Laboring to beat the champs

The opening weekend of the college football season includes many big contests – building to Monday night’s battle in Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech hosts defending champion Ohio State Monday at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
The Buckeyes’ run to the championship nearly ended in September, when the Hokies pulled the upset in Columbus. When Virginia Tech struggled through the ACC as the season wore on, the loss nearly kept Ohio State out of the four-team playoff.
A spot in this year’s national semifinals on New Year’s Eve might await Monday’s winner.
The season begins Thursday at 6 p.m. on ESPN, with North Carolina taking on South Carolina before Minnesota hosts TCU at 9 p.m. The Jim Harbaugh era begins at Michigan, traveling to Utah on FoxSports1 at 8:30 p.m.
ESPN has a pair of games Friday, with Baylor-SMU at 7 p.m. followed by Washington against Boise State.
Virginia starts its season at UCLA Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on Fox.
Notre Dame takes on Texas on NBC at 7:30 p.m. and CBS carries Auburn’s contest with Louisville at 3:30 p.m
ABC brings Nebraska-BYU at 3:30 p.m., then Cowboys Stadium hosts Wisconsin and Alabama at 8 p.m.
ESPN starts its day at noon with Stanford-Northwestern, then Penn State tackles Temple at 3:30 p.m. Texas A&M plays Arizona State in Houston at 7 p.m.
Clemson battles Wofford in the ACC game of the week Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
MASN2 has action from the Southland Conference between Southeastern Louisiana and Northwestern State Thursday at 7 p.m.
There’s three games Saturday, starting at noon with South Dakota State-Kansas. Texas Tech takes on Sam Houston State at 3:30 p.m., with Georgia Southern against West Virginia at 7:30 p.m.
FoxSports1 has Mississippi State facing Southern Mississippi Saturday at 10 p.m. and Purdue-Marshall Sunday at 3 p.m.
South Carolina State plays Arkansas Pine Bluff on ESPN Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
The NFL preseason concludes Thursday, and Comcast shows the Redskins facing the Jaguars at 7:30 p.m. while Comcast-plus has the Ravens and Falcons.
The Nationals host Atlanta in a four-game set starting Thursday  at 7 p.m. on MASN. while the Orioles visit Toronto on MASN2.
FoxSports1 offers Rays-Yankees at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by Pirates taking on the Cardinals at 4 p.m. The series finale between the Rays and Yankees will be on TBS Sunday at 1:05 p.m. and ESPN has the Pirates and Cardinals Sunday night.
NASCAR returns Darlington to its traditional Labor Day weekend date, with the Southern 500 on NBC Sunday at 7 p.m. The Xfinity race will be Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on NBC, after qualifying at 11:30 a.m. on NBC Sports network. The Sprint Cup series has qualifying Saturday at 1:30 p.m., and there’s practice Friday at 11 a.m.
NBC Sports network offers the Italian Grand Prix Sunday at 7:30 a.m. There’s qualifying Saturday at 8 a.m. after practice Friday at 8 a.m.
Coverage of the U.S. Open continues Thursday on ESPN at 1 p.m. and ESPN2 at 7 p.m. There’s third round action Friday at 1 p.m. on ESPN and 7 p.m. on ESPN2, Saturday on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday starts the Round of 16 at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
NBC carries the Deutsche Bank Championship Sunday at 3 p.m. and the final round Monday at 1:30 p.m.
The United States faces Australia in rugby on NBC Sports network Saturday at 7 p.m.


