08.27.18: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneWhen USC opens its college football season Saturday at the still-in-facelift-mode Coliseum with a 1 p.m. game against UNLV (Pac-12 Network), followed by UCLA starting it face-lifted program with Chip Kelly against Cincinnati at the Rose Bowl with a 4 p.m. kickoff (ESPN), one of the natural inclinations isn’t to ask: Is it possible to drive and see both games?
That’s often a sports writer’s dilemma, if that’s the correct words to use here. It becomes a dilemma not because it’s a choice of two bad things, but because it’s deciding to try something that’s highly impractical.
Pick one, and stick with it, based on parking, freeway traffic and the overlap – one will still likely be going when the other kicks off.
The easier answer is: Can I watch both on TV? That’s another dicey proposition if you’re a DirecTV user and have come to the realization that the Pac-12 Network will (probably) not be on your menu unless AT&T figures things out as the new DTV caretaker.

For openers, neither is an eye-grabber along the lines of Michigan-Notre Dame (Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Channel 4). Or Washington-Auburn (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7). Then there’s Miami vs. LSU at the JerryDome in Arlington, Tex. (Sunday, 4:30 p.m., Channel 7). The nation’s No. 1 team, Alabama, starts off at home against Louisville in the prime-time window (Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 7). There’s also some compelling reasons to check in on Ohio State (hosting Oregon State, Saturday, 9 a.m., Channel 7) and Maryland (hosting Texas, Saturday, 9 a.m., FS1). There’s even Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic testing itself at Oklahoma (Saturday, 9 a.m., Channel 11).
But just celebrate that Sept. 1 is here, and the sport that has some real issues with trust among the coaching fraternity can put that aside, maybe, and play some ball.
As for some of the rest:
Thursday: Northwestern at Purdue, 5 p.m., ESPN; Missouri State at Oklahoma State, 5 p.m., FS1; Weber State at Utah, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Friday: Utah State at Michigan State, 4 p.m., BTN; Western Kentucky at Wisconsin, 6 p.m., ESPN; San Diego State at Stanford, 6 p.m., FS1; Colorado at Colorado State, 6:30 p.m., CBSSN
Saturday: Mississippi at Texas Tech, 9 a.m., ESPN; Tennessee vs. West Virginia at Charlotte, N.C., 12:30 p.m., Channel 2; Washington State at Wyoming, 12:30 p.m., CBSSN; North Carolina at Cal, 1 p.m., Channel 11; Akron at Nebraska, 5 p.m., Channel 11; Bowling Green at Oregon, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Network; UTSA at Arizona State, 7:30 p.m., FS1; BYU at Arizona, 7:45 p.m., ESPN; Navy at Hawaii, 8 p.m., CBSSN


1twoThe Dodgers (70-61) somehow lead the NL in run differential after Sunday’s play — a plus 121. Arizona (72-58) is fourth at plus 85. Colorado (71-59) is just a lousy 10th place, with minus-11. Yet no one is running away with the NL West as five weeks are left in the regular season. Arizona, one up on the Rockies and 2 1/2 up on the Dodgers, comes to Dodger Stadium for a four-game set at the end of the week. As that stat put out there by the New York Post’s Joel Sherman shows, the Dodgers need to go 18-13 (a .581 clip) from here to get to an 88-win threshold; Arizona can do it by merely playing .500 (16-16). There are five other teams that could also finish atop the NL with 88 wins if they botch this thing up just right.
The ARZ-LAD pitching match ups:
Arizona’s Robbie Ray vs. the Dodgers’ Rich Hill, Thursday at 7:10 p.m.
Arizona’s Zack Grienke vs. the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, Friday at 7:10 p.m.
Arizona’s Patrick Corbin vs. the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, Saturday at 6:10 p.m.
Arizona’s Clay Buchholz vs. the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler, Sunday at 1:10 p.m. All are on SportsNet L.A. with KTLA-Channel 5 lucky enough to get ahold of the Friday contest.
First, the Dodgers make a visit to Arlington, Tex., for two against the Rangers that kind of set up as a mini trap series. (Tuesday and Wednesday, 5:05 p.m., SportsNet LA).
The Angels this week:
At home vs. Colorado, Monday and Tuesday at 7:07 p.m., Fox Sports West
At Houston, Thursday and Friday at 5:10 p.m., Saturday at 4:10 p.m., all on FSW; Sunday at 5:05 p.m., ESPN


1threeThe news hook for the revival of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows is that it’s the 50th anniversary of when it became a true open. ESPN has two weeks of coverage starting Monday at 9 a.m. for the late-summer party, and with ESPN3 and the ESPN-Plus app, it will have all 16 courts covered. As the women’s draw plays out, six-time winner and 17th seed Serena Williams may end up playing her sister, 16th-seeded Venus Williams, in the third round. The winner would then likely face top-seed Simona Halep. Serena is looking for her first title as a mom and 24th major, which would tie her with Margaret Court. The men’s side has the usual suspects – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who have won 46 of the last 54 majors played. Nadal and Federer are seeded No. 1 and 2, with Djokovic having won the most recent Wimbledon. John Isner was in the Wimbledon semifinals.


1fourWhether or not Aaron Donald finally gets his contract deal done, the  final week of NFL exhibitions means everyone has to play on  Thursday, with the Rams going all the way to New Orleans (5 p.m., Channel 2), the Chargers traveling to San Francisco (7 p.m., Channel 7) and the Raiders shooting up to Seattle (7 p.m., Channel 5) overlapping a bit. Who actually suits up and takes that field, that’s up to how the organization’s want to play it safe.


1fiveSince both LAFC (at Toronto, Saturday, 5 p.m.) and the Galaxy (at Real Salt Lake, Saturday, 7 p.m.) need to fix things up on the road, the local soccer attraction will be the U.S. women’s national team vs. Chile at StubHub Center in Carson (Friday, 8:20 p.m., ESPN2).

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