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Grip on Sports: Vandals stand up to CSU and blow past Rams in Boise

Idaho wide receiver Jacob Sannon (8) slides across the end zone after scoring a touchdown during the second half of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl NCAA college football game against Colorado State in Boise, Idaho, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016. (Otto Kitsinger / Associated Press)
Idaho wide receiver Jacob Sannon (8) slides across the end zone after scoring a touchdown during the second half of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl NCAA college football game against Colorado State in Boise, Idaho, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016. (Otto Kitsinger / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Twas the night before the night before the night before Christmas and all through Boise, Vandals were stirring. Partying, really. And why the heck not? Their football team had just put up 61 points on Colorado State. It had won the school's first bowl game in seven years. And it all happened on Boise State’s bright blue field. That seems like a winning trifecta worth celebrating. Read on.

••••••••••

• One team seemed ready to play Thursday in Boise. The other team was Colorado State.

The Rams, one of the hottest teams in the nation down the stretch, stumbled and bumbled through the first three quarters. And by then the Famous Potato Bowl was over. Not finished, mind you, there would still be about a half-a-hundred points to score, but over.

Idaho had won by being, at the core of it all, ready to play.

And that’s not a diss. The Vandals wanted to win their bowl game. They wanted to be the more physical team. They wanted to execute in the 25-degree weather.

That’s the sign of a mentally tough football team, something they’ve shown all season.

Well, at least since losing by a combined 115-20 to Washington’s two Pac-12 universities.

Their only losses after those two September wipeouts were to Troy and Appalachian State, two of the more dominating Sun Belt Conference programs. Other than that, Idaho found a way to win.

It might have taken a last-second field goal by Austin Rehkow, as it was against Louisiana-Monroe on the road.

Or it might have been through a defensive stand, as it was against South Alabama at home.

Or it might have been a blowout, as it was against at least three Sun Belt foes – and it was yesterday. No matter what, this edition of the Idaho Vandals has learned how to win.

After the tough last few years, that may be Paul Petrino and his team’s greatest accomplishment.

• One of the major accomplishments during Idaho’s 61-50 win over Colorado State last night was just staying on your feet. For both teams.

And the Vandals seemed to do it better than the Rams.

For that, the equipment folks should be given a game ball.

Idaho looked better prepared for the conditions, which is a tribute to the guys who get them ready, from the coaches to the equipment staff.

Boise’s blue turf looks impressive on television but last night it didn’t yield much in the way of footing. At times players would be making a cut, or trying to stop on the sidelines or celebrating and, boom, they would disappear.

Their feet would slide out from under them and down they would go.

But where Idaho seemed to have an advantage was when the Vandals were making cuts. They seemed to have more confidence in their footing and attacked more. It made a difference.

•••

WSU: The footing should be better in San Diego and I can guarantee the weather will be when the Cougars make their bowl appearance on Tuesday night. Jacob Thorpe is already in California and has this look at Minnesota’s quarterback. … Around the Pac-12 in football, Washington may just have to pull out all the stops to get past Alabama. … A former Oregon assistant has found a new job. Meanwhile, the Ducks left behind will be fighting for playing time. … A new Arizona assistant is already showing his recruiting chops. … Colorado didn’t have to use many freshmen this season. … In hoops, Washington won its third consecutive game. … Utah was surprised by San Francisco in Hawaii. … USC stayed undefeated. … The Sun Devils let fly from beyond the arc again and won another game. … Finally, Oregon State has a new athletic director and many of us around here remember him from his Eastern days.

Gonzaga: The women played an afternoon game yesterday against Colgate – no toothpaste jokes allowed on this space – and brushed the Raiders aside – sorry, couldn’t resist. Jim Allen has the game story. There are also lots of photos. … Around the WCC, Saint Mary’s finished up non-conference play with a 74-47 home win over South Carolina State. The 19th-ranked Gaels are 10-1. … Portland lost in overtime at Cal State Fullerton. … San Francisco picked up the big win over Utah in Hawaii and Santa Clara defeated Valparaiso on the road in double overtime. … BYU won at home by 10 over Cal State Bakersfield.

EWU: The Eagles finished up a three-game road trip by jumping all over Colorado early. But they couldn’t sustain the momentum and ultimately lost, 76-68. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Portland State picked up an easy win at home.

Idaho: We double-covered the Famous Potato Bowl with Josh Wright doing the game story, Greg Lee reaching into his past for a sidebar on Deon Watson Jr., and Josh and Greg combining on a notebook. There is also this story from a Colorado State point of view. … The men's basketball team was at Stanford last night and came close to an upset before falling, 86-80.

Preps: Once again we can pass along roundups of girls and boys games around the area from last night.

Seahawks: Was Richard Sherman punished for this sideline escapade? Pete Carroll isn’t saying. … Garry Gilliam is once again the starting right tackle.

Mariners: Things are looking up for Edgar Martinez and his Hall of Fame hopes, though he probably still won’t make it this year.

Sounders: The MLS Cup champions aren't standing pat. The Sounders went out and got a young midfielder who has lots of potential.

•••

• It has come to my attention that Christmas is Sunday. I am shocked, shocked, I tell you. Guess I better run to Rite-Aid or Home Depot and get Kim a special gift. Candlesticks are always nice, right? Until later …

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