Nick's Picks

There was a rather troubling exchange heard during the football game that I covered last weekend that needs to be addressed.

“Go eat a donut, you (expletive),” directed at a referee.

“Well, that’s (insert school’s name here) fans for you,” was heard shortly after that.

There are two things wrong with that exchange.

The obvious was the word that, well, let’s put it this way — there are consequences for my child should a word like that be used.

The other may not be so obvious.

I’ve been covering high school sports for well over a decade now, and I have yet to see an entire fan base deserving to be categorized as particularly good or bad. It depends on who you hear the most. I truly believe that you cannot assume an entire school’s fan base is good or bad because of the words or actions of one person.

I understand that, a week ago, I prefaced my predictions by pointing out a couple of what I felt were mistakes by officials at football games. However, there may have been one thing that wasn’t made clear: It’s one thing to disagree with a ruling by a game official. It’s quite another to disagree in a vulgar manner that may negatively affect the perception of an entire school.

Your admission fee does not allow you to say whatever you want — no matter whether it’s appropriate for family audiences — during the game. This goes for your own team, the opponents or the game officials. They’re all human.

On the other hand, let’s set aside the stereotypes. Can we just enjoy the game?

Let’s get to this week’s picks, prefaced by last week’s recap.

Last week’s results

Records: 9-1 last week, 47-13 season, .783 winning percentage. For the third time in four weeks, a 9-1 record? I’ll take that.

How city teams fared: For the third time this season, the only city team to record a victory was Lutheran High Northeast, as it took care of Elkhorn Valley (41-30 predicted, 40-12 final). As expected, Norfolk High had a tough time at No. 1-ranked Bellevue West (42-20 predicted, 56-7 final). Hartington Cedar Catholic provided the biggest surprise as far as margin of victory when the Trojans (34-7 final) defeated Norfolk Catholic (24-23 predicted).

Highlight: The only highlight that needs to be mentioned is Norfolk native Lane McCallum’s game-winning kick to push Nebraska past Northwestern by the expected margin (29-26 predicted, 13-10 final).

Lowlight: The only incorrect prediction involved Norfolk Catholic, but that should come with an asterisk — the prediction was made before Hartington Cedar Catholic running back Jacob Keiser was cleared to play.

Other results (predictions in parentheses): Howells-Dodge 40, Neligh-Oakdale 20 (36-28); Pierce 56, Columbus Lakeview 0 (42-14); Wayne State 30, Minnesota Crookston 7 (27-20); Seattle 30, L.A. Rams 29 (27-25); Green Bay 34, Dallas 24 (24-19).

This week’s predictions

HIGH SCHOOL

Omaha Central (3-3) at Norfolk (2-4): The last time the Panthers suffered a big loss, they came back to win their next two games. In fact, although the Eagles are .500, they are 0-3 with 15.3 points per game against teams that have won a game. Norfolk 31, Omaha Central 24.

Norfolk Catholic (1-5) at Class C No. 4 Battle Creek (5-1): The Braves represent the fifth team this season that the Knights will play against that has zero or one loss. Battle Creek has seemingly found a different gear since its season-opening loss. Still, throw out the records in this one, it’ll likely be close. Battle Creek 16, Norfolk Catholic 10.

Laurel-Concord-Coleridge (4-1) at Class D No. 8 Lutheran High Northeast (3-2): The easy players to watch are quarterbacks Ty Erwin (LCC) and Jaxson Kant (LHNE) and receivers Noah Schutte and Cael Hartung (LCC) versus Ben Gebhardt and Tanner Koss (LHNE). But I’m telling you, if the Bears can lean on running back Evan Haisch and their big offensive line, we might have an upset. I keep going back and forth on this one. Lutheran High 35, LCC 32.

Fremont Bergan (6-0) at Class C No. 3 Oakland-Craig (6-0): This game is part one of a huge finish for Oakland-Craig, which has scored 50, 71, 60, 58 and 54 points in its last five games. What’s perhaps more impressive is the 39 points it has given up all season. Neither team has been really tested to this point, so this one is important for both sets of Knights. Oakland-Craig 22, Fremont Bergan 16.

Homer (3-2) at Class D No. 6 Wisner-Pilger (5-0): The Knights are a bit of a surprise, having started the season with three wins in their first four games. But there’s no surprising the Gators, who have won two of their past three games by 50 and 56 points. Wisner-Pilger 36, Homer 14.

COLLEGE

Nebraska (4-2) at Minnesota (6-0): Is it just me, or did the Nebraska offense seem to flow better with backup Noah Vedral filling in for an injured Adrian Martinez? The offense better flow, because the Gophers have scored at least 35 points in their last four games. Nebraska 30, Minnesota 28.

Wayne State (2-3) at No. 23 Minnesota Duluth (4-1): The Bulldogs were ranked 12th nationally in Division II until a big loss against No. 3 Minnesota State, which featured the final two unbeaten teams in the Northern Sun Conference. It’s safe to say the Wildcats have their work cut out. Minnesota Duluth 20, Wayne State 13.

No. 6 Oklahoma (5-0) vs. No. 11 Texas (4-1): Jalen Hurts has stepped right in and picked up where Kyler Murray left off, who picked up right where Baker Mayfield left off. It’s ridiculous the numbers these quarterbacks have posted for the Sooners the past few years. Oklahoma 41, Texas 38.

NFL

Houston (3-2) at Kansas City (4-1): I’m not a fan of early bye weeks in the NFL, but after watching Patrick Mahomes limp to the finish of last week’s game, the Chiefs could use their bye week anytime now. But that doesn’t fix Kansas City’s issues stopping the run. Kansas City 24, Houston 20.

Philadelphia (3-2) at Minnesota (3-2): The Vikings are scoring almost exactly as many points per game (22.4) as the Eagles are giving up (22.2). But Philadelphia scores almost twice as many points (28.2) as Minnesota gives up weekly (14.6). I’m going with the defense on this one. Minnesota 22, Philadelphia 21.

In other news

Sports shorts and scores for Oct. 17 include NU volleyball matches to be televised; Junior High cross country state meet held; Norfolk High graduate Allison Temple solid for Bellevue; NJHS 7th graders finish 5-0 in football; Olympic curling trials to return to Omaha.