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Grip on Sports: The Cougars’ good season should continue at the Holiday Bowl

Tue., Dec. 27, 2016, 7:13 a.m.

A GRIP ON SPORTS • The Washington State Cougars finish their 2016 football season today just as it started. Well, it should be sunny and relatively warm in San Diego this afternoon when the Holiday Bowl kicks off, but more than likely that’s the only thing Cougar fans would like to be similar to that September day 12 games ago. Read on.

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• Honestly, though, it’s been another good season for the Cougars, no matter how today’s matchup with Minnesota turns out. Yes, the regular season was bookended with a couple games no self-respecting WSU fan would call “good.” Two of them on each end, actually.

But dig a little deeper here.

Washington State has four losses. Those came against teams with a combined record of 43-8 right now. That’s an .843 winning percentage. In other words, teams that beat the Cougars this season didn’t lose to many schools.

And how about the schools that made up WSU’s eight wins?

That’s a bit of a different story.

Only Idaho (9-4) and Stanford (9-3) had winning records. The other six combined to go 25-47 this season. Which means, what, exactly?

My thought is Washington State beats the teams it is supposed to beat. The Cougars find a way to win those type of games.

(As an aside, don’t point to Eastern as a game they should have won. Yes, EWU is an FCS school. One of the four best, actually. And the top FCS schools are better than the middle of the road FBS schools like, this year, Iowa, Northwestern and Virginia. It was an upset, probably the only one the Cougars suffered this season, but not as big a one as some national pundits would have you believe.)

Which brings us to Minnesota. The Golden Gophers are 8-4, finished in the upper tier in the Big Ten and were undefeated in non-conference play.

But they also lost to the only three really good teams they played, almost lost at home to one of the nation’s worst teams (Rutgers) and lost 10 players recently to a well-documented suspension imbroglio.

Which makes me confident the Cougars will win. Maybe not by the 10 points they are favored, but they will win. They will hoist the Holiday Bowl trophy. They will bask in the glow of back-to-back bowl wins.

And then their fans can start the Luke Falk Watch.

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WSU: Speaking of Falk, Jacob Thorpe keeps us up-to-date on yesterday’s comments from Mike Leach about his junior quarterback, his return and those players who bail on bowl games. Of course, Jacob also has an advance of today’s game, his pick – he had WSU winning big – and his keys to a Cougar win. … Tyler Tjomsland is also in San Diego and has these photographs of Monday’s activities. Kickoff is at 4 this afternoon on ESPN. … There are a few stories in the Times from Stefanie Loh as well, including one on Falk and another Riley Sorenson piece. … Around the Pac-12 in football, the Huskies have a tough task ahead with Alabama but Chris Petersen wants them to enjoy the ride. … Colorado stayed relatively healthy this season and that helped. … Utah has lost a defensive player for its bowl game. … The teams playing in the Rose Bowl have both rebounded from being in the NCAA’s jail. … The conference basketball season begins Wednesday with a showdown between two of the best teams. … Others, such as Utah, will have a say in the final standings.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs remained seventh in the Associated Press poll but moved up a spot in the coaches’ rankings.

Preps: We can pass along the Tacoma News Tribune’s state rankings for girls and boys.

Seahawks: The theme right now is the Hawks are showing their football age. The window seems to be closing on this group, from an offense that has yet to get its act together to an inconsistent defense. And then there are the injuries. There have been some awful injuries.

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• If you are in San Diego, good for you. Just so you know, it snowed and snowed and snowed last night. You avoided that. But you can avoid the postgame call-in show after the Cougar game tonight. I’ll be on with Derek Deis, who just happens to be in Southern California. Through the magic of technology and stuff, we’ll take you calls as if we were sitting together. You can listen on the Cougar radio stations on this side of the state as well as on the WSU Gameday app or the TuneIn Radio app. Until then …



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