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

A Grip on Sports: The weekend awaits with more than enough to keep us busy and planted in front of the TV

A GRIP ON SPORTS • What do you want from a fall sports weekend? Decent college football matchups, sure. A good NFL game or two. Baseball supplying something special. Maybe a hockey or basketball game or an auto race or, for whatever reason, a golf tournament, to cleanse the palate. Well, this weekend works in all those regards.


• There is another top-10 showdown in college football Saturday.

Though we’re not sure No. 7 Penn State visiting third-ranked Ohio State (9 a.m. PDT, Fox) hits home on the West Coast as much as last week’s Oregon-Washington thriller did.

At least it will be over early, leaving the afternoon TV free for Washington State’s trip to ninth-ranked Oregon (12:30 p.m., ABC) or the SEC game of the week, No. 17 Tennessee at No. 11 Alabama (12:30, CBS). And then there are the evening games, including the contrast that is 14th-ranked Utah at No. 18 USC (5, Fox), No. 16 Duke at fourth-ranked Florida State (4:40, ABC) and Arizona State at fifth-ranked Washington (7:30, FS1).

That’s a decent schedule for any college football year but with the resurgence of the Pac-12 (in its swan song), it is more than fulfilling. And filling, using the TV-watching definition.

By the way, if you’ve been wondering why there have been more Pac-12 games this season on ABC, there is a simple reason. It’s a gap year between media deals for the Disney networks (including ESPN), with the Big Ten games no longer available and the SEC’s switch still a year away. Which explains a Cougar team, coming off two consecutive defeats, playing on the national legacy network in the middle of the afternoon.

The NFL schedule, at least as Spokane viewers are concerned, starts with the Seahawks’ home game against Arizona (1:05 p.m., Fox). With the toughest part of their schedule looming, the Hawks really need to pick up a win against one of the Caleb Williams Sweepstakes frontrunners. But the best game, on paper, is the night contest between Miami and Philadelphia (5:20, NBC). The best of the AFC East versus the best of the NFC East.

That’s fun. And baseball, wisely, stuck the American League playoff game up against it (5 p.m., FS1). If the Phillies were playing, neither sport would have reached all their potential audience in the populous Northeast. Both series are on today (Astros at Rangers, 2 p.m., FS1 and Phillies at Diamondbacks, 5, TBS) which makes sense – no college or pro football conflicts. The fifth game of the N.L. Championship Series is set for Saturday night (5 p.m., TBS), leaving Philadelphia’s faithful without a conflict the next night.

As for the other sports, we promised you auto racing and there is that. Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix, which sounds awfully impressive, starts at noon Sunday on ABC. Better watch the start because whoever is leading going into the first turn will probably hold on to win a couple hours later.

The Kraken, fresh off their first win of the season, host the Rangers on Saturday night, with the game starting on Root at 7.

If you must get an NBA fix, focus on Friday. With the regular season beginning next week, the two games on NBA TV that night will have to do you until the interminable regular season slog begins Tuesday.

And golf? The PGA Tour is in Japan, which means Sunday’s final round – there – will air at 8 p.m. Saturday night – here. Kinda cool. Especially considering local legend Joel Dahmen finished up Friday’s second round still in red figures, albeit just barely at -1, but good enough to be tied for 17th.

It’s not the best weekend of the year for the average fan – but there are a lot worse. And not that many better.


