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A Grip on Sports: Cougars’ win is one of the most normal things that happened in the Pac-12 on Saturday

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Die Seahawks liegen mit 0:7 zurück. And we’re watching. While writing this morning’s column. Just call me Mr. Multitasker.

•••••••

• Football should be popular in Germany. It is a game, after all, of dominating your opponent and land acquisition. Which is why it should come as no surprise the Hawks game with Tampa has filled to overflowing the stadium in Munich. Why the Bucs are dominating the line of scrimmage early, that’s harder to understand.

But let’s forget about that a moment and focus on Saturday.

The day of chaos. At least in the Pac-12.

Not in Pullman, unless you are referring to Washington State’s second-half offense. Though chaos is not the word that comes to mind first. Stagnant is better. Undermanned. Injured. Unproductive.

Enough.

Yes, it was. The 28 points Washington State scored in the first half – Nakia Watson accounted for three of the four touchdowns – held up because the Cougars have their best defense in years. One that can make a lead stand up. Not allow the dreaded term – you know the one – to come into play.

Sure, Arizona State scored three second half touchdowns. Should have been within seven at the end. But WSU came up big on three two-point conversion attempts and the margin finished 28-18.

With it comes the reward. Another bowl appearance. Seven consecutive non-COVID seasons. Enough to open Jon Wilner’s eyes, that’s for sure.

“But the Cougars maximize their resources as well as any team in the conference — and far better than most,” he wrote this morning. “Their streak of seven consecutive bowl appearances covers three coaching tenures (Mike Leach, Nick Rolovich and Jake Dickert) and reflects administrative alignment of the highest order. President Kirk Schulz not only understands major college football but values the impact winning can have on the campus at large.”

It was an understanding shared by Schulz’s predecessor, Elson S. Floyd, as well. It’s been expensive, but the Cougars are reaping the benefits. Yesterday, that meant finding a way to win over Arizona State with their B- game.

• If you are wondering, the Bucs are winning 14-0. There are 120 seconds left in the first half. It is hard to watch.

• The Pac-12’s chances of playing in the CFP is down to one egg in the basket. And it’s one of the eggs that turned rotten last summer. But, for now, every athletic director in need of a million dollars or so is rooting for USC to defeat UCLA, Notre Dame, whomever they play in the title game and then hope.

Oregon killed themselves with a mental mistake late, then got hosed by a typical Pac-12 officiating call – “hey, I couldn’t see if the receiver was knocked out of bounds, so I’ll assume he wasn’t and throw a flag that kills any chance of Oregon tying the game” – that isn’t reviewable, and lost a game it should have won.

But that wasn’t even in the same bowl with UCLA, who lost at home to an Arizona team that wasn’t able to stop California’s impotent offense for goodness’ sake. The Duck loss was at least understandable – Washington is 8-2, ranked and it’s a rivalry game. The Bruins? It’s a defeat that can’t be explained rationally. And it not only ruined their season, but devalues the result next week against USC, no matter the outcome.

•••

WSU: The Cougars’ victory made them bowl eligible, sure, but it came at a price. They were already playing without their starting left tackle (and will be the rest of the season). Then they lost another starting offensive lineman to injury. Colton Clark covered those events as well as the game itself and the difference makers. … Jacob Thorpe has his thoughts on the game with this column and we had our thoughts on the broadcast with the TV Take. … The folks in the office took care of the recap with highlights. … James Snook has this photo gallery. … The Arizona State perspective is available as well. … The basketball team traveled to Boise State and lost 71-61. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college football, Wilner has his perspective on the chaotic Saturday. … The Washington 37-34 win was an upset, sure, but the Huskies have showed the ability behind Micheal Penix Jr.  to score on most anyone. The DucksBo Nix looked flustered for the first time since the Georgia loss. And the Huskies caused it. … Yes, Arizona is improved. Jayden de Laura has played a big part in that. But the Wildcats’ defense has been sieve-like and the Bruins didn’t dominate it as they should have in a 34-28 loss. … Oregon State dominated California on both sides of the ball in a 38-10 victory. The Beavers have cemented their spot in the conference’s upper middle class. … Stanford and Cal have one thing left. They play each other. The Cardinal were boat-raced once again, this time by Utah. The Utes scored 42 consecutive points in the 42-7 victory. … In basketball news, Colorado faces Tennessee, which will be a challenge.

Gonzaga: Theo Lawson has a last look at the one-point victory over Michigan State. … The women showed their outside prowess in a rout of Southern Utah. Jim Allen was in the Kennel and has this game story. … Elsewhere in the WCC, the BYU women are struggling.

EWU: This is a lost season for the Eagles and not even a chance to challenge Montana in Missoula could change that. The Griz dominated Eastern 63-7. Dan Thompson has the game story. … Dan has a notebook as well. … We also wanted to share this basketball story from Friday. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Weber State dominated Idaho State. … Montana State ran over Cal Poly. … Northern Colorado upset Northern Arizona in Greeley 21-20.

Idaho: It was senior night in Moscow, But UC Davis ruined it with a dominating 44-26 victory. Peter Harriman has the story.

Whitworth: The Pirates’ season ended with a 28-14 loss to George Fox. John Blanchette was at the Pine Bowl and has this story.

Preps: The football playoffs roll on with Gonzaga Prep rolling past Kamiakin 40-27. Dave Nichols has the coverage. … Dave has a roundup of the rest of Saturday’s football as well as one on State soccer and volleyball.

Chiefs: The losing streak is over. Spokane handled Tri-City 7-3 at the Arena. Kevin Dudley has the coverage.

Seahawks: Yes, Seattle has a German player on their roster. He couldn’t play this week though.

•••       

• It doesn’t look as if the Hawks are going to win this week. They aren’t getting much in the way of breaks and they are not helping themselves either. The third quarter is done and they trail 14-3. Until later …

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