Play It Forward: Sept. 23-29 — Trojans, Kings seek the desert heat for different reasons

UPDATED: Monday, 4 p.m.:

What’s on tap for the sports calendar this coming week:

BEST BET:

USC's George Uko  tackles ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly during the 2012 game at the Coliseum. USC won 38-17. (Kirby Lee/Image of Sport)

USC’s George Uko tackles ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly during the 2012 game at the Coliseum. USC won 38-17. (Kirby Lee/Image of Sport)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL:
USC at ARIZONA STATE, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN2:
Defending yourself in the first major road test of the season will be on the minds of USC’s defenders for this night-time matchup against a Sun Devils team that had been ranked in the Top 25 until losing to Stanford, 42-28, at home last Saturday. USC’s defense has given up just an average of 11 points a game through the first four contests, ranking 11th in the nation. Last year, the Trojans slapped a 38-17 loss on the visiting Sun Devils, picking Taylor Kelly off three times. But in 2011, ASU ended an 11-game USC winning streak in the series with a victory on its home turf. Stanford’s defense Saturday figured out how to hold ASU to just 50 yards in the ground, but that’s somewhat deceiving as the Cardinal got out to such a quick lead, Kelly had to throw for 367 yards just to make the final score respectable. ASU’s two wins are also rather skewed. It blew out subdivision school Sacramento State, then held on with a controversial ending to knock off Wisconsin, 32-30, in a game that ended so wrong the Pac-12 officials were publically reprimanded.
This game could have been at 7 p.m. on ESPN, but was instead pushed back a half hour and farmed out to the “other” channel. Understandable.

BEST OF THE REST

MONDAY

1379651168000-USATSI-7443656WNBA PLAYOFFS:
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS:
Game 3: SPARKS vs. PHOENIX, Staples Center, 7 p.m., ESPN2:
The series will be decided back at the place where the Sparks lost the opener of this best-of-three by 11 points. The winner gets Minnesota in the Western Conference finals:
Thursday: Game 1: Sparks/Phoenix at Minnesota, 6 p.m., ESPN2
Sunday: Game 2: Sparks/Phoenix vs. Minnesota, 2 p.m., ESPN2

NFL WEEK 3: OAKLAND at DENVER, 5:40 p.m., ESPN:
fridgees
Before you buy that new Frigidaire Freezer unit, know there’s an appliance store in Colorado that offers a deal each time this year: Any customer who buys something in their store during the week before Oakland comes to town will have it fully refunded if the Broncos post a shutout against the Raiders. It’s never happened. Sebastian Janikowski single field goals prevented the shutout in 2004 and ’05. Last time the Raiders drew blanks: Week 7 of 2011 against Kansas City.

MLB: ANGELS vs. OAKLAND, Angel Stadium,  7 p.m., FSW:
Too bad Oakland already has locked up the AL West. We were hoping to see Bartolo Colon leap into the Angel Stadium center-field fountains.
The series continues:
Tuesday, 7 p.m., FSW
Wednesday at 12:30 p.m., FSW

TUESDAY

PHO-10Oct28-263920-930x637MLB: DODGERS at SAN FRANCISCO, 7:15 p.m., Channel 9:
There’s a giant cove on the other side of the right-field wall if the Dodgers decide to put on their Speedos and goggles and take another celebration dip. Willie McCovey says he’s cool with it. Considering the Dodgers have lost nine of 16 this year to the Giants, including that 19-3 mess last week, maybe they would appreciate another pool party.
The series continues:
Wednesday at 7:15 p.m., Channel 9
Thursday at 7:15 p.m., Prime

YACHTING: 34th AMERICA’S CUP, Race 17, San Francisco Bay, 1 p.m., NBC Sports Network:
Emirates Team New Zealand’s 8-6 lead over Oracle Team USA after Monday’s Race 16 complicates thing a bit. New Zealand has needed just one more victory to lock up the event since going up 8-1 in the best-of-17, knowing even the first first two U.S. wins didn’t count against them because of penalties. Are we about to see the greatest comeback in the 162-year history of this thing? “This is a comeback that not a single person in the world could have predicted,” said NBC analyst Ken Read. Three more wins in a row will do it. That seems much more doable.
If necessary: Race 18, Tuesday, approx. 2 p.m.
If necessary: Races 19, NBCSN, Wednesday, 1 p.m.

