A GRIP ON SPORTS • What an awful Saturday on the Palouse. For most of this side of the Cascades, actually. The other side? The Huskies may be poised to leave the Pac-12 toting some coveted hardware.
• Before we get into some quick – for us – thoughts on college football’s extraordinary Saturday afternoon, we want to share a reminder. When Oregon State limped out of Martin Stadium less than a month ago, toting a 38-35 loss to the Cougars in their backpacks, there seemed to be a clear divide in the schools’ trajectories.
There was. We just had it wrong.
The then-4-0 Cougs were headed to a bye week and a stretch of awful offensive football. The Beavers were en route to redemption.
When you make your bones on the backs of college students, fortunes can change in an instant. Or three weeks. Oregon State, who, like its Palouse counterparts, is still searching for a 2024-and-beyond home, has won three consecutive games, outscoring Utah, California and UCLA 109-71. The Cougars? In their two losses, they’ve been plastered 69-23. Shades of 2008.
But it’s not too late for Washington State, despite the ugly nature of last night’s 44-6 debacle against Arizona. There are only two ranked teams left on the schedule, Oregon next week and the final Apple Cup of all time. In between, WSU plays four winnable games: at Arizona State, Stanford, at California and Colorado. Eight wins is still possible – if the September Cougars return.
It may not be Oregon State good, but it isn’t all that bad.
• There are moments in a college football game when every fan says to themselves, “oh, that’s going to hurt.” For No. 10 USC’s fans yesterday, it was when the defense took the field. Or the first offensive possession, when the line staged a Three Stooges tribute show.
For Oregon’s followers, they had a few of those moments in their eighth-ranked team’s heart-breaking 36-33 loss to No. 9 Washington. And they all occurred on fourth down. No second-guessing here. We were screaming at the TV before the first two about taking the points. They would matter. They did last year.
Sadly, no one listened. And we didn’t see the third one, with about 2 minutes left and the Ducks’ facing a fourth down at midfield with a lead. We were already knee-deep in the Palouse muck by then. But we would have been first-guessing there too. It should be a lot harder to go 90 yards to win than 60 but, then again, math has never been our strong point.
Neither, it seems, is it Dan Lanning’s. The number that matters most to his fan base? He’s 0-2 against Washington.
• The numbers that mattered in Moscow last night were 20 and zero. That was the score at one point, with Montana leading. The nation’s third-ranked FCS team seemed unable to handle the moment. At home. Ever seen a deer in your headlights while driving from Troy to Moscow at about 8:30 on an April night? We have. And we saw the same look while watching ESPN2 last night at about the same time.
The Vandals shook it off. And if not for a close offsides call on a perfectly bounced onsides kick, they would have had a decent opportunity to come all the way back. But, alas, onsides means onsides and they weren’t. Montana, which lost at Northern Arizona earlier this season, left the Palouse with a win. Which seemed to be Saturday’s theme.
• It didn’t happen on the Palouse, though an argument could be made Eastern Idaho has some similar geographic features. Besides, Eastern Washington’s last 16-minute meltdown played out inside a dome.
The 23rd-ranked Eagles led 41-14 with one quarter and 60 seconds remaining. The one-win Bengals hadn’t won in this series since Frazier was wrapping up. Not the remake, the real show. This game was over, right?
Uh, no. Idaho State scored the final four touchdowns, including the game-winner with less than a minute remaining. Believe it or not, EWU still had a chance but a 38-yard field goal sailed wide right as time expired.
This one is going to hurt. For a long time. At the least, it sealed Eastern’s postseason fate for another season. There is no way Aaron Best’s team is going to make the FCS playoffs with four losses, one of them coming against a school that is deep into another rebuild.
If the Eagles do somehow make it, it will take a bigger comeback than the one that occurred Saturday in Pocatello.
