

Some Holiday gifts for bowl-bound Cougars

From Pullman — Win or lose, college football teams that play in bowl games don't come home empty handed. Bowls are allowed to give up to $550 worth of gifts to each player, and taking a look at the swag has become an annual part of the lore surrounding bowl games. SportsBusinessDaily.com has a list of what every school receives. Here is what the Cougars will collect:

  • Portable mobile device charger
  • Oakley Breadbox sunglasses
  • 8 GB USB drive
  • Oakley Fine Knit beanie
  • Oakley Flak Pack XL Backpack
  • Gildan Stadium blanket
  • A gift suite

What is a gift suite you may ask? Jeff Nusser of CougCenter.com has the details, after the jump.

Bulldogs face road test

The season is just over a month old but Gonzaga is about to face its first true road game. The Bulldogs are in Morgantown to take on West Virginia, which will be out to avenge two lopsided losses to GU in the last 20 months. It'll be a tough test, made tougher by the likelihood that Kevin Pangos (toe) and Gary Bell Jr. (hip) probably won't be at full strength. Both are expected to play

Here's my game advance, and others from the Charleston Gazette, Daily Athenaeum, Dominion Post, Bluefield Daily Telegraph and  CBSsports.com. More from the Post here.

 

What will wash up next?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

After the flood of news yesterday, the waters have receded a bit, leaving just the debris. And, of course, the worst of it is from the Mariners. Read on.

Eastern playoff links

Talk about peaking at the right time: The unranked Jacksonville State Gamecocks have knocked off two straight ranked opponents in the FCS playoffs, and they'll try to do it again this week at Eastern Washington. Here's our first look at Jacksonville State, and here is the official release from Eastern. (And by the way, Eagle cornerback Ronald Baines is listed as probable this week after suffering a concussion against South Dakota State.)  … Jacksonville State - soon to be known as “Jax” in my Tweets to save space - had a dominating performance last week at McNeese State, but head coach Bill Clark and the Gamecocks have plenty of respect for Eastern Washington. … Want more on Jacksonville State? Go to al.com, a Birmingham-based web site that covers college football like nothing you've ever seen. (It is Alabama, after all.) Here's their Jacksonville State page.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — While there is no limit on the number of practices a bowl-bound team can take, Washington State won't be able to get many in before their Dec. 21 appearance in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. With less than two weeks to prepare, the Cougars won't be able to devote many practices to the development of younger players. Complicating matters is the fact that it is finals week at WSU. So the Cougars will practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, take Thursday off, and then return to the field and practice all weekend. With temperatures in Pullman well below freezing, it is likely the team will continue to make use of their inflatable indoor practice facility.

In the paper we have a look at each of the Pac-12 bowl games, and on the blog we examine just how much money the Pac-12 lost by not getting a second team in a BCS bowl. Neil Stover of SWX and I talked about WSU and the New Mexico Bowl last night … If you're having trouble justifying the expensive airfare to Albuquerque WSU may be offering an alternative … WSU opened as four-point favorites over Colorado State … Braulio Perez reports that WSU has another commit on the offensive line.

Talkin some Cougs with Neil Stover

Neil Stover of SWX was kind enough to have me on his show again to talk about WSU and the New Mexico Bow.

 

SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

A good bowl selection day for the Pac-12, or was it?

From Pullman — On the one hand, it was a banner Invitation Sunday for the Pac-12, which saw a record nine teams punch their tickets to bowl games. Even more impressive — all nine schools played in the old Pac-10, with only Cal joining relative newcomers Utah and Colorado as conference deadweight. Indeed, if not for the hapless Bears from Berkeley, all the original members of the Pacific Coast Conference, Athletic Association of Western Universities and the Pac-8 would all be playing in the postseason.

Every Pac-12 team except Oregon State opened as the favorite in their bowl game, and the conference appears poised for a successful bowl season.

But in another sense, the Pac-12 athletic directors and commissioner Larry Scott likely can't help but feel disappointed. Oregon looked poised to play in the Sugar Bowl, giving the conference two BCS bowl berths along with Stanford in the Rose Bowl. By all the laws of God and man it should have happened. But not, apparently, the laws of the NCAA.

