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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: This weekend features crimson, purple, blue, maize, heck every color of the rainbow

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Of all the rock and roll songs we listened to (and enjoyed) as a youngster, Steely Dan’s “Black Friday” made the least sense. The lyrics defied interpretation. We just chalked it up to the dangers of doing drugs and moved on. After all, the tune was cool.


• We know the group was not referring to the sacred day of shopping we all have experienced after Thanksgiving. Nope. The song reaches farther back in time to the stock market crash or some such disaster. Wall Street and music? Seems out of place. But, again, the tune was cool. As will be today’s sporting schedule. And the schedule for the rest of the holiday weekend.

It starts today, of course. There are a dozen college football games, including a Pac-12 rivalry, Arizona State at Arizona (noon, FS1) and a California battle (UCLA at Cal, 1:30, Fox 28).

There is almost as many high-profile college basketball games – including Gonzaga facing its biggest challenge of the season, Zach Edey, and the Purdue Boilermakers (8:30 p.m., ESPN). The 7-foot-4 center is more mobile than one would think and as tall as a grain elevator.

The Cougars are also playing today, hosting Dick Vitale’s old school, Detroit Mercy, at 1 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks).

But football and basketball are always a staple on this day. What’s unusual, highly unusual, is the presence of a World Cup match featuring the United States. And our former home country, England. That’s on Fox, kicking off sometime after 11 a.m.

But that’s just the appetizer to our feast. College basketball pauses somewhat Saturday as the last week of football’s regular season takes over. There are rivalry games galore, including the no-name one from Oregon (12:30 p.m., ABC). We sort of feel everyone in the Corvallis stands should be wearing those Animal House sweatshirts that proclaimed “College” on the front for this one.

In Pullman, the Apple Cup is anything but generic. The 7:30 p.m. kickoff (ESPN) should feature cold, maybe some frozen precipitation and a lot of animosity. Plus more than a few scores.

Nationally, the best game will be the first one, with No. 3 Michigan at No. 2 Ohio State (9 a.m. Fox 28). The two undefeated rivals are playing for a berth in the Big Ten title game but in actuality it’s an elimination game in the CFP race – if everyone else involved in that sweepstakes keeps winning. Late losses can be killers if your school isn’t in the SEC.

Sunday is the NFL day, of course. Though this weekend college basketball will do its best to butt in.

The Seahawks host the Raiders, a game that meant something back in the 1980s. In the 2020s? Maybe not so much for Al Davis’ legacy franchise, but the Hawks need to keep winning to stay tied with the 49ers in the NFC West.

Throughout the weekend the World Cup rolls on, the Seattle Kraken play a couple of road hockey games (at Las Vegas tonight and at Anaheim on Sunday) broadcast by Root.

It’s a weekend so packed there will be something black after all. The circles under our eyes from the lack of sleep.

• Gonzaga’s 102-78 victory over a Portland State team that tries to be disruptive on defense was a turning point of sorts for the Zags. This has been a season marked by too many turnovers and inconsistent offense.

Those close relatives didn’t seem to make the trip to Portland for the PK Legacy tournament. The Bulldogs only gave the ball away 11 times against the Vikings. And they torched PSU with 24 assists, a ratio that even Mark Few found acceptable.

But the rest of the weekend will feature tougher tests, starting with 24th-ranked (and undefeated) Purdue tonight.


WSU: Where would the Cougars be this year if not for a couple of Gonzaga prep graduates on defense? Certainly not sitting at 7-4 heading into the Apple Cup. Colton Clark looks at the contributions of Armani Marsh and Sam Lockett III for Washington State as well as their relationship with another former Bullpup, Devin Culp. … Jacob Thorpe sees this game as the first of a new chapter in Apple Cup history. For a lot of reasons. … This rivalry is statewide, that’s for sure. And a lifetime thing, as Kip Hill’s story this morning shows. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college football, we linked Jon Wilner’s picks yesterday. Today they ran in the S-R. … He also has a look at the weekend games ahead. … We also linked yesterday this Larry Stone column on the Apple Cup which runs in the S-R today. … The Ducks need Bo Nix healthy if they want to defeat host Oregon State. … One Colorado assistant has survived many different coaching changes. … Utah has a lot to be thankful for. … Stanford hosts BYU in the Cougars last season as an independent. … Caleb Williams can polish his Heisman campaign with a USC win over Notre Dame. … UCLA has to win at California to end the regular season on a positive note. … A Territorial Cup win can help in-state recruiting. … If Arizona loses, will the year seem like a failure? Arizona State feels locked in to that feeling. … In basketball news, Washington defeated Saint Mary’s 68-64 in overtime to win the Wooden Legacy tournament. … A beat-up Oregon team got blown out by No. 20 Connecticut. … Oregon State got beat-up on the boards but stayed with No. 8 Duke until the end. … No. 22 Tennessee proved to be too much for USC in overtime. … Stanford fell to Mississippi.

Gonzaga: Jim Meehan had the honors last night covering the GU win over Portland State. … Theo Lawson took care of everything else, with the difference makers in that game, a look ahead to tonight’s matchup with Purdue and a notebook, which should be of interest to WSU fans. … Jesse Tinsley has this photo gallery from Portland. … The Bulldog women will host Eastern Washington on Saturday afternoon. Jim Allen has a preview of what could be a tight contest. … Elsewhere in the WCC, Portland hung with top-ranked North Carolina until the final minute. … BYU lost again in the Bahamas.

Idaho: The Vandals are in the FCS playoffs for the first time in decades. And are playing on Thanksgiving weekend. Peter Harriman has this look at their new experience. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, a Montana player has a legacy to live up to. … UC Davis should still be playing. … In basketball news, assists have helped this Montana player stand out. … A new starter is standing out for Montana State as well.

Preps: Gene Blankenship has coached cross country for decades. Won State team titles. But it wasn’t until last weekend the Medical Lake coach had an individual winner. Keenan Gray has this piece on Reid Headrick’s victory and what it meant to both of them.

Seahawks: At one time the Hawks and the Raiders had an intense rivalry.

World Cup: The U.S. faces off with England this morning. The English team is one of the favorites. The United States’ team isn’t.


• We’re through here. See you tomorrow. If we wake up from our leftover food coma. Or our watching-too-much sports coma. Until later …