The picks come early this week, because it's MEA week here in Minnesota and the teachers' unions have effectively decided that because they need time for their convention (i.e., vacation), that the rest of the state needs to take a vacation, too. Here we go:
Xavier 34, Freedom 24 - Once upon a time, Freedom was a sleepy little crossroads north of Appleton. These days, there are a fair number of people who live up that way. As one of Xavier's new traditional rivals, they'll be a tough match. But the mighty Hawks will prevail on the road.
ACTUAL RESULT: XAVIER 40, FREEDOM 14. In the immortal words of Kris Kristofferson, Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose.
Lawrence 24, Beloit 17 - ol' alma mater gets another chance against a beatable team. But Beloit isn't beating anyone this year. Give the nod to the Larrys, who were once a football powerhouse but not anymore.
ACTUAL RESULT: LAWRENCE 44, BELOIT 19. Another thumping. And next week my beloved Bucs get to travel to St. Norbert, the conference leaders and the most merciless set of Catholics this side of Torquemada.
Wisconsin 41, Northern Illinois 17 - A big bowl of chicken soup from DeKalb arrives for the bedraggled Badgers, last seen getting their butts kicked someplace in Pennsylvania. NIU has had some good teams in recent years, but not this year. Bucky gets a break before returning to the Big Ten.
ACTUAL RESULT - WISCONSIN 44, NIU 3. Finally, the Badgers play up to their potential. Back to reality next week against an improved Indiana squad.
Dallas 41, Vikings 28 - Since my beloved Packers are on bye this week, we turn our attention westward to the Queens. Not surprisingly, the locals are all atwitter about the performance of Adrian Peterson against Team Satan last week. This week they are stepping up in class, though. And NFL teams do adjust. Here's some sample dialogue from Irving, TX:
Dallas Coach 1: Did you see Adrian Peterson? Man, he tore up the Bears.
Dallas Coach 2: Who's the quarterback for the Vikings?
Dallas Coach 1: Tarvaris Jackson, I think.
Dallas Coach 2: That name seems familiar. Didn't his dad play shortstop for the Pirates back in the 70s?
Dallas Coach 1: No, that was Frank Taveras.
Dallas Coach 2: No, I know! Didn't his family put out that song "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel?"
Dallas Coach 1: No, that was Tavares. Are you auditioning for the pub quiz at Keegan's, or is there a point to this particular line of inquiry?
Dallas Coach 2: Do you think this Tarvaris guy can beat us?
Dallas Coach 1: Not likely.
Dallas Coach 2: I thought so, too. Let's put nine guys in the box to stop Peterson.
Dallas Coach 1: Yep. That'll work.
They're pretty smart in Dallas. And I'm guessing that if Brian Griese can pass for nearly 400 yards against the Vikings, Tony Romo should do at least as well.
ACTUAL RESULT - DALLAS 24, PURPLE HELMETED LOVE WARRIORS 14. Turns out Adrian Peterson is human after all. Okay, Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, WCCO, KARE, KSTP, etc., etc., put down the hype and slowly back away.
BONUS HIGH SCHOOL PICKS:
Cretin-Derham Hall 34, Mounds View 17 - the Big Bad Wolf of Minnesota football comes to Arden Hills tonight. Mounds View is a good, resourceful team, but they don't have the talent to stop this juggernaut.
ACTUAL RESULT - CDH 42, MOUNDS VIEW 7 - The Raiders huffed, and they puffed, and they blew Mounds View's house down.
Irondale 41, Chisago Lakes 24 - Chisago Lakes is a high-scoring outfit and they've put up some big numbers this year. Until last week, so was Fridley. Irondale won't lose focuse tonight with a #1 seed within reach.
ACTUAL RESULT - IRONDALE 36, CHISAGO LAKES 14 - An impressive end to an impressive season. Chisago Lakes is a very good team and will make some noise in the 4A playoffs, but this may be the best Irondale team ever.