Fox Sports Prep Zone unveiled Thursday
High school football has hit Fox Sports Net North big time.
Every week the network will stream four high school matchups simultaneously on foxsportsnorth.com
The inaugural night of Fox Sports Prep Zone was Thursday and featured Anoka-Blaine, Totino-Grace and Minnetonka, Lakeville North-Eastview and Irondale-Spring Lake Park.
New technology will allow viewers to select one of the four matchups.
The complete schedule has yet to be finalized.
In addition, Fox Sports North has a Fox Sports Prep Zone half-hour show previewing the week's matchups. The show, hosted by Anthony LaPanta, will originate from area high schools.
Around the tube
• For the first time, every Minnesota Wild game will be televised. That's a total of 84, including a pair of pre-season games.
Fox Sports Net North has 50 games, KSTC-TV 24 and 10 will be on national TV, nine of Versus and Feb. 20 at home against Detroit on NBC.
Of course, KSTC is not available on Charter Communications. The past two seasons, a number of Wild and Timberwolves games were televised on a separate channel. No word yet if Charter is going to do that this year.
• CBS lead analyst Phil Simmsmakes his predictions for the NFL season.
In the AFC he likes the Jets in the East, Cincinnati in the North, Indianapolis in the South and San Diego in the West with wild cards New England and Baltimore.
In the NFC he likes Dallas in the East, the Vikings in the North, New Orleans in the South, San Francisco in the West with the Packers and Giants as wild cards. He has Dallas playing Indianapolis in the Super Bowl.
• Pre-season magazines do not give much love to the Minnesota Gophers this year, despite their opening-night win Thursday at Middle Tennessee State.
There's a website http://preseason.stassen.com/consensus/2010.html which ranks all college teams, based on the predictions of 13 magazines.
The top five are Alabama, Ohio State, Boise State, Florida and Texas Christian.
The Gophers rank at or near the bottom of the Big Ten; the consensus is 10th, just ahead of Indiana. Four magazines — Athlon, Lindy, USA Today and Sports Illustrated -- have the Gophers finishing last.
Blue Ribbon/ESPN, Football Outsiders, Sporting News and Game Plan have them fnishing 10th in the Big Ten.
Phil Steele, who puts out a 350-page monster, predicted a tie between Minnesota and Indiana for 10th and 11th.
He couldn't decide on a bottom-feeder because the Gophers and Hoosiers do not play this season.
Ohio State is picked to win it all followed by Iowa, Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, Northwestern, Michigan, Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana.
• Peter Kingof Sports Illustrated predicts a Packers and Chargers Super Bowl. Of course, King also ranked New Orleans 24th a year ago and we all know what the Saints did.
• NFL FIlms has produced a series "The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players, which makes its debut tonight on the NFL Network.
Joe Namathis ranked No. 100. Other players in the first episode (ranked between 91 and 100) include Michael Irvin, Derrick Brooksand Michael Strahan.
The 10-part series winds up on Nov. 4.
• KROC-AM (1340) normally carries the University of Minnesota football and the Minnesota Twins. Thursday night there was a conflict and the Gophers were switched to sister station KOLM-AM (1520).
There is also conflicts on Sept. 18, Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 and, of course, maybe in the postseason.
• The Atlanta Dream, with Rochester natives Cocoand Kelly Miller,have advanced to the WNBA Eastern Conference finals. The best-of-three series with New York starts Sunday with games on Tuesday and Thursday, all on NBA TV.