ALEX GAIf you watch one sporting event this weekend. . .
USC at Washington (Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 7): The Angels are fine-tuning for the playoffs. The Dodgers are asking, playoffs? What alien language are you speaking? Our old NFL teams, the Rams and the Raiders, are feeling the effects of new and improved voodoo needles. Our de facto NFL team, USC, is ranked No. 1 in the land of college football and until further notice, the Trojans are required viewing for the serious SoCal sports viewer.
Washington, 2-2 after losing last week’s offensive free-for-all with UCLA, isn’t expected to put up much of fight; USC is favored by 20 1/2 points. Always of interest for local fans, however, is how Pete Carroll divides the carries among his 1,386 former high school All-American tailbacks, and how far John David Booty can go in this year’s Heisman Trophy race by completing 38 handoffs a game.
If you have time for two. . .
California at Oregon (Saturday, 12:30, Channel 7): Memo to Les Miles: The Pacific 10 Conference, a.k.a. the Cupcake Factory, has three teams in the Associated Press top 11 -- and two of them, No. 6 Cal and No. 11 Oregon, match 4-0 records in Eugene. The LSU coach might want to get a tape to see how football is played here on the Left Coast in the 21st century. And have an intern armed with a calculator sit in on the film session. Combined, the Golden Bears and the Ducks are averaging 90 points.
Rounding out the top five. . .
Ducks vs. Kings (Saturday, 9 a.m., FSN Prime Ticket; Sunday, 9 a.m., Versus): The Stanley Cup champion Ducks (it’s still a little jarring typing those words) and their big-brother lugs open the 2007-08 NHL season with two games in London’s O2 Arena. Curious Brits are wanting to know, “You mean this is what we got in return in the Beckham deal?” (Important note: O2 is the name of the arena’s corporate sponsor, not the Kings record after this visit.)
Presidents Cup (Today, 9 a.m., TNT; Saturday, 5 a.m., 1 p.m., Channel 4; Sunday, 9 a.m., Channel 4): The Presidents Cup, a four-day match-play golf competition that pits the U.S. against an international team, exists for the betterment of self-esteem among American golfers suffering from post-Ryder Cup Syndrome. So far, the therapy is working: The U.S. is 4-1-1 in previous Presidents Cup matches.
UCLA at Oregon State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., FSNW): To put it another way, the Presidents Cup is to the Ryder Cup what UCLA football is to USC football. The Bruins fell out of the top 25 by giving up 44 points to Utah, then bounced back to score 44 points against Washington. And, as it says in the news release, that kept the Bruins undefeated in conference play!
For baseball fans looking ahead. . .
Angels at Oakland (Today, 7 p.m., Channel 13; Saturday, 4 p.m., Channel 13; Sunday, 1 p.m., FSNW): The good news for Angels fans is that they clinched the AL West championship last weekend. The bad: They haven’t won since. The potentially ugly: The Angels lost two of their top hitters to injury in Wednesday’s 16-2 loss at Texas -- Gary Matthews Jr. hurt his left knee and Vladimir Guerrero was hit in the left forearm by a pitch.
Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 11): The signs are more than ominous: Three years ago, the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time since 1918. Two years ago, the White Sox won the World Series for the first time since 1917. Last year, David Eckstein was World Series most valuable player. This year, will it be the Cubs staking their earth-shaking claim? Or, even more ominously for the Angels, will it be the Cleveland Indians?
For baseball fans trying to forget. . .
San Francisco Giants at Dodgers (Today, 7:30 p.m., Prime; Saturday, 7 p.m., Prime; Sunday, 1 p.m., Prime): Barry Bonds has played his final games for the Giants before, in all likelihood, bailing for DH sanctuary. Thanks to fashion designer Mark Ecko buying the ball Bonds hit for his record-breaking home run and letting a fan vote decide what to do with it, home run ball No. 756 will be sent to the Hall of Fame stamped with an asterisk. While they’re at it, they should use the same stamp on the Dodgers did-that-really-happen? season.
Are we not fans? We have TiVo. . .
Auburn at Florida (Saturday, 5 p.m., ESPN): The 2-2 Tigers and 4-0 Gators kick this one off the same time as USC-Washington. Taping is advised, as Florida is No. 4 in the nation with a top Heisman contender in quarterback Tim Tebow. Or, to put it all on a post-it note: TiVo Tebow.
Louisiana State at Tulane (Saturday, 9 a.m., ESPN2) and Notre Dame at Purdue (Saturday, 9 a.m., ESPN): Two games, both kicking off at the same time, both televised by the same network. The worst Notre Dame team in more than a century goes for its fifth loss of the season -- and the game is aired on Big ESPN. Number two LSU plays its bayou rival Tulane, coached by former USC rival Bob Toledo -- and the game is dispatched to ESPN2. Then again, rooting against Notre Dame has always been a popular pastime.
Not what we expected. . .
Women’s World Cup final (Sunday, 4:45 a.m., ESPN2; also 9 a.m., ESPN Classic): It’s a repeat of the 2002 men’s World Cup final, Germany versus Brazil. The Brazilian women advanced by dancing around, over and through the favored Americans, 4-0. Too-late lesson for U.S. Coach-Who-Outsmarted-Himself Greg Ryan (or was that Fred Willard?): Never change goalkeepers before the World Cup semifinals with the most explosive team in the tournament hopping up and down in anticipatory delight.
Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers (Sunday, 1:15 p.m., Channel 2): What hath Herman Edwards and Norv Turner wrought? The Chiefs’ Larry Johnson (140 yards) and the Chargers’ LaDainian Tomlinson (130) enter this game with fewer combined rushing yards than Oakland’s LaMont Jordan (350).
Punt. . .
Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins (Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 2): Sunday night at 9 p.m., an FSN program makes its debut: In “Sport Science,” Raiders running back Dominic Rhodes demonstrates how he can leap seven yards over a mock line of scrimmage. After seeing an advance copy of the show, Al Davis immediately petitioned the NFL to get Mock Line Of Scrimmage on the Raiders’ schedule.