Despite the Pac-12's near-unanimous status as the second-best conference in the country, and despite the season-long hankering of college football fans to see Alabama's defense matchup against Oregon's offense, the Sugar Bowl chose the geographically closer Oklahoma Sooners as the Crimson Tide's opponent.

The spurning of the ducks had repercussions throughout the conference. We'll take a look after the jump.

It was a loss but it was not a bad loss

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Usually the typical Northwest sports fan has a Chicken Little quality to him or her. You know, when something bad happens, the sky is falling. Heck, even when something good happens, they usually expect the other shoe to hit them on the head. But following yesterday's loss in San Francisco, it doesn’t feel that way with Seahawk fans. The defeat didn't seem to set off a tidal wave of worry. Read on.

Monday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Washington State's long wait is at an end. After 10 years and a presumably nerve-wracking final week, the Cougars are headed to the New Mexico Bowl … They'll face the Colorado State Rams, who we take an early look at here … Tickets can be purchased from the WSU athletic department … The Seattle Times has a story as well … As does the Denver Post.

News from around the conference after the jump.

New Mexico Bowl Tickets

 

Athletic director Bill Moos told reporters this evening that 2,500 fans have already reserved tickets to attend WSU's bowl game, regardless of which bowl the Cougars were invited to. With the announcement that it will be the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque on the 21st of December, tickets are available for purchase as of 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Click here to buy tickets through Washington State University.

An early look at Colorado State

From Pullman — It's not official yet but all signs say Washington State will take on Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl. So let's take an early look at WSU's opponent. Like WSU, a second-year coach has led the Rams to their first non-losing season in years. Under former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, CSU (7-6, 5-3) is headed to its first game since 2008, when it defeated Fresno State, also in the New Mexico Bowl.

Follow the jump for some statistics that should shed some light on the Rams.

 

ESPN reports WSU to New Mexico bowl

From Pullman — ESPN's Brett McMurphy tweeted that Washington State will play Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl, which is owned by ESPN. The game will be played on Dec. 21, in Albuquerque, N.M. Keep in mind that this is neither official nor confirmed, yet.

 

UPDATE: The school has officially accepted an invitation to the New Mexico Bowl. Tickets are available through the school here, starting at 7 p.m. 

Final bowl projections

From Pullman — Washington State will find out if, when, and where it will be going at some point today. Follow the jump for all of the final bowl projections, including my own.

Could WSU be headed to Hawai’i?

UPDATE: Reports are coming in that Oregon State will take on Boise State in the Hawai'i Bowl. Fight Hunger Bowl directors told the Spokesman-Review this week that they will not be selecting the Beavers, leaving only the New Mexico Bowl as a possibility.

That could be the case according to Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel.

The Hawai'i Bowl is one of the games run by ESPN. Earlier this week WSU athletic director Bill Moos told the Spokesman-Review that he was lobbying his contacts at ESPN to try and get WSU into one of those bowls, should the Cougars not receive a bid from a Pac-12 affiliated bowl.

While it is looking increasingly possible that Oregon will be invited to a BCS bowl, even in that scenario it would still technically be possible for the Cougars to need an at-large invitation to play in a bowl game. If that's the case, it looks like Hawai'i could be their destination.

UPDATE: As SpectreCoug points out in the comments, the post previously incorrectly listed bowls as being operated by ESPN. I was working off the wrong list and apologize.

Day after New Mexico State

Business is about to pick up for Gonzaga, which faces its first true road game Tuesday at West Virginia, then takes on South Alabama in Seattle and Kansas State in Wichita.

The Bulldogs enter that stretch following an 80-68 victory New Mexico State on Saturday, but they now have some injury issues with guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr.

Here's my game story and another from the Las Cruces newspaper.

More below in my day-after post (warning: it's a long one!).

Yes, it is a big Sunday

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Can't quite remember a bigger Sunday. The Seahawks are in San Francisco for an afternoon battle with the 49ers. The Cougars will find out their bowl fate. And I promised Kim we would get a Christmas tree. Guess which one is the priority? Read on.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

Video courtesy of Thomas Backman on YouTube.

