THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
UCLA at OREGON, 4 p.m., ESPN:
The Bruins graciously slipped from No. 9 to No. 12 after that 24-10 setback at Stanford. They could make that ground back up – and more – by figuring out a way to fleece the No. 2 Ducks, 7-0 and BCS title-game bound as they continue to soar following its 62-38 thrashing of Washington State on Saturday.
No matter what crazy color scheme it chooses, or creepy eye contact lenses worn, Oregon has been leading the nation in total offense at 4,502 yards, watching sophomore Marcus Mariota post 19 TDs without an interception in 197 passing attempts, extending his Pac-12 record to 265 attempt going back to last year. He’s thrown at least one TD pass in all 20 games of his career, he has a streak of passing and rushing for scores to nine straight games, his 10.4 yards per attempt is fifth in the nation, and so is his 181.7 QB rating. Oregon’s average of 57.6 points a game includes the fact that the fewest points it has scored in a victory so far is 45. “It doesn’t get any easier for us,” said UCLA coach Jim Mora. There’s not much to use here for past performance: The Bruins were able to steer clear of the Ducks the last two regular seasons – most recently facing them in the inaugural Pac-12 title game at Eugene, Ore., in Rick Neuheisel’s final game as head coach (prior to the 49-31 loss).
BEST OF THE REST:
NHL: KINGS vs. CALGARY, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Analyst Jim Fox pointed out following their last victory that of the 24 goals scored so far by the team, none have come from their top three centers (Kopitar, Richards and Stoll), but seven have are supplied by defensemen (two each for Doughty, Green and Voynov and one by Muzzin). The Kings stampede toward playing nine of 10 at home between Saturday and Nov. 9, with five of them against Pacific Division opponents.
Also this week:
Kings vs. Phoenix, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., FSW
Kings vs. Edmonton, Sunday at 6 p.m., FSW
NFL WEEK 7:
MINNESOTA at N.Y. GIANTS, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
You’re under no obligation to watch. Remember that. Even if you’re related to a Manning.
NHL: DUCKS at TORONTO, 4 p.m., Prime:
An eight-game road trip starts above the border and seems to hit almost every Eastern Conference team imaginable. As for the Maple Leafs’ fast start, we can’t explain it. Except that Bernier guy in the nets is pretty solid.
Also this week:
Ducks at Montreal, Thursday at 4:30 p.m., Prime
Ducks at Ottawa, Friday at 4:30 p.m., Prime
Ducks at Columbus, Sunday at 3 p.m., Prime
LAKERS vs. UTAH, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC:
From the Great Wall to L.A. Live to Disneyland: The Lakers, who already see the Jazz enough during the regular season, have to play nice with them now (as do the Clippers) as they try to get their body clocks and dietary needs readjusted.
Lakers vs. Utah, Honda Center, Friday at 7 p.m., TWC
Clippers vs. Utah, Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Prime
Clippers vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Prime
THE 109th WORLD SERIES:
ST. LOUIS vs. BOSTON:
Game 1: At Fenway Park, Boston, 5 p.m., Channel 11:
Ah, 2004 revisited. And the sight of Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore prancing across the Busch Stadium infield celebrating the Red Sox’s end to their curse, while filming the final scene of their movie, “Fever Pitch.” Sweet, Caroline. Ready for a sequel?
Game 2: In Boston, Thursday at 5 p.m.
Game 3: In St. Louis, Saturday at 5 p.m.
Game 4: In St. Louis, Sunday at 5 p.m.
All games on Channel 11
NFL WEEK 8:
CAROLINA at TAMPA BAY, 5:25 p.m., NFL Network:
And there’s talk of having two games on Thursday? Because matchups like this aren’t attractive enough?
USC vs. UTAH, Coliseum, 1 p.m., Pac-12 Network:
How does an Ed Orgeron team respond to a little South Bend in the road during its Kiffin recovery period? Maybe by trying to figure out how to fight on without Marqise Lee again. Other key players were helped off the field during that agonizing four-point loss at Notre Dame. The Utes have already knocked off Stanford and gave UCLA a 34-27 earlier this month, but they gave up 15 points in the fourth quarter at Arizona in a 35-24 loss on Saturday where they lost starting quarterback Trevor Wilson to injury. Utah last visited to L.A. to play in the first Pac-12 game ever – and go home a 23-14 loser secured when Matt Kalil blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt on the final play and Torin Harris returned it for a touchdown that wasn’t counted until two hours after the game ended. A year ago, the Trojans escaped with a 38-28 win at Salt Lake City.
WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS, Istanbul, Turkey, Final, 2 p.m. (delayed), ESPN2:
It’s already been stamped the Year of Serena – a 73-4 record, 17-1 against Top 10 opponents, only dropping 13 sets. Ten titles, two of them Grand Slams (French and U.S.). And Serena Williams comes into this year-ending event as the defending champ. This year’s field for the $6.5 million round-robin could have remained unchanged from last year had Maria Sharapova not withdrawn because a shoulder injury. For Williams to defend, she’ll have to finish off No. 2 and Aussie Open winner Victoria Azarenka, No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 5 Li Na, No. 6 Sara Errani, No. 7 Petra Kvitova , No. 8 Jelena Jankovic and No. 9 Angelique Kerber. Meanwhile, Wimbledon winner and No. 13 Marion Bartoli didn’t make the cut, nor did No. 12 Sloane Stephens. Play runs Tuesday-Friday (7 a.m., Tennis Channel). The semifinals are Saturday (5 a.m., Tennis Channel). The final replay is at Sunday (5:30 p.m., Tennis Channel)
MLS: GALAXY at SEATTLE, 6 p.m., ESPN:
As for this being the final regular season game, if we have our calculations right, the two-time defending champion Galaxy makes the playoffs. Which would be embarrassing otherwise.
NFL WEEK 8:
GREEN BAY at MINNESOTA, 5:30 p.m., Channel 4:
The cupboard was already pretty bare this week with Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego and Tennessee all given byes.