A playoff without Alabama

This weekend marks the start of the sixth College Football Playoff – but the first without Alabama.
For those desiring continuity, Clemson will be in the field for the fifth straight year.
The Tigers attempt to repeat as national champion when they meet Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
LSU, which handed Alabama its’ first loss of the season, meets Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl at 4 p.m. in the other semifinal.
Saturday’s winners advance to the National Championship Game Jan. 13 in New Orleans. Alabama fans have to wait until New Year’s Day to see their squad, in the Citrus Bowl from Orlando.
The post-Christmas bowl schedule gets going Thursday with the Independence Bowl between Miami and Louisiana Tech at 4 p.m. on ESPN. Pittsburgh meets Eastern Michigan at 8 p.m. on ESPN in the Quick Lane Bowl.
North Carolina meets Temple in the Military Bowl Friday at noon on ESPN, followed by Michigan State-Wake Forest in the Pinstripe Bowl and the Texas Bowl matching Texas A&M and Oklahoma State at 6:45 p.m.
FoxSports1 has the Holiday Bowl between Southern Cal and Iowa at 8 p.m. and ESPN brings the Cheez-It Bowl at 10:15 p.m. with Air Force against Washington State.
Penn State meets Memphis in the Cotton Bowl Saturday at noon on ESPN and Notre Dame faces Iowa State from Orlando on ABC at noon.
The NFL regular season closes Sunday with the NFC West battle between Seattle and San Francisco on NBC at 8:20 p.m. The winner takes the division while the loser has a matchup on the road next weekend.
The Patriots tangle with the Dolphins at 1 p.m. on CBS while Fox carries Packers-Lions.
The final playoff slots are on the line in the late afternoon, with Cowboys needing to beat the Redskins on Fox and hoping the Eagles fall to the Giants. On CBS, the top-seeded Ravens face the Steelers – who are battling the Titans and Raiders for the final wild-card playoffs.
TNT has the Spurs’ contest with the Mavericks Thursday at 8 p.m. and TrailBlazers-Jazz at 10:30 p.m.
The Wizards meet the Pistons Thursday at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington
The Mavericks take on the Lakers on ESPN Sunday at 9:30 p.m.
Tennessee takes on Wisconsin on CBS Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and Louisville faces Kentucky at 3:45 p.m.
ESPN2 has Brown-Duke Saturday at 11:30 p.m. followed by New Orleans-Memphis.
Georgetown hosts American on FoxSports1 Saturday at noon and Marquette meets Central Arkansas at 2 p.m. It’s Butler against Louisiana Monroe at 4 p.m. and Creighton clashes with Midland at 6 p.m.
West Virginia faces Ohio State at noon Sunday on FoxSports1 followed by Michigan against UMass-Lowell.
Virginia takes on Navy on ESPN2 Sunday at 4 p.m.
It’s VCU-Loyola of Maryland Sunday at 5 p.m. on NBC Sports network.
On the women’s court, Syracuse faces Louisville Sunday at 2 p.m. on ESPN2. FoxSports1 has Providence against Villanova Sunday at 4 p.m.
The Capitals host Columbus Friday at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington and visit Carolina Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington-plus.
NBC Sports network offers Avalanche-Wild Friday at 8 p.m.
Boxing Day Thursday means Premier League soccer on NBC Sports network. Tottenham Hotspur takes on Brighton & Hove Albion at 7:25 a.m., followed by Chelsea-Southampton. Manchester United meets Newcastle United at 12:25 p.m. and it’s Leicester City against Liverpool at 2:55 p.m.
Manchester City meets Wolverhampton Friday at 2:55 p.m. on NBC Sports network.
Brighton & Hove Albion faces Bournemouth Saturday at 7:25 a.m. and Everton battles Newcastle United at 9:55 a.m. on NBC Sports network. NBC offers Norwich-Tottenham Hotspur at 12:30 p.m.
Chelsea clashes with Arsenal Sunday at 8:55 a.m. on NBC Sports network before Liverpool tangles with Wolverhampton.
South of the border, Monterrey meets America on FoxSports1 Thursday at 9:30 p.m.

Bowling for trophies

The college bowl season ends Jan. 13 in New Orleans.
