The Saturday Before Thanksgiving Showcases The Best The Sport Has To Offer
Most of us are already stressing over the travel, lines at the grocery store and mapping out a Black Friday attack. But in the midst of that I ask you to pause for a bit on Saturday and witness football in its truest form, playing for the love of the game.
Saturday features some of the oldest rivalries in all of sports. Lafayette v Lehigh will play the 155th time, Harvard will visit Yale for the 136th time and Montana will visit Montana State for,believe it or not, the 119th time. Not only is there a lot of history, not to mention some frigid temperatures, and some pretty good football.
The point here is that the overwhelming majority of the kids, seniors, who play in these games will never put on pads, line up and play the game of football again. Ever.
Think about that.
During the week you may play softball, basketball, tennis, even strap on pads for a pub hockey league but very, very few will ever practice, prepare and play a tackle football game again. Ever.
When most of us were 21 or 22 years old, we didn’t think of the finality of a part of our life ending. Probably don’t even think about it now. But all things come to an end and they certainly do on the field of play. No more early morning runs, weight lifting sessions, long bus rides or banter in the locker room. It all comes to an end and for most, it will be Saturday.
So this Saturday, take a minute to reflect and while you do, check out Harvard v Yale, USC v UCLA, Stanford v Cal, or Lafayette v Lehigh. You’ll see kids playing not because they’ll have a chance at the next level but because they love the game of football. Whether they admit it or not, they love the preparation,the travel, buckling up the chin strap a little tighter and lining up against the old school rival. It’s something to see and the last time you’ll see some of those kids ever play the game of football.
Montreal Canadiens at NY Islanders – 4:30pm NHL GameCenter: The Habs have cooled off and the Islanders are a tough team.
Cincinnati at South Florida – 5pm CBSN: Hey, we love watching the Bearcats. They have a tendency to score a lot of points or go down in flames.
Air Force at Boise State- 6:30pm ESPN2: A battle that will determine the winner of the Mountain division of the MWC.
Chicago Bulls at Golden State Warriors – 7:30pm ESPN: This could arguably be a Finals preview.
Saturday November 21st
Michigan at Penn State – 9am : Our first taste of Harbaugh vs Franklin.
Memphis at Temple – 9am ESPNU: While both teams have suffered losses in recent weeks, they are still two fun football teams to watch.
Real Madrid vs Barcelona -9am beIN Sports: Only a match up between the two biggest clubs in the world. No big deal.
Manchester City vs Liverpool – 9:30am NBC: Liverpool sits 11 points behind City but has a new manager and new hope.
Lafayette at Lehigh – 9:30am ESPN3: The 151st meeting between the two schools which is the longest in collegiate football. There is a reason they call it ‘The Rivalry’.
Montana at Montana State – 11am ROOT Sports: 115th matchup between the two schools. Montana looks to keep their FCS Playoff hopes alive with a victory here.
Harvard at Yale – 11:30am NBCSN: IVY League title is on the line since Harvard lost last week to Penn. Harvard gets a share if they win and Yale would love nothing more than to spoil that. There is a reason this one is called ‘The Game.’
Michigan State at Ohio State – 1:30pm ABC: No big deal just National Title implications.
UCLA at Utah – 1:30pm FOX: PAC-12 South implications and two pretty good football teams.
Arizona at Arizona State – FS1 : The 2015 edition of the Territorial Cup. Bowl eligibility is on the line for the Sun Devils.
Baylor at Oklahoma State – 4:30pm FOX : OSU looks to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive but they will have to find a way to outscore Baylor.
TCU at Oklahoma – 5pm ABC: Oklahoma has battled their way back after that loss to Texas to be one of the more dangerous teams in the land. This is a tall order but TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin may not be 100% & they lost their best wide receiver.
Cal at Stanford – 7:30pm ESPN:The Big Game is a big one once again. Both teams have played well this year and Stanford is also looking to wrap up the Pac 12 North. And with all of the wacky finishes this year in college football, it will be nice to end a long day of football with a game that gave birth to crazy finishes.
Cotto vs Canelo – 8pm-ish PPV: Miguel Cotto vs Canelo Alvarez in boxing’s second super fight of the year. In all honesty, this one should be a better one too.
Sunday November 22nd
Tottenham vs West Ham United – 8am NBCSN: Both are sitting just outside the top four and are only separated by goal differential.
Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears – 10am CBS: Future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning will ride the bench for the Broncos as they take on their former head coach John Fox.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ottawa RedBlacks – 10am ESPNEWS: Winner goes to the Grey Cup. Combination of rain and snow is expected.
