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Tuesday, October 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: Washington State rolls, Eastern and Idaho get rolled as college football begins another season

Washington State Cougars quarterback Anthony Gordon (18) smiles while holding the game ball handed to him by backup quarterback Trey Tinsley (10) after the second half of a college football game on Saturday, August 31, 2019, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. WSU won the game 58-7. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State Cougars quarterback Anthony Gordon (18) smiles while holding the game ball handed to him by backup quarterback Trey Tinsley (10) after the second half of a college football game on Saturday, August 31, 2019, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. WSU won the game 58-7. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We feared it wouldn’t be an opening day of close games for Inland Northwest college football teams and our fears were realized. But who cared, really? College football was back.

•••••••

• There was pageantry. There was face painting. There was flag waving. There were marching bands.

There were long passes, short ones, long runs, turnovers, penalties and missed calls. In other words, it was a typical Saturday in the fall, albeit in the late summer.

Heck, there was even a big disappointment in Texas for a Pac-12 team, though we didn’t see the end of it. As we said, a typical Saturday in the fall, albeit in the late summer.

Washington State took an overmatched New Mexico State team to the woodshed in Anthony Gordon’s debut as a starter. Eastern Washington found out this edition of Washington Huskies was fully engaged and, really, just much better. Idaho? It was just out of its league, and element, against Penn State. But, hey, the athletic department can cash a check for more than a million dollars.

And for those of us who were only able to watch the first half of Oregon’s game in Dallas against Auburn (Washington State duty called), the Ducks looked really good. On the flip side, watching the final few minutes of USC’s win in the Coliseum over Fresno State showed the Trojans probably aren’t going to be that much better this season.

Such is the state of western football this season. Some teams from the region posted big upsets, but they actually play in the Mountain West. The Pac-12? After the first full week, it looks as if the conference may have have to rely on Washington if it wants to be included in the national playoff picture.

• What is it about the targeting rule that even replay booths have trouble with? If you watched Stanford’s tough win over Northwestern, you saw Cardinal quarterback K.J. Costello get knocked out late in the first half. Literally, I think. The culprit was a forearm to the head and neck area as he was sliding to the ground. A penalty was called, but it was just for a late hit, not targeting.

Anyone watching, including Fox analysts Brock Huard and Dean Blandino, the former Pac-12 head of officiating, knew it was targeting. But it wasn’t called, not even after review.

Huard asked why at halftime. He was told the contact was “incidental.” A blow that knocked a player out was “incidental?” I wonder what the Big Ten crew doing the game considered physical enough to warrant a penalty? A punch to the jaw? Wait, that was what the hit actually was, using the forearm. Guess that’s OK.

•••

WSU: Let’s get to it. Theo Lawson leads our coverage, as always, with his analysis of the game action. He also puts together his difference makers. … John Blanchette was back and in Pullman for the game. He has his thoughts on what took place and its significance. … We watched this one from home, though this season we are not focused mainly on the TV coverage – or we would have bemoaned the many times WSU was called “the Huskies” by Pac-12 analyst Chad Brown. (Honestly, isn’t that really embarrassing to the conference?) We have three thoughts on the game, published as it ended. … Dan Thompson was also at the game and has stories on Gordon’s hot start, Rodrick Fisher’s first touchdown catch and Max Borghi’s 100-yard game. … As always, Tyler Tjomsland was there with his camera (or cameras) and has this photo gallery. … The guys in the office put together a thorough recap of the game, which includes the live blog they do for each Cougar contest. … We also can pass along coverage from the Las Cruces newspaper, which includes a story on the Cougars' new baseball coach. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, it was a day of lost chances (and lost players) for the conference. … Washington, and new quarterback Jacob Eason, looked sharp in the 47-14 win over Eastern Washington. The new-look defense looked like the old defense. … Oregon had a chance to give the Pac-12 a big win and the Ducks looked up to the task. Until the fourth quarter. Auburn scored 21 unanswered points and won 27-21. … USC looked anything but solid in all phases and also lost its starting quarterback. Still, the Trojans held on for a 31-23 win over Fresno State. … California fell behind early but came back to top UC Davis 27-13. … We have the coverage of Stanford's win over Northwestern above. … Colorado is happy with its season-opening win but has more turnovers to bake. … Arizona has to fix many things. … So does UCLA.

EWU: The Eagles may still end up as one of the better FCS teams, but they were unable to shock one of the nation’s best FBS teams this time around. Ryan Collingwood was in Seattle and he has the game coverage as well as a notebook. For stories on the home team, see the WSU section above. … Around the Big Sky, Montana picked up a win at South Dakota. … Montana State lost at Texas Tech. … Weber State's defense played well but the Wildcats lost 6-0 to San Diego State. … Cal Poly rolled over the University of San Diego. … Portland State traveled to Arkansas and came close, losing 20-13.

Idaho: We watched a little bit of Penn State's 79-7 win and the difference in speed and size was evident immediately. We can pass along this freelance story from this morning's S-R.

Shock: Yes, we are going to be able to have a section entitled “Shock” again. The indoor football team is set to be resurrected in the Indoor Football League. Jim Meehan has all the particulars in this story.

Indians: The North Division playoffs are set, with the two teams playing last night in Pasco meeting later this week. In a tune up, Tri-City defeated Spokane 8-7. … Around the Northwest League, Eugene lost to Salem-Keizer. … Everett defeated Vancouver.

Seahawks: On most days the news the Hawks are acquiring Jadeveon Clowney  from Houston would be the lead story. We did get a mention of it in yesterday’s column, but there is so much more available today in the way of reaction. Will his presence change the defense? Did the Hawks fleece Houston? Will we ever quit with the questions? … Yesterday was cut day and the Hawks kept one quarterback. You know who. Obviously, there will be an addition before the opener.

Mariners: The M's bullpen did well Saturday. Until the ninth inning. The Rangers walked off with the victory. … Kyle Seager is on fire. How does that impact his future?

Sounders: Next up for Seattle? The Los Angeles Galaxy.

•••       

• We didn’t get a nap yesterday. There was a reason. We somehow had a squirrel trapped in our fireplace. Not just one, but two. And they were in no hurry to leave. I googled “humane ways to get a squirrel out of a fireplace,” left the doors open, cleared a path, put out food, stayed away for hours and still nothing. Finally, one of them cleared out, but the other was still in the corner of the room when we came upstairs after five hours. Kim and I chased her out. By then it was 80 degrees inside and it was time for dinner. After closing the doors and windows, I walked around, counting 18 flies in residence. I did not google “humane ways to get flies out of a house.” I knew how to take care of that problem. It’s about the only hunting I’ve ever done. Until later …

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