Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
College football: Orange Bowl, Miami: Stanford vs. Virginia Tech, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
Here’s three more hours of speculation about whether Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh will use this season a launching point to the NFL – Fox reported Sunday that the 49ers have targeted him as their No. 1 choice. With a little luck, Andrew Luck will get some attention, too. According to the EA Sports “NCAA Football ’11″ game simulated on ESPN.com (linked here), Luck completes 21 of 29 passes for 287 yards and a couple of scores in Stanford’s underwhelming 24-10 win. Not to spoil anything.
NHL: Kings vs. Chicago, Staples Center, 6 p.m., Versus:
The Kings run their latest three-game losing streak to Chicago, where the Blackhawks just beat them, 3-2, on Dec. 19. The Kings are 0-3 against Hawks this season and 0-6-1 in Chitown since an OT win at United Center on Dec. 30, 2007. And Chicago captain Jonathan Toews seems ready to come back from a shoulder injury.
College football: Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs. Ohio State, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
Thanks to the strong arm of the Sugar Bowl and Big Ten officials, those five Buckeyes suspended for five games next year because they were hard up for cash and sold some of their stuff can still play in this one, giving the Razorbacks some extra incentive.
NBA: Lakers vs. Detroit, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Hey, Detroit’s D-League entry, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, are second in the Eastern Conference with a 10-5 mark.
Series: “Biggest Loser,” 8 p.m., Channel 4:
Former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner is one of the 22 contestants, paired off into 11 teams, starting the 11th season of the weight-loss reality show. Watch him grapple with the fact he’s lugging around nearly 475 pounds and can’t get in and out of his car.
NBA: Lakers at Phoenix, 7:30 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN:
The Suns hit a team-record 22 3-pointers (in 40 attempts) in a five-point win over the Lakers in their last meeting. To put that into perspective, they made 21 2-pointers to go with that. And beware: Phoenix actually held Detroit to 75 points in a win the other night, ending a streak of 388 consecutive regular-season games allowing more than 75 points.
NBA: Clippers vs. Denver, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
The Clips’ Blake Griffin has a streak of 21 straight double-doubles. The franchise record of 22 is held by . . . Swen Nater, ’77-’78, Buffalo Braves.
College basketball: Cal State Northridge at Long Beach State, 7 p.m.:
Lenny Daniel leads the 4-9 Mats in scoring (16.2 points a game) and in boards (9.2), with double-doubles in four of his last five games. Likewise, power forward T.J. Robinson leads the 7-8 49ers in points and rebounds (14.9, 10.1). Both have season-high scoring marks of 31 points.
NHL: Ducks vs. Nashville, Honda Center, 7 p.m., FSW:
The Predators are another team trying to nose into the top eight of the Western Conference, but are staying close with a goals-against average less than 2.5, thanks to Pekka Rinne.
Golf: PGA Tour’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions, first round, Maui, 2:30 p.m., Golf Channel:
The whole thing starts again at Kapalua, with Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy back as the two-time defending champ here. Golf Channel has all four rounds through Sunday.
College football: GoDaddy.com Bowl, Mobile, Ala.: Middle Tennessee vs. Miami (Ohio), 5 p.m., ESPN:
Go away. Go, go, go.
NHL: Kings vs. Nashville, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Jonathan Bernier has beaten these guys twice this year already. Why not throw him in the nets again tonight?
College football: Cotton Bowl, Dallas: LSU vs. Texas A&M, 5 p.m., Channel 11:
It’s the 75th anniversary of the very first game — remember back in ’37, when TCU beat Marquette? And it’s the 50th meeting between the two schools, so that really makes this contest … unique? And don’t forget, for this game at Cowboy Stadium (not the actual Cotton Bowl site), LSU was only No. 11 in the final BCS poll, not No. 10, due to a computer glitch.
NBA: Lakers vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The other night, Trevor Ariza scored 13 points in the third quarter of the Hornets’ win over the Wizards. It’s the most he has scored in one quarter since he had 13 in the fourth quarter on March 6, 2009 for the Lakers against the T’wolves.
NHL: Ducks vs. Columbus, Honda Center, 7 p.m., Prime:
How long can the Ducks hold up without Ryan Getzlaf?
College football: BBVA Compass Bowl, Birmingham, Ala.: Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky, 9 a.m., ESPN:
We don’t need a compass to tell us what direction the bowl games are headed. South.
NHL: Kings vs. Columbus, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The Blue Jackets, straddling the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, may have a similar record to the Kings’ but there’s about a 30-goal swings between the two teams in goals scored vs. goals allowed.
NFL playoffs: New Orleans at Seattle, 1:30 p.m., Channel 4; N.Y. Jets at Indianapolis, 5 p.m., Channel 4:
The Jets’ reality show rolls on, and a Mark Sanchez-Peyton Manning matchup inside the dome promises to be memorable. Meanwhile, the Saints begin their title defense with a strange road trip. Really? They gotta go where? Common sense says don’t bet against Pete Carroll’s sub-.500 squad. The Charlie Whitehurst Miracle Story has begun.
NFL playoffs: Baltimore at Kansas City, 10 a.m., Channel 2; Green Bay at Philadelphia, 1:30 p.m., Channel 11:
The Packers took care of the Eagles in Philly during Week 1, 27-20, even though they had fewer rushing and passing yards. Michael Vick came in for the injured Kevin Kolb and put up 16 of 24 passing, 175 yards, 1 TD, 0 picks and 11 carries for 103 yards.
College basketball: UCLA at USC, Galen Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
The Dance Force is with USC. As far as the stats: The Trojans are tied for 202nd in the NCAA in turnover ratio (minus-.4), while UCLA is tied for 230th (minus 1.0). Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. Another number to consider: The Trojans are 11th in the nation in fouls committed per game (15.3). The Trojans won both matchups against the Bruins last season, but trail in the all-time series, 128-103.
NBA: Lakers vs. New York, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW:
At last, the Lakers get to see these extremely made-over 19-14 Knicks, but facing a week in which they’ll face San Antonio and Dallas before the Lakers, who are 9-1 against the Eastern Conference.
NBA: Clippers vs. Golden State, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime:
It won’t be close: When the Warriors edged the Bobcats 96-95 the other night, it was only their second one-point win in the last four seasons.
NHL: Ducks vs. San Jose, Honda Center, 5 p.m., KDOC:
The Sharks and Ducks have already split two meetings this year, but both were in San Jose.
College football: Fight Hunger Bowl, San Francisco: Nevada vs. Boston College, 6 p.m., ESPN:
Fight the proliferation of too many bowl games. Last year, it was sponsored by Emerald Nuts. Someone ate them all?