To put it bluntly, it was a beat down of epic proportions.

And Jamie Baker has the Norm Nutman Trophy to prove it.

When Baker and Dave Hanneman turned in their predictions for the first installment of the 2015 Pigskin Picks, they were dead even.

It didn’t stay that way for long.

Baker took a two-game lead with an 18-3 record that first week. He doubled his lead to four games after three weeks, to seven midway through the season, then to 10. In a desperate move to catch up, Hanneman picked a few upsets heading into Week 8, causing our fearless forecasters to disagree on eight games. Baker was right on six of them.

To make an obligatory comparison, it being an Olympic year and all, it was like the USA beating Serbia 96-66 in the men’s gold-medal basketball final or the gymnastics team’s 184.897 to 176.688 margin of victory over Russia in the women’s team gymnastics event.

The final numbers had Baker posting a 151-34 record in winning his third Pigskin Picks title in four years. He also had the biggest margin of victory in Pigskin Picks history, finishing 15 full games ahead of the 136-49 record turned in by Hanneman, the grizzled veteran of the staff.

We wondered how the old guy would take it. But he keeps showing up at the office so we decided to give him a shot at redeeming himself. And, despite the pleas of their loved ones, the snide remarks of their co-workers and the unbridled animosity from prep football fans across the Midwest (well, a few northwestern Ohio counties, anyway) our pigskin prognosticators are once again throwing down the gauntlet in the 33rd annual Pigskin Picks.

With 21 games on the opening night slate, there are ample opportunities for our gridiron gurus to have differing opinions.

They have disagreed on three matchups, with Baker picking Fostoria, Wynford and Van Buren this week and Hanneman opting to go with Oak Harbor, Liberty-Benton and Allen East, respectively.

Hanneman’s Picks

  • Findlay over ANTHONY WAYNE — Findlay’s defense will have to set the tone against an Anthony Wayne team that returns a number of offensive threats.
  • ARLINGTON over Anna — Don’t let the records fool you. Any MAC team is dangerous, even the ones that went 3-7 a year ago.
  • Bluffton over CORY-RAWSON — Hornets have been improving year by year. I think this one will be close.
  • GIBSONBURG over Elmwood — Elmwood plays a much tougher schedule, but 10-0 is still 10-0.
  • OAK HARBOR over Fostoria Senior — Derek Kidwell is getting it turned around at Fostoria, but it will take some time. I don’t know of any football program with an on/off switch on it.
  • LEIPSIC over Hardin Northern — Just like old BVC times … well, not exactly.
  • Hopewell-Loudon over TIFFIN CALVERT — Brian Colatruglio is bent on rebuilding a Hopewell-Loudon program that has gone 19-21 the last four years. A win here would be a great start.
  • Lakota over ARCADIA — Dual-threat quarterback Tyler Gabel and first-year coach Troy Albright are looking to get the Raiders over .500 after three straight 4-6 seasons.
  • Liberty-Benton over WYNFORD — Wynford is 26-5 against everybody else the past three years, but 0-3 against L-B. Some teams just have another team’s number.
  • McComb over CAREY — Lot of hype over the Panthers this season, but there’s a reason for it.
  • OTTAWA-GLANDORF over Mississauga North Prep, Ont. — Mississauga North Prep is something like a sports academy, and as such was trying to recruit the best football players from a huge area in Ontario. They might show with 10 Division I kids on the roster …. or none. Gotta go with what you know.
  • Mohawk over FREMONT ST. JOSEPH — I’m guessing St. Joe is still rebuilding from an 0-10 season.
  • North Baltimore over HOLGATE — This used to be a pick-em game, but North Baltimore has owned this Tiger-tussle of late.
  • COLUMBUS GROVE over Pandora-Gilboa — This Route 12 rivalry is a great way to kick off the season. Gotta go with Grove at home.
  • SPENCERVILLE over Patrick Henry — Spencerville’s power game against the speed and quickness of Patrick Henry’s west-coast offense. Last team with the football might win this one.
  • ST. WENDELIN over Reigning Sports Academy — After sitting out a year, St. Wendelin gets the season — and its football program — off on the right foot.
  • Riverdale over WAYNESFIELD-GOSHEN — Riverdale returns 18 starters; I’ve heard Waynesfield-Goshen has about that many players — total — on the whole roster.
  • RIVER VALLEY over Upper Sandusky — Vikings won last year’s matchup, and went 6-4 against a pretty good schedule.
  • ADA over Upper Scioto Valley — Seth Conley threw eight touchdown passes in last year win over USV. Wonder what he’ll do for an encore?
  • ALLEN EAST over Van Buren — Injuries killed the Mustangs last season, but Mike Abbey is doing an excellent job at Allen East and word is they are a team to keep an eye on in the tough NWC.
  • Vanlue over DANBURY — Some how, some way, the Wildcats keep plugging away and putting a team on the field. Chalking up a few “W”s would be a nice reward for the school, the fans and the community that support them.

Baker’s Picks

  • Findlay over ANTHONY WAYNE — Findlay won big last season. Nothing makes me think they won’t do the same Friday night in Whitehouse.
  • ARLINGTON over Anna — Tight ball game a year ago; this one won’t be.
  • Bluffton over CORY-RAWSON — Contain the speedy Mason Warnimont and the Pirates should give new coach Jeff Richards his first win.
  • GIBSONBURG over Elmwood — Royals are going to be better this season, but this one is a tough opener.
  • Fostoria Senior over OAK HARBOR — Upset? Maybe. I just think the Redmen may turn the corner this season.
  • LEIPSIC over Hardin Northern — Matchup of old BVC rivals. Leipsic will be just two much for the Polar Bears.
  • Hopewell-Loudon over TIFFIN CALVERT — Tiffin is a place Brian Colatruglio knows well. Just have a hunch he’ll have the Chieftains ready to play.
  • Lakota over ARCADIA — New coaches at both schools. Raiders get their season started on a winning note.
  • WYNFORD over Liberty-Benton — Finally, this is the year I think the Royals get the Eagles.
  • McComb over CAREY — Good early-season test for the Panthers. They pass with flying colors.
  • OTTAWA-GLANDORF over Mississauga North Prep, Ont. — O Canada, if this game goes the same way other games with Canadian teams have gone with area squads over the years it won’t be pretty.
  • Mohawk over FREMONT ST. JOSEPH — St. Joseph won’t have another 0-10 season this year, but they don’t have a shot at a win against the Warriors.
  • North Baltimore over HOLGATE — Tigers have been trending up since joining the Blanchard Valley Conference
  • COLUMBUS GROVE over Pandora-Gilboa — Grove has dominated the Route 12 Rivalry recently. The trend continues.
  • SPENCERVILLE over Patrick Henry — You can never count a Bill Inselmann-coached team out, but this one will be tough.
  • ST. WENDELIN over Reigning Sports Academy — A triumphant return to the gridiron for the Mohawks.
  • Riverdale over WAYNESFIELD-GOSHEN — Waynesfield-Goshen is young with a small roster. Riverdale rolls.
  • RIVER VALLEY over Upper Sandusky — It may take the young Rams awhile to get it going.
  • ADA over Upper Scioto Valley — Expect the Bulldogs to pile up the points this season.
  • Van Buren over ALLEN EAST — The Knights let their two nonconference games slip away last year. Won’t happen this season.
  • Vanlue over DANBURY — It will be a long, but happy trip home from Biro Field for the Wildcats Friday night.