This Weekend in Sports — Las Vegas Bowl
College bowl season kicks-off with a matchup of ranked teams. Here’s what to watch this weekend:
Friday, Dec. 20
Houston Rockets at Indiana Pacers
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis; 8 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
James Harden leads Houston (17-9) against Paul George and Indiana (20-5). The Pacers have been the Eastern Conference’s best team through the first quarter of the season thanks to a defense that keeps opponents to a league-low 90.2 points per game.
Saturday, Dec. 21
Georgetown at (18) Kansas
Phog Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kan.; 12 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Traditional college basketball power Georgetown (7-2) finds itself unranked heading into an early season battle with No. 18 Kansas (7-3). D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks are the Hoyas long-range shooters. Super-freshman Andrew Wiggins is the player to watch for the Jayhakws.
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl — (20) Fresno State vs. (25) USC
Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas; 3:30 p.m. (ET) on ABC
Two West Coast schools with high-powered offenses meet in Sin City when 20th-ranked Fresno State (11-1) faces 25th-ranked USC (9-4) in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. Quarterback Derek Carr leads the Bulldogs, while wide receiver Marqise Lee is the centerpiece of the Trojans’ offense.
(5) Michigan State at Texas
Frank Erwin Events Center, Austin, Tex.; 4 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Fifth-ranked Michigan State (9-1) visits Texas (10-1) in a cross-conference battle. Center Adreian Payne has been a standout for the Spartans, while freshman guard Isaiah Taylor has led the Longhorns to several early season wins, including one over North Carolina on Wednesday.
(7) Oklahoma State vs. (21) Colorado
MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV; 11:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2
Seventh-ranked Oklahoma State (10-1) meets No. 21 Colorado (10-1) as the second-half of a Coaches vs. Cancer benefit doubleheader in Las Vegas. The former Big 12 foes are now in separate conferences. Marcus Smart leads the Cowboys in scoring, while Spencer Dinwiddie paces the Buffaloes.
Sunday, Dec. 22
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
New Orleans (10-4) travels to Carolina (10-4) to face the Panthers after dismantling them 31-13 two weeks ago in the Superdome. If Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees gets protection — and Carolina’s Cam Newton doesn’t — we may see a replay of the Week 14 rout. New Orleans will clinch the NFC South and a first-round bye with a win, while the Panthers can punch their playoff ticket with a victory.
New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
New England (10-4) visits Baltimore (8-6) in a match-up of teams who have split the past two AFC title games. The Patriots clinch the AFC East with a win or a Dolphins loss or tie. They’ll lock up a playoff spot with a Bengals’ loss or tie. The Ravens clinch a playoff spot with a win and losses by the Dolphins and Chargers.
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC
NFC divisional leaders duel when NFC East-leading Philadelphia (8-6) hosts NFC North-leading Chicago (8-6). If Dallas loses to Washington prior to Sunday night, the Eagles can clinch the NFC East title and a playoff spot with a win. The Bears can clinch the NFC North title with a win if both Detroit and Green Bay lose.