This Weekend in Sports: US Open Tennis, College Football and the AL Central Pennant Race
The best tennis players in the world, the start of the college football season and the MLB pennant races highlight the Labor Day weekend offerings. Here’s what sports events to watch on TV this weekend:
Friday, August 31
Arthur Ashe Stadium, Flushing Meadows, NY; 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. (ET) – various other times through Sept. 9; ESPN2-TV
Most of the seeded players are still in contention as the US Open tennis tournament enters second and third round play over its first weekend. Expect the crowds to flock to whichever court Serena and Venus Williams are playing.
Boise State vs. Michigan State
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI; 8 p.m. (ET); ESPN-TV
An early battle of ranked teams gets prime time exposure as No. 13 Michigan State hosts No. 24 Boise State. Quarterback Andrew Maxwell leads the Spartans’ offense, taking over for NFL draft pick Kirk Cousins. The Broncos will send quarterback Joe Southwick against the Michigan State defense. Boise State’s experienced receiving corps of Matt Miller, Kirby Moore and Mitch Burroughs could stretch the Spartans’ defense.
Saturday, September 1
Ohio at Penn State
Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA; 12 p.m. (ET); ESPN-TV
Penn State will play its first game under new head coach Bill O’Brien — and its first contest since the program was sanctioned by the NCAA as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal — against Ohio. Starting quarterback Matt McGloin will look to guide the Nittany Lions’ offense against a Bobcats’ defense that figures to be overmatched.
St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals
Nationals Park, Washington, DC; 4:05 p.m. (ET); FOX-TV
The Washington Nationals (78-51) look to increase their five-game National League East lead against the defending World Series champion Cardinals (71-59), who hold the second NL Wild Card spot. Washington’s Jordan Zimmerman (9-8, 2.63) is opposed by St. Louis’ Kyle Lohse (14-2, 2.64).
Clemson vs. Auburn
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA; 7 p.m. (ET); ESPN-TV
It’s a battle of Tigers, as No. 14 Clemson takes on unranked Auburn in the 2012 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta. The winner will get a key non-conference victory and an edge in recruiting in the deep south.
Michigan vs. Alabama
Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX; 8 p.m. (ET); ABC-TV
ABC debuts its 2012 ‘Saturday Night Football’ series with a match-up of big-time college football programs. No. 8 Michigan, led by quarterback Denard Robinson, will face No. 2 Alabama at Cowboys Stadium in Texas. The defending national champion Crimson Tide lost several key players from their defense to the NFL, but head coach Nick Saban figures to have ‘Bama ready to roll against the Wolverines.
Sunday, September 2
Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
Yankee Stadium, Bronx NY; 1:05 p.m. (ET); TBS-TV
The surprising Baltimore Orioles (72-58) wrap up a pivotal three-game series in the Bronx on Sunday against the New York Yankees (75-55), who led the American League East by three games as of Thursday. The Orioles will send Chris Tillman (7-2, 3.26) to the mound against the dangerous Yankees’ bats, including the resurgent Derek Jeter. New York counters with David Phelps (3-4, 2.96), who will look to silence the Baltimore lineup.
Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, GA; 7:46 p.m. (ET); ESPN-TV
As NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series closes in on its stretch run, Greg Biffle leads Jimmie Johnson by 11 points and third-ranked Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 15 points. Driver Jeff Gordon, who won the 2011 edition of the race, could also threaten at the Atlanta track.
Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers
Comerica Park, Detroit, MI; 8:05 p.m. (ET); ESPN2-TV
The top two teams in the American League Central finish their three-game series with a matchup of All-Star pitchers. The first-place Chicago White Sox (72-58) will send Chris Sale (15-5, 2.81) out to face the Tigers’ potent lineup. Detroit (69-60) counters with Justin Verlander (12-7, 2.80), who must contain the Chicago power hitters that have slugged the Sox to the top of their division.