The Back Nine comes at you after the first real Saturday night watching college football on TV. It didn’t stink.
10. No matter what you think about the way they have played, it is certainly noteworthy that Florida over two seasons has now won eight consecutive games. That’s the most since the incredible 22 straight during the 2008-09 seasons. Now, those eight wins wouldn’t help Florida out a bunch if this were basketball and the Gators were trying to reach the NCAA Tournament because the opposition has been less than stellar. Seriously, who is the second best team (behind Michigan) that Florida has beaten in that run? I thought Miami was going to go on to play well after its loss to Florida and do some great things, but the Hurricanes lost their next game and got pushed to the limit by Jim McElwain’s awful Central Michigan team at home. Kentucky getting handled by Mississippi State didn’t help either. But you can only play the teams put in front of you and for this to have a chance at being a successful season, Florida needed to go 4-0 in these games. The big boys are coming down the road.
11. If Florida can get by Towson (the Tigers are 3-1 after an OT loss to Villanova) and Auburn wins at home against Mississippi State this week, we might see the ESPN GameDay folks roll into town for the first time since 2012. GameDay has only been in Gainesville that one time since the 2009 season. Certainly, the college football pre-game show has done a lot of UF games (most notably this year’s opener/Disney infomercial), but it has been a while since we’ve seen Rece Davis and the crew in Hogtown. With all of the tents on the North Lawn, I wonder where the show would set up. But that’s a Florida problem. I’ve looked at the schedule and it’s not compelling that week unless GameDay decides to do one of those smaller college games just for the quaintness of it. Think of the storylines with Florida-Auburn. I know I have.
12. One player the Gators will have to deal with Saturday is Tom Flacco, the brother of NFL quarterback Joe Flacco. This Flacco is on his third school, having played at Rutgers and Western Michigan. Last week in the loss to Villanova, Flacco threw for 304 yards and ran for 110. He also threw his first interception of the season. Florida hopes it will have its secondary at close to full strength for this one. This team is not the typical cupcake. The NFL brains have been watching Flacco all season and think he could play at the next level.
13. I heard this from Tom Lugenbill of ESPN on Sunday morning and wish I had thought of it to add to “Dool’s Rules.” He has a rule that you can’t put Michigan in the top 10 under Jim Harbaugh until the Wolverines beat a top-10 team. It may be awhile. Michigan is what LSU was, the team that keeps swearing that it will change the offense and evolve into the present but then never does. LSU finally got it, but Michigan is still stuck in the mud. Meanwhile, Wisconsin worked its way into the top 10 on my ballot and might actually be a challenge to the winner of the East this season.
14. There was an unbelievable game late into the night and even though UCLA rallied from 32 down, that wasn’t the most unbelievable thing about the win over Washington State. The most unbelievable thing was that a guy could throw for nine touchdowns — as Anthony Gordon did — and be the losing quarterback (on a side note, don’t always buy into those quarterback’s record-as-a-starter stats). Or maybe more incredible was this — when was the last time an LSU quarterback (Joe Burrow) threw for six touchdowns in a game and it wasn’t close to the most that night? Inquiring minds want to know.
15. For all of the people in an uproar over the actions of Kash Daniel last week against Florida, Mark Stoops hopes you feel better. Daniel did sit out the first quarter of Saturday’s game against Miss. St. and did not represent the Wildcats as a captain. “Myself and Kash, we have great respect for this game,” Stoops said. “We’re going to honor the game and do things as good as we possibly can. That was 100 percent my call, to not have him be a captain and not have him play to start the game.” I give Stoops credit and think it was the proper punishment. If nothing else, maybe it serves as a deterrent for other players trying to twist an ankle or doing something else in a pile. It’s football, not MMA.
16. NFL coaches have to get out of the challenge mode when it comes to pass interference. The rule to make it reviewable was put in to stop anything egregious from happening, mainly because it did to New Orleans last year. It’s not going to be reviewed the same as a fumble or feet in bounds (which are usually black-and-white calls). Something will have to be blatant for it to be overturned. Now, I don’t want you to think I spent my whole day watching the NFL while my wife went to see a movie (“Downton Abbey”). I went to the gym, watched my own movie (“Between Two Ferns: The Movie,” which has great closing credits) and caught a bit of the NFL games. The Giants-Bucs game was pretty cool at the end. It still amazes me that there can be so many bad teams when they have this incredible wealth and pool of talent to choose from. Mind boggled.
17. The Tweet of the Week goes to the always excellent Cole Cubelic from ESPN and the SEC Network — “What did @AuburnFootball do extremely well vs Texas A&M? Tackled. Aggies ran 70 plays. I counted 4 missed tackles for the game. None led to explosive plays.” That’s what Florida will be facing next Saturday — a truly elite defense.
18. I know everybody hates those noon starts. But for us old man sportswriters, they allow you to stay ahead of the chains. For example, I worked on this playlist before the game:
• “Tenderness” by Jay Som.
• “10/10” by Rex Orange County.
• “Milk and Honey” by J.S. Ondara.
• “Alison” by Jamie Drake.
• And for an old one that’s not really that old but it will make you feel old when you realize it has been 31 years, “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” by the Traveling Wilburys.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.