thanksgiving Sports Viewing Guide 2013

This weekend signals the beginning of the Holiday season. Trees, lights, and decorations can finally be put up and after Thursday. I’m sure Christmas music will filling in the background of retail stores and coffee shops across the nation. Finally, a very happy Hanukkah to all my friends who celebrate the eight candle lit evenings.

With pleasantries out of the way, we can get to the actual core of this post, Football. Football brings people together. Football is the single thing that cousins can talk about during their annual visit. Football has the power to determine an entire family’s eating schedule, if you are a Lions or Cowboys family. I’m here to break down the weekend and let you know what games are worth your time.

Tuesdays

  • Western Michigan @ #14 Northern Illinois  at 7:00 PM- NIU has set themselves up to be the final BCS buster before college football moves to a playoff system. They take on the 1-10 Western Michigan Broncos. While this game may not be competitive, it’s one of NIU’s final opportunities to prove to BCS voters that they deserve a BCS berth.

Wednesday

There is no football scheduled on Wednesday, which means I would like to dub this “Black Wednesday” if I had the authority. I don’t, so I can only suggest watching a few College basketball games to hold you over until Thursday.

  • Alabama @ #6 Duke at 9:30 pm – Bama’s basketball program has a long way to go before becoming a powerhouse like their football counterpart. Regardless, the Crimson Tide are 3-1 and heading to Madison Square Garden to take on #6 Duke. I have to believe Coach K will have the Blue Devils ready for the Tide on such a large stage.
  • Arkansas @ #11 Gonzaga at 5:00 pm- Headed to sunny Hawaii, the 5-1 Zags face the 4-1 Razorbacks. Seeing as Gonzaga has been averaging over 20 points more than Arkansas, I don’t see the Razorbacks having much of a chance at the Maui Invitational.
  • Eastern Michigan @ #3 Kentucky at 4:00 pm – Eastern Michigan comes into this game undefeated and has been playing very good basketball. Between the two, EMU is scoring an average of 9 more points a game than Kentucky. That being said, Kentucky is a stacked team with a few future NBA players. It could be a great game to watch early in the day.

Thursday

This is it folks, the big day for family, for food, and for football. A tradition which roots back to the 1920s, the Detroit Lions always take the field on Thanksgiving. Dallas joined the tradition in 1966 as a second permanent Thanksgiving day game. In 2006, the NFL began an evening game with no predetermined team set to play. As a resident of the great state of Michigan, I’ve never had a Thanksgiving lunch. My family always schedules Thanksgiving for dinner because nothing gets in the way of watching the Lions on Thanksgiving.

  • Green Bay @ Detroit at 12:30 pm – The winner of this game will probably win the NFC North. Detroit has a strong home field presence because the Lions fans get loud. They also have the added advantage of not facing Aaron Rodgers, who is still out with a broken collar bone. On the flip side of the ball, Matt Flynn has found his way back to Green Bay, and the last time he played the Lions, he threw five TDs. This game could really go either way.
  • Oakland @ Dallas at 4:30 pm – Dallas on top of the NFC East, but only holding on because they hold a tiebreaker over Philly. Oakland is sitting at the bottom their division, but they are getting healthy at the right time and are only one game out of the wild card race.
  • Pittsburgh @ Baltimore at 8:30 pm – Both teams sit at 5-6 and are 2 games back from lead in the AFC north. The Steelers and the Ravens are very similar, statically speaking, but big Ben Roethlisberger is throwing more efficiently than Joe Flacco and could be the key to the game.

Friday

While the rest of the nation will be dealing with turkey hang-overs and rowdy customers looking for “Black Friday” deals, the brave men of the NCAA will be taking various football fields for our entertainment. This is a magical weekend that is only rivaled by the bowl season, as far as football watching is concerned. These are the “must see” games on Friday:

  • #16 Fresno State @ San Jose State at 3:30 – If NIU loses or fails to impress BCS voters, a solid performance by the Bulldogs could send Fresno State to the front of the non-AQ line and allow them to sneak into a BCS bowl. Both teams have top 10 passing offenses, so we should see an absurdly high scoring game.
  • Oregon State @ #13 Oregon at 7:00 pm – This is war, or the Civil War to be more accurate. This game always seems to be an exciting match up between both teams in Oregon. This year doesn’t pose National Title implications but with a win, the Oregon Ducks might be able to get a better bowl despite losing two games in the last three weeks. However, Oregon State’s QB Sean Mannion has the most passing yards and second most TDs passes in college football and is looking to give the Ducks a run for their money. This should also be a high scoring affair.

