AISD teams look ahead to the playoffs

Aldine ISD’s four varsity football teams conclude their regular seasons this weekend, which means the playoffs are up next. It appears that three AISD teams will represent District 21-SA in the post season, as Eisenhower, Aldine and Nimitz (as of Nov. 1) were in solid position to gobble up the league’s three playoff spots.

But just because the three schools have sewed up playoff spots, that doesn’t mean that won’t be giving maximum effort this weekend, especially when Nimitz and Aldine meet in a game that will determine which team will be seeded higher than the other in the Class II playoffs.

Before we take a look at this week’s games, let’s review last week’s results. An 8-4 week brought the season record to a very respectable 60-24 (71 percent).

Now it’s on to Week 10.

MacArthur vs. Eisenhower: Richard Carson’s Eagles will be looking for their second straight 21 -5A title and second straight undefeated season in league play when they take on the Generals this Friday night in Thorne Stadium. Eisenhower received a real scare two weeks ago against Memorial when they also watched a 27-point lead disappear, but they held off a late Mustang charge en route to a 41-31 victory. Carson hopes his team learned a valuable lesson from that game because you can be sure Terry Forga’s Generals would like nothing more than to spoil the Eagles’ shot at a second straight unbeaten league season. Expect the Eagles to try to control the clock with their running game as they prepare for the second season. My pick, Eisenhower 27, MacArthur 19

Aldine vs. Nimitz: This should be one of the best games in the Houston area this weekend and it should be a good test for both teams what with the playoffs just one week away. Both teams have excellent running games, which means each team’s defensive front seven will be thoroughly tested. Whichever team controls the run will win this contest, and don’t be surprised if a key pass play decides the outcome of this one. Nimitz has been cruising along the past few weeks and they want to let the rest of the area know they are for real. A win over one of the area’s top programs might open a lot of eyes in the Gulf Coast area. My pick, Nimitz 30, Aldine 28

Now let’s take a look at the college schedule, where a number of teams still entertain dreams of landing a spot in the Bowl Championship Series.

Texas A&M at Oklahoma: If you remember back to last year, the Aggies gave the Sooners their toughest game of the year during the regular season. OU had to rely on an interception return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to preserve their undefeated season and if they hope to remain in contention for the Rose Bowl, they can’t afford another loss this season. The Aggies learned a valuable lesson two years ago when they were drubbed by the Sooners, 51-6. They learned they didn’t have the proper talent in the secondary to compete with the pass-happy Sooners. Well, those days are over. A&M has a solid secondary to go along with a fast and strong front seven that could give an average OU offense trouble this Saturday. Unfortunately for Aggie fans, the Sooners have a pretty good defense of their own, which should make the plays to keep OU’s national title hopes alive for another week. My pick, Oklahoma 23, Texas A&M 16

Clemson at Maryland: Maryland’s dreams of an undefeated season were burst two weeks ago by an angry Florida State team and if the Terps aren’t over that loss yet, they could suffer their second defeat of the season at the hands of a dangerous Clemson team. There’s no doubt Maryland is one of the great stories of the 2001 college season and with a strong finish they could find themselves spending the Christmas holidays in a tropical locale preparing for a Jan. 1 bowl game. Look for the fast and quick Maryland defense to contain and confound Clemson QB Woody Danzler in this one. My pick, Maryland 32, Clemson 21

Kansas State at Nebraska: It’s been a tough year for Bill Snyder and the boys at Kansas State, but a win at Nebraska would go a long way towards taking the sting out of a season that very well could end without a trip to a bowl game. I wouldn’t expect that to happen this week. Nebraska has too much to play for, namely a shot at playing in the Rose Bowl for the national title. Kansas State will give the Huskers all they can handle, but Nebraska’s edge in team speed on both sides of the ball will be the difference in this one. My pick, Nebraska 35, Kansas State 19

