We have come to the end of the road. And after last week’s fiasco, everybody on the panel is probably whispering (or yelling) “it’s about time”!
Collectively, Week 12 was beyond a doubt the worst week in the history of the Herald Prognosticators. This has been a season of top and near-top ranked teams falling left and right. There are a lot of college coaches, who probably think the AP No. 2 spot is the kiss of death. Kansas is the newest No. 2 selection, after Oregon became the 11th top-five team this season to lose to an unranked team, and LSU moved into the top spot, after already losing this season while earlier ranked in that No. 2 spot.
Christina Pryor, broke out of a three-way tie to take over the top position on the Herald panel with a 6-4 card. Pryor earned a two-game lead with just one week remaining, with the only card above .500. Jim Cushion and the old Sports Editor fell out of the first place tie, both going 4-6. Pryor (91-29) has that two-game advantage over Cushion and Miller, who are both 89-31 overall. Kerry Naylor finished 3-7 last week and Kerry Webster and guest Tom Coleman both went 2-8. Overall, Webster takes an 81-39 into the final week, while Naylor is 77-43 and the combined guests are 74-46.
With the scarcity of high school games this week, we are going with two high school games, the two district finals which have not been determined, the Steelers/Dolphins game and seven college contests.
Our final guest picker of the season is Bellwood-Antis assistant principal and B-A grad Tom Otto. Good luck Mr. Otto!
Purchase Line vs. Bellwood-Antis: This is the District 6-A championship final, Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Mansion Park. Purchase Line is another of the run-run-run and pass only on the second Tuesday of every week team. The Red Dragons employ a potent run offense and don’t give up much defense. Bellwood-Antis is on a roll since Week Nine of the regular season, outscoring four teams 148-29. Blue Devils are clicking on run and pass and defense. They are refusing to allow opponents any avenues to run. pass or draw.
The picks: Miller Bellwood-Antis 35-7, Kerry Webster Purchase Line 25-12, Kerry Naylor Bellwood-Antis 28-7, Christina Pryor Bellwood-Antis 35-14, Jim Cushion Bellwood-Antis 14-0, Tom Otto Bellwood-Antis 22-7.
Central Cambria vs. Bishop McCort: This is the District 6-AA championship game Friday night at 7 p.m. at Mansion Park. For upsetting top seed Tyrone, Central Cambria’s reward is to face defending champ and No. 2 seed Bishop McCort. Both are members of the Laurel Highlands Conference, but are in different sections and did not play each other in 2007. When comparing scores, most favor McCort. Both beat Cambria Heights, Forest Hills and Somerset by big margins. CC edged Richland, while McCort suffered their only loss by three points to Richland. McCort beat up on Guilfoyle, while CC lost 14-7. Westmont beat C. Cambria by 14, Bishop McCort won 45-7 over Westmont. Both scored over 40 points against Bishop Carroll, Johnstown edged C. Cambria, McCort hammered Johnstown 41-21.
The picks: Miller Bishop McCort, Kerry Webster Bishop McCort, Kerry Naylor, Bishop McCort Christina Pryor Bishop McCort, Jim Cushion Bishop McCort, Tom Otto Central Cambria.
Arkansas at LSU: Top-ranked LSU used a 98-yard kick return and their defense turned Mississippi away on two goal-line stands last week to avoid another top five upset, when both No. 2 and No. 3 went south. The LSU Tigers didn’t play well on offense, but didn’t have to. Probably the most talented team in the country, LSU has control of its own destiny, at the top of the BCS poll, but must get past Darren McFadden and the Arkansas Razorbacks then weather a SEC title game against either Georgia or Tennessee.
The picks: Miller LSU, Kerry Webster LSU, Kerry Naylor LSU, Christina Pryor LSU, Jim Cushion LSU, Tom Otto LSU.
Tennessee at Kentucky: Tennessee is coming off a 25-24 win over Vanderbilt, while Kentucky dropped a 24-13 decision to No. 6 Georgia to fall from the No. 22 position, out of the top 25 completely. Tennessee needs a win, a loss would give the SEC East crown to Georgia, but the Vols control their own destiny.