But it begins Friday in the Bahamas.
Charlotte and Buffalo start the bowl season Friday at 2 p.m. on ESPN with the Bahamas Bowl. The Frisco Bowl matches Utah State and Kent State Friday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
ABC has the Celebration Bowl between Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T Saturday at noon. Central Michigan clashes with San Diego State on ESPN at 2 p.m. in the New Mexico Bowl, and Liberty plays in its first bowl game against Georgia Southern at 2:30 p.m. on CBS Sports network.
Florida Atlantic faces SMU in the Boca Raton Bowl at 3:30 p.m. on ABC, followed by the Camelia Bowl between Florida International and Arkansas State on ESPN at 5:30 p.m.
The Las Vegas Bowl brings together Boise State and Washington on ABC at 7:30 p.m., with Appalachian State-UAB in the New Orleans Bowl on ESPN at 9 p.m.
Top-seed North Dakota State meets Montana State in the FCS semifinals Saturday at 2 p.m. on ESPN2.
NFL network has a tripleheader Saturday, starting with Texans-Bucs at 1 p.m. The Bills and Patriots battle at 4:30 p.m. and the Rams visit the 49ers at 8:30 p.m.
The Ravens face the Browns on CBS Sunday at 1 p.m. Fox has the Redskins against the Giants at 1 p.m. before the Eagles and Cowboys clash for the NFC East lead.
Kansas City gears up for the playoffs against the Bears Sunday on NBC, with Packers-Vikings on ESPN Monday night.
TNT has the Lakers’ visit to the Bucks Thursday at 8 p.m. followed by Rockets-Clippers.
The Mavericks meet the 76ers Friday at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN.
The Wizards tangle with the Raptors Friday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington and visit the 76ers Saturday at 7 p.m.
Maryland meets Seton Hall on FoxSports1 Thursday at 7 p.m.
Duke faces Wofford on ESPN2 Thursday at 7 p.m. followed by N.C. State-Auburn.
North Dakota State takes on Marquette Friday at 9 p.m. on FoxSports1.
Fox has Kansas-Villanova Saturday at noon and Texas against Providence at 2 p.m.
North Carolina battles UCLA on CBS Saturday at 3 p.m. followed by Ohio State-Kentucky.
Notre Dame faces Indiana on ESPN Saturday at noon.
Samford takes on Georgetown at noon Saturday on FoxSports1 and it’s Utah State-Florida at 2:30 p.m. in the Orange Bowl Classic. LSU clashes with Southern Cal at 9 p.m.
It’s VCU-Wichita State Saturday at noon on ESPN2. Minnesota meets Oklahoma State at 5:30 p.m. and Arizona tangles with St. John’s at 10 p.m.
ESPN2 has TCU-Xavier Sunday at 5 p.m and Ball State meets Washington at 9:30 p.m.
Prairie View A&M visits Seton Hall Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on FoxSports1.
On the women’s court, Stanford takes on Texas Sunday at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.
The Capitals visit the Devils Friday at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington-plus and host the Lightning Saturday at 7 p.m.
NBC Sports network offers Bruins-Islanders Thursday at 7 p.m.
ESPN has the women’s volleyball semifinals Thursday, with top-seed Baylor against Wisconsin at 7 p.m. and Minnesota facing Stanford at 9 p.m. The final is Saturday at 8 p.m.
Everton tangles with Arsenal on NBC Sports network Saturday at 7:25 a.m. and Norwich City takes on Wolverhampton at 9:55 a.m. Manchester City meets Leicester City on NBC at 12:30 p.m.
Manchester United faces Watford at 8:55 a.m. Sunday on NBC Sports network followed by Tottenham Hotspur-Chelsea.
In the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich battles Wolfsburg Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Dusseldorf meets Union Berlin Sunday at 9:30 a.m. followed by Paderborn-Eintracht at noon.
Atalanta tangles with AC Milan in Italian Serie A Sunday at 6:25 a.m.
FoxSports1 offers college wrestling between Nebraska and Oregon State Friday at 7 p.m.
There’s snowboarding on NBC Sports network Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 10 p.m., along with freestyle skiing Saturday at 7 p.m.