Winning in Williamsport

Sixteen teams from around the world came to Williamsport last week.
One will leave Sunday as the Little League World Series Champion.
ABC has coverage of the final at 3 p.m. Sunday. The United States championship game will be Saturday at 3:30 p.m., after the international finale at 12:30 p.m.
Thursday features elimination games on ESPN, with Mexico facing Latin America at 4 p.m. and California-Texas at 8 p.m. and the winners advancing to weekend play.
The third place game will be Sunday at 11 a.m. on ESPN.
The Orioles close a series in Kansas City Thursday at 2 p.m. on MASN before heading to Texas for the weekend on MASN2.
The Nationals face the Padres Thursday at 7 p.m. on MASN, then Miami comes to town for the weekend.
Interleague action fills the FoxSports1 schedule Saturday, with Red Sox-Mets at 4 p.m. followed by the Yankees against Braves. TBS offers the Red Sox and Mets Sunday at 1:10 p.m., and the Cubs battle the Dodgers on ESPN Sunday night.
The Redskins head up I-95 to battle the Ravens on Comcast Saturday at 7 p.m.
CBS brings the Lions and Jaguars Friday at 8 p.m. and Seahawks-Chargers Saturday at 8 p.m. The Texans face the Saints Sunday at 4 p.m. on Fox, and it’s Cardinals-Raiders on NBC Sunday at 8 p.m.
North of the border, Montreal meets Hamilton on ESPN2 Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and it’s Toronto-Edmonton Friday at 9 p.m.
Jacksonville and San Jose battle for the Arena Football championship Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
The college football season starts in the Football Championship Series, with North Dakota State facing Montana Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPN.
It’s Florida high school football on ESPN Friday at 8 p.m., with Booker Washington against St. Thomas Aquinas. Miami Central takes on DeMatha Saturday at noon.
The Sprint Cup series gets its final week off of the season, but the Truck Series runs on FoxSports1 Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The Xfinity Series visits Road America Saturday at 3 p.m., after qualifying at 12:15 p.m.
Sonoma hosts the Indy Car circuit Sunday at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports network. There’s qualifying Saturday at 6:30 p.m. after practice at 1:30 p.m.
The PGA tour’s playoff season begins this weekend at the Barclays, with coverage on CBS Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Newcastle United battles Arsenal Saturday at 7:45 a.m. on NBC Sports network. It’s Southampton-Norwich City Sunday at 8:30 p.m. followed by Swansea City against Manchester United.
Seattle takes on Portland Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN and D.C. United faces the Red Bulls on FoxSports1 at 7 p.m.
In women’s soccer, Portland meets Washington at 9:30 p.m. on FoxSports1.
The road to the U.S. Open winds down this weekend, with the Connecticut Open semifinals Friday at 1 and 7 p.m. and final Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPN2. There’s semifinal play from Winston-Salem Friday at 3 p.m. and final Saturday at 1 p.m.


NASCAR at night

As the time to claim a spot in NASCAR’s playoffs winds down, the teams head to Thunder Valley this weekend.
NBC Sports network has the Bristol night race Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Xfinity race goes Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Eleven drivers have claimed victories so far this season, with races left in Bristol, Darlington and Richmond before the final 10 races. Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson have already posted four trips to Victory Lane before the wins really count down the stretch.
There’s qualifying for both races Friday at 3:30 p.m., after practice starting at 9:30 a.m.
Across the pond, NBC Sports network brings the Belgian Grand Prix Sunday at 7:30 a.m. and practice Friday at 8 a.m.
The IndyCar racers hit the track Sunday at 2 p.m. on NBC Sports network. There’s qualifying Saturday at 2 p.m.
The Orioles have a four-game set with Minnesota on MASN. The Nationals complete their road trip in Colorado Thursday on MASN2, then host Milwaukee for the weekend.
The Pirates host the Giants on FoxSports1 Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The Tigers face the Rangers Saturday at 7 p.m. on FoxSports1, and TBS offers Dodgers-Astros Sunday at 2:10 p.m.
The best Little League teams in the world gather in Williamsport, starting Thursday at 1 p.m.  on ESPN with Uganda against Dominican Republic. Oregon meets Texas at 3 p.m., followed by Venezuela-Australia at 5 p.m. and Kentucky-California on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.
Friday’s play begins at 2 p.m. on ESPN with British Columbia battling Mexico. It’s South Carolina against Rhode Island at 4 p.m., then Taiwan-Japan at 6 p.m. and Pennsylvania facing Missouri in the nightcap.
ABC carries a contest Saturday at 3 p.m., with other play on ESPN at 1, 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday has ABC back at 3 p.m., with other games at 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
The Junior League championship from Michigan will be Sunday at 1 p.m.
Comcast carries the Redskins’ contest with the Lions Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Cleveland hosts the Bills in NFL preseason action on ESPN Thursday at 8 p.m.
The Rams and Titans battle on Fox Sunday at 8 p.m. and ESPN offers the Bengals and Buccaneers Monday at 8 p.m.
The PGA tour visits Greensboro this weekend, with coverage on CBS Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Fox brings the final round of the United States Amateur Sunday at 3 p.m., after Saturday’s semifinals at 3 p.m. FoxSports1 had action Thursday and Friday at 3 p.m.
Manchester United and Newcastle United tangle on NBC Sports network Saturday at 7:45 a.m. Everton meets Manchester City Sunday at 11 a.m.
D.C. United faces San Jose Saturday at 7 p.m. on Comcast. ESPN has the Galaxy visiting New York City Sunday at 3 p.m.
In women’s soccer, Seattle meets Houston Friday at 8 p.m. on FoxSports1.
ESPN2 has the Southern and Western Open, starting Thursday at 1 p.m. There’s more action at 9 and 11 p.m., with quarterfinals Friday at 1 and 7 p.m. The men’s semifinal is Saturday at 1 p.m. with the women at 7 p.m., and the championships will be Sunday at 1 and 3 p.m.


