This Weekend in Sports: College Football Conference Championships and the MLS Cup
Most major college football conferences will anoint their champions this weekend, and Major League Soccer will award the 2012 MLS Cup. Here’s what to watch this weekend:
Friday, November 30
Pac-12 Championship Game: (17) UCLA at (8) Stanford
Stanford Stadium, Stanford, Calif; 8 p.m. (ET) on Fox
After routing UCLA, 35-17, on the road last week, Stanford (10-2 overall, 8-1 Pac-12) hosts the Bruins (9-3, 6-3) in the Pac-12 championship game. UCLA must stop Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor, who rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns against them last week. The Bruins must protect quarterback Bret Hundley, who was sacked seven times.
Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers
Staples Center, Los Angeles; 10:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
After a sluggish start, the Los Angeles Lakers (7-8) have begun to gel. New coach Mike D’Antoni sends Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and his deep bench against Denver (8-7). Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala and Kenneth Faried lead the Nuggets’ attack.
Saturday, December 1
Baylor at (8) Kentucky
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.; 12:30 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Defending NCAA champ Kentucky (4-1) hosts Baylor (4-2) in a meaningful, non-conference college basketball game. Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow could return after missing two games to tend to a personal matter. Pierre Jackson leads the Baylor attack. The Bears were ranked until the College of Charleston beat them 63-59 last Saturday night.
SEC Championship Game: (2) Alabama vs. (3) Georgia
Georgia Dome, Atlanta; 4 p.m. (ET) on CBS
A spot opposite top-ranked Notre Dame in the BCS national title game is at stake when Alabama (11-1 overall, 7-1 SEC) faces (11-1, 7-1) in the Southeastern Conference title game. The Crimson Tide leads the nation in scoring average behind quarterback A.J. McCarron. Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray will look to challenge the top-ranked Alabama defense.
MLS Cup: Houston Dynamo at Los Angeles Galaxy
The Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.; 4:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
The 2012 MLS Cup is a rematch of franchises that played in the 2011 edition, won by Los Angeles. The Houston Dynamo (14-9-11) seek their third cup, while the Galaxy (16-12-6) are in pursuit of their fourth. It will be the last game in a Galaxy uniform for David Beckham, who has helped build the fan base of the entire MLS, not just Los Angeles. Brad Davis will lead Houston.
Big 10 Championship Game: (14) Nebraska vs. Wisconsin
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis; 8 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Nebraska (10-2 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) faces Wisconsin (7-5, 4-4) for the Big Ten title and a berth in the Rose Bowl. While the Cornhuskers have won six straight games, the Badgers find themselves in the conference title game because of NCAA sanctions against Ohio State and Penn State. Quarterback Taylor Martinez led Nebraska to a 30-27 win over Wisconsin in September. Running back Monte Ball, the NCAA’s career touchdown leader, spearheads the Badgers offense.
ACC Championship Game: (10) Florida St. vs. Georgia Tech
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte; 8 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Florida St. (10-2 overall, 7-1 ACC) will take on Georgia Tech (6-6, 5-3) in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. The winner receives an automatic bid to the Orange Bowl. The Seminoles will be without standout defensive end Cornellius Carradine, who tore a ligament in his right knee against Florida last week. The Yellow Jackets defense could struggle to stop a Florida State offense led by E.J. Manuel.
Austin Trout vs. Miguel Cotto
Madison Square Garden, New York City; 9 p.m. (ET) on Showtime
Undefeated WBA junior middleweight champ Austin Trout (25-0) puts his title on the line against Miguel Cotto (37-3) on Saturday. After losses to Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., Cotto will be glad to fight in front of a partisan New York crowd. Trout, a southpaw, could give him trouble. Jayson Velez vs. Salvador Sanchez and Danny Jacobs vs. Chris Fitzpatrick round out the undercard.
Sunday, December 2
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Baltimore (9-2) can claim the AFC North title with a victory over Pittsburgh (6-5) and a Cincinnati loss in San Diego. The Steelers may see the return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger from injury, while linebacker Ray Lewis remains out for the Ravens. The Ravens won, 13-10, when these teams slugged it out in Pittsburgh two weeks ago.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Tex.; 8:20 p.m. (ET) on NBC
Dallas (5-6) is still in the playoff hunt, but it may need a winning streak to get there. The Cowboys face an Eagles team they soundly defeated, 38-23, in Week 10. Philadelphia (3-8) won’t see the return of quarterback Michael Vick from injury. Rookie quarterback Nick Foles will try to salvage part of the Eagles’ dreadful 2012 season.