It’s been three years since Navy beat Army and also claimed the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.
The Midshipmen look to take care of that Saturday.
The college football regular season concludes with the traditional clash between the service academies. CBS has coverage at 3 p.m.
Navy enters the contest at 9-2, with a victory over the Air Force Academy. Army won the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy the past two years, but stands at 5-7 after losing to Hawaii Thanksgiving weekend.
ESPN has the college football awards Thursday at 7 p.m. and the Heisman Trophy presentation Saturday at 8 p.m.
In the Football Championship Series, James Madison hosts Northern Iowa Friday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and Montana meets Weber State at 10 p.m. Top-seed North Dakota State hosts Illinois State Saturday at noon on ESPN.
The Ravens take on the Jets Thursday at 8:20 p.m. on Fox.
CBS in Fishersville should get the Broncos against the Chiefs Sunday at 1 p.m., with most of Virginia seeing the Titans against Texans and the D.C. area catching Vikings’ contest with the Chargers.
The Redskins tangle with the Eagles on Fox at 1 p.m. with the Cowboys and Rams in the late afternoon slot.
The NFL moved Bills-Steelers into the Sunday night slot on NBC. ESPN has the Colts’ contest with the Saints.
TNT has the 76ers against the Celtics Thursday at 8 p.m. with Portland-Denver in the nightcap.
The Lakers battle the Heat Friday at 7:15 p.m. on ESPN, followed by Clippers against Timberwolves.
The Wizards face the Grizzlies on NBC Sports Washington-plus Saturday at 8 p.m.
Iowa meets Iowa State on ESPN2 Thursday at 8 p.m.
Creighton clashes with Texas-Rio Grande Valley Friday at 8 p.m. on FoxSports1.
CBS offers Oregon’s meeting with Michigan Saturday at noon.
It’s Syracuse-Georgetown on Fox Saturday at 1 p.m.
Memphis meets Tennessee Saturday at 3 p.m. on ESPN followed by Georgia Tech-Kentucky.
ESPN2 has five games Saturday, starting at noon with Michigan State against Oakland. Delaware tangles with Villanova at 2 p.m. before Saint Louis faces Auburn. It’s Oklahoma-Wichita State at 6 p.m. and the nightcap features Arizona and Gonzaga at 10 p.m.
FoxSports1 has Southern’s contest with Butler Saturday at noon, followed by Illinois-Chicago against DePaul.
The College of Charleston visits Richmond on NBC Sports network Saturday at 5 p.m.
TCU takes on Lamar on ESPN2 Saturday at 2 p.m.
Oklahoma State takes on Houston Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPN and South Carolina clashes with Clemson on ESPN2 at 5 p.m.
VCU hosts Missouri State Sunday at 7 p.m. on MASN.
On the women’s court, Louisville meets Kentucky on ESPN Sunday at 1 p.m.
Texas Tech tangles with Houston Baptist Sunday at 1 p.m. on MASN2.
NBC Sports Washington offers the Rangers’ contest with the Sharks Thursday at 10:30 p.m.
The Capitals visit the Lightning Saturday at 7 p.m on NBC Sports Washington.
The United States women meet Canada Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports network.
On the college ice, Notre Dame tangles with Penn State Friday at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.
Liverpool takes on Watford Saturday at 7:25 a.m. on NBC Sports network. Chelsea clashes with Bournemouth at 9:55 a.m. and NBC offers West Ham-Southampton at 12:30 p.m.
It’s Wolverhampton facing Tottenham Hotspur Sunday at 8:55 a.m. and Arsenal meets Manchester City at 11:25 a.m. on NBC Sports network.
In the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich battles Werder Bremen Saturday at 9:30 a.m. on FoxSports1. Wolfsburg meets M’gladbach Sunday at 9:30 a.m. then it’s Schalke against Eintracht.
Fiorentina faces Inter Milan in Serie A on ESPN2 Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
NBC Sports network has freestyle skiing Friday at 1:30 p.m. and snowboarding Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

Conference championship time

Four teams will appear in the College Football playoff in three weeks.
Many more than four are hoping they will get the call when ESPN announces the field Sunday at noon.
