A GRIP ON SPORTS • Where were we? Oh, sure. Sitting around without a couple of pieces of mesh polymer in our body. That’s not the case anymore. We’re still on the injured list but off the unable-to-perform one, so we have a Friday column for you. You know, the one that looks toward the weekend.
• What’s on tap? If you are like us, and are pretty well confided to your house, be thankful there is plenty of sporting events to fill your free time. Even today.
We will be working the season opener for the Gonzaga men, putting together a TV Take from Yale’s visit to the Kennel (6 p.m. PST, KHQ, or Root if you’re outside the Spokane area).
Just because the visitors are from the Ivy League – synonymous with the Supreme Court more than the basketball court – don’t discount their chances. The Bulldogs from Connecticut won 21 games last season, played in the NIT, return a strong core and routed Vasser in this season’s opener. Just because the 11th-ranked Bulldogs, Spokane variety, are favored by a dozen points, this isn’t one of GU’s easiest home openers.
The best college hoop game of the night (and probably the weekend)? That would be Tommy Lloyd’s 12th-ranked Arizona squad traveling to play at No. 2 Duke – or what next year Stanford will call “a conference game.” The Wildcats’ Caleb Love returns to Cameron Indoor Stadium, no longer wearing Carolina Blue but still the enemy in a game that tips at 4 (ESPN2).
College hoops pretty much cedes Saturdays this time of year to its football counterparts – smart – but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a lot of up-and-down action. Heck, when No. 6 Oregon hosts USC tomorrow night (7:30, Fox), more points will be scored than when their basketball teams meet this season. In fact, that might make a great prop bet – though you would have to wait a while to cash the ticket.
Most of the better matchups happen in the daytime, though, including a couple local Big Sky events on ESPN+ starting at noon. Eastern Washington is at Montana State and Idaho travels to Weber State. And the Cougars, trying to snap a losing streak that dates back to September, visits California, which also won last in – checks notes – September. That game starts at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.
Nationally, though, most folks are interested in 10th-ranked Ole Miss at No. 1 Georgia (4 p.m., ESPN) and Saturday’s kickoff battle, No. 2 Michigan at No. 9 Penn State (9 a.m., Fox). There is also No. 4 Florida State hosting Miami (12:30, ABC) and, in our section of the wilderness, 13th-ranked Utah trying to stay alive in the Pac-12 race at No. 5 Washington (12:30, Fox).
• Sunday includes a smattering of women’s college hoops, including Gonzaga’s home opener against Toledo (noon, SWX). But that day is all about the NFL, right?
The 5-3 Seahawks host 4-5 Washington – we still like The Football Team better than the Commanders – in a 1:25 p.m. kick on Fox. But there is a 10 a.m. game that also impacts Seattle’s place in the league hierarchy. San Francisco (5-3), which last won on our birthday (Oct. 8), will try to snap its three-game losing streak at a 6-2 Jaguar team that has won five consecutive times.
We’re guessing Kyle Shanahan has promised his squad a trip to a Waffle House if they come away with the victory. After all, it’s what you do in Jacksonville.
• If that isn’t enough for you this weekend, we’re sorry. But we can point out the Kraken are hosting Edmonton on Saturday night (7, Root).
More importantly, though, Seattle’s OL Reign will face Gotham FC in San Diego for the NWSL title a couple hours earlier on CBS. It is the Reign’s third appearance in the title match but they are still looking for their first championship.
Talk about storybook endings. It will be Megan Rapinoe’s final match. Her last stand. If this were the Super Bowl, we’re pretty sure there is no way the Reign would lose. Right, Jerome Bettis?
