One of the games you won’t be seeing this week, but should be on the schedule: The Bacon Bowl.
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
100th ROSE BOWL: STANFORD vs. MICHIGAN STATE, Wednesday at 2 p.m., ESPN:
Pull up a chair, wave at Vin Scully as he’s escorted up Colorado Blvd., serving as the Grand Marshall of the 125th Tournament of Roses Parade, then tune in later in the day to see him flip the coin that will determine who’ll defer the kickoff until the second half in the latest edition of this iconic game. Stanford actually helped kick the whole thing off in 1902 – on the wrong end of a 49-0 score against Michigan in Tournament Park (on the campus of Cal Tech) that was so ugly, the game was called with eight minutes left and organizers decided to put football on hold for more than a decade. They replaced it with chariot and ostrich races. Which, according to all accounts, may not be such a bad idea to bring back of the Cardinal and Spartans decide to play a brand of defense-first football that will come far from lighting up the scoreboard.
Michigan State’s run defense is ranked No. 1 in the nation, surrendering just 80.8 rushing yards a game. It doesn’t explain how Ohio State had 273 against them on the ground in the Big Ten championship game, but the Spartans still prevailed. “They’re a big, physical, strong defense, and they believe in playing team defense more than I’ve ever seen,” said Stanford senior running back Tyler Gaffney, who rushed for 1,618 yards and 20 touchdowns this season behind his equally huge offensive line. “But we pride ourselves on being the exact same thing, being strong and moving guys against their will. It’s going to be a test of will.”
Stanford should have a fewer butterflies about this whole BCS bowl business – the Cardinal was here a year ago and outlasted Wisconsin, 20-14. “It’s very much a business trip,” said Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan, whose last trip to L.A. was watching USC pull off an upset against his team at the Coliseum. “We came down here for one reason, and that’s for the game.” We’ll be there to see Scully, trying to talk him into at least join the guys in the booth and call a few plays.
THE BEST OF THE REST
NHL: KINGS at CHICAGO, 5 p.m., NBC Sports Net:
The network has snatched away this one to give national viewers a look at another rematch of last season’s Western Conference finals. Strangely, the Kings were just in Chicago two weeks ago and saw Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews set up two of his team’s three first-period goals in a 3-1 victory. Could this be the moment when Jonathan Quick finally gets back into the nets for the Kings?
NBA: CLIPPERS vs. PHOENIX, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
The Morris twins — Markieff and Marcus — are a combined 23.7 ppg and 10.5 rpg off the bench for the Suns. Much better than Chris and Cliff Paul.
ARMED FORCES BOWL at Fort Worth, Texas: NAVY vs. MIDDLE TENNESSEE, 8:45 a.m., ESPN:
The Midshipmen’s triple-option offense is something the defense department should look into trying.
MUSIC CITY BOWL at Nashville, Tenn.: MISSISSIPPI vs. GEORGIA TECH, 12:15 p.m., ESPN:
Last year, the Yellow Jackets squashed USC, 21-7, in the Sun Bowl, breaking a seven-game bowl losing streak. The Rebels are 9-1 in their last 10 bowl games and have won their last five, which is tied for the longest active bowl win streak among FBS schools.
ALAMO BOWL in San Antonio: OREGON vs. TEXAS, 3:45 p.m., ESPN:
Texas coach Mack Brown, about to call it quits, is 7-1 in his last eight bowl games. But the Longhorns are almost a two-touchdown underdog against the Ducks, who, despite a 10-2 mark, missed playing in BCS bowl for the first time in five years.
HOLIDAY BOWL in San Diego: ARIZONA STATE vs. TEXAS TECH, 7:15 p.m., ESPN:
“I think 130 years of playing football at Arizona State, this would be the sixth time that we ever won 11 games so it would be monumental for us,” said Sun Devils coach Todd Graham. Thank USC and UCLA for helping him get to this spot.
