As far as Kosciusko County is concerned, football season is over.
No more Wildcats, Warriors, Vikings, Trojans and after last Friday, no more Tigers. Yes all of our favorite local prep gridiron stars have been eliminated. In fact, just one Northern Lakes Conference team remains in the fall postseason, the Concord Minutemen, perhaps better known as “The Evil Empire.” No, I did not come up with that on my own. Yes, I did steal it from the Yankees, but it can also be used to describe any force of evil that ceases control over powers of good. In this case it is Concord’s strangle hold on the NLC, but I digress.
While football for our beloved county may be at an end, our favorite professional and collegiate teams are still going strong (with the exception of Indiana and Purdue) and basketball teams on all levels will get into full swing starting this week. Now is not a time to mourn for the loss of our local football but rather to cheer for the new sports season that is upon us!
Last Week: 9-1
Girls High School Basketball 11/12
Whitko (0-0) at Central Noble (0-0), 7:30 p.m.
The Scoop: Whitko will help usher in the 2013 hoops season as the only local prep team with a game before the next picks week (Picks week: Time between which picks are released to readers). Head coach Brandon Bradley and his Lady Wildcats will open their 2013 campaign the same way Whitko has started every season since 2001, against Central Noble. The Wildcats have taken three straight season-openers from the Cougars and I do not see that changing this Tuesday.
The Pick: Whitko 63, Central Noble 52.
College Basketball 11/8
Northern Kentucky (0-0) at Purdue (0-0), 7 p.m.
The Scoop: Fear not Boilermaker faithful, basketball season is here! Yes, last season was rough, but this is basketball and nothing will keep down Purdue hoops for too long. This season will be better as Ronnie Johnson should take major leaps forward in his sophomore season with a stronger team around him. Yes, this game will not include stud center A.J. Hammons, but is he really needed? A home opener against Northern Kentucky, please, Purdue could win this game with Gene Keady at center and Danny Hope calling the shots (think about how awful that would be!). The Boilers are 40-6 all-time at Mackey Arena in season openers, no reason to fret this contest.
The Pick: Purdue 97, Northern Kentucky 60.
Chicago State (0-0) at Indiana (0-0), 7 p.m.
The Scoop: A new-look Hoosier squad will take the floor in Bloomington this season. Yes, there will be familiar faces, like Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey, but no Victor Oladipo and no Cody Zeller. Talk about big losses. But, as always, plenty of new talented faces will suit up for the Hoosiers. Devin Davis, Stanford Robinson and Noah Vonleh are just a few of the names Hoosiers fans will soon become accustomed to. Chicago State should be an easy win but the Cougars bring a lot of experience so there is no reason for the young Hoosiers to sleep on this team.
The Pick: Indiana 83, Chicago State 51.
Miami (Ohio) (0-0) at No. 22 Notre Dame (0-0), 7 p.m.
The Scoop: Local products Demetrius Jackson (Mishawaka Marian), V.J. Beachem (New Haven) and Austin Torres (Penn) could all make their collegiate debuts on Friday night for the Fighting Irish. But the three former prep stars will be far from the focal point for Notre Dame faithful as fan favorites Pat Connaughton, Jerian Grant and my personal favorite, Tom Knight, will all help to light up the scoreboard on the visiting Redhawks. The Irish are poised to make a deep national tournament run this season and it all starts on Friday night.
The Pick: Notre Dame 88, Miami 65.
College Football Week 11
Iowa (5-4) at Purdue (1-7), 12 p.m.
The Scoop: Okay, last week went a lot worse than I thought it would for Darrell Hazell and company. But, it will only motivate them for this week! Purdue has to get a victory against a real team eventually. Indiana State cannot and will not be the Boilers only win of 2013. Iowa is ripe for the picking (maybe, I am honestly not sure) and the Boilers are starving for a victory. Danny Etling gets the monkey off of his back this week and West Lafeyette will once again be happy following a football game. Boiler up!
The Pick: Purdue 18, Iowa 14.
Illinois (3-5) at Indiana (3-5), 3:30 p.m.
The Scoop: The Hoosiers have not won since I made the trek to Bloomington back on October 5 for the Penn State game. Well, I am tired of all this losing and will be heading back down to right the ship. With my expertise in the building, head coach Kevin Wilson cannot possibly lose again. Nate Sudfeld will throw for two scores, run for another and IU wins big at home.
The Pick: Indiana 48, Illinois 31.
No. 23 Notre Dame (7-2) at Pittsburgh (4-4), 8 p.m.
The Scoop: The rematch of last seasons most interesting game of all. A triple-overtime thriller that ended with Notre Dame walking away victorious even though the Irish were outplayed for the overwhelming majority of the game. This year there will be no upset bid for the Panthers. So, my apologies to all of the Pitt fans wearing their 1975 throwback Tony Dorsett jerseys, but this year it is all Irish.
The Pick: Notre Dame 35, Pittsburgh 14.
Ball State (9-1) at No. 18 Northern Illinois (9-0), 8 p.m. 11/13 Wednesday Night Football
The Scoop: Oh, baby! A Mid-American Conference showdown. MACtion at its finest! Yes, this game is technically on the docket for week 12, but I want to talk about it now because it falls in this picking week. Keith Wenning and the explosive Ball State offense roll into Dekalb to take on Jordan Lynch and the high-flying Huskie offense. This game will be spectacular. The winner should score above 40, maybe even 50 points. This is one for the ages and should have BCS implications tied to it. The Cardinals have lost the past four match ups in this series and are tired of being oppressed.
No longer shall people laugh when the name “Ball State” is spoken. This is not about stupid trophies, it is about respect! The road to that respect starts Wednesday night! Now is the time of the Cardinal! Chirp-Chirp my red and white brethren, chirp-chirp!
The Pick: Ball State 52, Northern Illinois 41.
NFL Week 10 11/10
St. Louis (3-6) at Indianapolis (6-2), 1 p.m.
The Scoop: It is getting harder and harder to not respect what this Colts team keeps doing. 21 unanswered points were scored last Sunday night to topple division rival Houston on national television, just the most recent of Andrew Luck’s completed comebacks. The kid can play football, I hate to sound like a totally biased Colts fan here but, Luck should be getting some MVP looks. I’m not saying he should win it, but he should be in the conversation without a doubt. He is showing why he was clearly a better choice than Robert Griffin III (RG3). This Sunday should be another nice win for the Colts as they are back in the confines of Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Pick: Indianapolis 24, St. Louis 13.
Detroit (5-3) at Chicago (5-3), 1 p.m.
The Scoop: He can run, he can pass, he is an all-around play-maker at quarterback. No, I am not talking about RG3, I am speaking of the man among boys that is Josh McCown, better known to my circle of friends as RG McCown III (patent pending). McCown has out-done himself in his short time as a starter for the Bears. With him under center, the Bears have a really good shot at beating Detroit this weekend. The only hang-up with that statement is that star quarterback Jay Cutler is expected to be back for the Bears this weekend, but it is not a guarantee at this point. Last week the Bears were in a must-win situation at Green Bay and they got the job done. This week they are in a game that could very well decide the division title down the road. Chicago will either start Cutler, a sure-fire leader or McCown, possible future MVP. Either way, I like the chances for Chicago.
The Pick: Chicago 33, Detroit 20.