Because we all have $2,229 to spend on one special Christmas gift this season

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The Associated Press

Major League Baseball has the perfect gift to bust a budget in a recession.

A 20-DVD set of World Series films can be bought for $2,229, and it contains authenticated autographs of 12 Hall of Famers.

A limited edition run of 100 sets was put together by Major League Baseball Productions, A&E Home Entertainment and Mounted Memories, the companies said Friday.

There are 65 films from 1943-08 that run for more than 50 hours.

The package also has autographs from Yogi Berra, Bob Gibson, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Bob Feller, Rollie Fingers, Carlton Fisk, Whitey Ford, Brooks Robinson and Bruce Sutter.

MLB spokesman Jeff Heckelman said the set is also available without the autographs for $179.99 on MLB.com (linked here) and in stores with a suggested retail price of $229.

We’ve already written about this in the past blog (linked here), back when it was listing for $229 on the MLB.com site.

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The Media Learning Curve: Nov. 13-20

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The Sports Business Journal reported this week (linked here) that the Los Angeles Daily News did not request any media credentials to cover the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Again, we’re the last to hear of these things.

The USOC issued 481 credentials to publications and Web sites, but had 135 returned, most by newspapers and traditional publications like Newsweek, which returned five of six credentials; The Dallas Morning News, which returned four of six; and the McClatchy’s Washington bureau, which returned seven credentials and kept four, the story said.

Other than your Daily News, there’ll be no one representing the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Baltimore Sun, Boston Herald, Charlotte Observer, (Colorado Springs) Gazette, (Hackensack) Record, Hartford Courant, Indianapolis Star, Kansas City Star, Newsday, Palm Beach Post or St. Petersburg Times.

Yahoo! asked for 21 credentials. Yipee for them.

“I don’t know whether this is a spike or the way things will be for the future, but this is extremely unusual to get this many back,” said Bob Condron, the USOC’s director of media services. “The interest is there, no doubt, but the money is not.”

Get used to it.

(By the way, if you’re a blogger and wanted to win a “free press pass” to the Winter Games … as opposed to the ones that the real media has to buy … it’s too late. But read here what you missed out on).

Other stuff we knew, but didn’t know, until we saw it somewhere in print:

== Week 11 L.A. viewing for the NFL (linked here). Sorry, you already missed Miami-Carolina on the NFL Net.

== Week 12 L.A. viewing for the college football fan (linked here). Sorry, you didn’t miss USC. It has a bye. And we already know that we’ll miss Cal-Stanford, because it’s on Versus, and we have DirecTV, which still hasn’t brought the channel back … but what if you were living in the Bay Area and really wanted to see it? Has the Gerhart hit the fan yet? If you really want to blame someone, blame Fox Sports Net for making the game available for Versus to buy off their inventory list. (linked here)

== Want to see how a UCLA Rose Bowl card stunt works? USA Today’s website has visual (and audio) evidence (linked here)

== Did you know there’s a FoxSportsWest.com (beta) website up and working? (linked here)

== We gotta go to TMZ for our Galaxy injury updates? (linked here)

== Dick Enberg, calling San Diego Padres games? It’s in discussion (linked here)

== Jim Gray had a 50th birthday party in Vegas … and Walton, West, Shula, Dr. J., Dickerson, Larry King … Ali? … all showed. What were their appearance fees? (linked here)

== Someone’s list of 25 football broadcasters — NFL and college — that doesn’t weed out the play-by-play men from the analysts, leaving everything in some kind of mish-mash disarray (linked here) but awards CBS’ Gary Danielson with the golden ticket. And here’s a rebuttal list (linked here).

== Another very good Dave Kindred list, this time of 50 things a sports writer should and shouldn’t do (linked here). No. 1 “Do” — go to the event you’re writing about. No. 1 “Don’t”: Never trust spellcheck.

