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Wednesday, February 26, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: With no Seahawks game today, Saturday’s college football action will have to do

Washington State Cougars linebacker Jahad Woods (13) brings down Stanford Cardinal quarterback Davis Mills (15) during the second half of a college football game on Saturday, November 16, 2019, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State Cougars linebacker Jahad Woods (13) brings down Stanford Cardinal quarterback Davis Mills (15) during the second half of a college football game on Saturday, November 16, 2019, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We’re going to keep this simple and short, because we know you want to settle in early today for the Seahawks’ game. Wait, the Seahawks aren’t playing? They’re off? Why didn’t anyone tell me? Just kidding. Well, we’re still going to keep it short. Mainly due to how many subjects from Saturday we have to cover.

•••••••

• The only alarm needed yesterday in Pullman was of the smoke variety. The Cougar offense was on fire.

Funny, though. It was. And Anthony Gordon was. And yet I’m sure even Mike Leach will agree Gordon left a mile of yardage on the field. A guy throws for more than 500 yards and he wasn’t perfect? Yep. That’s how badly the Stanford Cardinal defense played.

You know how Leach says that, in his scheme, there is someone open on every play? He was right yesterday. And thanks to the Pac-12 Network yesterday showing us wide shots often, we could see them. Gordon, on the other hand, didn’t always, especially early.

Maybe he was as shocked as we were. Luckily, the Cardinal decided not to exert much in the way pressure. They let the senior stand in the pocket, survey the field and find the open receiver. That defensive scheme didn’t work, mainly because the three guys Stanford sent toward Gordon rarely got past the offensive line.

In the second half the Cardinal more often sent a fourth rusher, usually late. It forced Gordon to make a decision. He did. It was to hit the open guy.

• I’m going to make a guess. An educated guess. No matter what happens Saturday against Oregon State, Max Borghi will not be in the interview room after the game.

Not after he guaranteed a Cougar victory next week while talking to the media last night. You think Leach is happy about it? Ah, no.

Max, it’s your coach’s job to say things that rile folks up. Not you. But, hey, thanks. Couldn’t you, however, waited a week? It’s been a long time since anyone has injected that sort of trash talk into Apple Cup week. Where it belongs.

• Montana plays Montana State. Weber State plays Idaho State. Sacramento State plays UC Davis. It will be a great finish next Saturday for the Big Sky Conference.

If the three teams listed first in each sentence above win, the conference football race will finish in a three-way tie. A true three-way tie. Montana’s one loss will have been to Sacramento State. Weber State’s one loss will have been to Montana. Sacramento State’s one loss will have been to Weber State.

Perfect symmetry. And a perfect formula for the conference only earning three berths in the FCS playoffs.

In that scenario, Eastern Washington would more than likely finish fourth – if it can get past Portland State. However, the conference might be better served if the Bobcats win the rivalry game with Montana. That would give the conference title to Weber, drop UM into a tie for third with Montana State and EWU and more than likely push a fourth team – MSU – into the playoffs.

We, however, are dreaming of a three-way standoff at the top. It just seems right.

•••

WSU: There was a lot happening in Pullman yesterday. First off, the game started at a pretty great time, about 1:40 p.m., allowing an entire night of rest and relaxation – for those of us who watched on TV (hence our TV Take). For those folks in the Palouse, at least you arrived home, wherever home may be, at a decent hour. Theo Lawson is one of you but before he left Martin Stadium he wrote a game analysis, decided on the difference makers, noted Jahad Woods' 100th tackle of the season and covered the news Gordon set a WSU single-season record for touchdown passes. … John Blanchette headed back up U.S. 195 after writing his column. … Dan Thompson did as well, but before he left town he wrote stories on Borghi’s guarantee, the kicking woes and the changes in the defensive starting lineup. … Tyler Tjomsland has the all-important photo gallery. … The office crew, with an assist from Dan, put together a recap with highlights. … There is also coverage of the game from the Bay Area. … Finally, Theo has a story on the newest basketball recruit, the first signee for 2020. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, the contenders remained contenders. … Oregon clinched the Pac-12 North with its easy win over Arizona in Eugene. The Wildcats did not score a touchdown. The Ducks struggled in the kicking game. … Utah kept pace with other CFP contenders by blowing out seemingly improved UCLA in Salt Lake City. The Bruins seemed to lie down after falling behind early. … There was no Pac-12 late-night drama, as USC rolled over California. The Trojans lost a player due to targeting, the Bears lost a few to injuries, including Chase Garbers, who had just returned to his quarterback duties. … Oregon State picked up a home win when Arizona State went for two with a little more than a minute left, trailing 35-34. In hindsight, it seems an odd decision. The Beavers need one more win to go bowling. … In basketball news, No. 20 Washington was upset by Tennessee. … No. 25 Colorado defeated San Diego in Boulder. … USC dominated Steve Alford and Nevada in Reno.

Gonzaga: Jim Meehan flew home from Texas. En route, I’m guessing due to personal experience, he wrote his recap of the Texas A&M win.

EWU: A couple of surprises emerged from San Luis Obispo yesterday. One was the Eagles had to sweat out a late missed field goal to get past Cal Poly, which isn’t one of the conference’s better teams. The other? Ryan Collingwood was there to chronicle it. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Montana rolled over Weber State in the Missoula matchup of teams ranked in the top 5. Both should still make the FCS playoffs. … Montana State traveled to California and ruined UC Davis' hopes of a berth, winning convincingly. … Idaho State lost at BYU. … Northern Arizona came close, and set a record, but still couldn't pick up a road win, losing at Southern Utah. … In basketball, Montana State won on a halfcourt buzzer beater. … Montana lost at Arkansas. … Idaho State announced its signing class which includes a Moses Lake player with deep Spokane ties, Kyle Karstetter.

Idaho: The Vandals faced a tough task against Sacramento State and they were never up to it, falling behind 24-0 at the half. They ended up losing 31-7. Peter Harriman has the game story.

Whitworth: The Pirates picked up a road football win, rallying past Pacific in Oregon. They also picked up a home basketball win, pounding 15th-ranked St. Thomas in the Fieldhouse.

Preps: There won’t be a GSL 4A school in the State football semifinals, as Gonzaga Prep got run over Saturday by Graham-Kapowsin. It's part of this roundup. … We also have roundups of volleyball and soccer action.

Chiefs: The road has been kind to Spokane this season, for whatever reason. The Chiefs won again away from the Arena, defeating Tri-City 4-3 last night.

Bowling: Our local briefs for the week begin with some bowling news.  

Seahawks: What is there to do without football? No, not today for us fans. For the players. … Russell Wislon, MVP. Will it happen?

•••       

• Our really old dog – Yogi is either 16 or 17; we adopted him 15 years ago even though the pound folks didn’t know at the time if he was one or two – tossed and turned last night. Turns out his stomach was bothering him. He feels better now. He climbed from his bed, followed me into my study and, en route, left a present on the hall carpet outside. I’m not sure if it was just because he is, you know, really ancient or if it was a commentary on my writing skills. I like to think it’s the latter. It keeps me humble. And allows him to serve as a surrogate for all of my faithful followers. All seven of them. Until later …

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