Couch Potato Alert: 10/10

Oklahoma vs. Texas
This year’s Red River Rivalry battle at the Cotton Bowl has more marquee value than in past years; as for the first time since 2004 both teams will enter the game ranked in the top five. Heading into this season, the Longhorns offense was thought to be their biggest strength. But it has been the Texas defense that has provided most of the swagger. The Longhorns are ranked fourth nationally in total defense and that is a big jump since the 2007 unit set a school record for most yards allowed in a season. They will get stiff competition come Saturday against top-ranked Oklahoma. The Sooners are in the top five nationally in all offensive scoring categories, led by the nation’s second-rated passer Sam Bradford. National coverage begins Saturday at 12 PM ET on ABC. Click here for the official Oklahoma-Texas smack thread.

LSU vs. Florida
“The Showdown at the Swamp” marks the first time the last two national champions have faced each other since Notre Dame defeated Miami, 29-20, in 1990. The stakes are high for both schools; Florida must win to maintain any realistic hope of staying in the hunt for a berth in the BCS championship game, while LSU needs the win to stay on course to repeat as National Champions. And the matchup got even more intense after Tigers defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois promised that the LSU defense will try to knock Gator quarterback Tim Tebow out of the game. Later in the week, Jean-Francois said his comments were misinterpreted by the press. National coverage begins Saturday at 8 PM ET on CBS.

Major League Baseball LCS Series
The animosity between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox is not ready to approach the level of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, but their contempt for each other is a good undercard. Back on June 5th, the Rays’ Game One starter, James Shields, hit Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp with a pitch that triggered a bench-clearing brawl between the two teams. Has this issue been resolved? Stay tuned for the answer. Meanwhile, the National League Championship series boils down to how well the Los Angeles Dodgers left-handed pitchers throw to the Philadelphia Phillies lethal left-handed hitting. The Phillies led the NL with 214 homeruns, with Ryan Howard leading the way with 48 followed by Chase Utley with 33, and both players bat left-handed. The top of the Phillies’ lineup also includes switch-hitting Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, who both have outstanding on-base percentages. NLCS Game Two is Friday at 4:30 PM ET and Game Three is on Sunday at 8 PM ET; all NLCS games are on Fox. ALCS Game One is on Friday at 8:30 PM ET and Game Two is on Saturday at 8 PM ET. All ALCS games can be seen on TBS.

New England Patriots vs. San Diego Chargers
Their franchise quarterback is out for the season, and somehow the Patriots have still put together a successful start to their 2008 season. On the other side of the field, the Chargers have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL. To avoid falling further back in the AFC standings, the Chargers must try to defeat a Patriots team that has eliminated them from the past two post-seasons. Inconsistent play on both sides of the ball has plagued the Chargers all season; they have lost three games by a total of 10 points. Coverage begins at 8:15 PM ET on NBC

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Couch Potato Alert: 9/5

U.S. Open semifinals and finals
The men’s semifinals start at 12:00 PM ET on Saturday and the women’s final takes place at 8:00 PM ET that evening. The men’s final will take place on Sunday, starting at 4:00 PM. All matches will be broadcast on CBS. Here’s the TV schedule and Christopher Glotfelty’s preview of the matches.

San Diego State at Notre Dame
Both programs are reeling, hanging on for dear life, and just trying to find players to line up on the field. The Irish are on a roll, sort of, coming into this year’s opener with a modest two-game winning streak from last season. SDSU is coming off an embarrassing home-opening loss to Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo, which was their second home loss to the Mustangs in three seasons. This contest will played on Saturday in front of a nationally-televised audience on NBC at 3:30 PM ET.

Miami at Florida
This prime-time matchup used to be circled on the calendar of all college football fans as a must-see game with the winner gaining the advantage in the battle for the top recruits from the state of Florida. But times have changed; the Canes are coming off a 5-7 season, and just trying to get the program back on its feet. Oddly enough, Miami has a 12-8 all-time record at “The Swamp.” Tune in Saturday night at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN for another chapter in this in-state rivalry. [Official Smack Talk Thread]

Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers
Less than a week ago, the Dodgers seemed to be free falling in the NL West pennant race. They lost 9-3 in the opener of a three-game series in Arizona, and things didn’t look good with the Diamondbacks starting Dan Haren and Brandon Webb that weekend. But the Dodgers turned their season around by scoring 13 runs against the Arizona’s top two pitchers and were able to win both games. The rematch is set for this weekend at Dodger Stadium, with Friday night’s game on ESPN and Saturday’s contest on Fox’s regional baseball telecast.

Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns
You could call this encounter “The Battle of the Media Darlings.” With five prime-time games this season, the Browns are trying to prove that their 10-6 record last season was no fluke. They play host to the Cowboys, who seem to be everyone’s fashionable Super Bowl pick. And if you’ve been watching “Hard Knocks” on HBO, you know that the Boys’ roster depth has taken a big with several pre-season injuries. Dallas fans shouldn’t be concerned, however, as every one of their 13 Pro Bowlers will be in uniform on Sunday. Check your local Fox listings to see if they are televising this game at 4:00 PM ET. [Anthony Stalter’s preview of the game.]

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