Conventional wisdom has Upper Arlington and Hilliard Darby playing for third in the OCC-Central Division. Hilliard Davidson and Dublin Coffman are not locks for the top two spots, but it is looking that way. If the UA-Darby winner does finish third, then this game might as well be considered a playoff game. The winner should be in; the loser likely will be out. The OCC-Central is one of the area's toughest, but also one of the most top-heavy. After these four teams, the rest of the teams in the division -- Central Crossing, Thomas Worthington, Westland and Worthington Kilbourne -- all are 1-4. Overall, this could be one of the most interesting weeks of the season because most of the games are toss-ups, but that's what makes this so much fun. Let's go out to the games:

Conventional wisdom has Upper Arlington and Hilliard Darby playing for third in the OCC-Central Division. Hilliard Davidson and Dublin Coffman are not locks for the top two spots, but it is looking that way. If the UA-Darby winner does finish third, then this game might as well be considered a playoff game. The winner should be in; the loser likely will be out. The OCC-Central is one of the area's toughest, but also one of the most top-heavy. After these four teams, the rest of the teams in the division -- Central Crossing, Thomas Worthington, Westland and Worthington Kilbourne -- all are 1-4. Overall, this could be one of the most interesting weeks of the season because most of the games are toss-ups, but that's what makes this so much fun. Let's go out to the games:

Last week: 15-4 (78.5 percent)

Season: 79-21 (79.0 percent)

Game of the Week: 4-1 (80.0 percent)

Upper Arlington (4-1, 2-0) at Hilliard Darby (5-0, 2-0)

The Panthers' 4-3 defense has given up an average of 7.6 points through five games, but the Golden Bears feature a bigger offensive line and more balanced offense than Darby has faced. No one has been able to stop the Panthers' spread option running game and the Golden Bears' defense has struggled to stop the run, which is a combination that favors UA. But I suspect Bears coach Mike Golden will come up with a strategy to contain quarterback Matt Allen, who has run for eight touchdowns and passed for five. Look for quarterback Jake Johns and receivers Damon Rothgeb, Frank Epitropoulos and Johnny Mikes to make some big plays through the air. This should be a good one. Prediction: Upper Arlington 21-20

St. Charles (5-0) at DeSales (3-2)

The Stallions likely won't be in a good mood after losing 24-0 last Friday at Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary's, marking the first time they've been shut out since falling to Cincinnati St. Xavier by the same score on Sept. 9, 2005. The biggest question for DeSales could be the health of running back Warren Ball, who has missed the last two games with an ankle sprain and is questionable. The Cardinals are in the midst of a breakout season but have struggled to stop the run. DeSales, with our without Ball, should figure out a way to bounce back on both sides of the ball and increase its streak of wins over St. Charles to 34. Prediction: DeSales 24-10

Westerville South (4-1, 2-0) at Dublin Jerome (3-2, 2-0)

The Wildcats are going for the sweep of Dublin, having already beaten Coffman 31-21 and Scioto 31-0. South's Jayshon Jackson looked downright human last week, being held below 150 yards rushing for the first time all season. The Celtics have won two in a row, including a 24-14 victory over Olentangy Liberty, which surprised some. Jerome has allowed more than 14 points in a game only once. Let's call a sweep for the Wildcats. Prediction: South 31-20

Olentangy Orange (2-2, 1-1) at New Albany (5-0, 2-0)

The two teams that shared the OCC-Capital a season ago meet with league and playoff aspirations on the line, especially for the Pioneers who already have a one league loss. Both teams like to run the ball. Brandon Schoen and Jacob Vacheresse are the dual threat for Orange, while Alez Hake and Jordan Gallegos share running duties for New Albany. Last year's game came down to a turnover and special teams. This one could as well. Prediction: New Albany 28-24.