From Pullman — There was only one Pac-12 football game this weekend and it was a big one. Stanford thrashed Arizona State to win the Pac-12 championship and secure a Rose Bowl berth. But just because the rest of the conference's teams weren't playing this weekend doesn't mean that there wasn't a lot of action that affected the teams. Texas lost, but Oklahoma won, increasing the likelihood of the Pac-12 getting two BCS teams. And the Heart of Dallas Bowl is more likely to take a Pac-12 team with Ohio State's loss.

The men's basketball team escaped Moscow with a win to continue their run of dominance over Idaho … Colorado knocked off No. 6 Kansas, their former Big 12 rival, in a big win for the Pac-12 … Arizona held off UNLV … The Bruins fell to Missouri … Utah stayed undefeated at home with a win over Fresno State.

 

Idaho players emotional after loss to WSU

A great crowd. A great atmosphere. A great game. But Idaho couldn't come up with one last shot — or one last rebound — against its border rival on Saturday night. The Vandals fell 67-66 to Washington State, and we have a recap from UI's perspective below.

Read on.

Zags pulls away from Aggies, 80-68

Gonzaga's usual formula of 3-point shooting and a guard-driven, efficient offense needed some help Saturday.

It came in the form of Sam Dower Jr. (22 points), Gerard Coleman (21 points), rebounding (45-30 edge) and tenacious defense (keeping New Mexico State to a shooting percentage in the 30s until the latter stages of the game). It all added up to an 80-68 Gonzaga victory over the Aggies.

GU dealt with injury before the game (Kevin Pangos was a game-time decision because of a sprained toe) and during the game (Gary Bell Jr. exited early in the second half with a right hip injury). Bell said he hopes to be able to play Tuesday at West Virginia.

My unedited game story is below. I'll have a day-after post in the morning.

EWU vs. South Dakota

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the EWU's defeat of South Dakota State 41-17, at home in Cheney, Wash., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Check out his big picture story!

Post-practice with Joe Salave’a

From Pullman — The Washington State football team again practiced indoors today, meaning that we reporters were not privy to what happened after the first 15 minutes. After practice we spoke with defensive line coach Joe Salave'a, however.

Read the Q&A after the jump.

Noon Pac-12 football chat

 

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Tall order for Gonzaga

There aren't many college teams with frontcourts taller and bigger than GU's 7-1, 296-pound Przemek Karnowski and 6-9, 243-pound Sam Dower Jr., but one is visiting the McCarthey Athletic Center tonight. New Mexico State, with 7-5, 355-pound Sim Bhullar and 6-10, 265 Tshilidzi Nephawe, takes on GU at 8 p.m.

Here's my game preview, another from Las Cruces and more on the Aggies here.

Bhullar is one of four NMSU players from Toronto, including guard Daniel Mullings, who was teammates with Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos for Canada at the World University Games last summer. According to northpolehoops.com, there are 104 Canadians playing D-I basketball.

The Aggies haven't defeated a ranked opponent since knocking off Nevada in Jan., 2007.

Why the M’s had to overspend for Cano

A GRIP ON SPORTS

On this anniversary of the day that changed the world, we should all take some time to remember those whose lives were irrevocably altered that Sunday morning 72 years ago. Then we can move on to lesser things like sports. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

The over/under on today's Eastern Washington-South Dakota State playoff game: 11, and I didn't get that from the boys in Vegas. That comes from the guys at the National Weather Service. A high today of 11, with a wild-chill factor of minus-5. Here's my game preview, plus the official preview from Eastern, which also made warm gesture this week. Meanwhile, here's everything you want to know about South Dakota State. … Two former Eagles won recognition from the Big Sky Conference. … Meanwhile, it'll be even colder in Missoula, where the Grizzlies know that weather alone doesn't win football games. … Stay warm, my friends.

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The Pac-12 championship game is today. Because the winner is going to the Rose Bowl either way, it does not really matter who you root for as the game should have no impact on WSU's bowl situation. Maybe a Stanford win would be a bit better as Oregon is more likely to jump Arizona State than Stanford in the BCS standings … But WSU fans should root for Texas today … We've got an update on WSU's bowl situation in today's paper … Boise State's interim coach is a WSU alum … Micaela Castain of the WSU women's soccer team has been named a second-team All-American.

We'll have a live chat at noon to talk about Pac-12 football and WSU's bowl situation.

Links from around the conference, after the jump.

