Daily Herald Football Picks

Sometimes, especially as we get older, time really flies by, and sometimes, especially when you are young, time seems to take forever to get by. Well, whether your are young, or young at heart, the football season is winding down rapidly. Both local high school teams are gone from the playoffs, banished in last week’s semifinal matches. Now we have one more week to pick. It has been a long time since neither Tyrone nor Bellwood-Antis wasn’t still hanging around to fight for district gold.
We are in a real race in the picking contest. Jim Cushion and Christina Pryor both put together 8-2 cards in Week 12, along with Kerry Webster. That closes my lead to just one game overall over Cushion, and two games over Pryor, after Kerry Naylor, guest Tom Coleman and I all went 7-3. Thanks to Tom Coleman for his time and consideration.
Overall, I am clinging to the lead at 92-38, with Cushion just behind at 91-29 and Pryor another length back at 90-30. Naylor (87-32) and Webster (86-34) are fighting for the higher spot in the middle and the combined guests are 82-38.
Our final guest picker is Tom Otto, Bellwood-Antis School District Director of Curriculum, Bellwood-Antis grad and star basketball player, who helped the Blue Devils to a perfect 22-0 regular season as a senior. Good luck Tom!
Central vs. Central Cambria: District 6-AA final on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Mansion Park. Most people, who are not Scarlet Dragon or Red Devil fans didn’t have either of these schools pegged to be here in the championship finals. Central Cambria, had to get past top seed Tyrone, while Central was facing No. 2 seed Forest Hills in their half of the semifinals last week. Low and behold, the Red Devils upset the Golden Eagles for the second year in a row (is this getting to be a habit?), on Friday 27-20, after jumping out to a 27-7 advantage, and Central outscored the Rangers 29-26 a night later.
The picks: Miller Central Cambria, Kerry Webster Central Cambria, Kerry Naylor Central Cambria, Jim Cushion Central Cambria, Christina Pryor Central Cambria, Tom Otto Central.
Portage vs. Bishop McCort: Portage is in their first district final in this District 6-A clash at 7 p.m., at Mansion Park on Saturday evening. Bishop McCort bumped Bellwood-Antis out of the playoffs 24-20 in a game that kept shooting lead changes. Crimson (there’s that red color theme again) Crushers are in their fifth straight district title tilt and won the last two Double-A crowns, before dropping down this year. Portage throws in a Christmas color scenario-their green with the Crushers red, and one will walkoff into the snow (well maybe just cold) with the crown.
The picks: Miller Bishop McCort, Kerry Webster Bishop McCort, Kerry Naylor Bishop McCort, Jim Cushion Bishop McCort, Christine Pryor Bishop McCort, Tom Otto Bishop McCort.
Hollidaysburg vs. Selinsgrove: PIAA first round game at Shamokin on Friday night. Golden Tigers jetted off with district 6-AAA title 39-14, with second-half performance after being down 6-0 and 14-6 to a vastly improved Johnstown club last week. Hollidaysburg scored on six of seven second-half possessions and allowed Trojans just 29 yards and one first down in second half. Selinsgrove (10-1) defeated Jersey Shore 35-7 for District 4 AAA championship last week, and were ranked No. 7 by PFN and No. 6 by the Patriot-News. Tigers were No. 8 in both polls.
The picks: Miller Hollidaysburg, Kerry Webster Hollidaysburg, Kerry Naylor Hollidaysburg, Jim Cushion Hollidaysburg, Christina Pryor Hollidaysburg, Tom Otto Hollidaysburg.
Texas Tech at Oklahoma: Neither of these college behemoths played last week, so the preparation time is the same for each. Tech is No. 2 in the polls and the Sooners aren’t far back at No. 5. Texas Tech (10-0) has been a scoring machine all year long with Graham Harrell throwing and super sophomore Michael Crabtree connecting often and long. Oklahoma (9-1) with Sam Bradford throwing, was No. 1 until Colt McCoy and Texas outshot them 45-35 in early Oct. Winner of this one will go a long way toward settling BCS mess.
