Eight Games To Watch This Weekend

Call me old and stodgy, but I still roll like it was 1998. We have an iPod and an iPhone at home, but I prefer to listen to music on CDs. Blu-Ray intrigues me, but I don’t plan on ditching DVD anytime soon. And I still donate a huge chunk of my time to watching primetime network television. On a TV. (And not even a HDTV at that.)

I’m committed to so many shows that by this time of the fall, I’m already behind. My TiVo (OK, I don’t totally roll like Clinton is still the POTUS) serves as a daily reminder that my TV habit is more than I can handle. And it only gets worse in the new year when 24 and Lost return.

Why am I pontificating on all this in a sports blog? Because often it is watching sports that gets me behind. Just last night, I put off catching up on 90210 (no, that’s not a joke, and please producers, we need more Joe E. Tata) because of the Red Sox’s improbable but still not totally surprising comeback against the Rays.

But the wacky sexual exploits of those beautiful-but-tortured kids at West Beverly High will undoubtedly have to wait a few more days as I have a weekend of sports on TV to look forward to. Here’s what I’ll be checking out:

1. Red Sox at Rays (Saturday and possibly Sunday, 7 PM, TBS). What’s the only thing less surprising than Pacman Jones getting in further trouble? No, not the fact that the car driving 45 in the left-hand lane of the Beltline is driven by someone old enough to be able to offer a first-hand comparison of today’s economy with the Great Depression. It’s that the Red Sox staged yet another comeback, this time rallying for eight runs in three innings to beat Tampa 8-7, forcing a Game 6 in Tampa Saturday night. I still like Tampa to hold off the now-surging Sox, and not because Dustin Pedroia has taken to looking like Mose Schrute, Dwight’s cousin and co-owner of Schrute Farm. I’m pulling for Boston because the disinterested Tampa fans don’t deserve a World Series-bound team.

[Sidenote: I haven’t taken a scientific poll, but I would guess that most Brewers fans are also pulling for Boston. Here’s the general logic: Why do we wait years and years for the Brewers to grow and get better when a team like Tampa can go from worst to first in one season? It’s like the frustration Vikings fans felt watching Matt Ryan of the Falcons step in looking like a seasoned veteran almost immediately when they’ve been stuck with Tavaris Jackson showing little to no improvement game after game.]

2. Colts at Packers (Sunday, 3:15 PM, WISC). Are either of these teams any good? The Colts have largely struggled to a 3-2 record while the Packers ended a three-game losing streak last week to stay in a three-way tie atop the NFC North. Here’s the problem: The Colts destroyed the league’s top-rated defense (Baltimore) last week, while the Packers rather unconvincingly beat a very bad Seahawks team. While Aaron Rodgers has been terrific, Peyton Manning, after two great games, appears ready to re-assert himself as the best quarterback in the league. Neither team has been great on defense and both teams have running back issues: Joseph Addai is out for the Colts and Ryan Grant has been plain lousy. But I like Dominic Rhodes to play well for the Colts more than I like Ryan Grant to get out of his funk — even though I’ll continue to start Grant on my fantasy team. And as impressed as I’ve been with Rodgers, I can’t give him the nod over Manning. I look for the Colts to win what could be a wild one.

3. Wisconsin at Iowa (Saturday, 11 AM, Big Ten Network). Remember Charter customers’ year-long struggle to get the Big Ten network added to their lineup? Well, if the Badgers play Saturday like they did last week, I expect Charter customers to call and ask for the channel’s removal. Coming off an embarrassing beatdown at Camp Randall, Wisconsin is looking to make a statement. Unfortunately, that statement might be “Look out, Cal Poly!” Simply put, this is not a good matchup for the Badgers. For a team struggling on offense over the last 2.5 games, Iowa is fifth in the nation in scoring defense and 22nd in total defense. After Allan Evridge’s regression, you know Bret Bielema wants to put the game in the hands of P.J. Hill and John Clay, but Iowa allows less than one hundred yards a week on the ground. If he starts (and that appears doubtful), Evridge will have to consistently make plays for the Badgers to salvage anything out of this season. I would not be surprised to see Wisconsin man up and beat Iowa in a hard-fought, hard-hitting game. Then again, I would not be surprised to see Iowa win by 20 and see Evridge dropped to third in the QB rotation. Although it’s not yet Halloween, this game scares me.

4. Ohio State at Michigan State (Saturday, 2:30 PM, WKOW). The biggest Big Ten game of the weekend. Can either of these teams challenge Penn State for the Big Ten title? Michigan State’s been the most impressive of the two, and thanks largely to the Spartans’ Javon Ringer, I like Mark Dantonio to get his first win over Jim Tressel.

5. Michigan at Penn State. (Saturday, 3:30 PM, ESPN). In most years, this would be a Clash Of The Titans game. Now, it’s anything but. Penn State by 50.

6. Vikings at Bears. (Sunday, 12 noon, WMSN). If it’s true that in the NFL, you’re only as good as your starting quarterback, then neither of these teams are very good. The Bears have been less pathetic on offense, so I like the Bears to take over the division lead as all three contenders head into their bye week.

7. Wisconsin at Denver (Friday and Saturday, only Friday’s game televised at 7:30 PM, FSNW). Is it too early for hockey? Maybe, but what else you going to watch Friday night?

8. Bucks vs. Warriors (Friday, 10:30 PM, ESPN2). Is it too early for NBA basketball? Maybe, but the game’s in China, so that’s interesting. Plus, the Bucks, despite their 1-4 preseason record so far, come into this season with a lot of hope. Plus, you’ve probably already given up on the football Badgers. So time to rally around the Bucks!

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