Miami at Boston College: Miami is another team that has a lot to play for in the next four weeks. The ‘Canes are currently ranked third in the BCS standings (as of Nov. 1), but they will take on three ranked teams (BC, Virginia Tech and Washington) to close out the season. Miami s quest for a trip to Pasadena begins this week against a capable Boston College team, which disposed of Notre Dame two weeks ago behind the legs of Brian Green, one of the nation’s top running backs. Miami’s defense has the speed up front to keep Green from breaking any big plays and the Hurricane offense is one of the most balanced around. Look for Miami to send a message to the rest of the BCS contenders this weekend with a big road victory. My pick, Miami 38, Boston College 17

Oregon at UCLA: This is another big game in the Pac 10. Both teams enter with one loss and the loser is out of the BCS hunt. The Bruins are still smarting after their 38-28 loss to Stanford two weeks ago. Not only did they lose the game, but they also lost quarterback Cory Paus to a sprained thumb. He should be back in time for this one, which is good news for the Bruins. These two teams have produced some high-scoring games over the last few years and this one should be no exception. UCLA gets the edge here because of running back DeShaun Foster. My pick, UCLA 41, Oregon 38

Now let’s turn our attention to the NFL, where parity reigns.

Miami at Indianapolis: Miami’s good defense meets Indianapolis’ high-octane offense, so something has to give here. After three straight losses, the Colts got back on track two weeks ago with a 35-28 win over Kansas City, while the Dolphins won at Seattle. Miami has enough offense to win this game because the Colts’ defense is a joke. So if Indy wants to inch closer to the Fish in the AFC East, Peyton Manning, Edgrin James, Marvin Harrison and the boys had better be on this Sunday. It says here they will. My pick, Indianapolis 27, Miami 20

San Diego at Denver: The San Diego Chargers, a team that won just one game a year ago, is one of the best stories in the NFL this year. The Chargers are getting it done with a strong running game, opportunistic quarterback and strong defensive play and they’ll need all three components when they visit Denver this Sunday. SD already owns a win over the Broncos, so you know Mike Shanahan’s team will be out for revenge, and to remain alive in the AFC West race. A healthy Terrell Davis would be just the tonic for Denver, whose passing offense is as good as any team’s in the league. Look for a strong performance from the Broncs on both sides of the ball this week as they extract revenge on Doug Flutie and his mates. My pick, Denver 31, San Diego 17

NY Giants at San Francisco: This is another one of those games where a good defense takes on a high-octane offense. The Giants defense is one of the best in the league, but they have yet to develop a personality on offense, which isn’t good at this juncture of the season. Head coach Jim Fassel can’t decide if he wants to be a running team or a passing team, which makes it easy for defenses, even one as porous as the 49ers, to figure them out. Look for SF quarterback Jeff Garcia to attack a suspect NY secondary as the Niners get back into the playoff picture. My pick, San Francisco 26, New York 20

Green Bay at Chicago: One of the league’s best rivalries renews this Sunday when the Packers and Bears get it on in Soldier Field in a key NFC Central contest. The Bears have been the surprise of the league and their 19-point comeback win over San Francisco two weeks ago has their fans now believing that this just might be a “special” team this year. The Bears are allowing their young players on offense to shine and are they ever. Rookie running back Anthony Thomas and rookie wide receiver David Terrell (former Michigan teammates) have added toughness and speed to a once dreary offense. They will be counted heavily to lead Chicago past the always dangerous Brett Favre and the resurgent Packers this week. This will be a typical hard-hitting, low-scoring grudge match. Even though the Packers have a big advantage at quarterback, expect the magic in Chitown to continue. My pick, Chicago 16, Green Bay 14

Baltimore at Tennessee: Last year, these two teams were the class of the AFC, but that’s not the case this year. Tennessee has been decimated by injuries, especially in the secondary, while the Ravens have discovered that being the top dog isn’t all that great. The Titans looked horrible in their 34-7 loss to Pittsburgh two weeks ago. If Kordell Stewart can throw against them, what do you think a real quarterback such as Elvis Grbac or Randall Cunningham will do against them? Look for the Ravens to attack the undermanned Tennessee all afternoon and when the Titans have the ball, the Baltimore defense will tee off on quarterback Steve McNair, who will be a sitting duck if running back Eddie George is still hobbled with the knee injury he sustained against the Steelers. My pick, Baltimore 27, Tennessee 16