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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The Cougars are the word in the Palouse right now

WSU receiver Dom Williams (80) slips an Arizona State tackle and runs for a touchdown during the second half of a Pac-12 college football game on Saturday, Nov 7, 2015, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. WSU won the game 38-24. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
WSU receiver Dom Williams (80) slips an Arizona State tackle and runs for a touchdown during the second half of a Pac-12 college football game on Saturday, Nov 7, 2015, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. WSU won the game 38-24. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • There was a word used in the Washington State game broadcast yesterday that hasn’t been heard in Pullman for a while. And, no, we aren’t talking about referee Mark Duddy’s use of “inadvertently.” Read on.

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• We will leave the examination of “inadvertently” to John Blanchette, who does a wonderful job of delving into the significance of Duddy’s announcement in the first half Saturday. We, on the other hand, want to dig into another one: resilient. Yep, the Cougars are resilient. Now that’s not something that has been said about them often in the past decade. This group has suffered one of the most embarrassing losses in school history. No matter. This group was behind with just minutes to go in New Jersey. Big deal. This group lost to one of the nation’s best team when it looked to all the world they were going to win on a last-second field goal. So what. This group just doesn’t give a darn. Lose your left tackle, your best offensive lineman, prior to facing the Pac-12’s leading sack defense? This group soldiers on. Lose your best inside receiver to a lower-leg injury midway through Saturday’s game? The next man up is pretty good himself. That’s the way it is in the Palouse, circa 2015, the way it was back in the early years of this century. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, Washington State’s football team will give it a battle. Now those are some interesting words. And they probably don’t go far enough. Not only will these Cougars battle, this group likely as not will win the game. They have six of the last eight times they have taken the field, with only close losses to the Bay Area schools marring the record. The offense can be slowed, as Arizona State did early, but it can’t be stopped – three consecutive drives in the second half Saturday each covered more than 73 yards, two of them over 90. The defense can be gashed at times – ASU led 14-0 after less than 6 minutes had been played – but it usually figures out a way to get off the field – of ASU’s final 11 times it had the ball, it scored 10 points, with the touchdown coming only after a 27-yard pass on a fake punt. Even the special teams have gotten better, giving the offense and the defense better field position to work with. So welcome to the new normal in Pullman right now. A resilient team, a resilient fan base – the Dad’s Weekend crowd was something to behold – and, in a few weeks, a bowl game.

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• WSU: Where to start? OK, we’ll start with Jacob Thorpe’s game story on the 38-24 victory. He also has a notebook that leads with the fifth-down play. Then, after the game, Jacob posted videos of postgame interviews with Jamal Morrow, Parker Henry, Luke Falk, Gabe Marks, Mike Leach and others. ... Want to know what went on yesterday in the Pac-12? Catch up with Jacob’s morning post, which has a lot of conference links. ... Tyler Tjomsland has a photo gallery for you as well. ... There is the scoring summary in the paper as well as the postgame notes and statistics from WSU. ... Leach made fun of the signal-stealing brouhaha from earlier in the week. ... ESPN.com’s Pac-12 blog has a summary of the win and what it means. ... Is WSU the best college football team in the Northwest right now?

• Gonzaga: The Zags breezed in their exhibition opener vs. Eastern Oregon, 90-58, but that wasn’t the big news out of the Kennel. Domantas Sabonis came down hard after a rebound and had to leave the game. Jim Meehan has more in this game story. ... The women’s soccer team lost 3-2 to No. 15 Santa Clara.

• EWU: The Eagles have lived on the edge this season often. Yesterday in Cheney they fell over it, losing 52-30 to Northern Arizona. Jim Allen has the game story and a notebook, which documents Eastern’s third-down trouble on defense. ... Jesse Tinsley was also in Cheney and has this photo gallery. ... Around the rest of the Big Sky, Portland State was upset at Northern Colorado while Southern Utah remained unbeaten in conference play with a win at Montana State. ... Weber State had little trouble with UC Davis.

• Idaho: The Vandals led 24-0 in the first half yesterday but couldn’t hold the lead, falling 52-45 at South Alabama. Sean Kramer has more in this blog post. ... The Vandal volleyball team picked up a crucial Big Sky victory over Eastern Washington.

• Whitworth: The Pirates started slowly but came on in the second half and defeated host Willamette 20-16. ... The men’s soccer team captured the NWC title with a 3-1 win over Whitman.

• Chiefs: Spokane’s long road trip ended Saturday night on a high note: An 8-1 win over the Tri-City Americans. ... Everett got past Vancouver 3-2. ... Host Portland lost to Kelowna.

• Preps: There has never been a cross country program in the state of Washington as successful as the current North Central one. The Indians won their state-record 10th consecutive state title yesterday in Pasco. Greg Lee has the story. ... Greg also has coverage of the 4A race and a story detailing the smaller school results. ... There are results available of the boys and girls races. ... We also can pass along a roundup of other prep action.

• Seahawks: The results for the rest of the season may be determined by the play of the offensive line. ... The countdown of the Seahawks’ best continues.

• Sounders: The Sounders’ season will be determined today in Dallas, during the second leg of their MLS playoff series.

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• The Cougars are headed to the Rose Bowl. Wait, that’s right, but not how it sounds. They are headed to the Rose Bowl to play UCLA next week, not to play in the Granddaddy of Them All. By the way, if you read just one story today, make sure it’s this one about the guy who invented that term. Until later ...



Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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