WSU: We mentioned the Cougars’ two recent defeats above. Those not-so-scintillating performances have bred a handful of odd notions among the Washington State fanbase. If it’s hard to explain rationally, then do so irrationally. That seems to be the new motto. Jacob Thorpe attempts to bring some reason back to the discussion in this column but we all know that’s impossible when it comes to college football these days. After all, was it reasonable for the Pac-12 to break into a million pieces? Just saying. … Our favorite story of the day? It’s Greg Woods’ piece on defensive lineman David Gusta’s world travels. Gusta has emerged as a key component of the Cougs’ front but that’s not all that is interesting about him. … Saturday will mark the final conference matchup between Oregon and WSU. And the final battle between the Leaf brothers. … The Ducks are worried about containing Cameron Ward. … There were a few late hits last weekend that Oregon would like the conference to explain. … The Cougar soccer team picked up a 1-0 win over visiting Colorado. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, we linked Jon Wilner’s ABC-based column above but we can also pass along his tongue-in-cheek comments about the second-half of the season. They are on the Mercury News website. … Speaking of college football on TV, and we do that often, there is a critique of the season by The Athletic. It’s well done. … Want more picks? We can pass along these from John Canzano and more from Stewart Mandel. No one thinks WSU is going to cover. … If you have questions about Washington, our buddy Christian Caple has answers. … Two Oregon State brothers are together through thick and thin. … Colorado is working on its penalty issues during its bye week. … The question for Utah is whether it can score enough to keep up with USC. The Trojans are dealing with bounce-back issues. … The numbers tell a successful story for Arizona. … In basketball news, the season begins soon, though the conference games are still almost two months away. Arizona is the favorite but we may have our money on USC by the time December rolls around. … Though Colorado has built its program in a different manner than the football team, it’s still pretty successful. … Finally, there were some interesting developments concerning NIL in Utah this week.

Gonzaga: Around the WCC, a detour to Santa Clara turned out to be really productive for Golden State rookie Brandin Podziemski.

EWU: Given the way last week’s loss played out, and the way it submarined Eastern’s playoff hopes, one really couldn’t blame the Eagles if they suffered a bit of a hangover this week against nemesis Weber State. But Dan Thompson tells us how the team has tried to put it behind them. … Dan also shares more basketball news, with one men’s player and two women’s making the preseason All-Big Sky team. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Montana also had men and women on the all-conference squad. … Weber State’s Dillon Jones is the men’s MVP. … In football news, unpredictable Portland State awaits Idaho State. … The matchup between second-ranked Montana State and No. 3 Sacramento State headlines the weekend’s schedule. … It’s not easy keeping a college field ready, especially when it is used by more than just the football team.

Preps: A busy, and important, football weekend got underway last night at the downtown stadium with Rogers handing West Valley its first GSL defeat, 38-14. Dave Nichols was there and has this story. … Dave also has a preview of tonight’s action, highlighted by Gonzaga Prep facing host Mt. Spokane with the (unofficial) overall league title at stake. Each will win their respective classification titles, with G-Prep on top of the 4A and Mt. Spokane the 3A. … One more thing. There is a roundup of Thursday’s other action.

Seahawks: Boye Mafe has a good reason to be playing. … The Hawks struggles in the red zone and on third down this season are real. … Geno Smith takes accountability for them as he does about most every offensive issue. … Jake Bobo had a productive Sunday.

Kraken: The offense had struggled in the season’s first four games. Then, boom, seven goals last night. Seattle defeated Carolina 7-4. … Hey, individual trophies don’t live the offseason life of the Stanley Cup.

Mariners: Cal Raleigh had a few comments before the season ended about management’s commitment. Former M’s closer Paul Sewald echoed them this week. … Hey, Lou Piniella is a Hall of Fame finalist. … In last night’s two games, Arizona walked-off the Phillies, wining 2-1 and getting back into the N.L. series. … Houston rolled over Texas again in Arlington, winning 10-3 and squaring the series at two games apiece.


• Being ancient is weird in many ways. We never used to adjust well to changing time zones. But this trip to the land of the late kickoff has gone way too smoothly. We awoke at 6 a.m. today, as we always do at home. Problem is, that’s 3 a.m. Best Coast Time. Finishing up before 6 a.m. Spokane time isn’t ideal. We have to double check to make sure new stories didn’t appear on some websites. But it is nice to be able to eat breakfast before we post our column. Especially if we can find some donuts. Until later …