The college basketball season tips off this weekend as college football’s version of March Madness heats up.
Alabama climbed from fourth to second in Tuesday’s College Football Playoff rankings, jumping over Ohio State, but a loss Saturday at Mississippi State (No. 17 CFP) would knock the Crimson Tide out of national title contention. Likewise, Baylor (No. 6) and Oklahoma (No. 12) will try to keep their CFP hopes alive in a Big 12 shootout in Waco, Texas.
NFL Sunday brings us an NFC West showdown between the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks.
Temple vs. No. 1 North Carolina (4 p.m., CBSSN (333)): The top-ranked Tar Heels will open their season at the Veterans Classic in Annapolis, Md., without star point guard Marcus Paige, who recently suffered a broken hand. Paige, who last season led North Carolina’s Sweet 16 team in scoring (14.1 points per game) and assists (4.5 per game), is one of four returning starters, along with Justin Jackson (10.7 ppg), Brice Johnson (12.9 ppg, 7.8 rebounds, 1.1 blocks) and Kennedy Meeks (11.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.2). The Owls return three starters from a squad that reached the National Invitation Tournament semifinals last season.
BEST OF REST: Basketball: Albany at No. 2 Kentucky (4 p.m., SEC (335)), Siena at No. 5 Duke (4 p.m., ESPNU (320)), Pittsburgh vs. No. 9 Gonzaga (4 p.m., ESPN (30)); Football: Southern California at Colorado (6 p.m., ESPN2 (31)).
No. 2 Alabama at No. 17 Mississippi State (12:30 p.m., CBS (8)): The Crimson Tide, which controls its own destiny after Saturday’s 30-16 win over Louisiana State, has failed to cover the point spread each of the last four years following the LSU game, including three games vs. the Bulldogs. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott will be tested by Alabama’s stifling defense, which only allows an average of 16.3 points per game.
No. 12 Oklahoma at No. 6 Baylor (5:05 p.m., ABC (13)): Baylor has won 20 straight at home by an average of 25 points and smoked the Sooners the last two seasons by a combined score of 89-26. Freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham and the Bears are facing their first opponent in the CFP rankings in Oklahoma, which enters this one on a roll, scoring at least 50 points in its last four games.
BEST OF REST: Football: No. 3 Ohio State at Illinois (9 a.m., ABC (13)), No. 21 Memphis vs. No. 24 Houston (4 p.m., ESPN2 (31)), Oregon at No. 7 Stanford (4:30 p.m., Fox (5)), Washington State at No. 19 UCLA (7:45 p.m., ESPN (30)); NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Los Angeles Kings (7 p.m., FSW (49)).
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (1:25 p.m., CBS (8)): Denver quarterback Peyton Manning is one win as a starter and three passing yards shy of breaking Brett Favre’s NFL records in both categories (186, 17,838). Manning has nine touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a 75.6 quarterback rating, his lowest since his rookie year in 1998. Denver (7-1) still leads the league in scoring defense, allowing an average of 17.4 points per game, despite Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The Broncos rallied to beat the Chiefs 31-24 on Sept. 18 for their seventh straight win in the series.
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (5:20 p.m., NBC (3)): Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer leads the NFC with 20 TD passes and a 110.2 passer rating, and Arizona (6-2) is 12-2 since the start of last season when he plays. Running back Chris Johnson has four 100-yard performances in his last six games for the Cardinals, who are second in the NFL in scoring (32.9 ppg). Two-time defending NFC champion Seattle (4-4) lost its last outing at CenturyLink Field on Oct. 18, when the unbeaten Carolina Panthers rallied for a 27-23 win. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is 28-3 at home, including the playoffs.
BEST OF REST: NASCAR: Sprint Cup Series, Race for Heroes 500 (11:30 a.m., NBC (3)); NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (10 a.m., CBS (8)), Minnesota Vikings at Oakland Raiders (1 p.m., Fox (5)).
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33