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Sunday, November 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: No matter where we gather, Saturdays and Sundays are for watching football

Washington State Cougars wide receiver Brandon Arconado (19) brings down a touchdown pass against the Colorado Buffaloes during the second half of a college football game on Saturday, October 19, 2019, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. WSU won the game 41-10. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State Cougars wide receiver Brandon Arconado (19) brings down a touchdown pass against the Colorado Buffaloes during the second half of a college football game on Saturday, October 19, 2019, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. WSU won the game 41-10. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Got any plans this afternoon? What’s that? The same thing you did yesterday all day? Watching football? Good, good. See you there.

•••••••

• OK, watching football on TV is really not a communal thing at most times. Sure, people host rites occasionally, bars have a revival each week and there is that big service held in the stadium, but much football watching is done relatively alone in the living room, remote in hand, kids held at bay.

Though, just that act, repeated thousands of times in each city and small town, is part of a group activity.

Dens of Cougars, pounds of Dawgs, berserk Vandals, soaring Eagles, hungry 12s gather in separate places, immersing themselves in the what so they can answer the why the rest of the week.

It will happen again this afternoon, as the Seahawks host Baltimore in a game more about the who and the where than it is about the when. It’s all about the return of former Seahawk star safety Earl Thomas.

That will be the sermon throughout the telecast and what the 12s will be discussing tomorrow in the office. At least that’s what it looks like now. Who knows, though. All that could take a backburner to the game itself.

An incredibly athletic play. A hard-to-understand flag. An injury. Pro football games revolve around such things.

Ask any fan and they’ll tell you that’s why they watch. But we all know it’s not exactly true. It’s habit in some regard. A religious experience in other ways. We do it on Saturdays, indulge more on Sundays.

Fall weekends are made for it.

• Watching the Cougars (and Huskies and Trojans and others) yesterday, I once again realized three factors can affect how a fan enjoys a game.

In the stadium there is the weather. When it is cold and rainy, as it was yesterday in Pullman and Seattle, it can make the stadium experience miserable, no matter what’s happening on the field. In the living room, it’s the folks calling the game. If they are competent, intelligent and articulate, it can lift the experience quite a bit.

And for both, the scoreboard plays a big part. Your team is winning, life is good. It’s not, then why the (bleepity bleeping bleep) not? And why are we even (bleepity bleeping bleep) watching?

•••

WSU: I’m not sure but watching at home it seemed the rain slowed the players on both teams a bit yesterday. No one looked to be as fast as they usually look on a dry track. But no matter. For Cougar fans, the right team won. Theo Lawson analyzes why that happened, tells us who the difference makers were, passes along the news of another coaching staff change, traces the roots of Anthony Gordon and Brandon Arconado’s relationship and takes a bunch of photographs. Wait, that last one is the province of Tyler Tjomsland. He’s the guy that got soaked. … John Blanchette stayed dry and used his dry wit to explain Max Borghi’s contributions. … Dan Thompson also chipped in with stories about two defensive backs, Marcus Strong and Gonzaga Prep grad Armani Marsh, who made his first start at nickel. … The guys in the office put together a recap with highlights, something worth staying up with during the game. … Finally, some guy sat at home and passed along his thoughts on the TV-watching experience. Oh, that would be me. … The folks in Colorado have their thoughts on the game, another in a recent series of Buffalo losses. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Washington broke out to a two-touchdown lead and then, well, Oregon rallied on the road and won the rivalry game going away. It was a gut punch for the injury-plagued Huskies and basically clinched the North for the undefeated-in-conference Ducks. … Oregon State went on the road, scored late and held off California, which was down to its third-string quarterback. … Arizona State has been Utah's nemesis recently but not Saturday. The Utes dominated on both sides and won 21-3 behind Zack Moss' record-setting day. … USC's depleted defense took Khalil Tate out of the game and ran away from Arizona in the Coliseum. The Trojans control their fate in the South after the win.

Gonzaga: The Zags got together with top-ranked Michigan State in Denver for a “secret” scrimmage. It wasn’t too secret. Jim Meehan has a lot about what happened, including how the Bulldogs, even without Killian Tillie, dominated inside. The result would seem to bode well for GU.

Idaho: The Vandals have a Big Sky win to hang their hat on, after dominating Idaho State 45-21 in the Kibbie Dome. Peter Harriman was there and has this game story. … Around the Big Sky, Sacramento State blew out Montana in California, handing the Griz their first conference loss. … Weber State ran over, literally, visiting Northern Arizona. … UC Davis handled host Southern Utah. … Portland State handed Northern Colorado another home loss. … North Dakota defeated Cal Poly.

Whitworth: After scoring points in bushels the past couple games, the Pirates had to battle George Fox for every yard Saturday. They did, and won enough for a 19-14 Northwest Conference win at the Pine Bowl. Ryan Collingwood has the story and Dan Pelle a photo gallery.

Chiefs: Spokane bounced back from Friday night’s loss with a 5-2 win Saturday at Prince George.

Powerlifting: A Valley woman is a world championship medalist. That and more highlight our weekly local sports briefs.

Seahawks: Yes, Thomas is back in town. But the Hawks should be more worried about their safety situation, considering the injuries.

Sounders: You like a high-scoring match? You got one in the first round of the MLS playoffs as Seattle edged FC Dallas 4-3 on Jordan Morris' third goal of the contest. … The Sounders will meet Real Salt Lake in the second round after it defeated Portland 2-1 in Utah.

•••       

• There is something to be said for standing in front of a window, a half-full coffee cup in hand, watching the rain pour down on all the autumn leaves. It’s as good excuse as any for not raking. I had a friend text from sunny Southern California and ask if I could send some of the wet weather my ways so he could avoid his chores. Sorry. Not possible. I did, however, think of him as I crunched down in the Laz-e-Boy watched another football game. Until later …

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