The picks: Miller Tennessee, Kerry Webster Kentucky, Kerry Naylor Kentucky, Christina Pryor Kentucky, Jim Cushion Tennessee, Tom Otto Kentucky.
Texas at Texas A&M: No. 13 Texas (9-2) had a bye last week, so they had time to heal and plan for A&M. The Longhorns have Colt McCoy at QB with a load of veteran receivers and one of the nation’s most explosive offenses. McCoy tossed four TD passes and ran for two more in the Longhorns last game against Texas Tech. A&M won five of their first six, but only one of their last five.
The picks: Miller Texas, Kerry Webster Texas, Kerry Naylor Texas, Christina Pryor Texas, Jim Cushion Texas, Tom Otto Texas.
Florida State at Florida: This is one of those state rivalry games that appear on the late season schedule and records don’t mean a thing. FSU gave coach Bobby Bowden his 300th win at that university last week against Maryland. Bowden, with 373 career wins is one ahead of Joe Paterno. FSU leading receiver Preston Parker made his first start at tailback and rushed for 133 yards and a TD, and QB Drew Weatherford bounced back from a concussion to throw for 204 yards and a TD and scored a TD. No. 14 Florida decimated Florida Atlantic 59-20 to improve to 8-3.
The picks: Miller Florida, Kerry Webster Florida, Kerry Naylor Florida, Christina Pryor Florida, Jim Cushion Florida, Tom Otto Florida.
Alabama at Auburn: Another of those state rivalries, this one is for bragging rights in Alabama. Auburn just barely stayed ranked in the top 25, at the No. 25 spot and is 7-4. Both schools are coming off a loss. Auburn had an open date last week, after falling 45-20 to Georgia, Alabama has dropped three games in a row. The winner gets the Iron Bowl trophy.
The picks: Miller Auburn, Kerry Webster Auburn, Kerry Naylor Auburn, Christina Pryor Auburn, Jim Cushion Alabama, Tom Otto Alabama.
Georgia at Georgia Tech: Both teams are hot coming into this rivalry game. Tech began the season up and down. They won two, lost two,won, lost one. Since then Tech has won four of their last five with the one defeat to Virginia Tech. Tashard Choice has rushed for 1,176 yards and nine TDs and Taylor Bennett has a 50.5 completion rate for 1,908 yards and five TD passes. No. 6 Georgia is riding a five-game win streak, and have won eight of their last nine since week two.
The picks: Miller Georgia, Kerry Webster Georgia Tech, Kerry Naylor Georgia, Christina Pryor Georgia, Jim Cushion Georgia, Tom Otto Georgia.
South Florida at Pitt: South Florida won their first six games to rise all the way to No. 2 in the rankings, then lost three straight and fell out of the top 25. SF has proved they can put points on the scoreboard, with 96 in their last two wins. Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt isn’t sure who to put at quarterback. True freshman Pat Bostick replaced an ineffective red-shirt sophomore Kevan Smith after starter Bill Stull was hurt and done for the year, then last week, Smith replaced an ineffective Bostick. Give the ball to LeSean McCoy, who is over 1,000 yards rushing to lead all true freshman, and hope the defense can keep South Florida close
The picks: Miller South Florida 38-24, Kerry Webster South Florida 24-22, Kerry Naylor South Florida 33-20, Christina Pryor South Florida 24-14, Jim Cushion South Florida 38-9, Tom Otto South Florida 35-21.
Miami at Steelers: Steelers second Monday Night game of the year. Can they find out how to play defense? The suddenly hopeless “D” allowed the one-win Jets to drive down the field not once, but twice for tying and winning field goals, late in the fourth quarter and then in overtime. Every time the stats say a Pittsburgh opponent can’t sack your grandmother, Ben Roethlisberger spends half the game on the seat of his pants. Which Steeler team will show up? Dolphins are winless, but they haven’t played the Steelers yet!
The picks: Miller Steelers 35-34, Kerry Webster Steelers 35-7, Kerry Naylor Steelers 38-10, Christina Pryor Steelers 38-9, Jim Cushion Steelers 23-7, Tom Otto Steelers 35-10.