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This Weekend in Sports — Alabama vs. LSU & NCAA Basketball

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An SEC football showdown and the start of the college basketball season highlight the sports calendar. Here’s what to watch this weekend:

Friday, November 8

(18) Connecticut vs Maryland

Barclays Center, Brooklyn; 6:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2
The 2013-14 NCAA men’s basketball season begins this weekend with many top 25 teams in action. Eighteenth-ranked Connecticut will face unranked Maryland in Brooklyn. Guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright drive the Huskies’ attack. Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon must hope that Dez Wells can fill in for sophomore point guard Seth Allen, who fractured his left foot in the preseason.

Saturday, November 9

Nebraska at Michigan

Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.; 3:30 p.m. (ET) on ABC
Traditional football powers Nebraska (6-2) and Michigan (6-2) meet with both teams unranked. The visiting Cornhuskers will likely be without starting quarterback Taylor Martinez who is recovering from several injuries. Freshman Tommy Armstrong will start in his place. The Wolverines will send quarterback Devin Gardner out to lead their offense.

(13) LSU at (1) Alabama

Bryant Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; 8 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Thirteenth-ranked LSU (7-2) visits top-ranked Alabama (8-0), as two of college football’s best programs duel once again. Quarterback A.J. McCarron will guide the Crimson Tide offense, while Zach Mettenberger leads the Tigers’ attack. LSU could be the biggest obstacle to ‘Bama national-title plans.

(24) Notre Dame at Pittsburgh

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh; 8 p.m. (ET) on ABC
Twenty-third-ranked Notre Dame (7-2) visits Pittsburgh (4-4) on Saturday night. Quarterback Tom Savage will lead the Panthers offense, while Tommy Rees guides the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame has won the past three meetings between these schools.

UFC Fight Night 32: Vitor Belfort vs. Dan Henderson

Goiania Arena, Goiania, Brazil; 8 p.m. (ET) on FOX Sports 1
UFC hosts a solid fight card in Brazil this Saturday, with a match between middleweight contenders Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson headlining the card. Henderson defeated Belfort in 2006, but much has happened since then, including Belfort’s admitted use of testosterone-replacement therapy. Other matches on the card include: Cezar Ferreira vs. Daniel Sarafian; Rafael Cavalcante vs. Igor Pokrajac; Brandon Thatch vs. Paulo Thiago; Ryan LaFlare vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio; and Rony Jason vs. Jeremy Stephens.

Sunday, November 10

AdvoCare 500

Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale, Ariz.; 3:15 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leader Jimmie Johnson heads into this Sunday’s race at Phoenix with a seven-point advantage over second-place Matt Kenseth. With the 2013 season set to end next weekend in Florida, Johnson and Kenseth may already be too far out in front of the field to be caught.

Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Denver (7-1) travels to San Diego (4-4) in an AFC West clash. Jack Del Rio will take the helm of the Broncos on an interim basis while head coach John Fox recovers from forthcoming heart surgery. Denver’s Peyton Manning will renew his rivalry with Chargers QB Philip Rivers.

Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC
Two NFC division leaders clash, as NFC South-leading New Orleans (6-2) hosts NFC East-leading Dallas (5-4). Saints quarterback Drew Brees must get better protection than he had in last week’s loss to the Jets. The Cowboys will rely on QB Tony Romo to guide their offense against the New Orleans defense.

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