Sunday, April 21, 2024

THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: A (busy) day in the life of sports

| December 20, 2020 1:30 AM

Lots going on Saturday ... and it started early, with the top-ranked Zags playing for the first time in more than two weeks.

Versus No. 3 Iowa. In Sioux Falls, S.D. Of course.

• Jalen Suggs just buried another 3 from somewhere near Wall, S.D. Imagine what he's going to be like as a senior.

• "Zags got dudes," Seth Davis is saying at halftime on CBS. Yes, they do. In this early entry-depleted era of college basketball, the Zags have managed to keep enough talent around to contend for an NCAA title.

So no disrespect there; Zag fans gonna have to find that fuel somewhere else.

• An Oklahoma punt returner got hit helmet-to-helmet by not one, but two, Iowa State players. Intentional or not, it was not looked at for targeting.

• Gonzaga games almost look more like pro games than college games. The Zags just wear teams down with their depth, and pretty soon they're up 20. Their bench is better than yours. Their bench might finish second in the WCC. That might be a reach, but not by much.

• Northwestern is ahead of Ohio State in the second quarter. Will the Big Ten allow this to last?

• Who is this play-by-play guy for the Zags game? He's fine, but I've never heard of him before. But that's what happens this time of year, when the voice of college basketball on CBS is also the voice of the NFL on CBS. And the voice of the Masters on CBS.

• Suggs just missed a baseline 3. He must have been too close to the basket.

• Nice to see one of Washington's schools still playing college football. The return of Max Borghi is a nice early Christmas present to Coug fans during this disjointed season.

• Joel Ayayi, a guard, is Gonzaga's leading rebounder this season. He finished with 18 on Saturday.

• Someone just knocked at the door. Nice to see packages ordered well before Christmas arrive before Christmas.

• Luka Garza, Iowa’s big guy, is as advertised. But his teammates need to make more of their wide-open shots if the Hawkeyes hope to contend -- today and in the future.

• Northwestern is still ahead of Ohio State at halftime. On the set at Fox, what adjustments will Urban Meyer make?

• The Zags outlast Iowa, and the teams point and wave at each other as they leave the floor, in different directions. That still looks weird.

• After a commercial break, some kids wearing Kentucky and North Carolina uniforms are now on the TV screen. The announcer calls it a matchup of “blue bloods.” North Carolina is ranked No. 22. Kentucky is 1-4.

• WSU was up 7-0 on Utah. Then, according to the FS1 box, the Cougs’ lead was cut to 6-0. Now it’s back to 7-0.

• The Zags have another “dude” coming this week. Another big. From high school.

• Ohio State takes the lead late in the third vs. Northwestern. Inevitable.

• Ohio State wins, as feared. Oh well. At least it wasn’t Wisconsin, then it might have been 59-0. But it would have been funny to see Northwestern win and mess up the College Football Playoff’s little four-team invitational.

• Nice to see the Zags play teams like Kansas, Iowa and (hopefully) Virginia and Baylor. Those are entertaining games, and the Zags have nothing to lose by playing them. Besides, those kids didn’t come to Zagland to play a bunch of Tarleton States in the preseason. They’ll get plenty of that in the WCC.

• North Carolina avoids losing to Kentucky 75-63, reducing the possibility that, by Monday, both “blue bloods” will be unranked.

• Hey, wow. Washington State’s women, picked to finish last in the Pac-12, beat No. 21 Oregon State in Pullman. Former Genesis Prep star and current WSU sophomore Bella Murekatete on the winning side. Former Lake City star and current OSU assistant Katie (Baker) Faulkner on the losing end.

• WSU, which led 28-7, loses 45-28 to Utah. Even though they lost, it was nice to see the Cougs actually play a game.

• As suspected, Clemson handles Notre Dame in the rematch, 34-10. What does that mean for the fourth spot in the College Football Playoff?

• Boise State loses to San Jose State (yes, San Jose State) 34-20 in the conference title game.

Look, I get that Boise wants out of the Mountain West. The Broncos feel they have outgrown that league, just like they did the last league they were in.

But where are they going to go? Remember when they tried the Big East for a couple of hours?

Can they go the indy route, and play BYU and Notre Dame a bunch of times later in the season?

Who knows, maybe coach Bryan Harsin is itching to move on, after seven seasons. He’s kept the ball rolling in Boise, winning roughly three-quarters of his games. Movin’ on worked for Chris Petersen, not so much initially for Dan Hawkins, but he bounced back into a nice spot at Cal Poly of the Big Sky.

• Apparently, Alabama also beats Florida 52-46 in the SEC Championship, but there was too much other stuff going on by that time.

• Stanford plays UCLA, and Arizona State faces Oregon State in Pac-12 football games that seemed kinda weird, coming a day after the conference championship game was played.

• Less than two weeks remaining in 2020. Thank God.

• Zag fans want to know — what day in April is the parade?

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at Follow him on Twitter @CdAPressSports.