It’s not easy, but life goes on as friends depart

I couldn’t believe what I heard early Tuesday morning. A friend called to inform me that Vic Mauldin has passed away. To be honest, I thought Vic would live forever. It’s going to be strange to drop off this column in the future and not see Vic standing there, waiting to share a barb or two with his “former editor.” It was Vic’s idea for me to write this column, back when I worked for him, and he was nice enough to allow me to continue to share my views on the sport I love after I left the News in 1998 to go to work for Aldine ISD.

There is no doubt that Vic will be missed by not only his family, but by those of us who knew him and worked with him over the past 25 years. Vic and Donna have always been willing to help out the North Houston community and I hope the community will continue to support the News in Vic’s absence.

Lately it seems, things happen to put life in proper perspective, but I know Vic would want it to be business as usual, so I’ll continue to submit this column, even if there’s an empty feeling this week.

Rest well Vic.

This week, a number of interesting games are on tap at all three levels. But before we take a look at them, let’s review last week’s results. An 8-4 mark brought the season record to 18-10 (64 percent). Now let’s see what this week has to offer.

Aldine vs. Eisenhower: This is one of the biggest games, not only in District 21-5A, but in the Houston area this week. Both teams enter with 2-0 league records, but you can throw out the records when these two rivals meet. The Eagles survived a scare from Nimitz two weeks ago (27-26) while the Mustangs rolled in their league opener, but don’t expect a blowout this week. As in the past, this will be another tough, hard-hitting affair and the team that turns the ball over the least will come out on top. My pick, Eisenhower 17, Aldine 16

Northbrook vs. MacArthur: The Generals need a win in the worst way and they should get one this weekend. The Generals offense has been hampered by injuries to key personnel, but look for them to come out with their sights set on putting up some big offensive numbers in this one. My pick, MacArthur 31, Northbrook 7

Nimitz vs. Stratford: The Cougars learned a lot about themselves two weeks ago against Eisenhower. Trailing 24-7 at halftime against state-ranked Eisenhower, the Cougars rallied in the second half and dropped a tough, 27-26 decision to the Eagles. But the comeback proved to this young team that they have the talent and perseverance to hang with the best in the state. That might serve this team well as the season progresses. My pick, Nimitz 28, Stratford 14

Now let’s take a look at the college scene, where a number of key Big 12 games are featured this weekend.

Kansas State at Texas Tech: The Wildcats proved to the nation that you can score on the Oklahoma defense, while the Red Raiders learned that they have a ways to go before they can contend with the big boys of the Big 12. KSU dropped a tough, 38-37 decision at OU two weeks ago, but it was a day when quarterback Ell Robinson III had his coming out party. Robinson rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another and proved he has the talent and ability to excel at this level. Tech, on the other hand, was handed a 42-7 whipping at the hands of the Texas Longhorns two weeks ago. Tech had better come prepared to play or the same could happen this weekend. Playing at home should help the Red Raiders, but what would really help would be for the defense to show up, which it didn’t against UT. If Tech wants to be considered for a prestigious bowl game, a win over the Wildcats would turn a few heads. My pick, Texas Tech 34, Kansas State 29

Texas A&M at Colorado: Boy, what a difference a big win over hapless Notre Dame will do for a program. Three weeks ago, the wolves were howling at R.C. Slocum’s door, now the welcome mat has been laid out. The Aggies did look impressive on both sides of the ball (former Eisenhower star Jarrod Penright was ABC’s player of the game) and they’ll need to keep that intensity up when they visit Boulder, CO this weekend. The Aggies haven’t fared well when they’ve ventured west and the Buffs are the type of team that can be tough to beat at home. Look for the Aggies to turn to the running game to control the clock and keep the Colorado offense off the field. Remember, the Buffs upset the Aggies in College Station a year ago, so it’s pay back time for A&M. My pick, Texas A&M 23, Colorado 20

Miami at Florida State: This game has lost a bit of its luster due to the fact that FSU isn’t its usual dominating self this year. Injuries have decimated Bobby Bowden’s team, but you won’t find the No. 1-ranked Hurricanes feeling sorry for their cross state rivals. I hate to admit it, but Miami is an awfully good (and solid) football team. There don’t appear to be any weaknesses, so look for them to try and take the Seminoles out of the game early. This year, the ‘Canes just have too many weapons for the ‘Noles, but remember, there’s always next year!!!! My pick, Miami 31, Florida State 20

Washington at UCLA: A huge game in the Pac 10. Both teams are undefeated and have outside shots of landing a spot in the BCS. UCLA is loaded on both sides of the ball and they’ve played a decent non conference schedule to prepare them for a run in the Pac 10. The Huskies are also a talented group and came of age the second week of the season when they upset a very good Michigan team. Look for plenty of points in this one, but the nod goes to the home team and t he veteran quarterback. My pick, UCLA 37, Washington 35

Now let’s look at the NFL, where again, a number of quality match-ups are on tap.

Oakland at Indianapolis: Which Colts team shows up, the one that manhandled its first two opponents or the one that was manhandled by the previously winless Patriots two weeks ago? You know the Raiders and their hard-hitting defense is going to show up this week, so the Colts had better bring their “A” game with them. With two weeks to prepare for this one, the Colts should be ready, but the Raiders basically had a bye last week considering they played the lowly Cowboys. This could turn into an offensive explosion as both teams have playmakers on offense. I give the edge to the Colts because of the better running game. If they get a lead, they can turn to Edgrin James to chew up yards and the clock. My pick, Indianapolis 38, Oakland 35

Baltimore at Green Bay: This should be a good one to watch. Both teams are playing exceptionally well and both will be coming off physical games from the week before (Baltimore hosted Tennessee while Green Bay visited Tampa Bay), so there might not be much offense in this one. Everyone knows about the Ravens defense, but the Packers have a pretty good defensive unit themselves. GB has allowed one touchdown (as of Oct. 1) all season and if quarterback Brett Favre continues to be hot, the Cheeseheads will be smiling when this one is over. My pick, Green Bay 24, Baltimore 16

NY Giants at St. Louis: The Rams super-charged offense gets another test this week when the Giants come calling. Two weeks ago, the Rams squared off against the Miami defense, considered one of the best in the game. When quarterback Kurt Warner and Co. got through with them, the Fish were sent back to South Florida after receiving a 42-10 pasting. I guess you could say the Rams’ offense is on again. That’s not good news for the Giants, or anyone else in the NFL. My pick, St. Louis 31, NY Giants 14

Tampa Bay at Tennessee: The Titans go from one tough game to another and if they don’t watch out, they might find themselves out of the playoff hunt before Halloween. It’s imperative that the Titans get running back Eddie George untracked and that’s a tall order against the TB defense, although the Vikings torched the Bucs for 402 yards of offense two weeks ago. Now that Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair is back, look for him to establish George early to set up the play action pass, which they hope will work for a big play or two. Both teams need this one, but the Titans need it worse, and playing at home will be huge for Jeff Fisher’s team. My pick, Tennessee 23, Tampa Bay 20

Washington at Dallas: Does anyone really care? I didn’t think so. My pick, Dallas 3, Washington 2.