Still waiting on Tiger

Tiger Woods won the PGA championship in the seventh year of Bill Clinton’s presidency.
He won the PGA championship in the seventh year George W. Bush was in the White House.
It’s the seventh year of President Obama’s tenure – will Woods make a run this time?
Woods has been trying for his 15th career major since Obama took the oath of office in 2009. TNT has the first two rounds Thursday and Friday at 2 p.m., then CBS has coverage Saturday and Sunday starting at 2 p.m.
Rory McIlroy returns from injury to defend his title, while Jordan Spieth goes for his third major of the year. And Woods will try to find his youthful form one more title.
FoxSports1 brings the final round of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship Sunday at 4 p.m. The semifinals are Saturday at 4 p.m. after quarterfinals Friday at 4 p.m. and early round action Thursday at 4 p.m.
The Redskins start their preseason Thursday at 8 p.m., hosting the Browns on Comcast.
North of the border, Edmonton takes on Montreal Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2 and Ottawa heads to Calgary Saturday at 10 p.m.
Indoors, Portland and San Jose battle in the Arena League playoffs Friday at 11 p.m. on ESPN2.
The Orioles return home to face the A’s for the weekend on MASN.
The Nationals take on the Giants Thursday on MASN and MASN2 the rest of the weekend. Saturday’s game will also be on FoxSports1.
The Royals host the Angels Saturday on FoxSports1 and Sunday night on ESPN. TBS brings the Pirates and Mets Sunday at 1:10 p.m.
Little League’s road to Williamsport continues Thursday on ESPN, with semifinals in the Midwest at 11 a.m., Northwest at 1 p.m. and Great Lakes at 3 p.m. The Southwest Regional crowns its champion at 7 p.m., with a West semifinal at 9 p.m. ESPN2 has the Southeast final at 5 p.m.
Friday’s play begins at 11 a.m. with a New England semifinal, followed by semifinals from the Midwest at 1 p.m., Northwest at 3 p.m., Mid-Atlantic at 7 p.m. and West at 9 p.m.
Four berths to Williamsport are on the line Saturday on ESPN – Midwest at 1 p.m., Northwest at 3 p.m., Great Lakes at 5 p.m. and West at 9 p.m. There’s semifinals in New England at 11 a.m. and Mid-Atlantic at 7 p.m., with those finals Sunday at 1 and 4 p.m.
NASCAR heads to Michigan, with the Sprint Cup race Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on NBC Sports network. The Xfinity Series goes Saturday at 3:30 p.m., and there’s practice Friday at 11 a.m.
FoxSports1 carries the Truck Series race Saturday at 1 p.m., after practice Friday at 1:30 p.m.
Aston Villa takes on Manchester United Friday at 2:45 p.m. on NBC Sports network. Southampton faces Everton Saturday at 7:45 a.m., and it’s Crystal Palace-Arsenal Sunday at 8:30 a.m. followed by Manchester City against Chelsea.
Seattle meets Orlando City Sunday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2, while Philadelphia plays Chicago at 7 p.m. on FoxSports1.
The United States meets Costa Rica in a women’s friendly Sunday at 2 p.m.
ESPN2 has the Rogers Cup Thursday at 12:30 p.m., with quarterfinals Friday at 12:30 and 7 p.m. There’s a women’s semifinal Saturday at 1 p.m., with men’s semifinals at 3 and 8 p.m. The women’s final will be Sunday at 1 p.m., followed by the men at 3 p.m.
Indiana takes on Phoenix in the WNBA Sunday at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.