== Does Larry King’s 10-year-old son, Chance, have a chance hosting a Fox Sports Net program? Even if its directed by Tom Arnold? (linked here)

== ESPN ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer rambles on about how the net dropped the ball on the Steve Phillips story … like we really care to hear any more of it (linked here)

== AND FINALLY:

== Obviously, if you’re a cameraman and you get too close to a bald guy following Bill Belichick off the field, you run the risk of having an iris rammed up your shutter:

== AND ONE LAST BUT NOT LEAST FINALLY:

== We were the guest on a Sports Media Journal podcast (linked here) with Keith Thibault and Ken Fang (of fangsbites.com). It’s a half hour of your time well wasted spent.

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The Media Learning Curve: More stuff to bend around toward the Seattle Space Needle

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Cleaning up after today’s media column (linked here), more Q-and-A with former Galaxy player and GM Alexi Lalas, before he heads to Seattle for Sunday’s MLS Cup telecast (ESPN, 5:30 p.m.):

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Q: We found this quote by you from an interview you did with the BBC: “Anybody who says that the signing of David Beckham has been failure is delusional and is not seeing the bigger picture … His impact in terms of giving the Galaxy and the MLS a platform from which to spring to the next level cannot be overstated. He has brought incredible recognition and credibility to the league.” Does his appearance in the MLS Cup on Sunday reinforce that, or have the Galaxy been a poster child for what individual-over-team concept could do when it’s balanced improperly?

Lalas: One of the best things that Bruce Arenas did when he came in was dumbing everything down. That’s a good thing. He made things simple and gave everyone expectations to set for themselves individually and collectively. He managed through the controversy of the book that came out, “The Beckham Experiment,” and used it to his advantage. That book really helped the Galaxy in a strange way. It forced Donovan and Beckham to go through public therapy that resulted in each playing better and the team playing better. Then the team made some good pickups to surround them.

L.A. has to be the favorite to win (Sunday) because they have confidence and swagger and a consistency. All that means something. When look at Real Salt Lake, it’s that proverbial box of chocolates. That makes them interesting from a TV standpoint, but you’ll never know what you’re going to get. This team could show up, or it could roll over.

The game the Galaxy played (against Houston in the Western Conference final) was a real soccer game. There were good rhytms to it. The Galaxy had tremendous pressure which, in the past, they might have broken. In crunch time they found a way to score. And with all the focus on Beckham and Donovan, the other players have participated and that’s no surprise.

Q: If the Galaxy wins on Sunday, will you feel some kind of connection to it?

Lalas: I’m a Galaxy alum, so there’s always a piece of me in them. I’m still proud of the successes we had, which goes unnoticed a lot of the time. I’ll be happy for Galaxy fans who have suffered over the last few years. I’d like to see them win. A lot of people think it’s already written in the stars, but it’s not a a fait accompli.

JP Dellacamera will call the match with John Harkes, and Allen Hopkins and Rob Stone on the sidelines.
Stone will also host on-site studio segments before and after the match and at halftime with Lalas and Julie Foudy.

ESPN will use 19 cameras, including two super slo-mos, a steadicam and skycam. The exceptional ESPN Axis replay telestrator will be available, as will new Stats LLC graphic “heat maps” that track star player movement during the match, measuring speed and total distance run.

== ESPN Classic has the “History of the MLS Cup” two-hour presentation (Saturday at 3 p.m.) that goes from the start of the league through 2008. Interviews include players and coaches who have starred in the MLS Cup, including Landon Donovan, Bruce Arena, Cobi Jones and Eric Wynalda.

== ESPN2′s coverage of the Western Conference finals last friday was the most-watched MLS telecast on the network, drawing an average of 538,000 TV homes (or 700,000 viewers), giving it a 0.5 rating. Additionally on ESPN Deportes, the match was seen in an average of 73,000 Hispanic television homes (121,000 viewers), a 1.6 Hispanic coverage rating. The previous high was Thurs., Aug. 23, 2007, in a regular-season match between Chivas USA and the Galaxy — 532,000 TV homes (658,000 viewers) for a 0.6 rating.

Other corners to kick around:

== HBO says there were 1.25 million pay-per-view buys (650,000 from cable/600,000 from satellite dish folk) from Saturday’s Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto fight in Las Vegas, resulting in $70 million generated to split up amongst those connected with it. Of that total, 110,000 buys were from Puerto Rico, Cotto’s home market. How many were purchased in the Phillipines? Not sure. HBO replays the fight — free, sorta of, if you buy HBO — Saturday at 10 p.m.

