Aggies, Longhorns face stern tests this weekend

The state’s two best college football teams will learn a lot more about their post season chances this weekend as they take on two of the Big 12’s better teams.

Texas A&M travels to Kansas State, while the Texas Longhorns entertain a talented and dangerous Colorado team in Austin. Wins by the Aggies and ‘Horns would do much to return the luster to football in the Lone Star state after a less than stellar performance by the troops two weeks ago.
Before we take a look at this week’s schedule, let’s review the season record. A 9-3 week (the best yet) brings the season mark to 33-15 (68 percent).

MacArthur vs. Nimitz: Both teams came away with wins two weeks ago as the Generals disposed of Spring Woods and the Cougars won an overtime thriller over previously undefeated Memorial. The Nimitz game did not end until near midnight due to a serious thunderstorm that rolled through the North Houston area midway through the game, but those that braved the weather and stayed saw a classic finish. That win did much to boost the Cougars’ confidence and look for their running game to be the difference this week as they set their sights on another playoff appearance. My pick, Nimitz 27, MacArthur 18

Aldine vs. Memorial: This should be the best game of the week in District 21-5A. The Mustangs of Aldine are coming off a tough contest against Eisenhower, but they can’t afford to let their guard down against a talented Memorial team. The key to stopping Memorial is corralling running back Matt Young and Aldine’s speed on defense will be key in seeing that he is held in check. This game should have a playoff feel to it because the loser could be on the outside looking in after the regular season concludes. My pick, Aldine 23, Memorial 17

Eisenhower vs. Spring Woods: The Eagles will use this game to tune-up for their playoff dash, so expect Ike to show little mercy. Eisenhower simply has too many weapons for Spring Woods. This one could be over by half-time. My pick, Eisenhower 42, Spring Woods 7

Now let’s take a look at what’s on tap on the college scene this weekend.

Colorado at Texas: The ‘Horns are hurting after their 14-3 loss to Oklahoma two weeks ago. That game proved Texas still has a ways to go, especially offensively, before it’s ready to play with the big boys across the land, and OU is definitely one of the top teams in the country. Junior quarterback Chris Simms still has a lot to learn, but let’s face it, the lack of a running game was a key factor in Texas’ defeat. Texas cannot afford to take this Colorado team lightly. The Buffs upset Kansas State at Manhattan two weeks ago, limiting a team that scored 37 points the week before at Oklahoma, to just seven points. Texas needs to get the running game re-established, which will open up things for Simms and his talented group of receivers. My pick, Texas 30, Colorado 21

Texas A&M at Kansas State: This is the Aggies second straight tough road game after playing at Colorado this past weekend. A&M received a scare from lowly Baylor two weeks ago, but rallied for its fifth straight win of the season. The A&M running game is still not what it used to be and even though KSU has lost two games thus far, the Aggies will need to be able to run the ball against to pick up a win on the road. When the Aggies are on defense they will have to keep quarterback Ell Robinson III in check. He can hurt them with his legs and his arms, but to their credit, the Aggie defense has played well the last three games. Even though this is the third week of October, it’s hard to get a handle on this A&M team, that’s why I’m leaning towards the Wildcats in this one. I think the back-to-back losses are motivation enough for Bill Snyder’s team. My pick, Kansas State 26, A&M 16

Georgia vs. Florida: Jacksonville, FL will be the sight of the largest cocktail party in the country this weekend, but the Gators will be the ones celebrating when this game is over. Florida looks unbeatable (until they play OU in the Rose Bowl, and you read it here first), but don’t count out the Bulldogs. They picked up a huge come-from-behind win at Tennessee two weeks ago. Still, emotion can carry a team only so far and this week, the ‘Dogs get a taste of reality. My pick, Florida 38, Georgia 20

USC at Notre Dame: Remember when this game used to mean something, nationally? Well, not anymore. Both of these proud programs are shadows of their former selves, but this should still be a competitive game because both teams are so mediocre. It appears the Irish have finally found a quarterback in sophomore Carlyle Holloway. His long touchdown run against Pittsburgh two weeks ago was a thing of beauty. The Irish need to win out to land a bowl spot and a win over USC would do wonder for their morale. My pick, Notre Dame 23, USC 14

Now it’s on to the NFL, where this year’s Cinderella story gets its first real test of the season.

Denver at San Diego: The Chargers’ magical season hit a detour two weeks ago with a loss in Cleveland (break up the Browns!) and things don’t get any easier this Sunday when the high-scoring Broncos come calling. The Charger fans will have the place rocking and rookie running back Ladanian Tomlinson will look to exploit the Denver front seven. The key to this game will be how well the San Diego defense contains the Denver offense and all its weapons. Emotion can carry a team only so far, but it says here the dream season lives one more weekend in San Diego. My pick, San Diego 26, Denver 24

Green Bay at Minnesota: Look for the air to be filled with footballs as both teams go to the air in this NFC Central showdown. The Vikings love playing on turf, while Brett Favre and his Packers can’t stand the fake stuff. Still, the Pack appears to be a team on the rise, while the Vikings look headed for a sub par season. The lack of a running game is hurting Minnesota, which is allowing defenses to take the deep pass away from Randy Moss and Cris Carter. This is a must win for the Vikes if they hope to get into the playoff picture, but don’t look for the Packers to just hand the game to them. My pick, Minnesota 32, Green Bay 28

St. Louis at NY Jets: Can anyone stop the Rams? What an offense. The Jets showed a little offense of their own when they put up 42 points against the Bills two weeks ago, but this week, they’ll be playing a team that could score 42 points in a half. This year’s Rams look every bit as good, if not better, than the 1999 team that won the Super Bowl. They are loaded with speed on offense and the defense is better and pretty fast itself. The Jets will definitely have the home f field in this one and the weather could play a factor, still, St. Louis gets the nod because of its overall advantage in talent. My pick, St. Louis 27, NY Jets 20

Tennessee at Detroit: Two desperate teams with pathetic offenses meet in the Motor City this Sunday. Look for the Titans to get running back Eddie George unleashed early, which should take a lot of pressure off quarterback Steve McNair. The Lions, on the other hand, might just be one of the worst teams in the league. Their performance against the Rams two Monday nights ago was a joke. If things don’t improve before too long, they won’t have to worry about fans wearing bags over their heads because there won’t be any attending their games. My pick, Tennessee 31, Detroit 14

Philadelphia at NY Giants: The best game of the week concludes the seventh week of the season on Monday Night Football. This one should be low scoring, so look for plenty of good defensive plays to be made in this one. The Giants have the Eagles number (they beat them three straight last year), but injuries are starting to take their toll on the defending NFC champions. If the Eagles hope to end their losing streak to the Giants, they will need some big plays from quarterback Donovan McNabb. Look for McNabb to move around in the pocket to give his receivers time to get open and when the Giants have the ball, they will pound Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne to soften up the Philly defense for a timely throw or two by quarterback Kerry Collins. My pick, NY Giants 16, Philadelphia 13.