Feast on this, football fans

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 24, 2011 - 8:27 AM

Leave room for several servings of football this weekend.

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Thanksgiving and football go together like turkey and stuffing.

It's our annual ritual. Feast, football and your old man snoozing in his La-Z-Boy. From preps to pros, a smorgasbord of 51 televised games will keep us occupied while we polish off seconds of the holiday spread.

Don't know about you, but the tryptophan usually kicks in during the second half of the Lions game. Except we might have to pry open our eyelids with toothpicks now that the Lions are, you know, sort of good.

Black Friday? Puh-lease. You expect us to shop with no work and all this football on TV? That's why Al Gore created the Internet. Online shopping during halftime, or commercials.

So grab the remote and your favorite spot on the couch. Hopefully, you're surrounded by family. Are you ready for some football? 

1 Thursday, 11:30 a.m., Ch. 9, Green Bay at Detroit

Now this is a perfect start to the holiday. The Packers remain undefeated, and the Lions still are trying to prove they've turned a corner as an organization. Aaron Rodgers is having a historic season. The Lions defense wants to pound on him. We used to watch the Lions on Thanksgiving solely to see Barry Sanders turn opposing tacklers into pretzels with his sweet moves. Thankfully, this matchup offers so much more.

2 Thursday, 3:15 p.m., Ch. 4, Miami at Dallas

Don't look now but the Cowboys sit atop their division and the Dolphins aren't laughingstocks anymore. They have a three-game winning streak after starting 0-7. Miami has allowed 20 points total during its winning streak, and Matt Moore is managing the offense (don't you just hate that phrase). Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is always good for a few fireworks -- good and bad -- so maybe this matchup will become more than a snoozer.

3 Thursday, 7 p.m., ESPN, Texas at Texas A&M

Sooooo Texas A&M wants to try its hand in the SEC, huh? Good luck with that, Aggies. Too bad because this is great rivalry. The teams have played 117 times, making it one of the oldest rivalries in college football, dating to 1894. The teams are pretty mediocre this season, but emotions will be high. Game day in College Station is a great environment. Should be a cool scene.

4 Thursday, 7 p.m., NFL Network, San Francisco at Baltimore

This game is being trumpeted as the Harbaugh Bowl. It's John vs. Jim, brother vs. brother for family bragging rights. How many times you think that happened in the Harbaugh living room or driveway over the years? Oh, by the way, their teams are pretty darn good, too. John's Ravens are 7-3, while Jim's 49ers are 9-1 and the NFL's biggest surprise in his first season in charge. Expect a hard- hitting contest. And a lot of camera shots of the two coaches on opposite sidelines.

5 Friday, 1:30 p.m., Ch. 4, (3) Arkansas at (1) LSU

It will be hard to top the craziness that engulfed college football last weekend, but an upset by Arkansas would further the chaos. The hype hasn't equaled LSU-Alabama's Game of the Century a few weeks ago, but this is not a bad little SEC divisional game. LSU is No. 1 in the BCS standings; Arkansas is No. 3. LSU is favored by double digits at home and is on track to play for the national title. The key: How does Arkansas' potent offense fare against LSU's star-studded defense?

6 Friday, 7 p.m., Ch. 45, Wayzata vs. Eden Prairie

The Class 5A Prep Bowl is a clash of powerhouse programs and a rematch of their regular-season meeting, which Wayzata won 9-0. Wayzata is the defending state champion and has won three titles overall. Eden Prairie is vying for its seventh state championship and first since 2007. Both teams average more than 30 points per game. Each side had three players named first-team all-metro. These clearly are the two best teams in the state.

7 Saturday, 11 a.m., Ch. 5, Ohio State at (17) Michigan

The Buckeyes have endured a disastrous season marred by scandal and find themselves in unfamiliar territory with a 6-5 record. Not to worry. Urban Meyer reportedly will come riding in any day now. The game -- oops, sorry -- The Game lacks the pizazz of previous meetings, but it remains deeply personal. Michigan coach Brady Hoke refers to the Buckeyes simply as "Ohio" and had countdown clocks for this game installed around the facility when he took over last winter. The Buckeyes have won seven consecutive meetings, which their fans will happily remind you.

8 Saturday, 2:30 p.m., Ch. 4, (2) Alabama at Auburn

Winning the Iron Bowl is enough motivation for Alabama, but the Tide also can put itself in position to play for the national title with a victory. It should send fruit baskets or something to Iowa State, Baylor and USC after those teams upset Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Oregon, respectively, last weekend to set up a likely rematch between LSU and Alabama. Fire up the annual BCS bashing. Bama coach Nick Saban shouldn't have a problem keeping his players focused after they blew a 24-point lead in a loss to Auburn last season.

9 Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN, Penn State at (15) Wisconsin

The winner earns a spot in the inaugural Big Ten championship game against Michigan State. Penn State leads the Leaders Division at 6-1. Wisconsin is 5-2. The Badgers would own the head-to-head tiebreaker with a victory. Penn State tries to focus on football while embroiled in a child sex abuse scandal that has rocked the program, school and state. The Badgers have righted themselves after two consecutive last-second losses. Wisconsin has two Heisman Trophy candidates in quarterback Russell Wilson and tailback Montee Ball.

10 Sunday, noon, Ch.9, Vikings at Atlanta

This is a must-see game because, um, it's just that, you know, it's Toby Time?!?! Yes, the Vikings have reached that point. They're 2-8 and playing out the string. There are a few story lines to track though. How will Christian Ponder rebound after throwing three interceptions against the Raiders? Adrian Peterson isn't expected to play after suffering a high ankle sprain (sorry, fantasy football diehards). Toby Gerhart steps in as the starter and should get plenty of work.

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