Chiefs’ great start in rearview mirror

It seems a distant memory, but seven weeks ago the Spokane Chiefs had the best winning percentage (.833) in the Western Hockey League. Following Friday night's 7-3 loss to Seattle, the Chiefs are 4-5-0-2 in the last four weeks. Read story

WSU bowl update: Fight Hunger Bowl

From Pullman — Tied with Oregon State and Arizona for seventh in the Pac-12 conference, Washington State will likely be competing with those programs for a place in the New Mexico Bowl, which selects last among the Pac-12 affiliated bowl games. The other two teams will have to hope for a spot as an at-large team in a bowl game affiliated with a conference with an insufficient number of eligible teams.

But there is another possibility for the Cougars. They could end up playing in the Fight Hunger Bowl, which picks a slot before the New Mexico Bowl. Find out how, after the jump.

Friday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The slow march towards Sunday's bowl announcements took another step forward on Thursday, as the Cougars returned to practice for the first time since the Apple Cup. It was a skeleton coaching staff, however, as all the coaches but head man Mike Leach and defensive coordinator Mike Breske are still on the road recruiting. With the basketball team not playing until Saturday, “dead week” seems to be an appropriate term for what's (not) going on at WSU right now. We've got our practice report up on the blog, and a story about what the Cougars have been up to for the past week … Will you be traveling to a bowl game if the Cougars are invited? The folks at CougCenter want to know.

If you're itching for more info, on Saturday we'll have a morning chat to talk about the bowl situation, the Pac-12 championship game and who knows what else.

Links from around the conference after the jump.

Petersen, Cano headed to Seattle

A GRIP ON SPORTS • UPDATED: 8:15 A.M.

We had something all set to write about this morning, then breaking news gets in the way. And it's about the University of Washington and the Seattle Mariners of all places. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

A special player? That would be Eastern Washington special teams standout Bo Schuetzle, an all-Big Sky selection and the subject of this feature story. We also had a live chat yesterday, and here's a partial transcript. … A public service announcement: it's getting even colder, and the wind-chill factor will put Saturday's game at about zero, so please dress warmly. Eastern will open Reese Court at halftime for those who need a break from the cold; Eastern also has this official preview of the game.

WSU Thursday practice report

From Pullman — The Cougars practiced inside their indoor practice bubble for the first time this season, meaning that us reporters were unable to see what happened after the first 15 minutes. We did see players tricking out of the facility throughout practice, however. Find out why after the jump.

Eastern Sports chat, noon (Dec. 5)

Try Relay: the free SMS and picture text app for iPhone.

 

The calm before another storm

A GRIP ON SPORTS

We are only a couple of days removed from the NFL's most recent “Game of the Century.” And just a couple of days from the next one. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sy links

Friends, it's been two weeks since we had a chance to chat. so let's get together, say today at noon, right here at  SportsLink. Until then, here's my weekly notebook, focusing on the FCS rushing leader, South Dakota State running back Zach Zenner. … Want more on the Jackrabbits? It's all right here. And by the way, if you think SDSU will be fazed by the cold weather here, check out the conditions in Brookings, S.D. The Jackrabbits also are pretty tough up front on both lines. However, should the Eagles advance, they will host either McNeese State (where the forecast high today is 72 degrees) or Jacksonville State  (a high of 65 today) in a quarterfinal next week, so the Eagles have that going for them. Also, here is the official release from Eastern.  Meanwhile, Montana could have a ridiculous weather advantage on Saturday, as the Coastal Carolina players will trade the 79 degree high in Conway, SC, on Friday for the +5 degrees expected in Missoula (Good luck, Chanticleers, whatever that is). On the other hand, Coastal Carolina has a pretty good running back.

Thursday morning links

The Washington State coaches are back from recruiting and today the Cougars will take the practice field for the first time in over a week. WSU will have three practices before the bowl invitations start to come out on Sunday, and continue to practice if they're given a bowl berth … With the coaches on the road and the program in limbo while waiting to hear its bowl fate, it wasn't an especially eventful week for the WSU football program. Still, we came up with some odds and ends from the past few days … WSU defensive coordinator Mike Breske is named by Steve Vorel as a possible candidate for the vacant head coach position at Wyoming … Oregon State's athletic director says the Cougars will probably go bowling … Jeff Nusser of CougCenter responds to Jerry Palm of CBS who doesn't think WSU's fans travel well enough for a bowl game.