Are you ready for some football?

For football fans, the drought is over.
There will be some version on NFL football in action each weekend until February 7.
The Steelers and Vikings meet Sunday at 8 p.m. in the annual Hall of Fame game to kick off the preseason. NBC has coverage of the contest.
Sure, the starters will only play a few plays. But it’s now five weeks until the season opener in New England.
ESPN and NFL network carries the Hall of Fame enshrinement Saturday at 7 p.m.
North of the border, Edmonton takes on British Columbia Thursday at 10 p.m. on ESPN2. Montreal meets Ottawa Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Orioles continue their West Coast swing in Anaheim, meeting the Angels on MASN2.
The Nationals host Arizona Thursday at 4 p.m. on MASN and then the Rockies come to town for the weekend on MASN.
The Pirates and Dodgers get plenty of coverage this weekend, with games Friday and Sunday on ESPN and Saturday at 4:05 p.m. on FoxSports1. The Cardinals take on the Brewers Saturday at 7 p.m. on FoxSports1 and TBS offers the Giants and Cubs Sunday at 2:20 p.m.
ESPN2 brings the final of the Intermediate Little League World Series Saturday at 9 p.m. while ESPN has the Senior League finale Saturday at noon. Little League softball crowns champions in Junior League Saturday at 2 p.m. on ESPN, Senior League Saturday at 4 p.m. and Big League Sunday at noon.
NASCAR hits the Glen this weekend, with the Sprint Cup race Sunday at 2 p.m. on NBC Sports network. The Xfinity Series goes Saturday at 3 p.m. There’s practice Friday at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
The Premier League season starts Saturday on NBC, with Chelsea clashing with Swansea City at 12:30 p.m. Arsenal meets West Ham Sunday at 8:30 a.m. on NBC Sports network, followed by Stoke City-Liverpool.
D.C. United visits Montreal Saturday at 8 p.m. on Comcast. The Galaxy battle the Sounders Sunday at 4 p.m. on ESPN while the Red Bulls face New York FC on FoxSports1 at 7 p.m.
In women’s soccer, Portland plays Chicago Sunday at 9:30 p.m. on FoxSports1.
CBS carries the Bridgestone Invitational Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.
The U.S. Open Series continues on ESPN2, with the semifinals of the Bank of the West Classic at 3 and 7 p.m. The final is Sunday at 5 p.m.
NBC carries the Breeder’s Cup Challenge Series from Saratoga Saturday at 5 p.m.
Phoenix faces Chicago in the WNBA Sunday at 2 p.m. on ESPN.