== HBO’s next “Real Sports” (Tuesday, 10 p.m.) includes a piece by Mary Carillo on 43-year-old New York firefighter Matt Long and his ability to compete in the recent Lake Placid Ironman event — four years after riding to work during a transit strike when he was run over by a bus and impaled on his own bicycle. Long was featured in last Sunday’s presentation of the Arete Awards for Sports Courage on CBS.

== Kevin Calabro and Mark Jackson drew the short straws: They’re calling ESPN’s coverage of Denver at the Clippers tonight, 7:30 p.m.

AND FINALLY:

== Latest webisode of “Mayne Street” involves missing Lakers courtside tickets, and a lot of leg room for Aubrey Plaza before she’s banished to an ESPN outlet in the Ukrane:

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Nine paragraphs on a dead dog, and Michael Vick has no connection whatsoever

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By Greg Bluestein
The Associated Press

ATLANTA — Uga VII, the white English bulldog mascot for the University of Georgia’s football team for almost two seasons, died Thursday of heart-related causes, the dog’s owner said.

The 56-pound dog, nicknamed “Loran’s Best,” was known as a laid-back mascot who seemed oblivious to crowd noise during boisterous games and would sit patiently as excited fans snapped photos of him. He often roamed the sidelines in a shirt with a ‘G’ stitched on it, sometimes resting on a bag of ice to cool off in his customized dog house.

The school said there would be no mascot at Saturday’s game in Athens against Southeastern Conference rival Kentucky, but that a wreath will be laid on his doghouse on the field’s sidelines. Sonny Seiler, the dog’s owner, said he likely wouldn’t name a replacement until next year.

“We are all in a state of shock,” Seiler said in a news release issued by the university. “We had no warning whatsoever.”

The 4-year-old dog made his debut as the mascot in August 2008 after his father, Uga VI, died of congestive heart failure. He had big paws to fill — Uga VI was the school’s winningest mascot, racking up a 87-27 record, seven wins in nine bowl appearances and a pair of Southeastern Conference championships.

But Seiler said the dog distinguished himself in his own way.

“He was 10-3 last year which is not bad for a freshman,” said Seiler. “Uga VII was not as active or mischievous as his father but more distinguished. He realized his role when he put his shirt on. He was well-behaved and always appreciated the significance of his role.”

The dog was the latest in a line of mascots that have been featured on the covers of Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek and in several movies. He also was a compelling symbol for football fans across the nation, said Damon Evans, the school’s athletic director.

“Just as his ancestors, he had captured the hearts of college football fans everywhere as the country’s No. 1 mascot,” Evans said. “He had been truly embraced by all those who follow the Georgia Bulldogs across the country. We will miss him dearly.”

On the Net: http://www.uga.edu

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Coming Friday: Xs and Os with Alexi and the Galaxy … again

Back at the end of June, Alexi Lalas made an appearance on Comedy Central’s “Colbert Nation” to say it was time to care about soccer:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Is It Time To Care About Soccer? – Alexi Lalas
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor U.S. Speedskating

Lalas is back on ESPN’s telecast of Sunday’s MLS Cup (5:30 p.m.) telling L.A. fans it’s time to care about the Galaxy again.

The former star player and team GM fired from his post late last season has mixed feelings about seeing this team make it to the title game. Imagine if he’d been allowed to stick around one more year, with Bruce Arena as the coach, and be in Seattle this weekend as the one who orchestrated this title-contender instead of being accused of being the one responsible for the mess it was in less than a year ago.

We caught up with Alexi doing voice-over work back in Bristol, Conn., on the U.S.-Denmark game and drained him for some info on how he feels about this situation and who he’s pulling for (surprise) in Sunday’s game.

He says he misses “the day-to-day business” of soccer, but the TV work “is a wonderful thing to do.” He’ll explain.

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Our Daily Dread: Owning up to their actions

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All this, and not one mention of the Clippers’ Donald Sterling … amazing.