Grove City (2-3, 2-0) at Lancaster (3-2, 1-1)

Opposites clash when the Dawgs and their spread attack offense tries to outscore the run-oriented Gales. Grove City quarterback Luke Smurthwaite threw for more than 300 yards in a comeback win over Groveport last week. The Gales struggled to stop Gahanna and its spread attack the same week. The key will be the Dawgs' ability to contain the Gales' running attack, because Lancaster's best defense likely will be time-consuming drives on offense. The last meeting between the two schools was a 7-0 victory by Grove City in 2008. This time, there will be more scoring and a different winner. Prediction: Lancaster 31-28

Hilliard Davidson (5-0, 2-0) at Central Crossing (1-4, 0-2)

The Wildcats have looked as impressive and are headed to another Division I playoff berth, and the Comets still are seeking their first winning season. No reason to vary from these paths. Prediction: Davidson 54-6

Big Walnut (5-0, 2-0) at Hilliard Bradley (3-2, 1-1)

Bradley already has surpassed its victory total from its inaugural season a year ago, but the Jaguars will have trouble adding another win against the unbeaten Golden Eagles. Led by running backs Blake Scipio and Jeffie Johnson, the Jaguars have had success on the ground in their three wins. However, Big Walnut's defense, led by linebacker Jacob Walaszek and lineman Matt Brown, is stout against the run. Look for this year's matchup to be closer than last season when Big Walnut won 34-6, but expect the Golden Eagles to emerge with the win. Prediction: Big Walnut 24-14

Westerville Central (1-4, 1-1) at Marysville (3-2, 1-1)

The Warhawks played well in a 21-14 loss to Westerville South on Sept. 17 and their hard work finally paid off with a 33-7 win against Westerville North last Friday. Central's offense was efficient against the Warriors, led by quarterback Spencer Allen and running back Miles Fisher. Both will look for continued success against a Marysville defense that is allowing 15.8 points a game. Central will do enough to slow down Marysville's triple-option offense led by Chris Bailey, who has rushed for 587 yards and seven touchdowns on 89 carries. Prediction: Central 21-20

Dublin Scioto (2-3, 0-2) at Westerville North (0-5, 0-2)

The Warriors' losing streak has reached 20 games, but don't expect the Irish to be the first victim. Scioto's running game under sophomore William Houston and senior Jerry Miles will be enough to get the win if the Irish can eliminate turnovers and penalties. Scioto has won the only two meetings. Friday will mark three straight. Prediction: Scioto 28-7

Gahanna (2-3, 1-1) at Pickerington Central (4-0, 2-0)

Central is No. 1 in the opening Division I, Region 3 computer rankings. Gahanna quarterback Tanner Zwelling passed for 192 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for two touchdowns in last week's 30-28 loss at Lancaster. The Lions defense allowed 424 yards against Lancaster and will have their hands full against the Tigers. Central rolled over Pickerington North 42-0 last week and the combination of offense, defense and special teams should combine to dispatch the Lions in the same fashion. Prediction: Central 38-9

Olentangy (3-2, 1-1) at Olentangy Liberty (3-2, 1-1)

In two years, Liberty has dominated Olentangy in the OCC-Cardinal play, with the Patriots winning 21-16 in 2008 and 29-6 last year. This game could be closer to the first meeting. In the first half of the season, Olentangy has beaten every opponent it lost to last season. Look for that trend to end on Friday. Prediction: Liberty 17-14

Reynoldsburg (3-2, 1-1) at Pickerington North (2-3, 0-2)

During the preseason this looked like one of those games a depleted Reynoldsburg roster would have a tough time winning. But with the way things have shaken down in the OCC-Ohio, this one's wide open. After a 2-8 season, the Raiders have raised itself to a level of competency where they're making big plays on offense to win games. A 30-yard pass on fourth-and-12 sealed a 17-14 win over Newark last Friday. After playing Pickerington Central about as close as is possible a season ago, North was demolished by Central 42-0 last Friday. The Panthers are still searching for an identity on offense and a defense that only returned one player still is trying to jell. One thing the Panthers do have is size, and that doesn't bode well for the Raiders. This game will be close, but the edge goes to a deeper North team that is playing at home. The Panthers also should be eager to show they can play better than they did last Friday. Prediction: North 21-17

Thomas Worthington (1-4, 0-2) at Dublin Coffman (4-1, 2-0)

