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

A Grip on Sports: Seasons collide in what may be the best weekend of the year – until, possibly, the next one

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We are on the cusp of the best weekend in sports each year. The one time every major sport, and many minor ones, are in action. The Big Three? Yep, football (all levels), pro basketball and baseball are battling, with the World Series lead dog in this hunt. Hockey, soccer and just about everything else? Yep, them too. What a three days.


• Forget the days leading up to Christmas. This is when you should be stocking up on AA batteries. There is no way you want to have to search for replacements when your clicker goes dead Saturday night. Have them handy. Better yet, put in new ones today when you get home from work.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail – even in the sit-in-my-chair-and-watch world.

Now, let’s be clear. No weekend is perfect. Seahawks vs. Browns? This should be 49ers week. Oregon at Utah is a great game – and certainly GameDay worthy – but pitting the Ducks with USC this week would have been more fun. And the Series? Texas and Arizona? C’mon, man. Yankees/Dodgers or Red Sox/Cardinals or, even, Mariners/Giants would have been better for ratings. And our personal gratification.

That’s nitpicking, though. The global picture is simple. In this nation, no weekend is better. Unless the Series goes seven games. Then next weekend will be the best.

• Have your iPad handy? How about an old-fashioned pen and paper? Here’s your Saturday. Book it now. All times, of course, apply to Spokane. Our home base. Even if we are 2,048 miles away today.

Get up early. Have one TV on GameDay and something, anything, on Arsenal’s home match with Sheffield (USA, 7 a.m.). Why? Because English Premier Soccer is the best. And Arsenal has a great logo. Besides, it’s a good contrast with the craziness from Salt Lake City – and Lee Corso.

After Lee puts on his Duck head, click over to either ABC or CBS for a good laugh. Fourth-ranked Florida State is at Wake Forest on the former, with Indiana at No. 10 Penn State on the latter. Chuckle at how far the ACC’s and Big Ten’s football fortunes have fallen. No wonder they cannibalized the Pac-12.

No conflict at 12:30 p.m. The TV has to be on Fox. Eighth-ranked Oregon at 13th-ranked Utah. A Pac-12 title game some years, a possible elimination game this one. Not just in the conference but nationally. Utah is the king until it isn’t. Besides, if Oregon wins, the Utes will be undefeated against 49 states and 0-2 against one.

There’s a football lull in the early afternoon, one you can fill by watching the Kraken build the inevitably squandered lead in Florida. That game starts at 3 on Root. Watch an hour and then see if Michael Penix Jr. and the Huskies’ offense undresses Stanford in the first quarter. That matchup on FS1 starts at 4.

After that, though, decisions must be made. Baseball? Game Two of the Series starts at 5 on Fox (it begins at the same time and station tonight). Washington State’s crucial bounce-back game at ASU kicks off at 5 as well, on the Pac-12 Networks. Heck, Deion Sanders and his Buffs are in the Rose Bowl for the only time this year, facing a tough-at-home UCLA team on ABC at 4:30.

Finally, there is the usual #Pac12AfterDark extravaganza. This week it is in Tucson, with the resurgent Wildcats trying to upset 11th-ranked Oregon State.

Then get to sleep. There is the NFL on Sunday.

• Well, we must admit, the NFL isn’t what it usually is this weekend.

The schedule isn’t all that exciting, though the question of whether Brock Purdy (concussion) will play for the NFC West-leading 49ers hangs over their game with visiting Cincinnati. But that’s in the late-game window, same as the Hawks, so were pretty sure most Spokane-area TV sets will be on Fox and not CBS.

The lone morning games is a snoozer (Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, CBS), so sleep in. Save your TV time for after the Seahawks win.

Use it wisely. After all, the Bears are in L.A. to play the Chargers (5:20 p.m., NBC) and that’s got to be the highlight of the weekend, right?

Stop laughing. It’s the league’s way of easing you back into the work week.


