Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: USC vs. Notre Dame, Coliseum, 5 p.m., Channel 7; UCLA vs. Stanford, Rose Bowl, 3:30 p.m., Channel 11:
Brand protection is what’s really at stake for the 84th edition of the USC-Notre Dame rivalry. The Trojans’ image in the community has taken a shot following Saturday’s humbling loss to UCLA in the Rose Bowl where Matt Barkley left with his right arm in a sling. The Trojans’ third loss in four games is a free-fall from the No. 1 spot they had in the AP poll when the season started. That’s the spot where Notre Dame currently sits, thanks to an 11-0 record coming into this game, leading the BCS standings for the first time since the thing was created in 1998.
USC has previously spoiled Notre Dame’s undefeated chances in the final game of the season in 1938, ’64, ’70 and ’80. But No. 1 Notre Dame’s 27-10 win over the No. 2 Trojans paved the way to the Irish’s last championship, after a win over West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl.
Barkley has already been ruled out for this one because of his shoulder injury, but the great subplot is the evolution of Irish senior linebacker Manti Te’o, who was USC bound coming out of high school until he changed his mind and picked the Irish. Now, he’ll play his final regular-season game at the Coliseum. “There is no next week,” Te’o said after the Irish beat Wake Forest on Saturday. “It’s USC. There is no game after that. If we take care of USC, we’ll be fine. The USC-Notre Dame game is always a battle. So we understand that and we’re going to prepare the way we know how.” Irish coach Brian Kelly said he thought Te’o “should win the Heisman Trophy, provided we continue to win.” USC has won nine of the last 10 meetings, but the ’05 “Bush Push” victory had to be vacated. The last time Notre Dame came to the Coliseum ranked in the Top 10 was at No. 6 in 2006, but the No. 2 Trojans won, 44-24.
Meanwhile, across town, UCLABruins.com had a new home page posted Sunday, as well as a strange situation – it could be playing Stanford twice in six days. Bruins freshman quarterback Brett Hundley admitted that “when the season started, obviously nobody thought we were going to do what we’re doing now.” That was after he completed 22 of 30 passes in a 10-point win over USC to clinch the Pac-12 South Division title. Not many thought the Cardinal would be in the driver’s seat to win the Pac-12 North Division at this point, either. If they are to play each other in Palo Alto on Nov. 30 for the Pac-12 championship, it likely means the Cardinal has to win this meeting – unless Oregon loses to Oregon State. If Oregon wins and UCLA beats Stanford, the Ducks would host the Bruins. If there’s a three-way tie for the North title (involving OSU), Stanford would advance to the conference title game played at UCLA, for the right to go to the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl. Make sense?
THE BEST OF THE REST ….
The Trojans landed the invite to the Lahaina Civic Center, meaning all that travel guarantees three games on the island. After facing the Illini, USC has either Texas or host Chaminade (Tuesday, TBA) and then a choice of North Carolina, Marquette, Butler or Mississippi State (Wednesday, TBA). The Trojans circle back home for an intense matchup against Top 25-ranked San Diego State (Sunday, Galen Center, 7 p.m., FSW).
NFL Week 11: Chicago at San Francisco, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, irregular heartbeat and all, still holds the Bears’ records for most pass attempts and completions in his career.
NBA: Clippers at San Antonio, 5:30 p.m., Prime:
The first of four in a row on the road for the 7-2 Clippers, who’ve only played one game away from Staples Center so far this season — and won in Portland. Their last meeting: A 22-point Clip victory.
Shabazz Muhammad has been freed, and his first appearance in a college game comes in what’s called the Legends’ Classic at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. If UCLA gets past these Big East Hoyas, a not-so-impressive 2-0 so far, then it’s likely there’ll be a meeting with No. 1 Indiana (assuming it beats Georgia) on Wednesday (7 p.m., ESPN). Lose, and the Bruins should face the Bulldogs in the third-place game (Wednesday, 4:30 p.m., ESPNU). The week ends back at Pauley against Cal Poly (Sunday, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
NBA: Lakers vs. Brooklyn, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Always a chance Mike D’Antoni will be ready for this one. Then again, Dwight Howard can take a look at this Nets roster and guess: How would I have fit in? Poorly, we’re sure.
NBA: Clippers at Oklahoma City, 4:30 p.m., Prime, ESPN:
With wins over San Antonio, Miami and Chicago in the books during a five-game win streak, the next measuring stick for the Clippers comes on their first visit of the season at OKC.
