A Grip on Sports: The Sun Bowl shows once again that WSU won’t quit even though most of the players providing the fireworks are unavailable

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INFLUENZA IN SPORT • Unless something has changed and we weren’t informed, we always thought the New Year started at midnight on January 1st. So why were there fireworks at 7:11 p.m. last night? At 8:08 am? And again around 9:25? Are those who think it’s important to disturb the calm – and scare all the dogs within a three-block radius – on a freezing night too lazy to stay awake until midnight? Or were they just exhausted from watching college football from sunrise to sunset?

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• Maybe in our neighborhood the fireworks were left by those Washington state fans set aside to celebrate a Sun Bowl victory. In this case, we understand. The only explosions they produced in the Cougars’ 24-21 loss to central Michigan were profane explosions.

They were targeting officials. On the CBS show. To the football gods who stole just about every star player in Washington state in the 2021 season. As for the last one, hardly any of them were on the damp El Paso turf after the half time. And yet the second half was much better than the first, despite the Cougars’ offense being led by a drop-in freshman quarterback and the offensive line being maintained with dental floss and tape.

If the Cougars’ goal was to win the game, field training probably wasn’t their best option. But if that was to once again show the resilient nature of Team 2021, then okay. Mission accomplished. Again.

Nothing could have derailed this group, except, perhaps, for the mid-Michigan running game which dominated the first half and chewed up enough clock to make an ultimate comeback from the WSU. Yet the Sun Bowl illustrated a truism: Washington State is one of those Power Five middle schools.

The Cougars are about a dozen star players competing against the tallest of the big boys – and the same number above college football’s mid-majors. It’s a kind of limbo that allows for the occasional season-defining upheaval, but also, when circumstances conspire like they did yesterday, a disappointing end-of-season loss.

Maybe Jake Dickert will be able to attract a few more players who can fireworks off both sides of the ball than Mike Leach and Nick Rolovich. If so, the optimism of the Cougar loyalists will be rewarded. And everyone will understand the outbursts of joy no matter what time it is.

• Once again The college football playoff semi-finals have shown that there is a similar gap between the best in the SEC and everyone else in college football. Half a dozen outstanding players – read, fast and strong – were all separated from Michigan and Cincinnati to Georgia and Alabama. That’s all.

And the gap isn’t going to close anytime soon. Is that bad ? Well, for a few years Clemson was able to field teams with similar talent. The Tigers may be able to start again in the near future. But who else?

Ohio State? Our Lady? Oklahoma? Everything is possible. But the only non-SEC school that should be able to achieve the SEC level is in Southern California. And bears that name.

USC has the recruiting resources, the talent available nearby, the combination of financial rewards and quality of life to hang in front of recruits, and, perhaps now, the keen sense of coaching, to achieve that level consistently. . Will they get there? The vote here is yes. It may take a few years, but if Lincoln Riley is able to reach that level once and wants to stay in Los Angeles, Trojans are a non-SEC school’s best long-term hope in constant competition with the top of this ranking. national titles conference.

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WSU: SR’s El Paso side covered the first half debacle and the second half comeback in depth. John Blanchette leads the way with his column on how the bowl game looked like a spring game (we thought of the NFL preseason, but his comparison is better). … Colton Clark has the history of the game as well as the difference factors and a notebook. … Theo Lawson has this story about Victor Gabalis, the replacement who replaced the quarterback when Laura’s Jayden was knocked out of the game. … Tyler Tjomsland has a visual connection to the game with this photo gallery. … The folks in the office have covered the ongoing game with this rundown full of highlights. … We had other responsibilities yesterday but after watching the replay of the match, we would have liked to be able to do a TV recording. The CBS crew certainly showed little enthusiasm for working on New Years Eve.… Women of the WSU have routed California last night in the only Pac-12 basketball game played. … Elsewhere in Pac-12 and college football, today is Utah Day. the The very first Rose Bowl d’Utes. Remember when the Cougars played their first game? No. No one does. That was over 100 years ago. Corn Utah fans go remember this season – and Great Britain Covey – for a long time, whatever happens today against Ohio state. the Buckeyes are still favored despite some defections. … A lot of people are rooted for Utah. … Oregon still plays musical chairs with their coaching staff. New faces arrive, the old faces move towards new schools. During this time, almost the entire offensive line at decided come back to another year. … In basketball news, the new Pac-12 policy could slow the disruption of COVID-19. … There is no way for the Pac-12 network to broadcast Oregon State Home Game Monday against Sacramento State. This is actually a big problem. … What is happening with Washington? … Colorado picks up the players, but who knows when the team will play.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, the contrasting basketball styles of Montana and Weber State will be on display tonight in Missoula. … It was a great year for Northern Colorado. … Not as important as what happened (and still happens) at Montana State.

Chiefs: Spokane traveled to Kennewick yesterday and claimed a victory over the Americans from Tri-City, 7-3.

Seahawks: the Lions will use backup quarterback tomorrow when they face the Hawks.

Sailors: If there’s one black hole in M’s history, it’s left field. Is still. Something has to be done before the start of the season. … Kyle seager left the game as he played it. His way.

Kraken: Now it’s interesting. But only if you are a fan of hockey movies. Or Paul Newman.

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• Hopefully 2022 is better than 2021. We wrote a similar sentence exactly one year ago and it wasn’t. At least not by much. You never know, however. By this time next year, we might all be as happy as Cougar fans were on the evening of November 26, 2021. That would be something. Until later …

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