MONDAY MORNING PLACEKICKER: Zag Machine rolls to Top 10, Seahawks are back and it's Apple Cup week

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Happy Thanksgiving/Apple Cup week, during which, as your trusted semi-responsible sports columnist, I recommend you take in an amount of sporting events that may on the surface seem unhealthy. It's your right as an American.

But first, let's get caught up on the weekend that was.

THE ZAG MACHINE IS WELL-OILED
There have been a number of Gonzaga basketball teams over the years that have had us saying, "This is the best group of Zags ever." And people are saying that again this year. But what feels discernibly different about this team in comparison to some other great Gonzaga squads is the way in which the team has won its first four games. They haven't just won, but rather dismantled, embarrassed and walked away with their opponents' sense of humanity in each of their victories.

That's why the powers that be voted them the #8 team in the country (or #10 if you're into the AP poll).

Saturday night's game against Division II St. Thomas Aquinas was no exception. The much, much bigger Zags rolled over the Spartans, doing anything they wanted with the ball, including letting under-appreciated Angel Nunez show his stuff on the way to 24 points and 11 rebounds as Gonzaga rolled to a 109-55 victory.

A remarkable stat: Gonzaga has won three of their first four games by
45 points or more. That number is almost pornographic. Their other win, over a then 22-ranked SMU, could have been a 25-or-more victory had they not emptied the bench with four minutes left.

The Zags head to New York City this week for a matchup on Wednesday against Georgia, who might give GU its first test of the season. Or, more likely if the Zags keep shooting (56%) and passing (third in the nation in assists) like they have been, it won't be a test at all. That game tips at 6:30 pm on ESPN2.

GONZAGA WOMEN ALSO KILLING IT
Don't sleep on the women's squad over at Gonzaga. They've been similarly dominant in the early days of the season and now sit at 3-0, good for a #24 national ranking.

The Bulldog women headed to Montana State on Friday night and made quick work of the Bobcats, jumping out to a 20-2 lead in the first five minutes of the game, which pretty much shut the door on the game. They went on to win 89-60, thanks to a career-high 16 points from Shelby Cheslek.

COUGARS THROW THE BALL A LOT, LOSE
The Cougs didn't "Coug It" on Saturday down at Arizona State, even if they were leading 21-7 at one point.

There needs to be another term for Cougar football that describes the phenomenon of racking up mathematically outrageous statistics in a game your team eventually loses. First it was Connor Halliday's NCAA record yards in a Hindenberg-like loss to Cal earlier in the season, and then on Saturday, it was his replacement Luke Falk who was in that dubious spot. Falk tossed for 601 yards in what turned out to be a 52-31 loss.

How do you throw for that many yards and lose the game? Well, you also throw four interceptions and fumble once.

Still, Falk has been looking good, all things considered. Check out this week's Inlander for a profile of the redshirt freshman gunslinger. The Cougars and Huskies meet in the Apple Cup on Saturday night. The game is at 7:30 pm down in Pullman.

THE SEAHAWKS ARE BACK
Yesterday was a must-win for the Seahawks. No, not technically, but if there was a way Seattle was going to make up some ground in the playoff hunt, they knew they had to knock off the Best Team in Football, According to Statistics, also known as the Arizona Cardinals.

If you watched from the edge of your couch like I did, you could feel the tension of something that felt a lot more like a playoff matchup than a mid-November conference game. And damn, did the Seahawks come out swinging. If you missed the game, this play just about sums up the brutality the Super Bowl champs brought to CenturyLink Field yesterday. And yes, that's Pete Carroll at the bottom of the screen, tossing a little exclamation point onto things.

I won't go too deep down the numbers hole, because Seattle's offense wasn't stunning, but Arizona's defense is excellent, so 19 points isn't bad at all. But what's most impressive was the 204 yards in total offense the Hawks allowed the Cardinals. That reminds me of a little team called the Seattle Seahawks. You might remember them. They won the Super Bowl.

There's little rest for the Hawks. They are in action on Thanksgiving night against the reviled San Francisco 49ers. A team, according to some Seattle fans, that would steal your children in the middle of the night if given a chance. They are rumored to eat bald eagles and steal pennies from the jar at the grocery checkout. Worst of all, they are coached by a man-baby.

Nothing like a good ol' rivalry.

IN OTHER NEWS
If you haven't seen it yet, the cover of the Thanksgiving issue of The New Yorker provides some pointed satire about the fact that an NFL team from Washington D.C. still thinks its OK to name their team after a term most people wouldn't even utter outside the parameters of football conversation. Take a look.

In baseball news, precisely what you want to hear in November, the Seattle Mariners have signed third baseman and affable young man Kyle Seager to a $100 million contract in the hopes that he's the answer to their decade-long offensive drought.

And finally, while watching my basketball team lose to Arizona State last week, I came across perhaps the best student section gimmick I've ever encountered. It's called the Curtain of Distraction and it's actually proven to be quite effective in making opponents miss free throws.