Saturday

Saturday is the day God made for college football. That being said, this holiday Saturday has a few huge games that could turn the BCS upside down.

  • #3 Ohio State @ Michigan at 12:00 pm – The old Ohio-Michigan rivalry has lost a much of it’s luster this season as the Wolverines have fallen short of expectations. This game will be OSU’s penultimate opportunity to showcase it’s talent and argue it’s case to jump Florida State for a bid to the National Championship. With a few defensive starters returning from injury, it will be interesting to see how the Wolverine’s offense will manage.
  • Minnesota @ #11 Michigan State at 12:00pm – After clenching the division from the Gophers last week, the Spartans are only playing for style points. Seeing as Minnesota is one of the better teams in the Big 10 this year, MSU will have to win convincingly and do well against OSU for a chance at a BCS Bowl.
  • #1 Alabama @ #4 Auburn at 3:30pm – This year, the Iron Bowl may mean more to the rest of the country than to the people of Alabama. While Alabama has sat at #1 in the polls all year, Auburn has risen from the ashes of a 3 win season last year, much to everyone’s surprise. After losing to LSU early in the season, Auburn has put together a strong year on the backs of Tre Mason and Nick Marshall to become the second strongest rushing attack in the nation. Whichever team wins the Iron Bowl this year will win the SEC West division and play for the conference championship. Alabama is in the National Championship as long as they win the SEC conference, but if Auburn were to beat Alabama and win the SEC, they could jump Ohio State and get the invite to the BCS Championship based on the strength of their schedule.
  • #6 Clemson @ #10 South Carolina at 7:00 pm – This is Clemson’s senior day and Tajh Boyd’s final opportunity to beat South Carolina during his time at Clemson. Known as the Palmetto Bowl, this in-state rivalry has been dominated by the Gamecocks since 2009. Just a win by either team won’t change their destinies, but could set up Carolina for big things. If South Carolina wins and Mizzou loses, South Carolina wins the SEC East Division. Both teams have a lot at steak in the Palmetto Bowl this year.
  • #21 Texas AM @ #5 Mizzou at 7:45 pm –  This is the second year Mizzou has been in the SEC, and already they are looking at win their division. A win against Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies puts the Mizzou Tigers in the SEC Championship. However, Texas A&M will be looking to bounce back from the LSU game they lost last week. On top of that, Johnny Football will be looking to impress Heisman voters one last time since media pundits are saying Manziel’s performance against LSU may have cost him the award.

Sunday

Now that we’ve finished with the regular season of college football, it’s time to realign our focus to the NFL. At week 13, we only have a few teams that have separated themselves from the pack, so most of these games still have playoff implications.

  • Denver @ Kansas City at 4:25 pm – Both the Broncos and Chiefs are sitting on top of the AFC. Unfortunately, they are both in the ACF West. Two weeks ago, Denver won the first of two games between the teams and obviously would love to sweep the Chiefs to gain the inside track the AFC West and maybe home field advantage for the playoffs. The Chiefs are reeling their first two losses of the season and would love to right the ship by beating the Broncos. This should be a great game.
  • NY Giants @ Washington at 8:30 pm – The Redskins are imploding this year and only have 3 wins on the year. Robert Griffin III isn’t playing as well as he did last year, which may mean he returned from his injury too soon. Either way, the Giants have a tendency to get hot at the end of the year, and they are going to need to after losing the first 6 games of the year. By winning 4 of the last 5, it looks like the Giants are on track for another late-season run down the stretch. With lack luster seasons by the Eagles and Cowboys, the Giants aren’t out of the hunt yet and could put themselves in position to take a wild card spot if they get hot for these last 5 games.

Monday

For those fortunate few who can extend the weekend into Monday, we have one more game to finish off this magical holiday weekend.

  • New Orleans @ Seattle at 8:30 pm – Both teams are sitting on top of their respective divisions and this game could decide who gets home field advantage through the playoffs. Looking at this game, it looks like the Seahawks have the advantage, as their strong passing defense should stymie Drew Brees. On top of that, the Saints run defense may not have an answer for Marshawn Lynch or the running threat of QB Russel Wilson. However, the Seahawks haven’t played a top shelf QB like Drew Brees this year, so Brees may surprise this untested secondary.