Tyler Julson: Big tests await NRHEG and United South Central teams this weekend

Published 9:39 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Notes from the Sports Desk by Tyler Julson


It was a big week for both football teams still in the postseason hunt. United South Central crushed Randolph to punch its ticket into the state tournament, and NRHEG pulled off a huge turn-around win by dominating WEM 46-6 after losing to that team in the regular season 48-6.

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However, both have big tests coming up in the quarterfinals.

United South Central will go up against Blooming Prairie, which is making its eighth straight tournament appearance; and NRHEG will take on Caledonia, which has won eight championships since 2007, including the last three straight. I’m not counting either one of them out yet, though — I’ve seen both of them play multiple times this year and when they’re on, there’s not many teams that can stop them.

The section swimming prelims took place last night at Rochester Recreation Center. I’m writing this column before heading there, so I don’t want to speculate too much. However, I think it’s a pretty good bet that Emily Taylor and Jaeda Koziolek will make the finals in multiple events. There’s also a chance a relay could make it to the finals Friday.

On top of these three remaining fall teams, winter sports are already starting with a girls’ hockey game at City Arena tonight! The rest of the winter sports still have the better part of a month before they start, but despite having tonight’s hockey game on my calendar for a while, I feel like it snuck right up on me this year.

The Gophers bowl chances took a big hit with the loss to Illinois last weekend. Now they’ll need to pick up two wins against two of the top three teams in the Big Ten West. I won’t close the door on them just yet. I’ll give them a 15 percent chance of making a bowl game — still possible, but their window is closing fast.

Iowa State, on the other hand, is nearly guaranteed a bowl game. If they can get lucky enough, a trip to the Big 12 Championship game isn’t out of the question, either.

We’ve now got Michigan and Notre Dame in the top four to make the College Football Playoff. I don’t see Alabama or Clemson losing the rest of the regular season, however, so at this point, a Notre Dame vs. Michigan national title would be my ideal scenario.

As we are now over halfway through the NFL regular season. I wanted to take a look back at my preseason predictions and compare.


Where Tyler was right

• The Rams are the No. 1 seed in the NFC. A loss to the Saints this weekend will drop them once they have their bye week, but they’re still in prime position for a deep playoff run.

• The Vikings are a wild card in the NFC. I had the Vikings finishing the season with a record of 11-5 in the No. 5 slot. Right now they are 5-3-1 (don’t get me started on how much I hate ties, that’s for another column) and a fairly easy second-half schedule looks promising.

• The Chiefs being great. Granted, I was being a fanboy at the beginning of the season, but even I didn’t expect this much greatness from Patrick Mahomes so quick. I had them finishing the season at 11-5 and the No. 2 seed, but I think that mark might be too low now.

• Nearly the rest of the AFC playoff picture. On top of the Chiefs, I also had the Patriots, Steelers and Texans making the playoffs, and all would do so if the season ended today. The other two teams were the Jaguars, who aren’t out of the picture just yet, and the Raiders, which brings me to…


Where Tyler was wrong

• The Raiders are the worst team in the NFL. I thought with Derek Carr and John Gruden at the helm, the Raiders would be poised to take the league by storm. Carr looks like a shadow of his past self, and getting rid of guys like Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack have Gruden looking like a madman.

• The Saints are a top three team in the league. I still had them finishing the season with a respectable 10-6 record, but that feels much too low at this point and I see a deep playoff run from them come January.

• The Bears are hanging on to the top of the NFC North. Besides the Raiders, this might be one of the more shocking first-half developments. It seems like this team just came out of nowhere, was I wrong about Mitch Trubisky or will the second half of the season catch up to him?

• The Redskins are atop the NFC East. With a current record of 5-3, the Redskins have already surpassed the win total I had them at. But beware Washington fans — coming from a Chiefs fan — with Alex Smith at the quarterback position be ready for a postseason letdown, should you get there.


Tyler Julson is the Tribune’s sports reporter. Contact him at tyler.julson@albertleatribune.com.

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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