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.
• Nope, no naughty words here. With Santa Claus watching, and the pressing need for so many presents in less than four weeks, we will be good. Extra good. Better even than Auburn's field goal return team. Speaking of that sparkling group – you may not know it, but some college teams practice such things off and on during the course of a season – who knew the team Washington State opened up with, the team that trailed WSU 21-15 midway through the second quarter, would be one game away from a national title shot? And make no mistake about it. If the Tigers find a way to get past 11-1 Missouri in the SEC title game next Saturday, there is a great chance they'll jump into the top two of the BCS standings. And, yes, I think that will happen even if Ohio State defeats Michigan State and Florida State takes revenge on Duke for all those basketball beatdowns over the years. I just don't see the BCS changing its stripes in its final year. It was designed to get the Southeastern Conference into a quasi-title game and that's just what it will do as it exits the national stage. Heck, if Auburn loses to Missouri, I'm betting there is some talk Alabama should be getting another chance at a national title. After all, the Crimson Tide and Saint Nick (Saban) only loss came on a fluke play. The rest of the season they were the nation's best. Of course, the door only opens for the Tide if one of the two undefeateds lose next week – my money would be on a Michigan State upset – and Auburn can't get past Missouri. But don't dismiss those possibilities too quickly. Stranger things have happened in the BCS era. Heck, teams haven't even won their conference title and have played for the national one. It could happen again.
• Speaking of playing for a title, Eastern begins its road to Frisco, Texas and the FCS title game next Saturday. And the Eagles found out yesterday who they will play. It will be 9-4 South Dakota State, a 26-7 first-round winner on the road at Northern Arizona. The Jackrabbits have won five consecutive games and will be a good indicator of Eastern's chances for a title. Why? Because South Dakota State opened the Missouri Valley Conference season with a 20-0 home loss to top-ranked North Dakota State. It will be interesting to see how EWU stacks up.
• WSU: Now that the Apple Cup is over, Jacob Thorpe can get back to doing what's important. Covering women's basketball. After all, it's the Cougar women who have a win over a top-10 foe after yesterday's 76-72 upset of No. 10 Nebraska on the road. … Actually, Jacob spent yesterday running down information about bowl games, information he shares with us on the blog and in these two stories in today's S-R. Jacob also has his unit grades from the UW game and his morning post with links. … The men's basketball team is back at it again this morning against St. Joseph's.
• Gonzaga: The GU women had no trouble yesterday, brushing off Colgate (I should have, but couldn't, resist the pun), 81-31, giving up the fewest points in school history. Thomas Clouse has the story. … The men return to the court today against Coppin State, a team that upset Oregon State in Corvallis earlier this season. Jim Meehan has an advance. … The Lakers parted ways with Elias Harris yesterday. … BYU rallied past Utah State 85-74 last night. … St. Mary's breezed past Murray State 89-64. … USD took a 7-1 mark into yesterday's game at The Pit against New Mexico but came out with two losses, falling 73-66.
• Idaho: When the season began, I figured Idaho would finish 2-10 under first-year football coach Paul Petrino. Missed it by that much. The New Mexico State game was one I thought the Vandals could get but they didn't, falling to the Aggies 24-16. Josh Wright has more in this blog post. … Josh also has more on UI's 80-76 basketball victory over UC Davis as Connor Hill had a career-high 29 points.
• Whitworth: The Pirates rallied for a win against Carleton. I will refrain from making any “Fresh Prince” jokes.
• Preps: A sort of up-and-down day in the prep football ranks around here yesterday. The big downers were Shadle Park's 66-0 defeat at the hands of 3A power Bellevue – Greg Lee has the story and Colin Mulvany supplies the photographs – and Touchet's 1B 62-36 win over Rosalia in a game Rosalia led 30-6. The ups were supplied by Freeman (pictured), who got past Cashmere 28-20 after a slow start – Greg also has the coverage – and Lind-Ritzville/Sprague, who crushed Adna 56-13. … The basketball season is slowly getting underway and we have roundups from boys and girls games. … We asked a bunch of times which football team was the Spokane area's all-time best. David Oriard has your answers.
• Seahawks: Now you see him, now you don't. We're talking about Percy Harvin, of course, who played last week for the Hawks but, still bothered by the hip injury, probably will not play tomorrow night in the showdown against the Saints. … Pete Carroll addressed that yesterday but also had a lot to say about other aspects of his team and the game. … Someone needs to step up in the secondary. … Remember Marshawn Lynch's run in the playoffs against the Saints a couple years ago (pictured)? Of course you do. Everyone does. … Which of the young quarterbacks are the best? We're not prejudiced or anything, but we think it's Russell Wilson.
• Mariners: At least the M's are consistent. When talking about the replacement for outgoing president Chuck Armstrong, CEO Howard Lincoln probably passed on the exciting names Ryan Divish mentions in his story. Names like Pat Gillick and Tony LaRussa. Talk about getting our hopes up. But when the team hires a Jonathan Gilula or Marty Greenspun or someone of that ilk, we'll all be disappointed. Then again, when do the M's not disappoint us?
• That's it for now. I admit, I got a little nasty at the end there. But I do believe Santa will understand. After all, he's been a Cubs fan for years. Until later …