Since I don't have NFL Sunday Ticket, ESPN Gameplan, or MLB Extra Innings, I'll have to include some of the big games (especially NFL-related) that I won't get to watch fully, unless i hit up a sports bar or something. But enough chit chat, here's my thoughts on the weekend.
Rays at Yankees 7p.m. ESPN
No. 12 Kansas at No.18 South Florida 8 p.m. ESPN2
I still can't believe it's September 12th and we're having a legitimate conversation about the Rays representing the American League in the World Series. For me, it has been the most surprising storyline in a long time, especially when you consider what I wrote after seeing the team at last year's Spring Training:
In talking with the DRays management they all have this notion that with the core they have set up right now, they should be contending for the World Series by next season. From looking at their roster, I think they are morons. Yes, their outfield is great with Baldelli, Delmon Young, and Carl Crawford, but baseball is all about pitching. And the DRays have a bunch of guys who they think could be good, but most baseball people think won't be that good. They have Scott Kazmir and a bunch of average pitchers. With how good the yanks and Bosox should be over the next few years, the DRays are not going to reach their goal of a playoff berth anytime soon.
That paragraph is a good indication of why I should not be running a baseball team. On the other hand, you've got the Yanks are in death march mode and I'm curious to see what they do after the year is over. It's time to play the kids and see what they're capable of. It's funny, I remember being in New York a few weeks ago and people were pointing to this series as the Yanks' make-or-break series of the season.
And before I forget, a Friday night football game involving teams outside of the WAC? I'm liking this whole "colleges want to get more primetime attention so they're willing to play any day of the week" thing. Unfortunately, I'm going to miss a good chunk of this one since I'll be covering a huge Yorktown High/West Potomac High football game (notice the sarcasm). If South Florida loses this one, though, I think there's a fair argument to be made over whether the Big East deserves a BCS bowl bid this year. Did anyone watch that Rutgers debacle last night? I'm counting my lucky stars, Michigan didn't hire Greg Schiano.
Cal at Maryland Noon ESPN
Here's a good summation of the feelings Maryland fans have towards this game following last weekend's loss to Middle Tennessee State. I was invited to the tailgate of some Terrapin grads. I declined, citing my desire to catch all of the Michigan-ND game at 330. Their response after a good 20 seconds of laughter: We're not going to the game, just tailgating. Ah, the state of Ralph Friedgen football. By the way, if he's not calling the plays anymore (since they got a new offensive coordinator this season), what exactly does the Fridge do these days? Are we witnessing the development of the 450-pound ACC version of Joe Paterno?
Michigan at Notre Dame 3:30 p.m. NBC
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech 3:30 p.m. ABC
Georgia at South Carolina 3:30 p.m. CBS
UCLA at BYU 3:30 p.m. Versus
There are a bunch of Michigan bars throughout the DC area, and people have asked me to go to them for Michigan games so far this year. But am I alone in saying that if the game is on national television to begin with, it's much preferable to watch the game with the comforts of home. Unless I'm going to literally go see a game live, is there much of a point in going to a bar to spend money on a game I can watch for free? Maybe it's just me, I guess. As for the game itself, this one isn't going to be pretty. It should be a close, defensive battle, though. If Notre Dame doesn't put nine men in the box on defense, Charlie Weis should be fired immediately because anybody who has watched footage of Michigan's two games so far this season knows Steve Threet and Nick Sheridan have no idea what they're doing in the passing game. I bet you can count on one hand the amount of completions they've had that weren't rinky dink bubble screens to a wide receiver or running back. If Michigan doesn't win this one, the Wolverines could be staring dead on at a 1-4 record with games against Wisconsin and Illinois coming up.
As for what else I'll have my eye on ... I want to see if Georgia Tech's triple option will be successful against Virginia Tech. I think the 2-0 Yellow Jackets may be on to something with new coach Paul Johnson, who was the wizard of the triple option at Navy the past five or six seasons. ... I'm assuming a Georgia win, but I'm curious to see if the Ol' Ball Coach can make this one close (By the way, remember when Steve Spurrier was the biggest celeb in all the SEC and his Florida teams would almost always win the conference? Sure seems like a long time ago now). And lastly, a matchup of teams that shouldn't have won their first games of the season. After an atrocious first half against Tennessee, can UCLA show its second half was the real deal? Or will BYU continue the luck of the Mormon after being gift wrapped a win against Washington last week?