The picks: Miller Texas Tech, Kerry Webster Oklahoma, Kerry Naylor Texas Tech, Jim Cushion Texas Tech, Christina Pryor Oklahoma, Tom Otto Texas Tech.
BYU at Utah: No. 8 Utah is attempting to be the BCS buster in 2008, the non-big conference team who qualifies for a major bowl. Utes (11-0, 7-0) have clinched at least a tie for Mountain West Conference, but must get by No. 16 BYU (9-1) in big rivalry game on Saturday. Brigham Young again has a pass-pass quarterback in Max Hall, who threw for 354 yards and two TDs last week, to set up clash for Mt. West title.
The picks: Miller Utah, Kerry Webster Utah, Kerry Naylor Utah, Jim Cushion Utah, Christina Pryor Utah, Tom Otto BYU.
Florida State at Maryland: Florida State (7-3) lost last week to Boston College 27-17, a day after five State players were suspended for fighting. Maryland (7-3) upset one top 20 team last week, taking the measure of then No. 17 North Carolina 17-15 on a dramatic fourth-quarter drive that produced a 26-yard field goal. Can the terrapins do it twice in a row?
The picks: Miller Florida State, Kerry Webster Florida State, Kerry Naylor Florida State, Jim Cushion Florida State, Christina Pryor Florida State, Tom Otto Maryland.
Ball State at Central Michigan: Tough inter-conference game for No. 14 Ball State (10-0), who downed Miami of Ohio 31-16 on Tuesday, Veterans Day. Central Michigan is no slouch, and pushing undefeated Ball State for title on Wednesday night.
The picks: Miller Ball State, Kerry Webster Ball State, Kerry Naylor Central Michigan, Jim Cushion Central Michigan, Christina Pryor Ball State, Tom Otto Ball State.
Pitt at Cincinnati: This game will help sort out the Big East Conference. If No. 20 Pitt (7-2, 3-1) can run the table, the Panthers will have the title all to itself. Pitt needs to avoid the total meltdown of the last two years, when in 2006, they lost five of their final seven, and last year, when they dropped their last five games in a row. No. 19 Cincinnati (8-2, 4-1) has only Syracuse (2-8, 1-5) left on their Big East schedule.
The picks: Miller Pitt 24-20, Kerry Webster Pitt 35-21, Kerry Naylor Pitt, Jim Cushion Pitt 13-12, Christina Pryor Pitt 34-17, Tom Otto Pitt 35-21.
Michigan State at Penn State: Annual Landmark Trophy rides on this one, plus something a lot more precious-The Rose Bowl. That prize goes to the Big 10 winner. No. 7 Nittany Lions (10-1, 6-1) need a solid performance from QB Daryll Clark, who has too many mistakes lately and needs to instill confidence back in him by his offense. Usually efficient Penn State defense must figure out a way to stop Michigan State run with Javon Ringer in the conference championship showdown. No. 17 Spartans (9-2, 6-1) had last week off to prepare for Penn State.
The picks: Miller Penn State 30-21, Kerry Webster Penn State 38-24, Kerry Naylor Penn State 34-21, Jim Cushion Penn State 14-7, Christina Pryor Penn State 28-10, Tom Otto Penn State 42-10.
Steelers at Bengals: Rematch for these two teams, with some implications, if you believe the Bengals are really out to hurt Hines Ward because he broke a Cincinnati player’s jaw on a hard, but clean hit in the first game. Steelers were penalized too often last week, but some of those calls seemed questionable. Big Ben and Fast Willie and Ward and the other receivers need to assert themselves early and take control. Bengals opened to a miserable start, but have looked a little better lately. Last week they tied the eagles, the first game to end that way since the Steelers and Tommy Maddox and the Falcons’ Michael Vick, in his pre-dog days matched pass for pass in a 34-34 draw in 2002.
The picks: Miller Steelers 27-17, Kerry Webster Steelers 27-13, Kerry Naylor Steelers 23-6, Jim Cushion Steelers 11-10, Christina Pryor Steelers 24-20, Tom Otto Steelers 35-14.