12.02.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1What’s left to sort out in the wake of College Football Week 15:

== There are two rankings released by the College Football Playoff committee this week – one on Tuesday (4 p.m., ESPN) to reflect the Week 14 results and then, after Saturday’s schedule of conference championships, the finale on Sunday morning (9 a.m., ESPN) that will determine not only the four semifinal teams to play at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta and Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., on Dec. 28, but also fill out the rest of the bowl schedule.
== Are four teams enough for a playoff? The playoff, if you haven’t been paying attention, has been happening the last few weeks. Alabama was eliminated, as was Oregon and a few otthers.
If you believe computer “playoff predictors” sponsored by an insurance company, the Final Four will line up with Ohio State, Clemson, LSU and Georgia. No, wait. That can’t happen because Georgia plays LSU in the SEC title game. So then it’ll be … What if Georgia beats LSU? Then both are in?
This ESPN predictor grid gives Utah a 9 percent chance of making the playoff, regardless of what happens, a distance behind Oklahoma (37 percent). The Sooners have played a stronger schedule and more impressive wins, the experts are now convinced.
Throw in the FiveThirtyEight.com model, and it’s most likely to have Oklahoma as the No. 4 team, because it’s most likely that Georgia falls to LSU, and Oklahoma also has to end its season with a win over Baylor.
== ESPN’s College GameDay will be at Atlanta for the SEC title game. Because Fox will be in Indiana for the Big Ten title game?
== If we are to consider the validity of the latest ESPN bowl projection, where we need 78 of the 79 bowl-eligible teams to fill out the 39 games … we should expect to see USC travel to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 31, with the Oregon-Utah conference winner at the Rose Bowl, and the loser likely in the Cotton Bowl. Or the slim chance of Utah in the final four. Or Utah falling to the Alamo Bowl and USC going to the Holiday Bowl against … Michigan …
Unless there’s a way the Trojans can lobby for a trip to the Tony The Tigers Sun Bowl …

== Clay Helton remains USC’s head coach.
== Clay Helton will be fired as USC’s head coach.
== Whatever you want to believed in whatever nuanced way, there are already 10 head coaching jobs open in college football. And this is after Rutgers decided to bring back Greg Schiano for a second go-around.
You can’t fire someone if you don’t know you’re going to hire to replace him with, right? But you can still be doing your due diligence of seeing who’s interested, whose wife will allow them to move to L.A. while her husband has been feeling the city out while working as a TV studio analyst, etc.
The current openings: Florida State, Mississippi, Arkansas, Boston College, Missouri, New Mexico, South Florida, UNLV and Texas-San Antonio.
Which one of these will Lane Kiffin land?
== Just for the heck of it, look at the final standings in the Pac-12. Did you notice how 8-4/7-2 USC defeated all five teams of its South division counterparts. Utah didn’t accomplish that. The Trojans won two games against teams that were ranked at the time in the AP and/or USA Today coaches’ poll during the season. The Utes defeated one.
Carving and slicing …

== How the final weekend plays out with almost a dozen conference title games:
= Pac-12 Championship at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara: Oregon (10-2/8-1) vs. Utah (11-1/8-1), 5 p.m., Channel 7
= MAC Championship at Detroit: Miami of Ohio (7-5/6-2) vs. Central Michigan (8-4/6-2), 9 a.m., ESPN2
= Big 12 Championship at Arlington, Tex.: Baylor (11-1, 8-1) vs. Oklahoma (11-1, 8-1), 9 a.m., Channel 7
= Sun Belt Championship: Appalachian State (11-1, 7-1) vs. Louisiana (10-2/7-1), 9 a.m., ESPN
= American Athletic Championship: Cincinnati (10-2/7-1) vs. Memphis (11-1/7-1), 12:30 p.m., Channel 7
= SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta: Georgia (11-1, 7-1) vs. LSU (12-0/8-0), 1 p.m., Channel 2
= Mountain West Championship at Boise, Idaho: Boise State (11-1/8-0) vs. Hawaii (9-4/5-3), 1 p.m., ESPN
= SWAC Championship: Alcorn State (8-3/6-1) vs. Southern (8-4/6-1), 1 p.m., ESPNU
= ACC Championship at Charlotte, N.C.: Clemson (12-0/8-0) vs. Virginia (9-3/6-2), 4:30 p.m., Channel 7
= Big Ten Championship at Indianapolis: Ohio State (12-0/9-0) vs. Wisconsin (10-2/7-2), 5 p.m., Channel 11
Finishing up the regular schedule:
= Army vs. Navy at Philadelphia, Saturday, Dec. 14, noon, Channel 2