SUN BOWL: UCLA vs. VIRGINIA TECH, 11 a.m., Channel 2:
There’s a non-scandalous photo circulating of Bruins coach Jim Mora wearing a blue-and-gold sombrero and sharing a dance with Sun Bowl queen Madeline Clark. “Yes, my first sombrero,” Mora told the El Paso Times. “My daughter said, ‘Do I get to keep this?’ and I told her, ‘No, I get to keep this’.” Mora also wants one more win – that’ll make 10 for this team, the first time the program has been in double digits since 2005. That year, UCLA captured that 10th win by squashing Northwestern, 50-38, in the Sun Bowl. Virginia Tech, 8-4, has got by with the third-best rated defense in the country behind Florida State and Michigan State, but they’re only 99th in the nation in total yards, more than 1,000 behind the Bruins. DVR this one as well: It’s likely Brett Hundley’s final game as the Bruins QB.
ADVOCARE V100 BOWL in Shreveport, La.: ARIZONA vs. BOSTON COLLEGE, 9:30 a.m., ESPN:
LIBERTY BOWL in Memphis, Tenn.,: RICE vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE, 1 p.m., ESPN:
CHICK-FIL-A BOWL in Atlanta: TEXAS A&M vs. DUKE, 5 p.m., ESPN:
Johnny Football has the spotlight once again, duking it out against the Blue Devils’ defense.
NBA: LAKERS vs. MILWAUKEE, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC:
As a New Year’s Eve special wardrobe change, the Lakers are supposed to break out those all-black “Hollywood Nights” jerseys, like the ones they wore in late November against New Jersey. Combined with the white T-shirts they sported on Christmas Day, the team is sporting more costume swaps this season than at Brittney Spears concert. Keep the audience confused and purchasing at the Team LA store, apparently.
NHL: KINGS at DALLAS, 5 p.m., FSW:
The Kings’ 5-2 loss to the Stars last week at Staples Center was Martin Jones’ first as a pro in the nets.
NHL: 2014 WINTER CLASSIC: DETROIT vs. TORONTO, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., 10 a.m., Channel 4:
They tried to pull this one off a year ago, but the NHL lockout wiped it out. So now they’re expecting to break the Guinness World Record for greatest attendance at a hockey game – topping the 104,073 that came to see Michigan face Michigan State in a college game in 2010, also at the Big House. The NBC team of Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire will also call this one at ice level for the first time in an outdoor game. In addition, they’ll announce the men’s and women’s U.S. Olympic hockey rosters during and after the game.
GATOR BOWL at Jacksonville, Fla.: NEBRASKA vs. GEORGIA, 9 a.m., ESPN2:
It kinda beats the Heart of Dallas Bowl that ESPNU is trying to sell at the same time (a matchup of UNLV and North Texas).
OUTBACK BOWL in Tampa, Fla.: IOWA vs. LSU, 10 a.m., ESPN:
These two schools have made a combined 69 bowl appearances. But perhaps never this embarrassing a trip.
CAPITAL ONE BOWL in Orlando, Fla.: WISCONSIN vs. SOUTH CAROLINA, 10 a.m. Channel 7:
Fast forward to where Jadeveon Clowney might be when kickoff starts — perhaps speeding toward the stadium because he missed the team bus?
FIESTA BOWL in Glendale, Ariz.: BAYLOR vs. CENTRAL FLORIDA, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
It’s the first BCS-bowl appearance for both the Big 12 and American Athletic Conference champs. Wait, the Cotton is a BCS game?
NBA: CLIPPERS vs. CHARLOTTE, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., Prime:
Start the new year out with an early night game.
SUGAR BOWL in New Orleans: OKLAHOMA vs. ALABAMA, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
It’s a bittersweet landing here for the third-ranked Crimson Tide, on track for a third straight BCS title game, this time in Pasadena, until Auburn derailed their plans. Alabama quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist A.J. McCarron says he and his teammates “aren’t just going through the motions.” The 11th-ranked Sooners don’t know who’ll play quarterback yet, as coach Bob Stoops says he won’t decide on Trevor Knight or Blake Bell until just before game time.
NHL: KINGS at ST. LOUIS, 5 p.m, FSW:
This ends a three-game roadie that began in ’13 and ends in ’14.
