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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: The week ahead will be impacted by how successful the Seahawks are today in Philadelphia

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson huddles with teammates against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Seattle. (Stephen Brashear / AP)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson huddles with teammates against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Seattle. (Stephen Brashear / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • When the work week begins each Monday morning, many of us judge how it’s going to go based upon how our sports teams have fared in the past 48 hours or so. What with the Seahawks playing an NFL playoff game this afternoon, tomorrow should fit that pattern perfectly. God help the bosses out there if the Hawks lose in Philadelphia.


• Think Monday will be productive in New England? No chance. Every high-tech worker in Boston will be doing their full-on Garfield imitation. Their beloved Pats went down to defeat last night, done in by Tennessee, Derek Henry and old age.

Plus, could you believe how those darn Titans manipulated the rulebook? Who would ever do that?

(For my part, Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel is my new hero. Just saying. Goose, gander and all that.)

But at least Patriot fans have about 700 Super Bowl titles to fall back on, one of those courtesy of this region’s team. Those Seahawks, still viable a half-decade after winning their lone crown, limp into Philly tonight hoping to figure out a way to win another wild-card contest.

And to think, gain another six inches a week ago and they are still healing up and enjoying their bye.

Instead, the Eagles will try to go all Apollo Creed in front of a national television audience.

What’s going to happen? Are you kidding? I’ve seen every Seahawk game this season and I still have no clue how they are going to play. Literally. So I will refrain from making predictions, other than to say cheesesteaks are on the menu tonight.

Tomorrow? It will be either sadness or joy. Those are the only two alternatives.

• Last week the Gonzaga Bulldogs received all but two first-place votes in the Associated Press basketball poll. This week I’m guessing Duke and Kansas will pull in a few more.

It’s not that the Dookies have been exceptionally better. Nope. It’s all about the Zags’ results. Did you know they played two WCC also-rans and failed to cover in either? Oh the horror.

Actually, for once the national narrative about Spokane’s team may be right. The Bulldogs are not playing at the top of their game right now. Couple that with the beginning of conference play – a different animal for everyone – and the results have been, well, underwhelming.

No team takes a linear path from the beginning of the season to the end. There are always highs and lows.

We’ve gotten spoiled a bit. The Zags’ highs and their lows are never really too bad. A double-digit win on the road. A closer than it should have been win at home. Those are their lows right now. That’s not the end of the world.

• There have been some recent seasons in which winning a Pac-12 game was an iffy proposition for the Washington State Cougars. Which probably explains the sense of relief in Pullman yesterday when WSU figured out a way to pull out an overtime win against UCLA, arguably the conference’s worst team thus far.

Kyle Smith isn’t going to be shut out in his first season.

But it’s more than that, actually. It’s not just the victory, it’s the circumstances. No team in the Conference of (Olympic) Champions has been decimated more by injuries. If it gets any worse, the Cougars’ newest addition to Beasley isn’t going to be another beer garden, it’s going to be an urgent care facility.

And yet here they are, 1-1 in conference play after their first weekend. It’s almost as if they are going to, you know, fight and compete and scratch and claw and defend or something.

How novel.

For that alone, Smith should earn a couple coach of the year votes. It’s been a while since we’ve seen such things in Pullman. They are appreciated.


Gonzaga: There are reasons why the Zags barely won last night in McCarthey against a sub-.500 Pepperdine team, but not excuses. Jim Meehan examines them and weighs their import in this game analysis. … John Blanchette looks at one key reason in his column. … Tyler Tjomsland caught every big moment, including Killian Tillie’s late block, and put them in this photo gallery. … We had our TV Take. … The folks in the office put together the recap with highlights. … Justin Reed contributed a story on Jalen Sugg’s commitment. … The women turned up the defense and dominated San Diego on the road. … Elsewhere in the WCC, don’t look now, but BYU is rolling. The Cougars rolled over Loyola Marymount by 25. … The game of the night, however, was in Stockton, where Pacific upset Saint Mary’s in four overtimes.

WSU: Not only did Theo Lawson have the game story from the overtime win over UCLA, he also added a short story on some revenge for a couple of Washington State players. … Around the Pac-12, the biggest surprise from Saturday came in Tucson. Not that Arizona won over rival Arizona State, but the way it happened. The Wildcats steamrolled the Sun Devils. … Utah may be young but it’s still pretty good. Just not good enough to defeat Oregon. … Colorado will try to get past Oregon State, something it couldn’t do last season. … Washington should be a bot angry going into today’s matchup with visiting USC. … There is football news. … Who is the next Oregon quarterback?

EWU: It’s kind of a big deal. Want to know who is considered the best FCS football player of the decade just past? Yep, it’s Cooper Kupp. … The Eagles held on down the stretch against Portland State at home. But it got tight at the end. Jason Shoot has the game story. … The women lost on the road. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Northern Arizona picked up a win over Weber State. … Sacramento State held off Idaho State. … Northern Colorado defeated visiting Montana. … Montana State struggled in the second half against Southern Utah.

Whitworth: The Pirates made it a 2-0 home weekend in Northwest Conference play, topping Puget Sound in the Fieldhouse. Dan Thompson was there and has this game story.

Preps: School starts back up tomorrow – sorry kids – but basketball hasn’t stopped. We have roundups from GSL girls and GSL boys play as well as games from around the area in boys and girls action.

Seahawks: No matter what happens today, Northwest football fans have been living the dream the past decade. So has Pete Carroll. … Russell Wilson is the franchise these days (though I wouldn’t discount Bobby Wagner). … There are some keys to today’s game.


• Talk about being romantic. Took the wife on a date last night. Yep, we got all dressed up and went to … Costco. Picked up some tissues and Pepto. But that’s not all. Instead of cheapening out and settling for hot dogs and a slice of pizza, I sprung for Panda Express for dinner. No wonder we’ve been happily married for more than 40 years. I’m even thinking of writing a “how-to” book. Until later …

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