Catch your breath. Thursday was exhausting: a Twins day game, Gophers vs. TCU, a Vikings preseason game on TV, the Saints at home, high school football on the docket …

But it's going to be OK. You're probably just out of shape after a lazy summer of slim sports pickings. Thursday was a veritable sports buffet — and it should help prepare you for the feasts that are yet to come. Fall is that glorious and exhausting time of sports overlap and overload.

It doesn't usually hit all at once like it did Thursday, but here are three key local sports weekends to file away now that you're properly warmed up — and they are conveniently spread out by about a month apiece to allow, again, for proper recovery:

• Sept. 18-20: 1) The Twins are home Thursday-Sunday against the Angels, a four-game series that very well could have playoff implications. 2) The Gophers football team is home against Kent State in an 11 a.m. Saturday kickoff. 3) Minnesota United hosts the New York Cosmos on Saturday night in a match between foes battling near the top of the NASL standings. 4) The Vikings are home for a noon Sunday game against division rival Detroit. 5) The Lynx and Saints could very well have playoff games that weekend, quite possibly at home.

• Oct. 16-18: 1) It's hockey season already? Better believe it. The Gophers men's hockey team has a home (Friday) and away (Saturday) series against in-state rival Minnesota-Duluth. 2) The Wild is on the road but has televised games Friday (9:30 p.m. vs. the Kings) and Sunday (7 p.m. vs. the Ducks). 3) Gophers football hosts Nebraska on Saturday in what could be a huge Big Ten game. 4) The Vikings host the Chiefs at noon Sunday. 5) Dare we dream? The American League Championship Series Games 1 and 2 are on Friday and Saturday. If the Twins make the postseason as a wild card and make it this far, those would be road games, but Game 3 would be Monday back in Minnesota.

• Nov. 20-22: 1) It's basketball season already? Better believe it. The Wolves host the Pistons on Friday night at Target Center. 2) The Gophers men's basketball team has games against TBA opponents in the Puerto Rico Tipoff on Friday and Sunday; the Friday game is for sure televised on ESPNU. If in-person Gophers sports are your thing, the women's hockey, women's basketball and wrestling teams are all home that weekend. Oh, and: 3) The Gophers football team hosts Illinois on Saturday. 4) The Wild hosts Nashville on Saturday night. 5) If you possibly have any energy left after all of that, you will need it Sunday when the Vikings host the Packers at TCF Bank Stadium.

michael rand