Links from around the conference after the jump.

Despite win, Chiefs’ offense slumbers

The Spokane Chiefs remain one of the highest-scoring teams in the Western Hockey League, but you wouldn't be able to predict that by looking at their last three games. Read story

Chiefs vs. Blades

S-R photojournalist Jesse Tinsley covered the Spokane Chiefs vs. Saskatoon Blades game.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

A little this and that

The Washington State football team returns to practice tomorrow to begin the first of what could be many bowl practices. Or, it could just be the first of three. The Cougars will take the field on Friday and Saturday afternoon, and then again on Sunday morning. Beyond that, whether or not they practice again depends on if the Cougars secure a bowl invite.

Not a whole lot can happen on that front until after Saturday's conference championship games. Still, I've been talking to coaches, bowl directors and WSU athletic director throughout the week to try and see where the Cougars stand. Not everything has made it in the paper, obviously, so I've put together a few news nuggets after the jump.

 

WHL places three in top six

The Western Hockey League is well represented in the latest Canadian Hockey League Top 10 poll. Kelowna (20-3-0-2) is ranked third, Portland (21-5-2-1) fifth and Everett (20-5-4-0) sixth. There's a new team at No. 1: The Erie Otters (23-4-1-0) of the Ontario Hockey League moved from second to first. Read story

Rehkow could join UI hoops team

Austin Rehkow plays football for the University of Idaho. And he may soon play basketball for the Vandals, too. Rehkow, a freshman punter and kicker, will spend the next week to 10 days with the UI basketball team and then decide if he wants to become a hoops walk-on.

More below.

Wednesday Pac-12 lunchtime links

Good morning (barely) everyone, sorry about the lateness of these links. There were some issues with the website on my end last night that didn't get resolved until recently so I'm just now getting to these. If you haven't seem then already, we've got stories today with reaction from two Pac-12 coaches to their colleague Steve Sarkisian's decision to leave UW for USC … An update on athletic director Bill Moos' efforts to get Washington State a bowl invitation … And our final Pac-12 Power Rankings of the regular season.

For bowl projections and links from around the conference, follow the jump.

GU needs to build on the boards

The Zags have had a day or two off since Sunday's rout over Coppin State and they're preparing for New Mexico State's visit Saturday.

You can be sure rebounding drills will be fairly high on the coaching staff's practice script. This isn't a surprise. The list of preseason worries for Gonzaga centered on three things: Interior depth, defense and rebounding, and that list remains intact through the season's first eight games.

A deeper look into GU's rebounding here.

We’re in the middle of rumor season

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's cold here in Spokane. Really cold. Single-digit cold. But that's OK. We have a hot stove to keep us warm. Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

It was a bit chilly Tuesday afternoon at Roos Field as Eastern Washington prepared for a second-round FCS playoff game against South Dakota State. (And by the way. it was 10 degrees colder back in Brookings, South Dakota, so the Jackrabbits will be used to this.) Here's our practice report, along with some big news for Eagle quarterback Vernon Adams. We can discuss all of that and more in Thursday's live chat, but let's move on to the links … Here's a preview of the game from Eastern, but nothing yet from South Dakota State, though here are some stats. … Meanwhile, Montana faces an intriguing opponent in Coastal Carolina coach Joe Moglia.

Idaho brings in another Northwest recruit

If Don Verlin and the Idaho Vandals sign a high school player, chances are he's from the Northwest. That trend continued Tuesday when UI announced the signing of Arkadiy Mkrtychyan, a 6-foot-7 forward from Portland. Mkrtychyan has spent the last two years in Portland, but he's not a born-and-bred Northwest native. He originally hails from Moscow, Russia, and played his sophomore year in Honolulu. before transferring to Portland’s Columbia Christian High, where he had to sit out his junior season.

Verlin compared Mkrtychyan to Stephen Madison, Idaho's leading scorer and a Portland native, in terms of his versatility.

“He’s a multi-position guy who can play both forward spots, small and power forward,” Verlin said in a statement. “He has had extensive experience overseas. We saw him this summer and I really liked his ability to play around the basket and away from the basket, and he really fits into our system.”

