A Big Sports Weekend Ahead
At last. After mediocre bowl games named for companies we don’t now involving teams we never follow, the bonanza arrives. The College Football Playoffs begin, with both semifinals on Saturday.
We will label them as the first two reasons – but certainly not the only ones – to plant your heiner in the recliner and be deeply moved by the best college football teams that fit in a four-team playoff (sorry, Penn State and Michigan).
ESPN’s got the package on Saturday, beginning at 3 p.m. with No. 4 Washington vs. No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta at the Peach Bowl. Alabama is the closest thing in the college ranks to an NFL team; Washington is the closest to the Pacific Ocean. Pick: Bama. At 7 p.m., from Glendale, Arizona, comes No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Clemson. Pick: Ohio State, but a little voice keeps nagging about the Tigers, who were runner-ups last year.
Working backward on Sunday with the NFL, the game to see is the Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions. They’re both 9-6 and the winner takes the NFC North division title and the playoff berth that comes with it here on the last weekend of the regular season. The Lions haven’t been division champs since 1993. This one is at 8:30 p.m. on NBC.
You’ll want to take in the New York Giants (10-5) at Washington Redskins (8-6-1) because the Redskins make the playoffs if they win, so long as the Green Bay-Detroit game does not end in a tie. So they have to win and then sit around for a few hours to know their fate, but don’t expect a tie (unless your Christmas present is late). The last three times the Redskins faced a win-and-in, they won. Fox, 4:25 p.m.
Another biggie is the Oakland Raiders (12-3) at Denver Broncos (8-7). The Broncos are already eliminated but the Raiders can win the AFC West and the AFC’s top seed. To do that, they need a victory and a loss by the New England Patriots (13-2) earlier in the day against the Miami Dolphins (10-5). Matt McGloin has a lot on his shoulders as Oakland’s quarterback with Derek Carr (broken leg) out.
We’ll throw one college basketball game into the mix because if you haven’t seen the likely player of the year, Josh Hart, you really should. He’s the star (one of them, anyway) of No. 1 Villanova, which plays No. 10 Creighton at 1 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.
Does this sound like the start of a Happy New Year or what? Enjoy. Watch responsibly. Stay hydrated.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman