Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
San Francisco Chronicle
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
CIF state high school football championships, Home Depot Center in Carson: Open Division title game — Westlake vs. Concord De La Salle, 8 p.m., Saturday, Time Warner Cable; Division IV title game — Sierra Canyon vs. Le Grand, 4 p.m., Friday, Time Warner Cable:
Congrats to 14-0 Westlake for finally making it to the big statewide dance. Welcome to Carson. Concord’s De La Salle will be your chaperone. The Spartans (12-1), who just polished off their 20th straight section title, are 3-2 in these kind of major events, having defeated Servite last year 48-8. In the long line of famous running backs from the school – including Maurice Jones-Drew – junior Tiapepe Vitale (above) is now the star ball carrier, running for 168 yards and six touchdowns in the De La Salle’s Northern California Division I final win. The Spartans have won 10 in a row by a combined 458-57 since a loss to St. Thomas Aquinas of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., early in the season. Meanwhile, Harry Welsh’s Santa Margarita squad plays for the Division I title game against San Jose Bellarmine (Friday, 8 p.m.), and Troy Starr’s San Diego Helix team meets Loomis Del Oro in the Division II title game (Saturday 4 p.m.)
NFL: St. Louis at Seattle, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
A match up of the 2-10 Rams and 5-7 Seahawks is one they only dream about in planning the “Monday Night Football” schedule months in advance. The Rams, another team rumored to be possibly heading (back) to L.A., have scored just one offensive touchdown since the first quarter of their 24-7 loss to the Seahawks on Nov. 20. And if quarterbacks Sam Bradford and A.J. Feely aren’t feeling up to playing, that’ll leave practice squad guy Tom Brandstater as St. Louis’ starter. The former Fresno State starter is with his fifth NFL team since the 2009 draft.
NHL: Kings at Boston, 4 p.m., FSW:
Nice timing to get out of town for awhile. Four losses in a row, and eight straight games with two goals or less, could give Kings’ fans a concussion from hitting their foreheads with their open palm. But that’s the situation as the team starts a four-game road trip against the defending Stanley Cup champions. Averaging a league-worst 2.2 goals a game, the Kings are also 3-for-34 on the power play over the last 10 games.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Eastern Washington, Sports Arena, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The Pauley Pavilion renovations aren’t the only thing in the UCLA basketball program currently under construction. The rebuilding Bruins (3-5) didn’t necessarily show they were all that mightier than Penn in a four-point win last Saturday in Anaheim. Now, it’s back to the L.A. facility to host the Big Sky’s Eastern Washington, averaging 75 points a game, a mark the Bruins have topped only twice this year.
Volleyball: NCAA women’s national semifinals: UCLA vs. Florida State, 4 p.m. ESPN2; USC vs. Illinois, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2:
Jumpin’ Jupiter, how’s about another UCLA-USC finale for a national title? It happened a few weeks ago in men’s water polo (USC won) and it could take place here in San Antonio. The 28-6 Bruins got here after toppling four-time defending champion Penn State in the regional semifinals. Then it’s the 29-4 and top-ranked Women of Troy, led by senior All-American outside hitter Alex Jupiter (right), having knocked out Pepperdine in the regional finals. The title match (Saturday, 5:30 p.m., ESPN2) could be the third time USC and UCLA face each other this season. They split their two regular season meetings this season, the Trojans winning most recently 3-1 at the Wooden Center on Nov. 25.
NHL: Kings at Columbus, 4 p.m., FSW:
If not for the Ducks, the Blue Jackets would be the worst team in the Western Division. They’ve given up nearly 30 goals more than they’ve scored. The team recently hired Craig Patrick, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and a two-time Stanley Cup champion, as their new senior advisor of hockey operations.
NFL: Jacksonville at Atlanta, 5:30 p.m., NFL Network:
How much more national exposure do the Jags really need?
NHL: Kings at Detroit, 4 p.m., FSW:
The Red Wings crushed the Kings, 4-1, about a month ago at Staples Center in a game that included Anze Kopitar missing a penalty shot. The Kings had won three of four games from Detroit last season.
College football: New Mexico Bowl: Temple vs. Wyoming, 11 a.m., ESPN; Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Utah State vs. Ohio, 2:30 p.m., ESPN; New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette vs. San Diego State, 6 p.m., ESPN:
The official start of the bowl season has these three gems — at least five of the six teams have eight or more wins. The Mid-American and Mountain West are well represented, but the MAC and WAC are present as well. That says it all.
College basketball: UCLA vs. UC Davis, Honda Center, noon, Prime:
Back for another road trip to Anaheim. Is this old yet?
College basketball: USC vs. Georgia, Galen Center, 7 p.m., Prime:
The Trojans (4-6) are 334th in the country out of 345 teams in points per game at 55.1. The Bulldogs (4-5) are ranked 310th at 59.4.
NFL: Dallas at Tampa Bay, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network:
The NFL bleeds into Saturday. Get used to it for a few weeks.
NFL: New England at Denver, 1:15 p.m., Channel 2:
This Tebow-Brady match up is one that NBC tried to wrangle away from CBS and put in prime-time, but the league wouldn’t let it happen. Something about Patriots owner Bob Kraft putting his foot down because it would cut into the team’s prep time for their next game on Christmas Eve. But then, Baltimore and San Diego, the two teams stuck in that 5:20 p.m. window, have to play on Christmas Eve, too. Like 26 other teams.
NFL: Green Bay at Kansas City; 10 a.m.; Detroit at Oakland, 1 p.m.:
The Packers stay in the AFC West, picking off victories. The Raiders won’t mind that in this case. The Chiefs, however, will go at it with a new coach.