A GRIP ON SPORTS • And so it begins. And ends. This is the weekend when we really begin to see the transition from college football season – there are rivalry games and such in the penultimate week of the regular season – and college hoop – there are tournaments galore. What does that mean to us? We must schedule our time wisely.
• At least the TV Watching Schedule in the Sky was nice enough to hand us a gift this evening. Even if Washington State’s final home game of the season – see, transition – will necessitate a nap sometime today. The game kicks at 7:40 p.m. or so on FS1, which means a 10:30 or later finish.
Now we understand, having been young a few days ourselves, that won’t be a problem for many of you. But those of us who rise before dawn, whether for work – hey, that’s us – or other nefarious deeds, might need a mid-day break to last into the time when the bars really get going.
At least there will be more free time to watch … well, what exactly?
In the unofficial most-trusted ranking system in America – this column – we have Saturday’s top events rated this way …
5. Washington State vs. Mississippi State in some basketball tournament in Connecticut (9 a.m., ESPN2). After all, if the Cougars are playing before noon, don’t you think folks in the Inland Northwest should at least support them with their eyes? GameDay will be over, we’ll know the flag flew (again) and, really, the best football game on at the time is ninth-ranked Louisville at Miami (ABC). Unless Maryland does something silly against No. 2 Michigan (Fox).
4. California at Stanford football (3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). The schools’ bands in attendance? Then “The Big Game” is worth watching. The football? Not so much.
3. Seattle Kraken at Vancouver Canucks (7:30 p.m., Root): It’s a rivalry game, darn it. And we’ll keep saying that until it becomes one.
2. UCLA at USC (12:30 p.m., ABC): OK, we have some bias here. We once broke our parents’ couch jumping on it after UCLA scored on a trick play in the Coliseum. Our behind still holds the memory, deeply, of how our dad reacted to that. But it’s the last time these two schools will meet as Pac-12 members and it’s more than likely the final college game for Caleb Williams, who will be playing quarterback in Seattle next season. (You have your Shohei Ohtani-to-the-Mariners dreams, we have this one. Both are, sorry to burst your bubble, equally plausible.)
1. No. 5 Washington at No. 10 Oregon State (4:30 p.m., ABC): The best football game of the weekend, by far. Can the underdog Huskies – yep, the public has its money on OSU – preserve their undefeated record so the Cougars can pull the biggest Apple Cup upset ever in the final one? Or will it be the other Pac-2 member with the – think a one-loss Pac-12 team is getting in the playoffs in its final season over a one-loss Alabama or Georgia or Florida State? – destruction of a huge chunk of that money the departing 10 want so badly? It’s can’t miss TV.
• But it’s also only Saturday. Sunday means the NFL. The RedZone. Cleveland at Pittsburgh (10 a.m., CBS). The Seahawks at the L.A. Rams (1:25 p.m., CBS).
Enough? Sure. There is no need to watch Russell Wilson pick apart the Vikings during NBC’s night game.
However, being basketball tournaments are getting a jump on Thanksgiving week, we counted a dozen games Sunday either on one of the ESPN channels or the Pac-12 Networks. That doesn’t even include whatever the SEC or Big Ten or ACC networks have available. Or streaming, which is how you can watch Gonzaga’s women against Wyoming on Saturday (2 p.m.), or Washington State’s at Prairie View A&M on Sunday (6 p.m.), or even the Idaho men in Hawaii (7 p.m.). ESPN+ is the place to be for such contests.
Overload? Maybe. But that’s how this weekend is going to be.
