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Weekend has something for every sports fan

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Sports fans have plenty to choose from this weekend. Whether attending in person or watching on television, there is something for everyone.

A huge baseball series begins on Friday, while NASCAR sets its final seeding for the 10-race championship run on Saturday. Another potentially monster event, Serena Williams going for the tennis Grand Slam, was derailed by her semi-final-round loss to Italy’s Roberta Vinci.

Of course, there is plenty of college football and the NFL kicks off its first weekend of play on Sunday with some key matchups. Florida will be a busy place.

A potentially decisive series between the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays begins Friday night in New York. With the lead in the American League East Division at stake, the teams square off at 7 pm on MLB Network. Fox has the 1 pm Saturday game and MLB Network the second game of the day-night doubleheader. The 1 pm Sunday game is on TBS.

The final spots in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup will be determined Saturday in Richmond, Va., at the Federated Auto Parts 400. Five of the 16 available spots are up for grabs. Despite its importance, NBC has chosen to delegate coverage to NBCSN, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

College football gets an early start on Friday when Miami makes the short trip to play the Florida Atlantic Owls at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1. Florida State hosts South Florida in a brunch game at 11:30 am Saturday while East Carolina comes to Gainesville to face the Florida Gators at 7 pm on ESPN2.

Three national college games stand out. The Tennessee Volunteers, ranked 23rd, host the 19th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners at 6 pm on ESPN. Number 14 LSU travels to number 25 Mississippi State at 9:15 on ESPN. Both home teams are underdogs.

The college game of the day has to be 7th-ranked Oregon at 5th- ranked Michigan State. The Spartans try to avenge last year’s loss to Oregon at 8 pm on ABC. The game is rated a toss-up.

On Sunday, Marcus Mariota and Tennessee visit Raymond James Stadium to usher in the Jameis Winston era for the Bucs. Game time is 4:25 pm.

The Jacksonville Jaguars host the Carolina Panthers and Miami visits Washington at 1 pm on Sunday. At 4:25 Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans help kick off the Jameis Winston era with the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium.

An interesting matchup occurs in Buffalo when Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis offense head to Buffalo to face a very good Bills’ defense at 1 pm. Sunday night’s game on NBC features Eli Manning and the New York Giants in Dallas to play the Cowboys at 8:30 pm.

Two Monday night games feature Philadelphia as a slight favorite in Atlanta and the improving Minnesota Vikings in San Francisco to play a rebuilding 49ers team. Both games are on ESPN beginning at 7 pm.

From now through the end of the year, weekends will be this good, or better, for sports fans.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at [email protected]

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