By Tim Dahlberg
The Associated Press

Roger Goodell was hanging with the common folks last Sunday, enjoying the experience of an NFL game from end zone seats in Tennessee. It was, he would say later, a perfectly fine day to watch football.

No drunks puking in the aisle next to him. No foul-mouthed fans screaming obscenities in his ear.

Just an elderly man prancing about, flipping off Buffalo fans with both middle fingers while celebrating the Titans’ 41-17 victory over the Bills.

Worried about the trash in the stands ruining your game and setting a bad example for your children? Make sure they don’t stray near the owner’s box.

Apparently youthful exuberance got the better of Bud Adams. The calendar may say he’s 86, but Adams seems to take as much pleasure berating his opponents as he did when he and his Houston Oilers won the first American Football League championship nearly a half century ago.

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And he knows something about the extended middle finger. A lot of people in Houston gave it to him when he carted his team off to Tennessee, leaving behind a mountain of taxpayer debt at the Astrodome.

Unfortunately for Adams, his in-your-face moment was captured by a fan on video. That led to an obligatory fine from Goodell, and an obligatory apology of sorts by way of a prepared statement.

That’s unusual only because most of the time owners only issue statements when they’re heading out of town with their team in the middle of the night or, as Redskins owner Dan Snyder did recently, explaining why it was a bad idea for fans to bring signs into the stadium calling him an idiot.

Out in Los Angeles, Frank and Jamie McCourt have been issuing all kinds of statements, thinking, perhaps, that fans really do care which one comes out of a divorce owning the Dodgers. They don’t, but they do care about the McCourts spending so much money on lawyers that they won’t have enough to sign free agent John Lackey.

Still, being an owner used to mean never having to explain yourself. If you’ve got enough money to own a team, other people can do it for you.

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While we’ve got the UFL on our unfriend link, whatever happened to that USFL comeback try?

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As long as we’re in for drama — that’s what “they” are saying on today’s column (linked here) about the future of the United Football League ever coming to L.A. — here’s the latest posting by the group trying to revive the spring football United States Football League.

Wait’ll 2011.

On the official website (linked here), it says:

REDONDO BEACH, CA – The New United States Football League announces plans to launch a professional spring football league to begin in the Spring of 2011. The league’s goal is to have 10-12 teams in the first year of play with teams throughout the United States.

“We have a strong sense of history and believe that the marketplace has demonstrated the desire to have ‘Spring football’,” said New USFL Founder/President Michael Dwyer. “The USFL had a strong connection with many of its fans and we hope to re-ignite that passion and pick up where the others left off.”

The league will play traditional stadium-played football with most of the rules being based from the original USFL concepts. The league is also in the process of recruiting its staff and securing sponsorships with announcements to follow in the near future.

“Other leagues have proven that the talent is out there,” Dwyer said. “We want to be the Spring destination of the ultimate football fan who can’t wait for the Fall.”

The league will announce cities that will play in 2011 at a later date, but Dwyer said that former USFL locations would receive strong consideration when selecting where franchises will be placed.

Sponsors or potential investors interested in partnering with the New USFL should contact Michael Dwyer at michael_dwyer@newusfl.com.

Will L.A. be included in this discussion? According to someone close to the decision-making process, no. They’re pushing for a San Diego franchise in Southern California because that’s where most of the investors live and the league will be based. A team also in L.A. would provide too much competition right way.

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NCAA data says: Athletes not as dumb as some regular kids … unless they play football, basketball or baseball

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By Michael Marot
The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — College athletes are still setting records and dispelling myths — in the classroom.

Just like the late NCAA President Myles Brand believed they could.

The NCAA’s latest graduation numbers show nearly four out of five student-athletes earn their diplomas on time, an all-time high, and federal statistics show athletes are still more likely to graduate on time than other students.

“The misconception is that NCAA student-athletes are not good students,” interim NCAA President Jim Isch said in a conference call Wednesday. “The truth, as Myles reminded people, is that they could perform in the classroom and they outperformed the general student body in almost every measure.”

NCAA statistics show 79 percent of all freshmen entering school in 2002-03 graduated within six years, matching last year’s record high. The four-class average, for students entering college between the fall of 1999 and the fall of 2002, also was 79 percent, a 1 percentage point increase over last year’s record.