WEDNESDAY

MLB: TAMPA BAY at N.Y. YANKEES, 4 p.m., ESPN:
Could this be the night when the pinstripes are finally eliminated from anything worthwhile?

THURSDAY

MLB: ANGELS at TEXAS, 5 p.m., FSW:
There’s no return policy for Josh Hamilton’s contract at this point. Nor is there much of a chance of the Rangers making it as an AL wildcard. Boo hoo. The one thing we do recall: The Angels’ Mike Witt pitched the sixth perfect game in American League history on the final day of the 1984 season in Arlington, Tex., when no one cared about the outcome.
The series continues:
Friday and Saturday at 5 p.m., FSW
Sunday at noon, FSW

NFL WEEK 4: SAN FRANCISCO at ST. LOUIS, 5:25 p.m., NFL Network:
Last November, these two played the NFL’s first tie game in four years, 24-24, when both kickers missed overtime field goals.Three weeks later in St. Louis, the Rams avoided another OT tie when Greg Zuerlein converted a 54-yarder with 26 second left. More memorable about that first encounter of 2012: 49ers quarterback Alex Smith left the game with a concussion. Never to return.

FRIDAY

HORSE RACING: Santa Anita autumn meet, 1 p.m. first post:
The meet goes through Nov. 3, capped off by the 30th annual Breeders’ Cup world championships (Nov. 1-2). Breeders’ Cup Challenge Day is Saturday with five Grade 1 stakes races.

NHL EXHIBITION:
KINGS vs. N.Y. RANGERS, at Las Vegas, 7:30 p.m.:
It’s not as exotic as starting the season with games in Austria, Switzerland or Norway, as they did prior to winning their Stanley Cup in the 2011-12 season, but  “Frozen Fury XV,” the annual journey to the MGM Grand, is a grand experience non the less. It concludes Saturday with another practice match against Colorado (7 p.m.)

MLB: DODGERS vs. COLORADO, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:
hairstonhelton
As the regular-season grind comes down to a three-game post-season tuneup, complete with a Fan Appreciation Day ending, pay homage to the last time you’ll see Todd Helton as a Dodger basher: In 248 games and 860 at bats – the most played against any opponent – he hit 48 of his 368 career homers, collected 251 of his 2,511 hits and had 153 of his 1,398 RBIs. To go with a 47 doubles, 133 runs and a .292 average. Most telling stat: The Dodgers walked him 146 times. Just be weary of Helton’s fancy footwork around first base if Jerry Hairston Jr. is trying to leg out an infield grounder.
The series continues:
Saturday at 6 pm., Prime
Sunday at 1 p.m., Prime

SATURDAY

MLB: PITTSBURGH at CINCINNATI, 10 a.m.:
The middle game of a three-game series is reason to pay attention for the Dodgers as they are trying to figure out where the post-season plans could lead.

SUNDAY

SERIES: “EASTBOUND & DOWN,” Season 4, 10 p.m., HBO:
“From this moment forward, I’m getting what’s mine: Fame, money, respect, chicken chains! From this moment forward, Kenny Powers only works for Kenny Powers!” Thus, it’s the beginning of the end for America’s favorite bloated ex-big league relief pitcher. Funny thing, but this character sure acts a lot like how actor Danny McBride acted in the movie “This Is The End.” We see little to distinguish.

REALITY SHOW: “THE AMAZING RACE,” Race 23, 8 p.m., Channel 2:
Ally-and-Ashley-Amazing-RaceThis season will get some mileage out of having former NFL players Chester Pitts and Ephraim Salaam as one team, and Kings Ice Crew members Ashley Covert and Ally Mello as another. A million bucks goes to anyone who wins, as long as they don’t leak out the results ahead of time.

NFL WEEK 4:
NEW ENGLAND at ATLANTA, 5:30 p.m.,Channel 4
DALLAS at SAN DIEGO, 1:25 p.m., Channel 11
WASHINGTON at OAKLAND, 1:25 p.m., Channel 11:
The Raiders can only hope the recent sewage-backup problem at their stadium has been resolved. Or, at least it’s still occurring in the visiting locker room.

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