This Weekend in Sports: Notre Dame-Michigan, UFC 152 and More
Important college football games, the return of UFC and a high-stakes golf tournament highlight the sports TV calendar. Here’s what to watch this weekend:
Friday, September 21
Tour Championship — Round Two
East Lake Golf Course, Atlanta, Ga.; 1 p.m. (ET); The Golf Channel-TV
The world’s best golfers face off in the Tour Championship in Atlanta. If any of the top five seeds — Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker — win this event, they can claim a $10 million bonus. With that sort of purse at stake, the potential for drama is high. The coverage shifts to NBC for the third and fourth rounds on Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday, September 22
Missouri at (7) South Carolina
Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.; 3:30 p.m. (ET); CBS-TV
Quarterback Connor Shaw returns from injury to help #7 South Carolina (3-0, 1-0 SEC) take on Missouri (2-1, 0-1 SEC) in a conference battle. The Gamecocks expect Shaw’s throwing shoulder to be fully healed, but backup Dylan Thompson will be available in case he struggles. Tigers’ quarterback James Franklin, who missed last week’s win over Arizona State with shoulder inflammation, should be ready for Saturday.
Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies
Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pa.; 4:05 p.m. (ET); FOX-TV
While they still have an outside chance at winning the National League East, the Atlanta Braves (86-64) seem likely to host the NL Wild Card game. They’ll send Mike Minor (9-10, 4.31) against the resurgent Philadelphia Phillies (75-74), who entered Thursday just four games out of the second NL Wild Card spot despite a disappointing season. Phillies ace Roy Halladay (10-7, 4.03) will attempt to keep his team in the race.
(18) Michigan at (11) Notre Dame
Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.; 7:30 p.m. (ET); NBC-TV
For #11 Notre Dame (3-0) to get its first 4-0 start since 2002, it must beat #18 Michigan (2-1) and its skilled, versatile quarterback Denard Robinson. The Wolverines have beaten Fighting Irish in the final 30 seconds in each of the last three seasons.
(15) Kansas State at (6) Oklahoma
Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, Ok.; 7:50 p.m. (ET); FOX-TV
A duel of ranked, midwestern powers comes to prime time as #6 Oklahoma (2-0) hosts #15 Kansas State (3-0). Sooners’ quarterback Landry Jones picked the Wildcats apart for 505 yards and five touchdowns in the teams’ 2011 meeting. Kansas State hopes to use its running game to control the clock and keep Jones off the field.
(10) Clemson at (4) Florida St.
Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.; 8 p.m. (ET); ABC-TV
Dangerous Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins leads the 10th-ranked Tigers (3-0) into an Atlantic Coast Conference battle with Florida State (3-0, 1-0 ACC). The Seminoles defense must limit the damage from Watkins and Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd to retain its Top 5 ranking.
UFC 152: Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario; 10 p.m. (ET); Pay-Per-View-TV
The Ultimate Fighting Championships return with a UFC light heavyweight title bout between champion Jon Jones and challenger Vitor Belfort. One of UFC’s most talented fighters, Jones will need to be cautious against Belfort, who is a former champion with enough striking power to take out any opponent. A UFC flyweight title fight between Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson highlights the undercard, as does Michael Bisping vs. Brian Stann and Matt Hamill vs. Roger Hollett.
Sunday, September 23
Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY; 1:05 p.m. (ET); TBS-TV
Two American League playoff contenders meet while hoping to get one step closer to the post-season. The Oakland Athletics (84-64) held the second AL Wild Card spot entering Thursday. They’ll send A.J. Griffin (6-1, 2.45) to the mound to attempt to quiet the Yankee bats. Still a half-game ahead of Baltimore in the AL East, New York (85-63) will start Hiroki Kuroda (14-10, 3.26) against the A’s.
Tour Championship — Final Round
East Lake Golf Course, Atlanta, Ga.; 11:30 a.m. (ET) The Golf Channel-TV / 1:30 p.m. (ET) NBC-TV
A $10 million bonus is possible if Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson or Brandt Snedeker can secure a win in Atlanta.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, NH; 2:15 p.m. (ET); ESPN-TV
The NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup enters its second week. Brad Keselowski seized the points lead by winning the Chase opener last weekend, but veteran drivers Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart are both within 10 points of him.
Houston Texans at Denver Broncos
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.; 4:25 p.m. (ET): CBS-TV
Houston (2-0) could be the best team in the AFC. The Texans’ defense has given up the fewest points and yards in the NFL this season. They’ll look to harass Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning into turnovers. Denver (1-1) must find a way to stop Houston running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
Los Angeles Dodgers at Cincinnati Reds
Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati, Ohio; 8:05 p.m. (ET); ESPN-TV
Having fallen nine games back of the Giants in the National League West race, the Los Angeles Dodgers (77-72) have turned their attention to the NL Wild Card race. L.A. trailed the St. Louis Cardinals by just two games entering Thursday, but this weekend they face a Reds team closing in on the NL Central title. Cincinnati (89-59) will start Homer Bailey (12-9, 3.82), while the Dodgers have yet to name a starting pitcher for the Sunday night game.
New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.; 8:20 p.m. (ET); NBC-TV
Last year’s AFC Championship Game participants face off in prime time. The New England Patriots (1-1) were upset by Arizona last week after placekicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a game-winning field goal. The Baltimore Ravens (1-1) will have to contend with Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, but they may try to control the game’s tempo with their no-huddle offense led by quarterback Joe Flacco.