Episode One of the one-hour series has the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, actor Matthew Perry and Hollywood producer and Dodgers co-owner Peter Guber booked as the guests to “discuss a wide range of sports and entertainment related topics,” according to the release. Taping this show Tuesday afternoon means Rome will skip out on his radio show Monday and Tuesday, then promote the heck out of it Wednesday.
NFL Week 12: Houston at Detroit, 9:30 a.m., Channel 2; Washington at Dallas, 1:15 p.m., Channel 11; New England at N.Y. Jets, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4:
More free games than you can shake a wishbone at this time of year. The Thanksgiving rush includes three network games – highlighted by the Mark Sanchez-Tom Brady rematch in the Tryptophan Bowl, a month after the Pats pulled off a 29-26 OT win that happened after Rob Ninkovich knocked the ball out of Sanchez’s hand and recovered the fumble. This is just the first of two for the Cowboys and Redskins, who also face off in the season-ender, while the Texans, 4-0 on the road this season, provide the Lions with the holiday appetizer.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: TCU at Texas, 4:30 p.m., ESPN:
Seemed like the Longhorns played Texas A&M every Thanksgiving — 60 times since 1900. Why now the Horned Frogs? ‘Cause the Aggies jumped to the SEC, you see. TCU will play on Thanksgiving for the first time since a 15-6 win at SMU in 1928.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: LMU vs. Oral Roberts in Anchorage, Alaska, 6 p.m., CBS Sports Network:
The Great Alaska Shootout has been going on since 1978 — the longest running, regular-season tournament in men’s college basketball. But since most teams have opted instead to play in Hawaii, this one has lost a bit of luster. The Lions are enlisted to represent L.A. hoops with games tonight, Friday and Saturday.
NBA: Lakers at Memphis, 5 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Sure, the Grizzlies have the best record in the Western Conference. They’ve won eight in a row since a season-opening loss to the Clippers. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one team has a better record than the Grizzlies (24-5) since March 25 of last season: San Antonio (25-4).
NBA: Clippers at Brooklyn, 4:30 p.m., Prime:
How much do you like the new Brooklyn jerseys? Enough to actually buy one?
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: LSU at Arkansas, 11:30 a.m., Channel 2; Utah at Colorado, noon, FX; Washington at Washington State, 12:30 p.m., Channel 11; Arizona at Arizona State, 7:30 p.m., ESPN:
Always a good chance one of these Pac-12 teams will end up in the first bowl game of the season: The Gildan New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 15 in Albuquerque. Livin’ the dream.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Oregon at Oregon State, noon, Pac-12 Network; Auburn at Alabama, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2; Georgia Tech at Georgia, 9 a.m., ESPN; Michigan at Ohio State, 9 a.m., Channel 7; Baylor at Texas Tech, 11:30 a.m., Channel 11; Florida at Florida State, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7; Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, 12:30 p.m., ESPN; Missouri at Texas A&M, 4 p.m., ESPN2; South Carolina at Clemson, 4 p.m., ESPN:
A win in the 116th Civil War is the only way that Oregon has a shot at just getting back into the hunt for the Rose Bowl after losing to Stanford last Saturday in OT. The Ducks have won the last four meetings, including 37-20 two years ago at Corvallis that put them into the BCS championship. Afterward, some Oregon fans lit a T-shirt on fire over the Beavers’ logo that said “I hate your Ducks,” which damaged the artificial turf and led to police using a photo in the Portland Tribune to make an arrest in the case.
NBA: Lakers at Dallas, 5:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
The Lakers’ reboot includes going back up against the Mavs, who beat them by eight in the season opener without Dirk Nowitzki. The 11-time all-star from Germany continues to rehab a right knee surgery that was supposed to keep him out three-to-six weeks (it’s been three), with his only real appearance coming in a brutal “player-aoke” website performance of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.”
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Cal State Northridge at BYU, 6 p.m.:
How many college basketball teams are 6-0 at this point? Only the Matadors. Look it up.
NFL WEEK 12: Green Bay at N.Y. Giants, 5:20 p.m, Channel 4; San Francisco at New Orleans, 1:20 p.m., Channel 11; Baltimore at San Diego, 1 p.m., Channel 2; Minnesota at Chicago, 10 a.m., Channel 11:
Want to mess with the Packers on a five-game win streak? The Giants had a week off to prep for it.
CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE GREY CUP: Toronto vs. Calgary, at Toronto, 3 p.m., NBC Sports Network:
The Argos have the home field for the 100th version of Canada’s Super Bowl, with a halftime show that includes Justin Bieber and Gordon Lightfoot, the latter of whom may have played at the first Grey Cup, also in Toronto.