NASCAR Ford Ecoboost 400 – Noon NBC: Last race of the year and maybe, just maybe Jeff Gordon can go out on top with a win and the cup.
Toronto Raptors at LA Clippers – 12:30pm NBA League Pass: Raptors are on a West Coast swing and visit Lob City.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings – 1:30pm FOX: Vikings are one of the best teams in the NFC while the Packers are slipping. Can the Pack turn it around?
Calgary Stampeders at Edmonton Eskimos – 1:30pm ESPN3: Not only does the winner go to the Grey Cup but it’s also the Battle of Alberta.
Columbus Crew vs NY Red Bulls – 2pm ESPN: Leg one to decide the Eastern Conference rep in MLS Cup.
Portland Timbers vs FC Dallas – 4:30pm FS1: Western Conference Final and it starts in the best venue in all of MLS. There Ain’t No Pity In the Rose City.
Cincinnati Bengals at Arizona Cardinals – 5:30pm NBC: Cards held on last week in Seattle while the Bengals put up their first loss of the season against the Texans on Monday Night. Rebound in the desert is a tough task for Andy Dalton and crew.
About a year ago we posted ‘The Last Game’. It’s about the weekend before Thanksgiving and the historic rivalries that are played in college football. It’s a weekend that gets very little recognition but it is so important to so many young men. Young men who may be playing their last ever football game. That may not sound important to you but it is to them.
Unlike just about every other sport out there football is one where when you’re done playing, you may never play again. If you’re a soccer player, basketball player, baseball player, heck even a hockey player, you can find a pick up league, bar league, etc. But more than likely, a football player will never, ever put on the helmet and pads again. Never run out into a field in front screaming fans. And never line up against another player, drive off the ball and collide with another human being.
The weekend before Thanksgiving is important because a good amount of these football players will be putting on the pads for the last time in some of the biggest games they will ever play in. The Yale vs Harvard, Lehigh vs Lafayette, Montana vs Montana State, William & Mary vs Richmond, Cornell vs Penn. Rivalries that go back 100 years of more.
It’s not just these longstanding rivalries that we should recognize but also the final games at places like UC Davis, Furman, VMI, Liberty, Tennessee Tech, Savannah State, Youngstown State, Wagner and countless others where players will put on the jersey for the last time. Players who will not be going on to the professional level. Players who will have to come to terms with the fact that the game for them is over forever.
While the big time collegiate programs will have the stage to themselves on Thanksgiving weekend, this weekend is for the little guy. The players who just love to play the game and be a part of a team. It doesn’t matter that it may be in front of a sparse crowd at a school known more for academics than football. It’s still a football game. A game they love and game that they will never get to play again. So pull a chair, tip your cap and show your appreciation for the young men who truly do play for the love of the game.
The best time of year because we have NFL, College Football, NBA, NHL, MLS Playoffs and World Series not to mention Nascar and F1.
Friday October 30
Dartmouth at Harvard – 4:30pm NBCSN: Both are 6-0 and tied for first place a top the Ivy League.
KC Royals at NY Mets – 5pm FOX: Game 3 with the Royals up 2-0. This one is in NY though and that can make a huge difference.
Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets – 6:30pm ESPN: Defending champs go on the road to a team that is one of their main challengers this season.
Saturday October 31st
Chelsea vs Liverpool -5:45am NBCSN: Liverpool looks for it’s first win under the leadership of Jurgen Klopp. Chelsea looks to turn the season around.
2015 Rugby World Cup Final – 9am NBC: It’s Australia vs New Zealand.
Florida vs Georgia – 12:30pm CBS: We don’t care, it’s still ‘The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.’
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech – 12:30pm ESPN: Plenty of points and a tough place for the Pokes to get a win.
Nashville Predators at LA Kings – 1pm NHL Gamecenter: The Preds are the best in the West and LA isn’t far behind.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs – 4pm NHLN: Sidney Crosby heads to the heart of the hockey world.
Michigan at Minnesota – 4pm ESPN: Michigan is a hard nosed football team and Minnesota will be playing with a heavy heart as their head coach retired due to health reasons.
Notre Dame at Temple – 5pm ABC: Huge game for the undefeated Temple Owls. First visit by ESPN Gameday, they’ve never been undefeated this late in the season. The question becomes, can they handle it all?
KC Royals at NY Mets – 5pm FOX: Game 4.
Stanford at Washington State – 7:30pm ESPN: For the lead in the PAC-12 North believe it or not.
Sunday November 1st
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers – 10am CBS: Boy these two teams are good this year and the Steelers look like they might get Big Ben back under center.