Mkrtychyan joins Jake Straughan of Colton, Wash., as Idaho’s early period signees. “The things we’re excited about are his size, his ability, his ability to play multiple positions and getting another good, young high school player from the Northwest,” Verlin added.

Gonzaga Prep girls defeat Lewis and Clark 72-64

S-R photojournalist Jesse Tinsley covered the LC girls basketball game against G-Prep.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

Former Chief Valcourt returns to Spokane

When the Saskatoon Blades play at the Arena on Wednesday night, it will be a homecoming of sorts for the Blades' Collin Valcourt. Read story

Chiefs’ Stewart will play for Great Britain

After Friday, the Spokane Chiefs will play three weeks without 18-year-old center Liam Stewart. The team announced Tuesday that Stewart has accepted an invitation to play for Great Britain at the U20 World Championships in Scotland. Stewart was born in London and raised in the United States. He is tied for sixth on the Chiefs with 13 points. Read story

Adams finalist for Walter Payton Award

Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award given to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, The Sports Network announced Tuesday.

Adams, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois and running back Terrance West of Towson have been invited to the awards banquet, which will be held in Philadelphia on Dec. 16.

 

Barham nominated for ‘Good Works Team’

Gonzaga senior Drew Barham has been nominated for the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and Allstate Insurance Company's Good Works Team”, which recognizes collegiate student-athletes who have made significant contributions to the greater good of their communities through volunteerism and civic service.

Barham is one of 201 nominees.

Among his numerous service contributions, Barham went on a 10-day goodwill tour of Lithuania this summer with Athletes in Action and an 18-day trek of China in 2011. More on Barham here.

 

Will the Super Bowl be that easy?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Query. If last night's beatdown of the Saints turns out to be a preview of what the Super Bowl will be like, would you enjoy it? Or do you want that game to be more of a contest for the Seahawks? Read on.

Eastern and Big Sky links

The Jackrabbits are coming to Cheney. South Dakota State, which defeated Northern Arizona 26-7 last weekend, will face Eastern Washington on Saturday. Here's a first look at SDSU, along with a preview from Eastern and a look at the all-Missouri Valley Conference standouts from SDSU. … Meanwhile, UW is looking for a new head coach, and it doesn't appear the Huskies are looking in this direction, although Beau Baldwin's name showed up on Cougfan (registration required) and on similar fan sites at Montana (please, get Baldwin out of the Big Sky!) and at Montana State. … Baldwin's name has not surfaced either at the other UW, that being Wyoming, which just fired its coach. Stay tuned. … Montana also has a playoff game this week.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

Just when you think everything's going to be quiet for awhile, all heck breaks lose. Yes, the similarities between Pac-12 football and my 10th grade battle with acne truly are a wonder. Steve Sarkisian cooled talk that he was on the hot seat with an Apple Cup win, so of course he was offered and accepted the prestigious USC job just a few days later … Now the Cougars' rivals have to find a coach, and the first choice seems to be UCLA's Jim Mora … What will happen next in this week's game of Pac-12 musical chairs? Word is that WSU coach Mike Leach has no interest in the Stanford gig … In other news the Pac-12 All-Conference teams are out and safety Deone Bucannon made First-Team … We've got a Q&A with WSU athletic director Bill Moos covering a variety of topics.

Idaho’s Madison, Rehkow honored

For the second time in the first month of the season, Idaho small forward Stephen Madison has been named WAC Player of the Week. And he wasn't the only Vandal feted on Monday — freshman kicker/punter Austin Rehkow hauled in a national award for FBS independent schools after he capped a remarkable freshman season with a big day on Saturday in a loss to New Mexico State.

All the details are below.

Q&A with WSU AD Bill Moos

I've had the opportunity speak with Washington State athletic director Bill Moos to talk about the Cougars bowl situation, future construction plans and his vision for branding and marketing Cougars athletics going forward. Of course, the vast majority of what he said didn't make it into paper. With that in mind, I've transcribed the rest of those interviews in a Q&A format, which you can read after the jump.

