I’m going to be brief with this week’s picks, as it’s been a very hectic week, as you’ve probably noticed by the lack of activity on the blog this week. Sorry.
Augie limps into the season finale with a 4-6 record. I picked them to go 8-3 before the season, and in looking at my week-by-week picks, I realize the only times I’ve picked them to lose have been at UMD and at home against USF. They did lose both of them, but it also means I was wrong in picking them to win at Mary, at Wayne and at home against Mankato and Winona.
I’ll be the first to admit, picking them to beat Mankato was all sorts of stupid. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I tried to talk myself into it, or maybe I just thought I’d look smart if I got lucky and they won. But that was never a game they were going to win.
But I’m actually comfortable with the other times I picked them to win and they failed. They should’ve beat Mary. They probably should’ve beat Wayne, too.
And while it’s clear in hindsight that I greatly underestimated Winona, I don’t regret picking Augie to win that. I thought they’d be fired up and ready to go for their home finale. They weren’t.
Anyway, there’s an old saying about riding a horse til it bucks ya, and, well, the Vikings have bucked me a few times in the last two years. So while I believe they’re probably a better team than Southwest Minnesota State, the bottom line is both teams are 4-6, and it’s in Marshall. Sure the Vikings can say they’ll be motivated to finish the season strong, but they should’ve been much more motivated for Senior Day.
The defense gave up 780 yards and 73 points last week. And the SMSU offense is pretty solid.
Prediction: Mustangs 36, Vikings 32
USF is still, technically, alive for a playoff spot (and the Mineral Water Bowl, though Winona appears to have the inside track on that). Though they lost to Minnesota State last week, they remained No. 9 in the regional rankings. But that means they have to jump three spots in one week. That would require several teams ahead of them to lose, and of course, it would require USF to beat Wayne State.
Easier said than done.
The Wildcats are perhaps the most perpetually underrated team in the NSIC every year, and I’ve never gotten a sense all season that the Cougars are particularly concerned about them.
Wayne got upset by SMSU 40-24 on Oct. 6, but their other three losses have been “good” losses — 24-19 to St. Cloud State, 17-13 to Winona and 42-35 to Minnesota State.
The Wildcats are 4-1 away from home, and the Cougars are likely going to be without wide receiver Jeremiah Oates and their best offensive lineman — Jared Vlotho.
USF has been beaten only once in over 40 games at Bob Young Field, and this is Senior Day for a very large group of seniors. Maybe they’ll come out roaring and Wayne is ready to pack it in for the season.
But I smell upset.
Prediction: Wildcats 27, Cougars 25
(P.S. - I haven’t spoken to Jed Stugart yet. When I do I bet $10 he thanks me for picking Wayne. He hates it when I pick his team to win)