Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday Morning Place Kicker: Squeakers, rivalries and shanks for the memories

Posted By on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 11:46 AM


By a show of hands, how many Seahawks fans were cursing the rotten luck of making an epic fourth-quarter comeback only to have it stolen by some shady penalties/poor defense? I know at least a few of you were convinced the season was over when the Vikings lined up for this:

Oh happy day in 12-land! A miracle finish to be sure! And much-needed after a few hours of frozen football in which, let's face it, not a lot happened. I'm not a Seahawks fan, but I live with some, and watching that game was, shall we say, boring as hell. Sure, it was exciting in the fourth quarter, when the Seahawks made some huge plays to get back into it, from Kam Chancellor's strip of the Vikings' best player, Adrian Peterson, to Russell Wilson grabbing a loose snap and finding Tyler Lockett for a huge gain instead of a potentially disastrous loss of yards as the 'hawks moved into position for the only TD of the game. 

But let's be real — a 10-9 game is pretty tough to watch no matter what the weather. Russell Wilson threw for less yards than his Vikings counterpart Teddy Bridgewater, and neither of them cracked 150 yards through the air. Prodigal son Christine Michael did run for 70 yards, far exceeding Peterson's 45 on the ground. The Seahawks defense showed up for sure, and the whole "survive and advance" thing is as true in the NFL playoffs as it is in March Madness. So the Seahawks and their fans can be super-stoked they're not these poor bastards: 

Up next? A trip to Carolina to take on the No. 1 seed Panthers. The teams have had some close ones through the years, and you can expect another one, in far warmer climes than Minnesota. Can we expect to see Beast Mode this week, after he skipped traveling to Minny, or has he returned to the mysterious place he goes to rehab? Will Wilson recapture the magic he showed for the latter half of the season and light up one of the best defenses in the league? And will the Seahawks' D end Cam Newton's probably MVP season and set themselves up for yet another conference championship? 

Find out Sunday at 10 am on Fox. 

Zags continue romping through WCC, Cougs lost to Huskies, Eagles beat Vandals
Okay, maybe "romp" is a strong word for an 11-point win over Portland, but Gonzaga's two main men, Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis, are certainly doing the most damage of any of the Bulldogs so far this season. They've had to, of course, as the leaders of the team, but dropping a combined 60 points on the visiting Pilots is borderline unfair. Next up for the Zags is a home game against BYU Thursday at 6 pm. 

WSU faced off with the surprising UW Huskies Saturday, and while the Cougars played with the Pac-12 leaders the whole game, they blew a second-half lead and lost in overtime, 99-95. Clearly Ernie Kent has the team moving in the right direction, but losing at home to a rival in a winnable game — that hurts. The Cougars have a road game at Arizona State on Thursday. 

After Eastern Washington's huge run to the conference title and NCAA tournament last year, hopes were high for a repeat this season. The pre-conference schedule, though, was marked with a lot of losses, and two losses to open the Big Sky didn't bode well. Idaho, on the other hand, is a strong 10-6 overall, even after taking a blowout loss to the Eagles on Saturday. Next up for the Eagles is a home game against Southern Utah. For the Vandals, it's a home game Thursday against Northern Arizona. 
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