Deone Bucannon named First-Team All-Pac-12

Safety Deone Bucannon of Washington State has been named First-Team All-Pac-12, the conference announced on Monday. Bucannon led the Cougars with 109 tackles this season, and tied for the team lead with five interceptions. He is the only WSU football player to be named either First or Second-Team All-Conference, and the first Cougar to receiver First-Team All-Conference honors since Brandon Gibson in 2007.

 

Earning honorable mention honors for the Cougars were senior kicker Andrew Furney, senior cornerback Damante Horton, freshman wide receiver River Cracraft, and Spokane-native and senior offensive lineman Elliott Bosch.

 

Follow the jump to see the release from the Pac-12, which includes all players named to both teams, the individual award winners, and the players who earned honorable mention honors for each team.

Day after Coppin State

Gonzaga returned from Maui with a shorter-than-usual turnaround than previous trips but it had the ideal opponent on the schedule. After playing three games in three days in Lahaina, GU was barely tested by the Eagles and led by 25 at half.

The rest of December is filled with tougher challenges — New Mexico State on Saturday, at West Virginia, South Alabama in Seattle, Kansas State in Wichita and the beginning of the WCC slate with Santa Clara and San Francisco.

The Bulldogs routed Coppin State 86-51 on Sunday night. Here's my game story, Dan Pelle's photos and an AP recap.

Gonzaga (7-1) dropped five spots in the USA Today rankings, from 10th to 15th, after the loss to the Dayton Flyers, who are receiving votes. Saint Mary's and Boise State, coached by ex-Zag assistant Leon Rice, are receiving votes. GU and Memphis, which entertains the Zags on Feb. 8, are tied for 15th.

 Kevin Pangos, who surpassed 1,000 career points in Maui, was named the WCC player of the week for the second straight time.

My day-after Coppin State is below.

It’s finally here

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Cue the Monday Night Football theme. Listen to a voiceover from the late Howard Cosell. Watch Brian Bosworth being run over by Bo Jackson, then cut in Marshawn Lynch's playoff run vs. the Saints. Now you are ready for this week's Game of the Century. Yep, it's time for New Orleans vs. Seattle my friends. NFC supremacy. Home-field advantage. Suspensions. Quarterbacks. Receivers. Defenders. Noise meters. This one has it all. Read on.

Monday morning Pac-12 links

Washington State athletic director Bill Moos will begin politicking and lobbying various bowl games in earnest, today. But with no practice on Monday, today will be another day in limbo for the Cougars, as all bowl eligible Pac-12 teams wait for Dec. 8th, when the postseason picture will become clear. Nothing much can happen before then as the BCS bowls will need to be determined and then the lesser bowls can make their selections from the remaining teams.

Still, the bowl situation is slowly evolving. The Cougars could play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl if the Big Ten gets two teams in BSC bowls … The Cougars will be in competition with Syracuse and Maryland for at-large bids if they are not invited to a Pac-12 affiliated bowl … UCLA is probably headed to El Paso … The Ducks aren't out of BCS bowl contention yet … The Huskies will probably face BYU in San Francisco.

The WSU men's basketball team fell to St. Joseph's in their Old Spice Classic finale.

Find out where national pundits think WSU will go bowling, and check out some otherAnd i basketball scores, after the jump.

Chiefs put up little fight

True, the Spokane Chiefs were weary on Sunday while playing their third game in three nights. But that doesn't explain how the Seattle Thunderbirds, who were in the same situation AND playing on the road, came out with such life while the Chiefs appeared sluggish. Read story

Zags roll past Coppin State

Gonzaga improved to 7-1 with an easy 86-51 win over Coppin State on Sunday night.

My unedited game story is below. Back in the morning with a day-after post.

WSU 67, SJU 72

Courtesy of WSU Athletics

 

We’re going to be extra nice this month

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It is officially December. The last month of the year. Christmas season. After 11 months of grumpiness, it is time to make sure you are nice. We will follow that dictum. Read on.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

Saturday was day one of Bowl Watch 2013 for the Cougars, who can't do much but sit and wait … A lot happened to affect the bowl picture on Saturday and we've got an update on the situation … Now that coach Mike Leach's 24 hour rule has passed, check out our grades from the Apple Cup.

Here are bowl projections from: CBS, ESPN, The Orlando Sentinel and USA Today.

Links from around the conference after the jump.

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Jim Allen 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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