Into the home stretch

Saturday is August 1.
The time of the baseball season for contenders to kick into gear and pretenders to begin thinking about Spring Training 2016.
The Nationals hold the lead in the National League East, and close a series in Miami Thursday at noon on MASN. They visit the Mets for the weekend, with games Friday and Saturday on MASN before playing Sunday night on ESPN.
The Orioles have a four-game set with the Tigers, starting Thursday at 7 p.m. on MASN. Games Friday and Saturday will be on MASN2, with the series finale Sunday afternoon on MASN.
FoxSports1 has the battle of Los Angeles between the Angels and Dodgers Saturday at 4 p.m., and TBS offers Yankees-White Sox Sunday at 2 p.m.
NASCAR visits Pocono, with the Sprint Cup race Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on NBC Sports network. The Truck race goes Saturday at 1 p.m. on FoxSports1, while the Xfinity Series visits Iowa Saturday at 8 p.m.
The PGA tour visits Northern Virginia this weekend, with coverage on CBS Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m.
ESPN2 carries the British Women’s Open, starting with first-round play Thursday at 9 a.m. Action continues Friday at 9 a.m., with the third round Saturday at 10 a.m. and final round Sunday at noon.
The best NBA players from Africa take on the world in South Africa Saturday at 9 a.m. on ESPN.
Former NBA players try to shine in the Basketball Tournament semifinals Saturday at 2 and 4 p.m. on ESPN. The winners meet for the championship Sunday at 3 p.m.
Winnipeg battles British Columbia in CFL action Thursday at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN2. Saskatchewan takes on Edmonton Friday at 9 p.m.
D.C. United hosts Real Salt Lake Saturday at 7 p.m. on Comcast. San Jose tangles with Portland Sunday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2 while Dallas heads to Chicago on FoxSports1 Sunday at 7 p.m.
ESPN2 has the semifinals of the BB&T Atlanta Open Saturday at 4 p.m., with the final Sunday at 3 p.m. There’s World Team Tennis play Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Special Olympics World Games continue Thursday at 7 p.m. on ESPN. Action continues Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.


Back to the Brickyard

Jeff Gordon won the first Brickyard 400 race in 1994.
He gets his final shot at the famous track Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on NBC Sports network.
Gordon claimed his fifth win at Indianapolis last year, but hasn’t won yet on his farewell tour around the circuit. Sunday’s winner will get their chance at history, and to kiss the bricks.
NBC has the Xfinity race Saturday at 3 p.m.
There’s qualifying Saturday at 11:30 a.m. for both series on NBC Sports network and practices for the races will be Friday at noon.
The Tour de France rides into Paris for its finale Sunday at 8 a.m. on NBC Sports network. There are mountain stages Thursday at 8 a.m. then Friday and Saturday at 7 a.m. before the trip to the final stage.
The Orioles close a series against the Yankees Thursday at 1 p.m. on MASN, then head to Tampa Bay for the weekend.
The Nationals visit Pittsburgh for a four-game set, with Thursday’s game on MASN at 7 p.m. and the rest of the series on MASN2.
FoxSports1 offers the A’s against Giants Saturday at 4 p.m., followed by the Braves and Cardinals at 7 p.m. The Dodgers take on the Mets Sunday at 1:10 p.m. on TBS, with the Tigers meeting the Red Sox on ESPN at 8 p.m.
Jamaica faces Mexico in the Gold Cup final from Philadelphia Sunday at 8 p.m. on FoxSports1.
Barcelona meets Manchester United in International Champions Cup play Saturday at 4 p.m. on Fox.
D.C. United visits Philadelphia on ESPN2 Sunday at 5 p.m. while FoxSports1 has Orlando against New York City Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Canada hosts the PGA tour this weekend, with the Canadian Open on CBS Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m.
The best senior golfers gather for the British Senior Open starting Thursday at noon on ESPN2. Play continues Friday and Saturday at noon, with the final round Sunday at noon.
The United States amateur concludes Saturday at 2 p.m. on FoxSports1. The semifinals are Friday at 2 p.m.
ABC carries the WNBA all-star game Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Pan-Am games close Sunday at 1 p.m. on ESPN. Coverage of the action will be Thursday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 3:30 and 7 p.m.
The Opening Ceremonies of the World Special Olympics games are Saturday at 9 p.m. on ESPN. There’s more action Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
NBC Sports network has motorcycle racing from Washougal Saturday at 6 p.m.


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