The federal numbers are lower, 64 percent for athletes, but still 2 percentage points higher than the general student body that does not have access to all the assistance provided to student-athletes.

Federal statistics do not include the performance of transfer students. So if an athlete enrolls at one school, then transfers to another, neither school receives credit if the athlete graduates.

NCAA officials believe the improving numbers can be attributed to stronger eligibility standards for incoming freshmen and a greater emphasis on academics during Brand’s tenure as president.

“I think everyone understands how much this has changed the culture on campus and I expect that will continue to be the case in the future,” said Walter Harrison, chairman of the committee on academic performance. “I think coaches are clearly more aware of the Academic Progress Rate. They know how it’s calculated, and most importantly they know that they have to do well in the classroom and stay on track to graduate.”

Female athletes outperformed their male counterparts, 88 percent to 72 percent, and the only women’s sport to score lower than 79 percent was bowling (74 percent). Women’s basketball came in at 83 percent under NCAA guidelines and 64 percent on the federal report.

The three biggest men’s sports — football, basketball and baseball — all failed to top 70 percent in the NCAA report.

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Your L.A. NFL Week 11 TV schedule: The AFC West is at stake, and you need to see it

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Now, the Chargers-Broncos game has some meaning. Meaning, you’ve got to see it, instead of the Jets-Patroits.

CBS will go with San Diego’s roadie in the Mile High City as opposed to the other game (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms), and it makes sense if you’re trying to connect with an audience of local interest.

Otherwise, whatever else the NFL has to offer this weekend, we’re not all that interested:

THURSDAY

== 5:20 p.m., NFL Network: Miami at Carolina (with Bob Papa and Matt Millen)

SUNDAY

== 10 a.m., Channel 2: Indianapolis at Baltimore (with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf, instead of Pittsburgh-Kansas City, Buffalo-Jacksonville or Cleveland-Detroit)
== 10 a.m., Channel 11: Washington at Dallas (with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, instead of Seattle-Minnesota, Atlanta-N.Y. Giants, New Orleans-Tampa Bay and San Francisco-Green Bay)
== 1 p.m., Channel 2: San Diego at Denver (with Dick Enberg and Dan Fouts, instead of N.Y. Jets-New England or Cincinnati-Oakland; Fox has Arizona-St. Louis in this window as well)
== 5:20 p.m., Channel 4: Philadelphia at Chicago (with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth)

MONDAY
== 5:30 p.m., ESPN: Tennessee at Houston (with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden)

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Your Week 12 L.A. college football TV choices: USC’s bye week seems appropriate (it allows the coaches to go recruiting), and Alabama’s next opponent seems inappropriate

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No. 2 BCS ranked Alabama, which someday soon will play Florida for the right to claim No. 1, at least until the BCS title game, is playing Chattanooga Mocs this weekend.

Seriously. Roll Tide. It won’t be on any TV set near you Saturday.

This is what it said on the Alabama football official site:

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama football team returned to the practice field Monday afternoon to begin preparation for Saturday’s game with Chattanooga. The team practiced for a little over an hour in shells at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility.

“We always respect our opponents,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said at his weekly press conference on Monday. “These guys have come back in several games because of their ability to throw the ball, especially with the quarterback B.J. Coleman. They have good receivers. They have a good scheme and a good attack on offense. They seem to be a little simpler, playing hard and tough on defense. They do a good job of coaching their special teams. This is a very well-coached team. We always have the proper respect and we need to do a good job in what we do to execute and take care of our own business.”

We got nothing after that.