WSU: Why delve deeply into this one? It was a disaster for Washington State after the first 5 minutes or so. And it was a continuation of a disastrous effort in the Rose Bowl a week prior. Greg Woods was present for both and has this game story/analysis. … Colton Clark has the difference makers and Tyler Tjomsland the photo report. … We watched from home and shared our thoughts in the TV Take. … The folks in the office put together the recap with highlights. … The rout (and other news) was covered by Arizona’s newspaper folks as well. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner has his usual Saturday night column in the Mercury News and guess what? The Seattle game is front and center. … Washington’s 36-33 victory was the game of the day, certainly. There was in-depth coverage from the Puget Sound area, as could be expected, including Michael Penix Jr.’s Heisman-worthy last drive. And from the I-5 corridor in Oregon as well. Again, expected. Websites as varied as The Athletic to John Canzano’s and Christian Caple’s Substacks covered the battle as well. Heck, The Athletic wrote multiple pieces, including two from Stewart Mandel. And former Seattle Times’ columnist Jerry Brewer represented the Washington Post, which also touched on the game in another piece. … Oregon State jumped out early against UCLA, scoring on another Dante Moore interception – the Bruin quarterback has thrown three in three games – and holding off the visiting Bruins 36-24. … We’ve seen this movie before. USC takes national title hopes into South Bend. The Irish rise up in the midst of a down season and upset the Trojans, who can’t hold up on the lines. Last night the final was 48-20. That sound you hear is the Big Ten’s best licking their chops. … No Cam Rising. No problem for 16th-ranked Utah. At least not against woeful California. The Utes rolled behind Bryson Barnes this week. … Arizona State had a bye but we have a story to pass along. … Finally, Friday night’s meltdown in Boulder is still being processed in Colorado and, not surprisingly, in the Bay Area. … What is ahead for the Pac-2? What should be? Here is one opinion.
Gonzaga: We didn’t get out to the women’s FanFest yesterday, stuck as we were covering the blowout from Pullman. But Greg Lee was there, as was Jesse Tinsley. Greg has this story on the veteran Zag squad and Jesse has an in-depth photo report.
EWU: The final score was 42-41. But the key was how it came to that, as this story explains. … The comeback seemed to stun the Idaho State folks as well. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, in what probably was a playoff elimination game, UC Davis eked out a 17-16 win at Weber State. … Montana State didn’t eke out anything. The second-ranked Bobcats rolled Cal Poly 59-19 in Bozeman. … Portland State ran all over host Northern Arizona 45-21. … Fourth-ranked Sacramento State struggled a bit but got past host Northern Colorado 21-13.
Idaho: The Griz’s 23-21 win wasn’t secured until, we’re sure, after the print deadline. Dan Thompson has this story online and we expect, at some point, for a revisitation in his Big Sky notebook or somewhere.
Whitworth: The Pirates started slowly but when they go going, visiting Puget Sound was unable to even slow the tide. Ethan Myers has the coverage of Whitworth’s 63-21 Northwest Conference victory at the Pine Bowl.
Chiefs: Yes, Cole Wadsworth’s first WHL goal gave host Spokane a 3-2 win over visiting Brandon on Saturday night. Dave Nichols has that story. But we had a correspondent at the game and his report was simple. Berkly Catton is really good. And not just because he scored two goals. Our source sees a bright – read, NHL – future in the making.
Seahawks: As the Hawks prepare for today’s 10 a.m. game in Cincinnati, we can pass along Bob Condotta’s early season grades in the S-R. We did link them yesterday in the Times. … Coby Bryant is out for a while.
Mariners: There are no playoffs this year for Seattle. Heck, Julio Rodriguez took in the Washington/Oregon game yesterday. (He got tickets? Huh.) But two American League West teams are playing for a World Series berth. Does that tick you off as much as it does our favorite Mariner fan?
Kraken: Three games in, Seattle is still looking for its first win of the NHL season. That’s not what anyone would term “a hot start.”
• We found a place in Cincy that serves what the local foodies deem the area’s quintessential hot dog. It contains a flash-fried sausage, cole slaw, barbecue sauce and the piece de resistance, pulled pork crisps. Our better diet is out the window for a few minutes this morning. As is our cardiac health. But we’re going to enjoy it. As long as the “good” Hawks show up. Until later …