The Power 5 conferences hold their championship games this weekend, but likely LSU, Clemson and Ohio State will be moving onto playoff games Dec. 28.
Georgia stands at No. 4, but needs to beat LSU Saturday at 4 p.m. on CBS to remain in contention.
Ohio State takes on Wisconsin in the Big 10 championship game on Fox Saturday at 8 p.m.
Virginia has reached its first ACC championship game, facing Clemson on ABC at 7:30 p.m.
Winners of the Pac 12 and Big 12 hope their contests impress the voters. ABC has Utah-Oregon Friday at 8 p.m., and Oklahoma battles Baylor Saturday at noon on ABC.
ESPN has Louisiana against Appalachian State Saturday at noon followed by Hawaii visiting Boise State.
Miami of Ohio meets Central Michigan in the MAC championship Saturday at noon on ESPN2.
Cincinnati clashes with Memphis for the second straight week, this time for the AAC title, on ABC Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
The Cowboys battle the Bears on Fox Thursday at 8:20 p.m.
The Ravens go for their ninth straight win against the Wild-Card contending Bills Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS, then the Patriots and Chiefs battle for playoff positioning in the late afternoon slot.  Fox has the Redskins’ contest with the Packers.
The Seahawks visit the Rams on NBC Sunday night with Giants-Eagles on ESPN Monday night.
The 76ers take on the Wizards Thursday at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. It’s Wizards-Heat Friday at 8 p.m. and the Clippers visit Sunday at 6 p.m.
The Nuggets clash with the Celtics on ESPN Friday at 8:15 p.m. with Lakers-Trail Blazers in the nightcap.
NBC Sports Washington has the development league contest between Canton and the Go-Gos Saturday at 7 p.m.
Michigan meets Iowa on FoxSports1 Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Providence plays Rhode Island Friday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and it’s Southern Cal-TCU at 9 p.m.
Florida faces Butler on Fox Saturday at noon.
There’s four ESPN2 games on Saturday, starting at 3 p.m. with Villanova-St. Joseph’s. Maryland meets Illinois at 5 p.m. with Colorado’s contest with Kansas at 7 p.m. and Marquette against Kansas State.
FoxSports1 has West Virginia’s contest with St. John’s Saturday at noon, then Nebraska clashes with Creighton and Cincinnati meets Xavier at 5 p.m.
Old Dominion visits VCU on MASN Saturday at 8 p.m. MASN2 has American’s contest with George Mason at 7 p.m.
Richmond hosts South Alabama on MASN Sunday at 2 p.m.
Buffalo battles DePaul Sunday at 5 p.m. on FoxSports1.
Washington faces Gonzaga Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and Seton Hall meets Iowa State at 9 p.m.
The women’s ACC-Big Ten Challenge hits ESPN Thursday, with Maryland-North Carolina State at 7 p.m. followed by Syracuse against Michigan.
LSU faces Oklahoma Saturday at 4 p.m. on MASN2.
Connecticut clashes with Notre Dame Sunday at 4 p.m. on ESPN.
Texas tangles with Tennessee on ESPN2 Sunday at 2 p.m.
On the high school hardcourt, ESPN2 offers Prolific Prep’s contest with Hillcrest Prep Thursday at 9 p.m.
The Capitals face the Ducks Friday at 10 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington-plus.
On the college ice, FoxSports1 has Penn State-Michigan Friday at 8:30 p.m.
Arsenal battles Brighton & Hove Albion Thursday at 2:30 p.m. on NBC Sports network.
Everton clashes with Chelsea Saturday at 7:25 a.m. on NBC Sports network, followed by Bournemouth-Liverpool and Manchester City’s contest with Manchester United.
Aston Villa faces Leicester City Sunday at 8:55 a.m. and Brighton & Hove Albion meets Wolverhampton at 11:25 a.m.
In the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich battles M’gladbach Saturday at 9:30 a.m. on FoxSports1. It’s Union Berlin against Koln Sunday at 9:30 a.m. followed by Werder Bremen’s contest with Paderborn.
There’s alpine skiing on NBC Sports network Friday at 12:30 p.m.
NBC Sports network has the Toyota U.S. Open swim meet Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.