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A Grip on Sports: Whether you are planning to camp out in front of the TV or in the actual outdoors, your day should be packed

Gonzaga University students set up tents in the rain as they participate in the GU Kennel Club Tent City event, Friday, Nov. 12, 2021 in Spokane. Students camp out for the night prior to the Zags playing Texas on Saturday night.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Gonzaga University students set up tents in the rain as they participate in the GU Kennel Club Tent City event, Friday, Nov. 12, 2021 in Spokane. Students camp out for the night prior to the Zags playing Texas on Saturday night. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It’s not often one weekend in mid-November features a top-five college basketball showdown. And two in two nights, as is the case tonight, is extremely rare. Throw in a highly anticipated football showdown between the Northwest’s best college teams and this Saturday is boiling over.

•••••••

• With the recent weather, it’s hard to say anything in the area is on fire. But we figured you add a lot of heat to the recent rain and the boiling metaphor was apt. Of course, feel free to disagree.

Disagreeing with the idea of a packed weekend, however, would just fly in the face of the facts.

Yesterday included Washington State’s men topping visiting Seattle University, the women doing the same with Northern Arizona, Idaho’s men earning their first victory in the new arena and, on the other side of the ledger, Eastern dropping a game at UC Davis.

Outside the Northwest, and outside the usual parameters of good sleep habits, second-ranked UCLA rallied past fourth-ranked Villanova in overtime late last night in what was the best matchup of the just-starting hoops season.

And that’s just the college sports.

It’s high school football playoff time in Washington and more than a few area schools moved on.

There is more on tap tonight. If football is your bailiwick – and it is for most – then the Cougars’ biennial trip to Eugene has to be high on your list. Not only do the Ducks hold the Pac-12’s lone chance for a national title (you can insert your odds of that happening here) but they also are ranked high enough to qualify a WSU win as an epic upset. And everyone loves those, right?

While that is playing out in front of the Oregon faithful, Gonzaga will be trying to show the top basketball ranking really does belong in Spokane. Fifth-ranked Texas, under new coach Chris Beard, is a good team to prove such a point.

Beard, previously at Texas Tech, is well respected. His teams play hard. As the Zags know, they are tough to crack on the defensive end. The Longhorns have mined the transfer portal for experienced players and the hope in Austin is they will mesh quickly.

The Bulldogs have been trying to knit together this year’s squad as well. There have already been some setbacks – Mark Few had to sit out the first three games (two exhibitions, one real one) due to his DUI – off the court and one not-overly-impressive showing on – Tuesday’s victory over Dixie State.

Before all that happens, though, there are the usual Saturday events, which is embellished with more high school playoff events in a couple sports.

As we look at the schedule, we’re perplexed. Between the Eastern showdown at UC Davis and the Sounders’ opening MLS playoff match, when will we find time to sneak in a nap? Or rake up another couple bags of late-falling leaves?

November may not be the most accommodating month weather-wise but it sure seems to be happy to supply more than its share of sports thrills.

•••

Gonzaga: When the fifth-ranked team in the nation visits the Kennel, the S-R always throws resources at the game. Wait, it hasn’t happened before, has it? Well our thesis is correct then, because there is a ton of stuff to get through this morning. We start with Jim Meehan’s story on Texas native Drew Timme, the only Zag who probably understands the Longhorns’ place in the state’s hierarchy. … Theo Lawson takes care of the overall preview of the contest as well as the key matchup. The latter features two players who have known each other since childhood. … Despite yesterday’s rain, the students’ tent city expanded. Garrett Cabeza has that story. … The Zag cross country teams set some school records in Friday’s West Regional. Chuck Stewart has the coverage. … Around the WCC, the Cougars shot poorly but BYU was able to get past visiting San Diego State.

WSU: With four wins in five games, Washington State has pulled itself back into the Pac-12 North race. All the while dealing with a coaching change. The third-ranked Ducks? A speed bump, right? Maybe not. But as Colton Clark tells us, the Cougars are ready for the Mt. Hood-sized challenge. … Colton also has his two-minute drill and his pick (we disagree on the outcome). … Oregon is coming off a hard-fought win at Washington and will face a ranked Utah team next week. Can the Ducks stifle the WSU offense? … Colton spoke with the Oregonian about the game. … On the basketball court last night, the Cougars didn’t put away Seattle U until the second half. But they did it. Colton was at Beasley and has this game story. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college football, there is another CFP expansion plan floating around and this one is better for the conference. Jon Wilner examines it in the Mercury News. … Washington will have an interim coach today as it hosts Arizona State. But will there be another change at the top before the Huskies play again? … Stanford might have to turn to a true freshman quarterback against Oregon State. The Beavers have turned to a new defensive coordinator. … Karl Dorrell and Colorado travel to the Rose Bowl to play UCLA. It’s been a while since Dorrell was the Bruins’ coach. … Utah doesn’t have a bye this week but the Utes have the next-best thing: A home game with Arizona. The Wildcats are beat up too. … In basketball news, UCLA’s win over Villanova is big for the Bruins and the conference. The Pauley experience was a little off last night, though. … Both Gach has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season with Utah. … USC is trying to play a tougher nonconference schedule. … Arizona scored more than 100 points in an easy win over UT Rio Grande Valley. … New Mexico will test the Colorado defense. … Oregon routed SMU. … Host Iowa State defeated Oregon State.

EWU: It doesn’t seem all that long ago when the Eagles seemed destined to earn a top four seed in the FCS playoffs. They still might, but they have to win today at UC Davis and end their two-game losing streak. Dan Thompson has this preview. … The basketball team beat their football brethren into Davis but couldn’t pick up a win. … Around the Big Sky, Weber State hopes to give Southern Utah a conference-parting gift: a defeat. … Montana travels to Northern Arizona and its Walkup Skydome. … Portland State is on the road at Sacramento State.

Idaho: The Vandals have two games left but today’s at third-ranked Montana State is their last chance to post a significant upset against a highly ranked team. Peter Harriman has a preview. … Peter also covered last night’s 95-85 win over Division III George Fox, the Vandals first in the ICCU Arena.

Whitworth: The Pirates’ first game on their Midwestern adventure ended up as their first loss of the season. Fifth-ranked Wisconsin-Platteville rolled past the 19th-ranked Whits, 90-69.

Preps: The 4A State football playoffs kicked off at Gonzaga Prep last night. The Bullpups hosted Moses Lake and rolled, posting a 56-7 win to move on. Dave Nichols was there and has this game story. So was Colin Mulvany, who has this photo gallery. … Kevin Dudley covered Lakeside’s 42-0 win over visiting Omak in the 1A playoffs. … Dave returns with a roundup of the football action as well as one that covers the other sports, including volleyball, where Oakesdale won another 1B title. 

Chiefs: Spokane’s COVID-19 issues have caused the postponement of more games. And a trip north of the border.

Seahawks: Russell Wilson is back. Can he lead the Hawks back from the playoff abyss? … Dave Krieg did it once. And he remembers how. … Dee Eskridge is also back but Chris Carson won’t be playing.

Kraken: So who is to blame for the slow start?

•••       

• We will be back here tonight with our TV Take from the Gonzaga game. With ESPN in town, I’m expecting a high-level production. And we’re looking forward to Fran Fraschilla’s thoughts on the Zags and Longhorns. Until then …

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