Atlanta Braves at New York Mets 3:50 p.m. FOX
The Mets are up on the Phillies by 3.5 games with 17 to go. A year ago they were 7 up with 17 to go. I don't think there's more fun than watching impending doom, and that's what I have a feeling is going to happen with Luis Ayala somehow closing games right now.
No. 5 Ohio State at No. 1 USC 8 p.m. ABC
Ah, the big kahuna of the weekend college football matchups. The Trojans looked damn good debacalizing (yes, I realize this isn't a word) Virginia a couple weeks ago, and the national spotlight on this game means they probably haven't gotten fat and happy with their week off. If Beanie Wells doesn't play, I don't see how this will be competitive. But I also think people are putting way too much stock into Ohio State looking bad last week. I hear prognosticators wondering if they overlooked Ohio in anticipation of this game. Ummm, of course they were! It was friggin' Ohio the week before the team goes to Hollywood to face the No. 1 team in all the land.
Saints at Redskins 1 p.m. FOX
Bears at Panthers 1 p.m. FOX
Bills at Jaguars 1 p.m. CBS
Colts at Vikings 1 p.m. CBS
All I can really say about this Skins game is Thank the good lord Marques Colston isn't playing. That offense has enough weapons, especially now that Reggie Bush appears to be going through a Britney Spears-esque revitalization. The Saints are a legitimate contender in the NFC, and it's going to take a significantly better performance by the Skins offense to win this one. As much as Zorn wants to throw the ball, with the way the receivers and Campbell have performed so far, I'd much prefer the offense center around CPort. This game could make or break this season, because an 0-2 start could produce the type of bad karma that dooms teams.
As for the other games, Bears-Panthers features a set of teams that looked a whole lot better in week one than most predicted in the preseason. As far fetched as this may sound, I think this could be a playoff preview of some kind. That's how impressive both were. The Bears D looks as good, if not better than it has been in the past, and Matt Forte emerged as a legit weapon. If I'm the Panthers, I dare Kyle Orton to try and win this one. ... Graham keeps hounding me about the Bills, but I refuse to listen. If they look as good as they did in week one against the Jags this week, I might have to take notice. It doesn't hurt that the team's star player is named Roscoe. It just rolls off the tongue so well ... The Colts and Vikings both need to rebound after week one. But I expect Minny to be in full-on "I think Gus Frerotte might be better than Tavaris Jackson" mode after starting the season 0-2.
Broncos at Chargers 4:15 CBS
Patriots at Jets 4:15 CBS
Although it stinks that parts of Texas could be under water by the end of the weekend, I'm thrilled Hurricane Ike has forced the NFL to move the Texans-Ravens game to Monday night. In all likelihood, that would have been the 4 o'clock game on CBS here in Maryland. Now I bet we get Favre vs. the Patriots. I'm totally in agreement that Brady's injury knocks the Pats out of Super Bowl talk, but like my man, Randy Moss said earlier this week, the Pats are still the team to beat in the AFC East. They'll prove it this weekend. ... As for my Broncos, they looked mighty impressive last week, but it was against Jamarcus Russell (who plays eerily similar to Byron Leftwich, by the way). I think the Chargers are going to want this one real bad, because opening the season with two home losses would be less than ideal. But I'm not losing all hope, Norv Turner is still in charge (haha get the pun).
Steelers at Browns 8:00 NBC
I don't understand how after one week, everyone has these grand visions of the Steelers making the Super Bowl out of the AFC. Seriously, they were playing the Texans. I don't see how that is a litmus test for the Super Bowl. That being said, I expect them to win this game because the Browns are vastly overrated. Like I said last week, I don't think Derek Anderson will ever be ready for prime time.
Eagles at Cowboys
This is probably the game of the week if you ask me. Philly is pretty much the only team in the league that can legitimately say they match up well with the Cowboys' offensive weapons. This game is the primary reason why the Eagles brought in Assante Samuel for so much money this off season. The Eagles need to be able to blitz Tony Romo, and therefore leave Samuel in man-to-man coverage against Terrell Owens. I still don't think it will be enough, though. There are just too many weapons to keep track of on Dallas. Also, if she's at the game, I'm setting the over/under on number of times the camera flashes to Jessica Simpson at 25. I'll take the over.