WSU: We enjoy watching Lincoln Victor play. And believe he would be a good fit for someone in the NFL as a slot receiver. That’s for later, sure. For today we offer Greg Woods’ story on the Cougars’ most-important receiver. … The Apple Cup needs to survive, Jacob Thorpe believes. But only if it doesn’t include a yearly trek across the mountains for the Cougs. There has to be a strong Pullman component and that might not be possible. After all, the Huskies need seven home games to make the we-left-for-more-money-in-the-Big-Ten move work financially. … The sixth-ranked Cougar volleyball team hosts No. 9 Oregon tonight. Brandon Willman has this story on a key member of WSU’s 18-3 squad. … Arizona State is still looking for its first conference victory. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, we linked Jon Wilner’s picks yesterday but they are in the S-R today, so we do it again. … John Canzano has his picks as well. The podcast partners differ on the Washington State game. … Funny thing. Washington seems to have a solid if not good defense. The stats, however, may disagree. Or support the good part. Numbers, man. The Huskies are at Stanford. … The best game is, as we said, at Utah. The Ducks need to win a road showdown no matter what after failing in Seattle. And the Utes will rely on their two-way star. … Oregon State probably needs to win tomorrow more than Arizona, so we’ll figure the Beavers will find a way. … Caleb Williams is having a great career at USC. Will his NFL one be even better? The Trojans, with Lincoln Riley healthy again, are at California tomorrow. … Colorado and UCLA will meet in a nearly full Rose Bowl tomorrow evening. … In basketball news, a former Gonzaga guard is helping the Colorado women improve at the point. … The schedule gives Arizona State’s men a chance for success.

Gonzaga: Maybe the most under-the-radar transfer in Division I this season is Graham Ike to GU. The former Wyoming center, coming off an injury, could be key for the Zags. He’s also on the preseason Karl Malone watch list. Theo Lawson has more in this story. … Elsewhere in the WCC, Saint Mary’s has a new women’s coach.

EWU: Recruiting may never stop but it’s also an inexact science, especially at the FCS level. Dan Thompson has this story on the Eagles’ 2018 class and the two survivors. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, we should have caught on to this Portland State video earlier. We came upon it yesterday thanks to Canzano, but neglected to pass it along. Don’t miss it. … A former Montana basketball player suffered a stroke. … Northern Colorado’s quarterback may be treated warmly by Griz fans. … Idaho State hopes to keep its momentum going. … After playing the Bengals this week, Sacramento State has a key game against Montana. … UC Davis in on the road again, this time in Flagstaff.

Idaho: The Vandals’ offense come into the season with some goals. They were all about improving, fine-tuning if you will. After all, the weapons have been there. It’s still a work in progress. … We can also pass along this Jason Eck interview.

Preps: The weekend is packed at the high school level as well. There were two key GSL football games at ONE Spokane Stadium last night and Dave Nichols was there for both. In the 4A game, league champion Gonzaga Prep had to rally in the fourth quarter to get past Lewis and Clark 35-25. … In the 2A game, Shadle Park raced past East Valley late, 36-21, to remain in contention for a playoff berth. … State slowpitch is this weekend and Dave has a preview. … He also has a roundup of last night’s other action.

Mariners: We feel the Rangers will roll to their first title. But Arizona is hot. And that might carry over into the Series. … Seattle native Corbin Carroll is one reason the Diamondbacks are here. So is their bullpen, anchored by former Mariner Paul Sewald. Notice a theme?

Seahawks: Do not miss this Athletic story on Pete Carroll and his motivational tactics. It’s not only funny but it’s a master class in the art of keeping a team loose. … Frank Clark is back. And he feels he has something left. We’ll find out. … Geno Smith is taking the blame again. … Stone Forsythe is living up to his first name against pass rushers.

Sounders: A couple players are up for MLS awards.

Kraken: Seattle and Matty Beniers had a lead last night in Raleigh, N.C. But Carolina tied it late and won in overtime.


• Our time in the Southeast is starting to wind down. We will be home in time to hand out candy on Halloween. Then we have to prepare for a surgery. Nothing major, though at times the pain we hope to have fixed is. In early November we’ll go under and wake up without a couple hernias. And be on the sidelines for a while. We’ll keep you posted with the schedule as it draws nearer. Until later …