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.
• The Hawks, of course. Sure, if I want a Super Bowl title as a Christmas present, there has to be a tree to put it under. And if I want a happy group of Cougar fans the next couple weeks, WSU needs to go someplace nice. But there isn't many better NFL rivalry games – I know, Steeler fans, your team has at least seven better rivals – so watching the Hawks are atop my wish list for today. Who is going to win? That's obvious. Seattle is the better team, by every metric. Offense, defense, special teams. So I'm picking the 49ers, 24-21. After all, this is an NFL game. An NFL road game. Freaky things happen. The usual contact on a key pass that would go unnoticed at home draws a flag on the road. Jim Harbaugh's antics and facial expressions are greeted with supporter at home, not derision. And Colin Kapernick actually can connect with an open receiver on occasion in Candlestick. So that's why I expect the Seahawks to lose and have to wait until next week in New York to clinch the NFC West. What do you think?
• During the Pac-12 title game last night I was in a place where I couldn't hear the sound on the television. Plus, the crowd was so large I occasionally missed a play. So maybe you guys can explain something too me. I saw Arizona State fumble. I watched the pile. I saw the replay that showed a Stanford guy pouncing on the ball. And I saw Glasses Ref fly out of the pile and point toward Stanford's goal, signifying the Cardinal had the ball. But when I looked up a few seconds later, ASU was running a play. What happened? Why didn't Stanford get the ball? There was no explanation in the on-line play-by-play that I checked, just that ASU recovered the fumble. Thank goodness the Cardinal rolled, or a mixup like that would have brought ridicule on the Pac-12 officials, and no one would want that.
• WSU: This must be getting old in Moscow. A couple of years ago I watched WSU score a late bucket to beat UI. Last night Jacob Thorpe got to do the same thing, as the Cougars edged their cross-state rivals 67-66. Besides the game story, Jacob has video of interviews with Ken Bone, DaVonté Lacy and D.J. Shelton and the box score. ... Jacob also has a blog post following the Cougars football practice, a summary of his live chat from yesterday and morning links today. ... ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog has a post-championship-game edition of its helmet stickers and what we learned. ... Thanks to Michigan State – darn you Spartans, darn you to heck – the SEC has another chance to win a national title. And Oregon could be in a BCS bowl. ... Believe it or not, that Auburn team that was lucky to get past WSU at home in August is already No. 1 in this guy's poll and will play for the title. Think Mike Leach is telling his guys how close they are to being as good as anyone?
• Gonzaga: Defeating New Mexico State is a tall order, and not just because the Aggies have a couple really big players. They are also pretty good. But the Bulldogs handled them with relative ease in the second half last night and came away with an 80-68 win in the Kennel. Jim Meehan has the game story and a blog post from last night and will add another blog post this morning. ... Robert Sacre has bulldozed his way into a starting spot for the Lakers. ... Portland continued its good play with a technical-filled road win over Portland State. ... This headline might be a little off. I would have written "defensively deficient BYU can't handle UMass."
• EWU: It doesn't matter what the thermometer says if you win, right? What? That's stupid. It was cold in Cheney. Sure, the Eagles dominated the second half and won 41-17 to advance to the third round of the NCAA FCS playoffs. But it still was a chore, as John Blanchette documents in this column. Jim Allen has the game story and a notebook while Colin Mulvany adds a picture story. ... The EWU basketball team takes to the road in an attempt to continue its hot start, facing an undefeated St. Mary's team.
• Idaho: Think the Vandals were a little ticked afterward? Yes they were. Josh Wright has more on the defeat in this blog post.
• Whitworth: The Pirates are no longer ranked. So they began the process of getting back into the national spotlight with a win over UC Santa Cruz.
• Preps: Greg Lee got to write state title stories on two football games yesterday: Freeman's 31-13 1A victory (pictured) over Mount Baker and Lind-Ritzville/Sprague's 7-0 win over Morton-White Pass in the 2B title matchup. But the game of the day had to be Chiawana scoring twice in the final minute, including on the final play, to defeat Camas 27-26. ... There were also quite a few basketball games Saturday, so we have a girls and a boys roundup. ... NC's Kai Wilmont won a national cross country title yesterday in Portland.
• Seahawks: There is something so familiar about the Seahawks this season. Art Thiel thinks it is because they remind us of the Terminator. No, that's not it. I'll figure it out some day. ... Jon Ryan kicks the football so darn high and the Hawks' coverage guys are so darn good, Seattle could set a record this season. ... The Russell Wilson MVP talk is still around.
• Mariners: Now we all know the M's front office is dysfunctional. I just don't think we knew how much. Geoff Baker explains in this story. Beware, it's pretty graphic in a this-team-really-stinks kind of way. ... Yes, the M's still have some work to get done. The process should speed up at this week's Winter Meetings.
• Sounders: Kansas City scored a late goal to tie, then won the MLS title in a shootout over Real Salt Lake. I know it is what it is, but it still seems odd to decide a league title with the equivalent of a free-throw contest or a home run derby.
• That's it for now. Let's all get back together here tomorrow and mull over the Seahawks' game and the Cougars' bowl fate, OK? Until then ...