Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day in the City

For Los Angeles, all is calm and all is bright on this December 25, 2014. Sunny blue skies with sweater temperatures from downtown to the Santa Monica Bay. But in the newsprint business, it takes a holiday effort to put out the sports section for Dec. 26, so here we are with LeBron back in Miami, the Lakers visiting the Chicago Bulls and the Clippers playing host to the Upstate Warriors, complete with a tray of chocolate cupcakes to keep everybody in the Santa Claus spirit.
A snoozy night before Christmas gave way to five exciting NBA matchups, the opening day for Santa Anita race track's winter meeting tomorrow, several college football bowl games on Saturday including the Holiday Bowl in San Diego matching  USC against Nebraska, and the final Sunday of the NFL's regular season.
So, with 2015 right around the corner, here are some late-year and New Year predictions in the leagues of television and football:

The Holiday Bowl, USC vs. Nebraska--the Trojans favored by 7 on ESPN. USC, led by quarterback Cody Kessler, have a holiday in San Diego, easily defeating the Huskers, who will be coached next year by Mike Riley, late of Oregon State.

The Alamo Bowl, UCLA vs. Kansas State--the Bruins favored by 1 in San Antonio. A nearly pick 'em game with the victory nod going to the Wildcats.

The Rose Bowl, Florida State vs. Oregon--the Ducks favored by 9 in the first semifinal playoff game. The Seminoles keep their perfect record intact with an upset over Heisman winner Marcus Mariotta and the Eugenees, which will put  Coach Jimbo Fisher in the National Championship game.

The Sugar Bowl, Ohio State vs. Alabama--the Crimson Tide favored by 9 in the second semifinal playoff game. Nick Saban and Urban Meyer meet again in what will be a high-scoring affair ,with Alabama holding on at the end to qualify for the tournament final.

Blackout in L.A.: The Dodgers may have made wholesale changes in their roster for 2015, at least improving their defense, but one problem area that hasn't been resolved, so far,  is the TV dispute between the team's cable distributor Time Warner and Direct TV. The general feeling from L.A. fans is that they expect another season to start and play through to the end without the games being shown on other outlets besides Time Warner.

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