NUMBER 2What is becoming apparent with NFL Week 14 landing in the post-Thanksgiving run:
== The Hallmark Channel was on a continuous loop Sunday afternoon during the indoor decoration festivities. We have no idea until just recently how the Rams and Chargers fared in their afternoon contest — and still can’t figure out how the 49ers-Ravens game wasn’t in the L.A. market somehow.
== The 7-5 Rams get one last prime-time appearance Sunday night at the Coliseum against Seattle (5:20 p.m., Channel 4). The Monday night contest — Seattle hosting Minnesota — is a key indicator of whether the Rams have a shot of making it in as the final wildcard.
== The 4-8 Chargers’ Sunday afternoon game at Jacksonville (1:05 p.m., Channel 11) is a game apparently CBS didn’t even want any longer because CBS has the doubleheader and a wanted a better game in the L.A. market.

Finishing Week 13:
= Minnesota at Seattle, Monday at 5:15 p.m., ESPN
Moving into Week 14:
= Dallas at Chicago, 5:20 p.m., Channel 11, NFL Network, Amazon Prime
= In the CBS 10 a.m. window: Baltimore at Buffalo (picked over Cincinnati at Cleveland, Miami at N.Y. Jets, Indianapolis at Tampa Bay)
= In the Fox 10 a.m. window (none of these in L.A. because CBS has the doubleheader and accepted the Chargers-Jacksonville game): Carolina at Atlanta, Washington at Green Bay, Detroit at Minnesota, San Francisco at New Orleans
= In the CBS 1:25 p.m. window: Kansas City at New England (picked over Tennessee at Oakland, Pittsburgh at Arizona)
Monday, Dec. 9:
= N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia, 5:15 p.m., ESPN


NUMBER 3What we suspect is happening with a month’s worth of games into this NBA season:
== The Clippers could score 150 points a game and still not win the championship. Although they are 5-1 with both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard playing together. The Clippers have no back-to-back games this week but their contest Friday at Milwaukee will be the test of the week because …
== The 17-3 Lakers aren’t the best team in the league at the moment if you’re to believe the NBA Power Rankings posted by ESPN — that would be 17-3 Milwaukee as the new No. 1, and somehow Dallas only at No. 8. Expect the Lakers to drop at least another game in this tough road trip.

How the week unfolds for the Lakers (17-3, 9-2 at home and 8-1 on the road, leading the Western Conference):
= At Denver, Tuesday at 6 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= At Utah, Wednesday at 6 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= At Portland, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
= vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet

How the week unfolds for the Clippers (15-6, 12-1 at home, 3-5 on the road, tied with Denver for second in the Western Conference):
= Vs. Portland, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7 p.m., TNT (Marv Albert and Chris Webber)
= At Milwaukee, Friday at 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Washington, Sunday at 3 p.m., Prime Ticket


NUMBER 4What we don’t pretend to have figured out a quarter of the way into the NHL season:
== The first of five Kings-Ducks matchups happens Monday (Honda Center, 7 p.m., Fox Sports West, Prime Ticket), with the second coming up, also in Anaheim, on Dec. 12, just 10 days later. The last three are at Staples Center, including the season ender on April 3.
== The Washington Caps (19-4-5, second in the Eastern Conference) are in town for warmer weather. Alex Ovechkin is second in the league with 20 goals already, eight on the power play (and 31 total points) in 28 games.

How this rest of the week shapes up for the Kings (11-14-2, last in the Western Conference):
= Vs. Washington, Staples Center, Wednesday at 7 p.m., Fox Sports West
= At Edmonton, Friday at 6 p.m., Fox Sports West
= At Calgary, Saturday at 7 p.m., Fox Sports West

How the rest of the week shapes up for the Ducks (11-12-4, third from last in the Western Conference):
= Vs. Washington, Honda Center, Friday at 7 p.m., Channel 13
= At Winnipeg, Sunday at noon, Fox Sports West


NUMBER 5NCAA championship alert:
== In the women’s soccer tournament/College Cup championship: UCLA (18-4-1) is in the Final Four for the 11th time in school history and three Pac-12 teams are in (after USC failed to make it all four spots, losing to North Carolina in the quarterfinals).
Friday’s semifinals at Avaya Stadium in San Jose:
= UCLA vs. Stanford, 6:30 p.m., ESPNU
= North Carolina vs. Washington State, 4 p.m., ESPNU
Sunday’s championship: 5:30 p.m., ESPNU
Here is the bracket.

