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Monday, November 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: Is there any way to get Fridays off this time of year? After all, the sports weekend has started already

Gonzaga Prep running back Jaden Ortega (25) runs the ball against Ferris during a GSL high school football game, Thurs., Oct. 17, 2019, at Joe Albi Stadium. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga Prep running back Jaden Ortega (25) runs the ball against Ferris during a GSL high school football game, Thurs., Oct. 17, 2019, at Joe Albi Stadium. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • So much to do. Flu shot, rake leaves, check when daylight savings ends, buy candy, plan the weekend. Fall Fridays. Love them.

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• Did you know there is a college basketball game tonight? Really. Villanova, a recent national champion, is flying west to play USC in an exhibition game. The proceeds will go towards the California Fire Foundation, a non-profit whose needs, sadly, are always great.

But nothing sad about being able to watch college hoops so early in the year. (It’s on the Pac-12 Network starting at 8 p.m. if you are interested.)

Of course there is also college football on, including an Ohio State game. And high school football is all the rage, as it is every October Friday.

There is also a chance this could be the final game of the season for the Yankees, which is a good thing.

• It’s all prelude, however, to the weekend.

It begins with the best rivalry in the Northwest … OK, I know it’s a good way to get beat up in Pullman, but there seems to be as much bad blood between 25th-ranked UW and No. 12 Oregon as there is between the Dawgs and WSU.

Actually, though, Saturday begins with GameDay and the flag waving, so there is that. Afterward come the games, with the Cougars hosting Colorado for Homecoming. It’s a 4 p.m. game, which is decent, and it should feature a whole Noah’s Ark full of points. We all know about the Cougar defense and the problems there, but the Buffs play less pass D than anyone in the Pac-12.

By the time WSU is passing 30 points, Idaho should be finishing up with its in-state rival, Idaho State in the Kibbie Dome. For once the Bengals should have a chance, as the program continues to rise in the eastern part of the state.

Besides the game in Seattle, the best contests include two other ranked Pac-12 teams, No. 13 Utah and 17th-ranked Arizona State, and two ranked Big Ten schools, Michigan (ranked 16th) at Penn State (7th).

• Sunday includes your typical NFL slate of games, with a twist. Earl Thomas, last seen exiting Arizona’s stadium with one finger raised high, returns to Seattle with his new team, the Baltimore Ravens.

It’s a game the Hawks need to win to stay within shouting distance of undefeated San Francisco – who would have thought? – while the Ravens are no less desperate to keep their beak above the rest of the mediocre AFC Central.

It should be fun.

• Sometimes there is too much to watch. Such was the case last evening, as the Astros were bombing the Bronx Bombers to the edge of extinction. Sure, it’s hard not to watch postseason baseball especially when the team you’ve hated since 1963 is booting the ball around like an MLS squad.

But my sister kept interrupting with texts about UCLA and its surprising game with Stanford (the Bruins ended up winning easily).

And at the same time my kids’ alma mater was on SWX running over the best program in the GSL.

The remote got a workout, that’s for sure.

•••

WSU: My wife watches Hard Knocks religiously every year. It’s all about the relationships, right? So I’m guessing she will be watching next Wednesday when HBO shows its college version’s last episode. It features the Cougars and it should be interesting. If you don’t think so, read Theo Lawson’s story. … The Colorado secondary is really young. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, injuries have taken their toll on the conference’s better players. … There was the one game last night and the result was a surprise. UCLA, whose only win had been that shocker in Pullman, handled Stanford from the get-go and won going away. The Bruins had lost 11 consecutive times to the Cardinal. … The past 25 years in the Oregon and Washington rivalry has been fun, but if the Ducks are going to make a splash nationally this season, it has to start here. … Oregon State travels to California for an early game Saturday. … The offenses at Utah and Arizona State revolve around their quarterbacks. … USC has done a good job in the past of containing Arizona's Khalil Tate. … It's also poll time in college hoops.

Gonzaga: Besides another preseason honor for Killian Tillie, Jim Meehan also has a story on the return of Gary Bell Jr. and what was behind his desire to settle down back in Spokane.

EWU: The Eastern men are the Big Sky coaches’ choice to win the basketball title. Ryan Collingwood has that news.

Idaho: Logan Kendall’s No. 1 job, as a tight end, is to block. Not catch passes, but to spring running backs. As Peter Harriman tells us, he’s good at it.

Preps: Before Dave Nichols traveled north to Albi to cover Ferris’ 34-0 win over Gonzaga Prep, he joined Larry Weir for the most recent Press Box pod. … We have roundups on volleyball, soccer and slowpitch action.

Seahawks: Yes, Earl Thomas is headed back to Seattle. Pete Carroll spoke highly of him. Why not? It wasn’t Thomas’ choice alone to leave. … The Hawks are still doing fine without the safety. … Marcus Peters is also coming back. … The Ravens love to blitz. Russell Wilson loves it when teams blitz.

Sounders: The MLS playoffs begin among some political dissension that is splitting the fan base.

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• There is, according to the Weather Channel’s app, a 100-percent chance of rain tomorrow in Pullman. Nothing like a little wet stuff falling from the sky to put a damper on the Homecoming festivities. Until later …

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