It's like the Cardinals and the Shamrocks are moving in totally different directions. Thomas has been blanked in three of its four losses. And facing a high-powered Dublin Coffman squad on Friday, expect more of the same. The Shamrocks held Westland to six points last week and shut out Central Crossing the week before. They also roasted Westland with 618 yards of offense. Add in that Coffman beat the Cardinals 48-3 last season. Prediction: Coffman 42-6

Westland (1-4, 0-2) at Worthington Kilbourne (1-4, 0-2)

The Wolves may be banged up, but the offense continues to produce. The triple-option offense has 1,244 yards and 11 touchdowns on 218 carries. Sheldon Tillman leads the way, and he is one of the few Kilbourne players who have avoided an injury. Meanwhile, Westland has been outscored 112-12 in the last two weeks by Hilliard Davidson and Dublin Coffman. Kilbourne is better than its 1-4 record. Prediction: Kilbourne 35-6

Watkins Memorial (3-2, 0-2) at Delaware (2-3, 1-1)

Watkins Memorial's first season running the option offense has been productive. However, it at times has also produced fumbles and turnovers. The same can be said for Delaware, which has more turnovers than its option offense has scored touchdowns. The Warriors have shown more consistency, thus, they will celebrate a victory with an apple, cherry or even pizza turnover. The Pacers will out-turnover the Warriors 5-3, but the object is to score more points. Prediction: Watkins Memorial 24-12

Granville (4-1, 2-0) at Licking Valley (3-2, 2-0)

The Panthers are getting back to what they do best and that's running the football. Led by Tregg Hall, they rushed for more than 200 yards each in consecutive victories over Ready (48-21 on Sept. 10), Heath (24-21 on Sept. 17) and Whitehall (42-0 last Friday). Now they find themselves with a chance to take sole possession of first place in the MSL-Ohio Division and solidify their computer ranking in Division III, Region 11. Sound familiar? The Blue Aces are hot as well having won their last four games. Injuries are beginning to take a toll, however. Coach J.R. Wait didn't want to divulge any names, but he said as many as six starters might be sidelined. Moreover, sophomore quarterback David Fraley has never faced what he will see atmosphere-wise in Hanover. The thinking here is that Licking Valley avenges last year's 35-12 setback that ended its 34-game league winning streak and stranglehold on the MSL-Ohio. Prediction: Licking Valley 28-17

Canal Winchester (4-1, 2-0) at Amanda-Clearcreek (4-1, 2-0)

This figures to be one of the games that ends up deciding the league title. Last year the Aces won 7-0 and went on to win the league. Both teams have been playing well since opening-week losses. The Indians possess a stronger passing offense, but the Aces are more effective at running the ball. With this game being played at Amanda, give a slight edge to the Aces. Prediction: Amanda-Clearcreek 21-14

Millersport (0-5, 0-2) at Grandview (3-2, 1-1)

The Bobcats appears to have the makings of a solid team, despite a 21-7 loss last week against perennial power West Jefferson. Tailback Jason Franks has shouldered the load in the running game with more than 400 yards this season, while quarterback Oliver Rauch figures to be more comfortable in his third game back from a shoulder injury. Millersport, on the other hand, is in the midst of a dreadful season, coming off a 48-0 loss to Liberty Union. It's hard to imagine this will be much more competitive than the 2009 edition, which Grandview won 39-7. Prediction: Grandview 45-3

Johnstown (4-1, 2-0) at Fredericktown (5-0, 2-0)

The teams have two of the top running backs in the area in Johnstown's Ross Franklin and Fredericktown's Matt Smith. Franklin has 1,022 yards and averages more than 11 yards per carry and Smith adds 866 yards on the ground and more than 10 yards per try. Fredericktown has given up only 39 points through five games, including a 55-3 win over Northridge on Sept. 17 and a 63-0 win over Danville last Friday. The Johnnies will be much more formidable than in the pats two weeks, but the Freddies will score enough to win the slugfest. Prediction: Fredericktown 35-32

Columbus Grove (3-2) at Hartley (4-1)

Columbus Grove must key in on Hartley running back Noah Key to have any chance. Key anchors an offense that has averaged 42 points. If the defense continues to improve, the Hawks will avenge their 20-14 overtime loss to the Bulldogs last season. Prediction: Hartley 38-17