== In the men’s water polo tournament at Stockton: Defending champion and 10-time winner USC faces Bucknell (Thursday, 1 p.m.). If the Trojans advance, they’ll face Stanford in the semifinals (Saturday, 5 p.m.). If the Trojans advance to the final, it will be Sunday, 3 p.m. vs. Pacific, UC Davis or Pepperdine. The Waves, whose only title game in 1997 against USC, have a quarterfinal match against UC Davis (Thursday, 2:45 p.m.), and the winner meets Pacific (Saturday, 7 p.m.).
Remember: USC is moving ahead without heralded head coach Jovan Vavic, fired last March in the NCAA admissions scandal. Vavic led the Trojans’ men’s and women’s water polo teams to a combined 16 national championships and is a 15-time national coach of the year.
Here’s the bracket.

== In the women’s volleyball tournament, the 64-team field starts with:
= No. 23 UCLA (18-11) goes to Madison, Wisc., to face Notre Dame (Friday, 2:30 p.m.). A win would likely put the Bruins against No. 4 and host Wisconsin (Saturday, 4 p.m.)
= USC (17-13) making its 29th straight appearance in the event and 37th in history, goes to Waco, Tex., to face Southland Conference champion Stephen F. Austin (31-1) in the first round (Friday, 3 p.m.)
= The championship is Dec. 21.
Here’s the bracket.


== The Baseball Hall of Fame announces Sunday at 5 p.m. on the MLB Network which of its nominees from the Modern Era Committee will (or will not) be included in the upcoming July ceremony for perpetual adoration. Those nine up for consideration: Dwight Evans, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Marvin Miller, Thurman Munson, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons and Lou Whitaker.
Oh, did you ask us? Garvey and Miller in. The rest: Thanks for trying again.

== More slogging through a very slow period in the college basketball season – take our your No. 2 pencil and start the Scantron by filling out another Top 25 vote, with a new No. 1 team (now it’s 7-0 Lousville) and the former No. 1 Duke falling nine spots and 7-0 Michigan somehow going from “also receiving votes” up 22 spots to No. 4 after crazy wins over North Carolina and Gonzaga:

How the week plays out for USC (7-2):
= At TCU, Friday at 6 p.m., ESPN2
How the week plays out for UCLA (6-3):
= Vs. Denver, Pauley Pavilion, Sunday at 2 p.m., Pac-12 Network

How the week plays out for Long Beach State (3-6):
= Vs. Pacific, at the Walter Pyramid, Saturday at 4 p.m.
How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (1-7):
= At Portland, Wednesday at 7 p.m.
= At Portland State, Friday at 7:35 p.m.

How the week plays out for Pepperdine (3-6):
= Vs. Idaho State, Firestone Fieldhouse, Friday at 6 p.m.
How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (3-4):
= At Colorado, Wednesday at 7 p.m. Pac-12 Network
= Vs. Grambling State, at Gersten Pavilion, Saturday at 7 p.m.

Games of national interest this week include:
Michigan at Louisville, 6 p.m., ACC Network
Duke at Michigan State, 6:30 p.m., ESPN
Arizona State at San Francisco, 8 p.m., CBSSN
St. Peter’s at St. John’s, 3:30 p.m., FS1
Penn at Villanova, 3:30 p.m., FS1
BYU at Utah, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Texas Tech at DePaul, 5:30 p.m., FS1
Ohio State at North Carolina, 6:30 p.m., ESPN
Cal at San Francisco, 8 p.m., CBSSN
Pittsburgh at Louisville, 6 p.m., ACC Network
Iowa at Michigan, 3:30 p.m., FS1
Arizona at Baylor, 9 a.m., ESPNU
Florida at Butler, 9 a.m., Channel 11
West Virginia at St. John’s, 9 a.m., FS1
Illinois at Maryland, 2 p.m., ESPN2
Cincinnati at Xavier, 2 p.m., FS1
Central Arkansas at Utah, 2 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Colorado at Kansas, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Hawaii at Oregon, 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Texas A&M at Texas, noon, Channel 7
North Carolina at Virginia, 1 p.m., ACC Network
Rutgers at Michigan State, 4 p.m., Big Ten Network
Gonzaga at Washington,  4 p.m., ESPN2
Seton Hall at Iowa State, 6 p.m., ESPN2


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