This Weekend in Sports: NFL, College Hoops and UFC 155
A storied college basketball rivalry and a UFC title fight take place on a weekend when NFL playoff spots will be determined. Here’s what to watch:
Friday, Dec. 28
Meineke Car Care Bowl — Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
Reliant Stadium, Houston; 9 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Minnesota (6-6) faces Texas Tech (7-5) in a battle of unranked teams. Freshman quarterback Philip Nelson leads the Golden Gophers’ attack, while the Red Raiders will be without defenders Cornelius Douglas, Chris Payne and Leon Mackey, all of whom were suspended for the game for violating team rules. Chris Thomsen will serve as interim coach for Texas Tech after Tommy Tuberville announced earlier this month that he was leaving for Cincinnati.
(7) Missouri at UCLA
Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles; 10 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2
Seventh-ranked Missouri (10-1) faces another quality, non-conference opponent in UCLA (9-3). The Bruins struggled early this season and fell out of the AP rankings, but they have won four consecutive games behind freshmen Shabazz Muhammad, Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson. The Tigers are led by Phil Pressey and transfer Jabari Brown.
Saturday, Dec. 29
(20) UNLV at North Carolina
Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.; 2 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2
Three early-season losses have left North Carolina (9-3) uncharacteristically unranked. They’ll host No. 20 UNLV (11-1). James Michael McAdoo and Reggie Bullock are the Tar Heels’ top scorers, while the Runnin’ Rebels’ Anthony Bennett is among the nation’s top players.
Kentucky at (4) Louisville
KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Ky.; 4 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Defending national champion Kentucky (8-3) is working its way back into the rankings, but it faces a tough test in cross-state rival No. 4 Louisville (11-1). Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress lead the Wildcats, while guards Russ Smith and Peyton Siva pace the Cardinals’ attack.
Alamo Bowl — Texas vs. (15) Oregon St.
Alamodome, San Antonio, Tex.; 6:45 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
After suffering through a slightly disappointing season, Texas (8-4) finds itself almost at home for a bowl game. The Longhorns’ spotty defense could be tested by the offensive attack of the fifteenth-ranked Beavers. Oregon St. (9-3) will start Cody Vaz at quarterback. The junior shared time with sophomore Sean Mannion for most of this season, but OSU head coach Mike Riley has now given him the job outright.
UFC 155 — Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez
MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas; 10 p.m. (ET) on PPV
Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez will meet for the UFC heavyweight title in a highly anticipated clash. Reigning champ dos Santos beat Velasquez for the title in their first meeting last November. Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller; Tim Boetsch vs. Constantinos Philippou and Alan Belcher vs. Yushin Okami are among the matches that highlight the under card.
Sunday, Dec. 30
Philadelphia Eagles at N.Y. Giants
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.; 1 p.m. (ET) on FOX
The only way the defending Super Bowl champion Giants can make the playoffs is to beat the Eagles and have the Cowboys, Bears and Vikings all lose. New York (8-7) lost to Philadelphia (4-11), 19-17, in Week 4. Eagles’ quarterback Michael Vick returns as a replacement for injured starter Nick Foles. Giants’ receiver Victor Cruz has been his team’s most consistent performer. He leads New York in receptions (82), receiving yards (1,040) and touchdown catches (9).
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, Minn.; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Longtime division rivals duel in a game with NFC playoff implications. Already the NFC North champions, Green Bay (11-4) will clinch a first-round playoff bye with a win and a loss by the 49ers, or losses by both the 49ers and Seahawks. Minnesota (9-6) will clinch a playoff spot with a win or losses or ties by the Cowboys, Giants and Bears. The Packers beat the Vikings, 23-14, in Week 13.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
FedEx Field, Landover, Md.; 8:20 p.m. (ET) on NBC
The winner of Sunday night’s Redskins-Cowboys game will claim the NFC East title. Washington (9-6) beat Dallas (8-7), 38-31, on Thanksgiving. The Redskins will still clinch a playoff spot with losses by both the Bears and Vikings, while the Cowboys need to win to get into the postseason.