It’s a ritual that involves spooky venues, costumed adults and overindulgence. I’m not talking about Halloween on Wednesday night. I’m talking about college football’s bowl season.
Now that we are into November, speculation heats up at board meetings for the bowls and we see a lot more men and women in colorful blazers wandering around America’s press boxes.
There are also some nervous meetings at the offices of the conference commissioners who have secured bowl affiliations they may not be able to fill if they can’t field enough teams who are 6-6 at least.
It’s amazing how many teams who were in the AP preseason top 25 are still two wins away from being bowl eligible (I’m looking at you FSU). In fact, there are eight Power 5 teams who were ranked in August who still have work to do.
A quick breakdown:
Bowl eligible: Clemson, Boston College, Syracuse, Virginia.
Need one more: N.C. State, Miami, Duke.
Need two more: FSU, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Pitt, Georgia Tech.
Bowl eligible: Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State.
Need one more: Michigan State, Maryland, Wisconsin.
Need two more: Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota.
Bowl eligible: Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas.
Need one more: Texas Tech, Oklahoma State.
Need two more: Iowa State, Baylor.
Bowl eligible: Washington State, Washington, Utah.
Need one more: Stanford, Oregon, Cal, Colorado.
Need two more: USC, Arizona, Arizona State.
Bowl eligible: Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, Alabama, LSU.
Need one more: Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Auburn.
Need two more: South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Missouri.
* Ole Miss is not eligible for a bowl game.
But enough of that, let’s get down to some picks. Last week was 7-3, but it felt like 8-2 because of the Kentucky-Missouri game and how it ended. Still, that’s 61-26 and I am definitely bowl eligible.
MISSOURI AT FLORIDA: Two things that don’t matter when it comes to this game — 1. It’s Homecoming; 2. The score in 2017 (it was 45-16 in case you slept through it). Forget last year. If the Gators can use it as motivation, great. But that Florida team had zero chance to win in Columbia based on the previous week’s events. The Gators are finally at home, but if they don’t stop this sudden turnover tendency, that is not going to matter either. Florida, 28-17.
ALABAMA AT LSU: The biggest challenge Saturday night is going to be to make sure we can get this game on one of the press box TVs while we are hacking out our stories. I can multitask. Really, I can. I once wrote an entire Back Nine while listening to “Thick as a Brick.” Really don’t mind … Alabama, 34-21.
GEORGIA AT KENTUCKY: OK, so Dr. Football didn’t give you any analysis of one of the biggest games of the year in the previous pick. You want analysis? Kentucky stinks on offense and as good as it is on defense it won’t be enough. Happy? Georgia, 27-14.
TEXAS A&M AT AUBURN: Oh, those Aggies. They sucked me into thinking they were really good and then lose to Mississippi State. Now they’re sucking me into believing this will be where Auburn turns it around. There seems to be a lot of, well, never mind. Auburn, 20-18.
PENN STATE AT MICHIGAN: Trace McSorley is an amazing player, one of my favorites in college football. I put him on my preseason All-American ballot. I just hope he doesn’t get hurt. Michigan’s defense is ferocious. Michigan, 23-13.
WEST VIRGINIA AT TEXAS: Here’s a stat for you — Will Grier and Feleipe Franks have beaten the same number of Power 5 teams this season. What that means is up to you. Texas, 29-21.
SOUTH CAROLINA AT OLE MISS: Just a gut feeling that South Carolina figured some things out in beating Tennessee last week. South Carolina, 34-29.
FLORIDA STATE AT NORTH CAROLINA STATE: Willie Taggart said some of his players quit last week. You know who didn’t quit? Bruce Thyer. He was the fan that they kept showing on TV reading a book in the stands. Finished it all. The name of the book was “Dark Places” by Gillian Flynn. I’ll let you insert your own joke here. N.C. State, 31-21.
DUKE AT MIAMI: There may not be two teams more difficult to figure out in America. Miami, 28-21.
DARTMOUTH AT PRINCETON: OK, so I got sucked in (again) to really caring about this game because I already mentioned the Buddy Teevens factor and that Judd Davis’ son is kicking for Dartmouth and then I was told that ex-Gators Sam McCorkle and Cheston Blackshear are also on the Dartmouth. Also, both teams are undefeated. Definitely worthy of The Picks. Go Big Green. Dartmouth, 27-24.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.