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

A Grip on Sports: There is nothing that can eclipse the drama of a college football Saturday, especially on this day

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Before we get to Saturday’s college football, including hoping to catch a glimpse of GameDay in Seattle, we want to take a quick spin around the sporting world before the sun disappears today. After all, we’re not sure it will ever return. We’re superstitious that way.


• We have a friend who traveled north out of Southern California today to watch this morning’s annular solar eclipse. Good for him. He always was good with science. This English major will take the Shakespearean approach to such things and hide under a flea-infested blanket. Seems safer.

We kid, of course, but weird things will happen. Mark our words. Already has. How else do you explain last night’s happenstances in Boulder? There is no way, on a normal weekend, Stanford rallies from a 29-point halftime deficit. There is no way Colorado blows a four-touchdown lead, then loses, in part because Deion Sanders’ has a unique overtime strategy. Without his head exploding, we mean.

But it happened, though we didn’t witness it. We turned the game off long before Pac-12 After Dark was in full swing – hey, we were tired and have a good book to read. By the way, last night’s 46-43 result is not going to endear Sanders to late night games, is it? It was a total eclipse of the Buffs’ heart.

• Ryan Divish dissects the Mariners’ offseason plans today and guess what? There is no secret formula for getting from Point M, where Seattle is now, to Point A, where the M’s want to be.

It’s about being willing to do what it takes financially to build a roster that can compete until the end. And, we would like to add, not dealing a lockdown closer at the trade deadline.

No secrets, sure. But a lot of guessing if the Seattle ownership has the will to do it. The same way it’s been since, well, forever.

• The Seahawks are in Cincinnati on Sunday. A sneaky tough game. Even the butcher who sold us our sausages at Super One yesterday knows that. And is worried about it.

Should he be? Sure. This is the NFL and this isn’t the 2013 Seahawks, no matter how much they seem to be trying to emulate that formula. Be worried. Be worried each Sunday. It’s good for your soul – if not your blood pressure.

• The biggest game in these parts today – sorry Cougs – is in Moscow. Third-ranked Idaho is hosting 16th-ranked Montana in the FCS game of the day. It’s a rivalry game, with a trophy and everything. It’s the type of game the Vandals hoped they would be playing when they made the correct decision to end their FBS foray a few years ago, becoming the first school to ascend from the FCS ranks and then return.

The Kibbie Dome is sold out, making us wonder how many folks hold tickets to the WSU-Arizona game (a 4 p.m. start) and to the game across the border (a 7:30 p.m. start). If you do, good on ya. It’s smart. Fun. Not once-in-a-lifetime unique but not an everyday occurrence either.

• The most unsurprising prep occurrence last night? Gonzaga Prep clinching the GSL’s top 4A berth.

We’ve lived in Spokane since the dawn of time, or the early-1980s for you younger folks. And in that 40-year span, the Bullpups have been GSL football champions so many times we’ve lost count.

It snows in this town in the winter. There are flowers everywhere in the spring. It gets hotter than blazes in summer. And the Pups win in football each fall. You can count on all four things. Well, sometimes the summers are cool.


WSU: We’ll be sitting in front of our giant LG screen at 4 this afternoon, computer open, notebook at the ready and with one question on our mind. How will the Pac-12 Networks do? OK, we will have one other question. Who will play quarterback for Arizona? That’s the main one, isn’t it? Will it be Jayden de Laura, Washington State’s prodigal son, returned to Pullman with an angry band of Wildcats? Or will he watch, still not completely healthy, as UA redshirt freshman Noah Fifita plays quarterback? Greg Woods has a game preview that includes that question and more in today’s S-R. … Greg also has his keys for the Cougs as well as his pick. He sees WSU winning handily. … We can also pass along a few items from Tucson, as Arizona hopes to move closer to bowl eligibility with an upset. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner has his mailbag in the S-R today. … We delved into the result last night from Boulder above, but there is a lot more, of course. The collapse seems to have caught some folks in Denver by surprise and they weren’t happy with it. The folks in Boulder? They’ve seen such things before and though it seemed as if Buff-ing it, as we’ll tongue-in-cheek label the loss, was a thing of the past, it is not. There is national coverage as well. And in the Bay Area? The Stanford intelligentsia is ecstatic. Those who noticed, of course. … On to today’s games:

• California at No. 16 Utah (noon, Pac-12 Networks): Well, there has to be one uneven game, right? This seems to be it. Which means it will go to overtime or something and feature some of the best action of the weekend. All why we are glued to ABC watching the Huskies score 63 points. Now, if Oregon can score 62 or 64, we’ll be happy.

• No. 8 Oregon at No. 7 Washington (12:30 p.m., ABC): John Canzano delves into the Washington/Oregon rivalry, using the words of the people who lived it. The game in Seattle also garners about as much national attention as a Pac-12 game has since before the pandemic. Heisman candidates. National title contenders. Big guys battling in the trenches. The lake. Clouds. An eclipse. Yep, this one has it all. … The game  has also attracted a lot of recruits to town.

• No. 10 USC at No. 21 Notre Dame (4:30, NBC): Speaking of Heisman contenders, Caleb Williams isn’t one. He’s the defending champ. The frontrunner. The guy who should win again – unless the Trojan defense can’t wrestle the ball away from the Notre Dame offense. Without it, he’s another Steve Sogge (and if you get that USC reference, you’re a super fan – and old). He also has the national stage in the best intercontinental rivalry of them all (sorry Stanford and Duke, you have to wait until at least next year). Let’s see who shines.

• No. 18 UCLA at No. 15 Oregon State (5, KAYU 28): The worst part of today is simple. Outside of the Seattle game, the good stuff is all overlapping. There is no Pac-12 After Dark game. The game in Corvallis should have begun at 7:30. We would have stayed up (maybe) just to watch the defenses throw everything they have at the opposing struggling offenses. No matter what, this should be good.

EWU: The Eagles come off their bye week tanned, rested and ready to travel to Pocatello and face Idaho State. Dan Thompson gets you ready with the things to watch. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, third-ranked Montana State is the next stop on Cal Poly’s march through the wilderness. … Northern Colorado feels the same way as it welcomes fourth-ranked Sacramento State to Greeley. … The winner of the UC Davis at Weber State game will still be alive in the playoff hunt. Not so much for the loser. … Northern Arizona hosts Portland State hoping to keep its momentum going.

Idaho: The Moscow showdown deserves a trophy, sure. It also deserves this preview from Colton Clark, who tells you what to look for. Besides bad blood, of course. … Montana would love to take the Little Brown Stein back to Missoula.

Preps: Dave Nichols was at Gonzaga Prep last night for the Pups’ 4A top-berth clinching 28-0 win over visiting Central Valley. He has this game story. … He also has a roundup of the other Friday night football action. … Ridgeline clinched a 3A playoff berth last night as well, topping district rival University 55-7. Steve Christilaw has the coverage.

Seahawks: The Bengals feature one of the best quarterback-receiver combos in the league with Joe Burrow and JaMarr Chase, both LSU products. And they have featured it more recently. … Drew Lock seems to be fine. … So are the Hawks’ grades for the first part of the season. … Sometimes it takes a high draft pick a while to fit in.

Kraken: The offense needs to get going.


• Yes, we will be back with our TV Take after the WSU game. It’s what we do. And we will return to this space tomorrow morning. We do that too. Thanks for being here with us. Until later …