The rest of the week ahead in college football land — with some favorite (Ohio State-Michigan) meaningless matchups, and two important Pac-10 games (Cal-Stanford, on a channel you still can’t get on DirecTV; Oregon-Arizona, on a channel everyone seems to get) if you’re still following that kind of thing:

THE LOCALS:
== 1 p.m., FSN West: UCLA vs. Arizona State, Rose Bowl (with Barry Tompkins and Petros Papadakis)

WEDNESDAY
== 3 p.m., ESPNU: Buffalo at Miami (Ohio) (with Dari Nowkhah and Tom Luginbill)
== 5 p.m., ESPN2: Central Michigan at Ball State (with Dave Lamont and Trent Dilfer)

THURSDAY
== 3 p.m., ESPNU: Tennessee State at Eastern Illinois (with Charlie Neal and Jay Walker)
== 4:30 p.m, ESPN: Colorado at No. 12 Oklahoma State (with Chris Fowler, Craig James, Jesse Palmer and Erin Andrews)

FRIDAY
== 3:30 p.m., ESPNU: Akron at Bowling Green (with Kevin Negandhi and David Jon Berger)
== 6:30 p.m., ESPN2: No. 6 Boise State at Utah State (with Joe Tessitore and Rod Gilmore)

SATURDAY

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== 7 to 9 a.m., ESPN: “College GameDay” at Tucson, Arizona — it will mark the first time GameDay has originated from this city and the fifth consecutive week from a school not in the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12 (three from the Mountain West and two Pac-10), the longest streak in the show’s history. With Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard.

== 9 a.m., Channel 7: No. 10 Ohio State at Michigan (with Sean McDonough, Matt Millen and Holly Rowe)
== 9 a.m., ESPN: Minnesota at No. 13 Iowa (with Dave Pasch, Bob Griese and Chris Spielman)
== 9 a.m., ESPN2: North Carolina at Boston College (with Pam Ward and Ray Bentley)
== 9 a.m., ESPNU: Duke at No. 20 Miami (with Clay Matvick and David Diaz-Infante)
== 9:30 a.m., FSN West: Oklahoma at Texas Tech (with Joel Meyers, Gary Reasons and Jim Knox)
== 11 a.m., The mtn.: No. 4 TCU at Wyoming (with Dan Gutowsky, Blaine Fowler and Natalie Vickers)
== 11:30 a.m., ESPN Classic: Florida Classic: Florida A&M vs. Bethune-Cookman (from Orlando, with Charlie Neal and Jay Walker)
== 11:30 a.m., Channel 4: UConn at Notre Dame (with Tom Hammond, Pat Haden and no O.J. Simpson)

== 12:30 p.m., Channel 2: No. 8 LSU at Mississippi (with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Tracy Wolfson)
== 12:30 p.m., CBS College Sports: Air Force at No. 22 BYU (with Tom Hart and Aaron Taylor)
== 12:30 p.m., Channel 7: No. 14 Penn State at Michigan State (with Mike Patrick, Craig James and Heather Cox)
== 12:30 p.m., ESPN: Virginia at No. 23 Clemson (with Bob Wischusen and Brian Griese)
== 12:30 p.m., ESPNU: N.C. State at No. 15 Virginia Tech (with Todd Harris and Charles Arbuckle)
== 12:30 p.m., Big Ten Network: No. 16 Wisconsin at Northwestern (with Wayne Larrivee, Chris Martin and Charissa Thompson)
== 1 p.m., Versus: San Diego State at Utah (with Tim Neverett, Glenn Parker and Lindsay Soto)

== 3 p.m., the Mnt.: Colorado State at New Mexico (with James Bates, Todd Christensen and Keenan McCardell)
== 4 p.m., ESPNU: Vanderbilt at Tennessee (with Eric Collins and Brock Huard)
== 4:30 p.m., Versus: No. 25 Cal at No. 17 Stanford (with Ron Thulin, Kelly Stouffer and Lewis Johnson)
== 4:30 p.m., CBS College Sports: Tulsa at Southern Miss (with Dave Ryan and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila)
== 4:45 p.m., ESPN: Kansas State at Nebraska (with Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Erin Andrews)
== 4:45 p.m., ESPN2: Kentucky at Georgia (with Mark Jones and Bob Davie)
== 5 p.m., Channel 7: No. 11 Oregon at Arizona (with Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Lisa Salters)
== 5 p.m., ESPN PPV/ESPN360.com: Kansas at No. 3 Texas (with Ron Franklin and Ed Cunningham)

== 7:20 p.m., ESPNU: Nevada at New Mexico State (with Terry Gannon and David Norrie)

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