DC United vs NY Red Bulls – Noon ESPN: One of the longest standing rivalries in MLS. NYRB took home the Supporters Shield again this year but will Jesse Marsch be able to lead them to an MLS Cup?
NY Jets at Oakland Raiders – 1pm CBS: No seriously, this game should be really good.
Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 2pm ESPN: If you didn’t watch arguably the most exciting MLS Playoff game ever the other night then…well you missed out. Portland was able to survive and now they host Cascadia Cup foes Vancouver.
Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos – 5:30pm NBC: Two undefeated teams square off in the Mile High City. Can the Broncos find their offense?
Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas – 6:30pm FS1: FC Dallas has arguably the toughest road to MLS Cup. Why? Your first playoff game is going to be in front of the largest crowd in typical Seattle wet and cold conditions.
The game of football is as popular as ever. It’s also receiving more criticism than ever. But on the weekend before Thanksgiving it’s important to recognize that this will be the last time many of these players will ever play the game. On this weekend Harvard hosts Yale for the 131st time and Lehigh takes on Lafayette for the 150th time. Two of the longest running and greatest traditions in all of College Football and the end of a playing career for most.
Unlike most sports, when you’re last organized game ends in football you’re career is done. There may be the occasional throwing around of the football in the backyard but you rarely get an opportunity to strap on the pads, tighten the chin strap, line up and tackle somebody ever again. For some this ends in high school. For others it ends in college and for the rare few it ends on the professional level.
Schools like Harvard, Yale, Lehigh and Lafayette don’t pump out a lot of professional players. These guys do it because they love to play football. For many these games signify the end of a football career. They in all likely hood will never strap on pads again. There are no bowl games or College Football Playoff. They will simply go back to their locker room, take off their pads and hang up their helmet for the final time.
What do they gain by continuing to put their bodies on the line? The opportunity to do something that they love. There is also the camaraderie of their teammates, learning how to be a leader and the chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
So when you hunker down for Thanksgiving dinner this week take a moment and give thanks to these young men for going out there week after week for the sheer love of the game.
Kansas St at West Virginia – 4pm FS1: K-ST and WVU may not get into the College Football Playoff but this should still be one heck of a game.
LA Clippers at Miami Heat – 5pm TNT: Still a fun game even without LeBron.
Friday November 21st
Chicago Bulls at Portland TrailBlazers – 7:30pm ESPN: Battle of two of the top teams in NBA.
Saturday November 22nd
Minnesota at Nebraska – 9am ESPN: Key game in the Big Ten West. Both teams coming off of embarrassing losses last weekend.
Arsenal vs Manchester United – 9:30am NBC: The game may not decide the Premier League but it’s still a lot of bad blood between the two.
Yale at Harvard – 9:30am NBCSN: It’s one of the longest running rivalries in College Football. This year the winner walks away with the Ivy League title. It’s also signifies the beginning of the end of the College Football season.
Ole Miss at Arkansas – 12:30pm CBS: Arkansas finally broke through and got their first SEC win in what seems like forever. Now they welcome Ole Miss to town in a must win for both but for different reasons.
Arizona at Utah – 12:30 ESPN: Think the SEC West is tough? Try the Pac 12 South.
Stanford at Cal – 1pm FS1: THE BIG GAME! Winner goes bowling. Cal QB Goff has 4 INT’s all year.
Louisville at Notre Dame – 12:30pm NBC: Notre Dame is reeling and Louisville is no joke.
Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins – 4pm NHLN: An original 6 match up for your Saturday night.
Missouri at Tennessee – 4:30pm ESPN: Mizzou is looking to wrap up their second straight SEC East title. Tennessee needs to win one of the next two to go bowling.
USC at UCLA – 5pm ABC: Battle of LA.
Frankie Edgar vs Cub Swanson – 9pm(ish) FS1: This is a heck of a fight in the Featherweight Division.
Sunday November 23rd
Detroit Lions at New England Patriots – 10am FOX: Can anyone stop the Pats?
Montreal Alouettes at Hamilton Tiger-Cats – 10am ESPN: Eastern Conference Final.
NY Red Bulls vs NE Revolution – 10:30pm NBC: Can the Red Bulls get Thierry Henry to an MLS Cup before he retires?
Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks – 1pm FOX: This could decide the NFC West.
Edmonton Eskimos at Calgary Stampeders – 1:30pm ESPN3: Western Conference Final, a chance to get to the Grey Cup and the battle of Alberta all wrapped into one.
LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders – 2pm ESPN: Game 1 of two in the Western Conference Final.