WSU: Before we get to looking at tonight’s matchup in Pullman, we must pass along the news the Washington State Supreme Court on Thursday granted a temporary stay of Judge Gary Libey’s decision. The Court will decide whether or not to grant an emergency stay that would delay implementation until an appeal can be heard. James Hanlon has more in this story and there is other coverage available as well. … Also, Greg Woods ran down some of the reports out there concerning a Pac-2/Mountain West scheduling deal in the works. … Now to tonight’s game. Greg has a preview, as Washington State and Colorado both need to win to keep any bowl hopes alive. He also has his reasons why the Buffs will end WSU’s as well as the keys for the Cougars to prove him wrong. … On the Colorado side, the Buffs are also trying to end a long losing streak. Tonight seems the right time to do it. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, we can pass along Jon Wilner’s picks again, this time in the S-R. And we have those of John Canzano, who believes the Cougars will win. … Wilner has his Pac-12 coaching hot-seat rankings in the Mercury News. … As we mentioned above. Oregon State is favored at home. Good for the Beavers. Or bad for them. Washington has a chip on its shoulder that could help, if only a little. … We expect just about anything from Arizona State when it hosts Oregon. After all, the Sun Devils don’t have the Ducks’ talent. But they do have nothing to lose. … The Big Game features a current California quarterback ascending and a former one taking the field as Stanford’s head coach. … We focused on the L.A. game above. … Utah is where Arizona wants to be. It will take a while. … In basketball news, Oregon meets Tennessee State today. … Belmont is not your typical mid-major opponent for Arizona. … Colorado still has the right guy in charge. … Utah rallied in the second half to get past Wake Forest. … Washington really needs a win. … The Stanford women rolled by 54 points. … Oregon also picked up a victory. … Arizona State lost for the first time.
Gonzaga: For transfer point guard Ryan Nembhard to fit in seamlessly with the Zags, Nolan Hickman would have to be on board. He was. Theo Lawson goes step-by-step through the process of last year’s No. 1 point giving his blessing and time to this year’s. … The meat of the nonconference schedule for the GU men begins Monday in Hawaii. Jim Meehan runs is all down once again. … For the first time ever, Gonzaga’s women’s soccer team will play a second-round NCAA tourney match. The opponent? UC Irvine, who upset No. 1 seed UCLA in the opening round. Justin Reed has a preview of today’s battle in Lincoln, Neb. We will not be nonpartisan in this one.
EWU: For five years Nick Kokich has been the Eagles’ punter. For those five years he has shown a competitive spirit unmatched by many punters. Dan Thompson takes some time to relay Kokich’s accomplishments in this story. It also serves as a preview of Saturday’s Senior Day game against Northern Arizona. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, it doesn’t matter who you root for. The Brawl is a different sort of rivalry. … Montana State has a lot it wants to get done Saturday and beyond. … A Weber State defender has been at his best when the Wildcats needed him to be. … The Causeway Classic between UC Davis and Sacramento State is always fun. … In basketball, Montana lost to North Dakota State. … Northern Colorado is headed to Mexico to play. … Weber State has three opportunities for big wins in its tournament. … The Idaho State women defeated UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday. … Montana State is hitting the road for a while.
Idaho: The Vandals program has risen from the depths to the heights during Hayden Hatten’s career in Moscow. And that’s what the senior wide receiver values most, not the individual numbers. Colton Clark outlines both in this story. … Idaho State doesn’t intend to go quietly in the Kibbie Dome.
Whitworth: Five years in, Pirate safety Atticus Templeton will be making his playoff debut Saturday when Whitworth hosts Chapman in the NCAA Division III first round. Ethan Myers tells us what that means to Templeton.
Preps: It’s fall State tournament time, with soccer and volleyball deciding champions this weekend. West Valley will put its undefeated record on the line this afternoon in Tacoma in the 2A tournament. That’s part of Justin Reed’s preview of GSL semifinal participants, which includes Gonzaga Prep in the 4A. … Madison McCord does the same with volleyball, with the GSL sending three 3A teams (Mead, Mt. Spokane and Ferris) and a 4A school (G-Prep) to this weekend’s championships.
Seahawks: Do the Hawks pass the ball too much? Pete Carroll seems to think so. And he wants better balance. Which means, what, 50 passes against the Rams? … Cooper Kupp is in a slump. Expect Sean McVay to get him going Sunday. … Long snappers are the most under-appreciated folks in sports. … Julian Love has been playing well, though he’s been playing less. … Zach Charbonnet should be a truck driver after he retires.
Mariners: Yes, Ohtani was a unanimous choice for the A.L. MVP. But we’re interested in the rule changes instituted before last season. And those being contemplated for the next one. Baseball never knows when to quit while it’s ahead, does it?
• We’re not a big fan of most sideline reporters, mainly because they are usually so under-valued by the broadcasts as to be nearly invisible. And then this happens. It will be hard to take any reports all that seriously in the future. … In another high-profile matter, we’re passing along this column on Michigan and the Big Ten just because we enjoyed it. Until later …