The week ahead on the sports calendar, here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
USC at HAWAII, 8 p.m. Thursday, CBS Sports Network:
UCLA vs. NEVADA, Rose Bowl, 7 p.m. Saturday, Pac-12 Network:
“The city is different now,” UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley was saying. “Just walking around, everybody knows you for that game. You hear, ‘Oh, you’re the quarterback that beat SC. You beat SC.’ It’s so cool.” As a freshman last season, Hundley facilitated in the rainy 38-28 win over USC at the Rose Bowl. Junior Anthony Barr punctuated it by effectively ending Matt Barkley’s college career with an emphatic sack. Flash forward nine months.
The fact both Hundley and Barr return to coach Jim Mora’s squad that has been to the Pac-12 title game two seasons in a row as the South champion turns the expectations up a notch in the pre-season polls. And the fact that USC beleaguered coach Lane Kiffin is without Barkley has no clear-cut starter at quarterback says more about the state of the Trojans’ program . Is there a way Marquis Lee can take snaps out of the shotgun and the just decide himself which way to attack the defense? Mora says that playing the opener in the Rose Bowl may feel like a bowl-game atmosphere, even if the opponent is the Wolf Pack. “What you find the first time you walk into the Rose Bowl is that adrenaline just takes over,” said Mora. “We saw that in the spring game, and then you get tired real easy. So, we’re going to try to create that on Saturday night so that when we come out against Nevada, we’re maybe a tad more relaxed and used to the environment. There will still be a heightened sense of anxiety (on game day).”
If USC’s season, and Kiffin’s future, hangs in the balance of what bowl game the team ends up, at least they’ll start things off with a bowl-type feeling traveling to Honolulu for their opener. USC’s last two trips to Hawaii produced victories of 49-36 (in 2010) and 63-17 (in 2005). USC officials confirm that in neither of those trips did Snoop Dogg pick them up at the airport.
BEST OF THE REST:
TENNIS: U.S. OPEN in Flushing, N.Y.: Opening rounds, 8 a.m. Tennis Channel; 10 a.m., ESPN2:
This marks the 40th Grand Slam tournament since an American man won a major title — Andy Roddick did it here in 2003. Don’t expect any miracles this time. Earlier this month, for the first time in the 40-year history of the ATP computer rankings, there are no U.S. men in the top 20. John Isner has crept back and grabbed the 13th seed. But ahead of him remain defending champ Andy Murray (kissing the Cup above), No. 1 ranked Novak Djokovic, No. 2 Rafael Nadal and five-time U.S. Open champ Roger Federer. On the women’s side, defending champ Serena Williams, who has had some famous meltdowns at this event, won’t have Maria Sharapova to worry about (she’s pulled out), but there’s 20-year-old Sloane Stephens, quietly seeded No.15, but she upset Williams at the Aussie Open, reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals and made it to the second week of the French Open.
There’s the Bryan brothers back at it, trying to complete a men’s doubles Grand Slam (as they already are the defending champions in each of the four majors at the moment). Is that going to hold our interests? “The Bryans are doing a great job trying to prop up doubles,” said John McEnroe, who’ll be doing the commentating again for ESPN and CBS. “Without them it would be in even worse shape than it is. They’ve done a great job, especially this year. As far as doubles, it’s on life support. At this stage, it’s been proven by the singles players that there is no real advantage for them to play doubles. . .. And it’s a shame. It’s a great game. Until there is a real change in the game where volleys become more of a premium or strategy or positioning at the net or moving forward comes into play more, I don’t think you’re going to see many, if at all, of the top players playing doubles. “
In other words, enjoy the Bryans while you can.
The event runs through Sept. 9.
ESPN2 (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and Tennis Channel (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) has coverage weekdays. Saturday and Sunday: Channel 2 and CBSSN (8 a.m.-3 p.m.) and Tennis Channel (4-to-8 p.m.).
MLB: DODGERS vs. CHICAGO CUBS, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime:
The can’t-miss bobblehead giveaway during the middle game of this series: Rick Monday saves the flag.
The series continues:
Tuesday, 7:10 p.m., Channel 9
Wednesday, 12:10 p.m., Prime
MLB: ANGELS at TAMPA BAY, 4:10 p.m., FSW:
They could just accept three forfeit, avoid using all that plane fuel it takes to get to see Joe Madden’s team, and move on.
The series continues:
Wednesday, 4:10 p.m., FSW
Thursday 10:10 a.m., FSW
WNBA: SPARKS vs. CONNECTICUT, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
The Sparks, without injured Candace Parker, pulled out a 74-72 win at Connecticut in August when Kristi Tolliver scored 19 points, including two key jumpers down the stretch.
Also: Sparks at San Antonio, 5 p.m. Sunday
North Carolina at South Carolina, 3 p.m., ESPN:
Labor Day weekend officially begins.
MLB: DODGERS vs. SAN DIEGO, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime:
Ian, you’re killin’ us: It appears Ian Kennedy will miss pitching in this series against the Dodgers. At least there’s the viewing of “The Sandlot” on the big screen after Sunday’s contest.
The series continues:
Saturday, 6:10 p.m., Prime
Sunday, 1:10 p.m., Prime
MLB: ANGELS at MILWAUKEE, 5:10 p.m., FSW:
Ryan Braun sends his apologies. He’s not able to partake in this one.
The series continues:
Saturday, 4:10 p.m., FSW
Sunday 11:10 a.m., FSW
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech in Atlanta, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN; Georgia at Clemson, 5 p.m. Saturday, Channel 7:
The defending national champs and preseason No. 1 Crimson Tide are up front about their chances of repeating – it starts up front, on the offensive line, trying to replace Barrett Jones, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack, who all moved onto the NFL and protected quarterback A.J. McCarron. As for the No. 5 SEC Bulldogs going to meet the No. 8 ACC Tigers in Death Valley, it’s a made-for-TV matchup in prime-time.
Other games today on the radar:
Notre Dame vs. Temple, 12:30 p.m. Channel 4
Oregon vs. Nichols State, 1 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Oregon State vs. Eastern Washington, 3 p.m. Pac-12 Network
Washington State at Auburn, 4 p.m., ESPNU
LSU vs. TCU at Arlington, Tex., 6 p.m. ESPN
Washington vs. Boise State, 7 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Cal vs. Northwestern, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
MLS: GALAXY vs. SAN JOSE, Stub Hub Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Be among the first 10,000 to snag a Robbie Keane bobblehead. Or don’t, and find one on eBay instead.
Ohio at Louisville, 12:30 p.m., ESPN
Colorado vs. Colorado State at Denver, 3 p.m., CBS Sports Network:
College football on Sunday? Why not? TV demands it.