COTTON BOWL in Dallas: OKLAHOMA ST. vs. MISSOURI, 4:30 p.m., Channel 11:
Tuning into see the Cowboys and Tigers meet up in Dallas is a blast from the past. The two programs, former rivals in the Big Eight and Big 12, are meeting for the 52nd time, almost a century after their first encounter in 1915. But this is only their fourth meeting when both teams are ranked.
ORANGE BOWL in Miami: CLEMSON vs. OHIO STATE, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
Ohio State is trying to put on a happy face after landing in Miami instead of Pasadena for a BCS title shot. “Obviously, we’re not going to where we thought we were going or where we wanted to be going, but we’re playing in the Orange Bowl and that’s a big-time bowl game,” Ohio State offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said of the 12-1 Buckeyes. “When you start going back to the coulda, woulda, shouldas, that’s poisonous for a team. It’s our job as leaders to look ahead and make sure everybody is doing their business.”
NBA: LAKERS vs. UTAH, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC:
If it comes down the final seconds, and the Jazz is going for the go-ahead layup with Gordon Hayward to try to win it, try clogging up the middle more. Just a thought.
NBA: CLIPPERS at DALLAS, 5:30 p.m., Prime:
Vince Carter, who turns 37 next month, has averaged 11.3 points a game in 24 minutes off the bench this season. He scored 20 points (helped by 11-for-11 at the free-throw line) in a recent loss to the Spurs last week.
PGA TOUR HYUNDAI TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS, at Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii, first round, 2:30 p.m., Golf Channel:
Wait, this isn’t the season opener any more? It’s the re-start mark for a season that started in October, meaning Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore and Chris Kirk make this field of 30 because of current-season victories. A year ago, Dustin Johnson won a three-round sprint to the finish after high winds canceled the first three days.
Saturday’s second round is on Golf Channel (11:30 a.m.) and Sunday’s third round is on Channel 4 (noon) and Golf Channel (1 p.m.)
NBA: CLIPPERS at SAN ANTONIO, 5:30 p.m., Prime:
The Clippers registered their largest margin of victory ever against the Spurs, 115-92, a couple of weeks ago at Staples Center, using 27 points from Blake Griffin and 23 from Chris Paul. Spurs guard Tony Parker had to leave that game in the third quarter with a right shin contusion.
AFC: KANSAS CITY at INDIANAPOLIS, 1:30 p.m., Channel 4
NFC: NEW ORLEANS at PHILADELPHIA, 5 p.m., Channel 4:
The Colts took care of the Chiefs 23-7 in Week 16, with Alex Smith sacked five times.
NHL: KINGS vs. VANCOUVER, Staples Center, 7 p.m., FSW:
The Kings have already topped the Canucks twice this season, once by Jonathan Quick and the other by Ben Scrivens.
BBVA COMPASS BOWL in Birmingham, Ala.: HOUSTON vs. VANDERBILT, 10 a.m., ESPN:
Our compass says this is heading south in a hurry.
USC at UCLA, Pauley Pavilion, noon, Fox Sports 1:
Let’s launch the Pac-12 regular season with some kind of haymaker – delivered either by Steve Alford or Andy Enright. Wake up, So Cal. The college basketball season seems to have started. The 11-2 Bruins, one of six Pac-12 teams already with double-digit wins, are 13th in the nation in putting points on the board at 85.5 points an outing, second in field goal shooting at 52.2 percent and fourth in assists at 18.4.
NBA: LAKERS vs. DENVER, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
The Nuggets went into this week on a six-game losing streak.
AFC: SAN DIEGO at CINCINNATI, 10 a.m., Channel 2:
NFC: SAN FRANCISCO at GREEN BAY, 1:30 p.m, Channel 11:
The Bengals beat the Chargers 17-10 in Week 13 — but you probably didn’t see it because it was blacked out. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard piled up 149 yards on the ground, and Ryan Matthews and Danny Woodhead couldn’t reach 100 for San Diego.
GODADDY BOWL in Mobile, Ala.: BALL STATE vs. ARKANSAS STATE, 6 p.m., ESPN:
You’d think something like this would have already been played out in Week 2 of the Mid-American Conference schedule.