WSU: We have some thoughts about our inability to easily access the 24th-ranked Cougars’ exciting – it seemed – win over Gonzaga last night, but it would involve getting angry about women’s basketball’s second-class treatment and we’re not supposed to get mad right now. Instead, we’ll point out two great teams played a great game in Pullman, won by Washington State 77-72 in overtime, and Greg Lee has a great story. … We also have more coverage to pass along. … As we mentioned above, the Cougs travel to Berkeley this weekend, where cornerback Jamorri Colson should have no trouble finding good Japanese food. If you are wondering why we wrote that, read Greg Wood’s feature on the Georgia import. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, we’re getting down to the wire concerning the governance of the conference going forward. Jon Wilner delved into the court documents from next week’s hearing and, lo and behold, the departing 10 (as voiced by UW) are worried WSU and OSU will do to them what they plan to do to the Pac-2. Interesting. … There is also an expensive lawsuit hanging over the Pac-12. … Jon has his power rankings and his picks for this week’s games. … So does John Canzano, Christian Caple and, nationally, Bruce Feldman. … Devin Culp left Gonzaga Prep, it seems, a decade ago. It’s only been half that but the Washington tight end has grown up a lot in that time. He will be important against Utah, which is making its last stand. … Oregon has to figure out how different USC’s defense will be this week. The Trojans have to figure out how to stop the Ducks. Advantage UO. … Oregon State will offer a different type of challenge to the improving Stanford defense. … The Buffaloes will host Arizona in their senior day. … A Marine captain continues to serve at UCLA. … Arizona State is, like the Bruins, dealing with quarterback injuries. … The L.A. schools have, combined, the makings of one national title team and won winless squad. … In basketball news, Wilner has his Pac-12 power rankings in the Mercury News. … Washington is glad two of its players left Kentucky, that’s for sure. … Colorado welcomes in Grambling in a rematch from a loss last season. … Utah has been missing something. But not this season. … USC may have everything it needs to win the conference, as it showed again last night. … As we said above, tonight’s game for Arizona in Durham, N.C. is special as it may usher in a new era of home-and-home series. … Good news for California. A Texas Tech transfer has been granted eligibility. … Oregon would like some good news. … The women’s basketball this season is something special.
Gonzaga: As we said above, tonight’s opener isn’t easy. It’s a theme Jim Meehan echoes in this preview of the game with Yale. … Jim also picks out the key matchup, though there were many choices from which to choose, as the Bulldogs return four double-digit scorers from last season. … Benny G? OK. Theo Lawson hosts this podcast with Ben Gregg called the “Benny G Show.” You can listen here. … We can pass along a preview of tonight’s game from Yale as well. … How will the loss of EWU transfer Steele Venters impact the Bulldogs? … Both cross country teams head to regionals this week with a good shot at making the NCAA championship. Justin Reed has a preview.
EWU: Matt Brown has always stood out. Eastern’s defensive tackle stood out as a youth football player. As a high school player. And, recently, as a force up front for the Eagles. Dan Thompson explains how Brown has emerged. … Former Eastern basketball player Kim Aiken Jr. is facing felony charges as part of a hazing prosecution among New Mexico State players. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Portland State has revamped its goals as it hosts Montana. … The matchup between Idaho State and UC Davis features a father/son battle. … Northern Colorado has a colorful new quarterback. … Weber State bids adieu to its seniors. … Sacramento State needs to win against Cal Poly to keep its postseason hopes alive. … UNC won again last night in hoops. … The Idaho State women opened with a win.
Whitworth: How big is Saturday’s showdown at Linfield in Northwest Conference football history? Well, there is this line in Ethan Myer’s preview: “… This weekend’s matchup will mark the first time in NWC history that two unbeaten teams will meet in the final regular-season game.” Ya, it’s that big.
Idaho: The Vandal women have been successful on the road this season. They’ll have to win one more soccer match away from Moscow if they want to continue their season. The venue? Gonzaga’s pitch, where Saturday’s NCAA tournament match will be played. Peter Harriman has this preview.
Preps: It’s a big weekend in high school volleyball, too. Oakesdale has already won another 1B title, its third consecutive one and seventh in the past eight years. … District championships were decided last night and Madison McCord has this roundup, leading off with Mead defeating Mt. Spokane for the 3A title. … It’s a big weekend of playoff football as well. Dave Nichols has a preview.
Seahawks: Halfway through the season – sort of, being the NFL is playing an odd-number of games now – we can offer grades and predictions. … What do the Hawks mean when they say they want to help Geno Smith? … Leonard Williams didn’t have to come to Seattle.
Kraken: Seattle won, thanks once again to a late goal from Oliver Bjorkstrand.
• Our mind wandered some today as we put this column together. Pain meds? We sure hope so. If it was just because we’ve lost interest, we would be worried. Until later …