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.

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