THE PICKS: SEC East closing gap vs. West

Game on: Florida vs. Tennessee at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Swamp. Tennessee overcame a 21-3 halftime deficit to end an 11-game losing streak in the series last year. [Wade Payne/Associated Press]

We are two weeks into the college football season and, of course, everyone is absolutely freaking out! (I need to figure out how to put a GIF in print).

Some coordinators are being fired, others are being sent from the field to the booth (no eating Oreos at halftime, guys) and some head coaches went directly from the warm seats to ejector seats just waiting for the handle to be pulled.

Ya gotta love college football.

Here in the SEC, it has been a mixed bag of results, nothing that would indicate the conference is back to its usual place at the top of the mountain. Oh, Alabama looks like its usual self and the league is currently 22-4 against non-conference opponents with wins over Florida State and, well, Florida State.

Hey, party at Greg Sankey’s house. I’ll bring the Dreamland.

The only reason the league is at .500 in nonconference games against Power Five opponents (4-4) is because the East is carrying it.

There, I said it. That may cause Dr. Football a lifetime ban on the Paul Finebaum Show (after Thursday’s appearance, of course), but so far the East is 3-1 in big boy football and the West is 1-3.

I know it’s early, but it just feels like the East is narrowing the gap vs. the West. The two divisions have yet to play a game against each other and that won’t happen until there are three matchups next week. And that will be the true indicator of which division is better. (Speaking for the East, we’d like to do that Missouri-Auburn swap as soon as possible).

This week, the SEC has some nice matchups within the divisions and there is one big national game, but it was Slim Pickens (“What in the wide world of sports is a-goin’ on here?”) trying to come up with 10 games for The Picks.

Last week, Dr. Football went a brilliant 9-1, missing out only on Ohio State, which apparently thought it had a bye week. That made up for a 6-4 start and allows me to stay in the press box for another week. Yay!

TENNESSEE AT FLORIDA: Remember Jim McElwain talking about his players looking like “dead fish?” That was him on Wednesday. This is always a tough job but when you have to deal with hurricanes and players’ families and everything else that the coaches had to deal with, you can get worn out not coaching. In the end, Dr. Football has only a one-game sample size of 2017 Florida football and that’s a flavor that is difficult to rinse out. Tennessee, 34-28.

LSU AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: Let me get you ready to watch this game by doing my impression of Ed Orgeron trying to be heard over the clanging of cowbells. Either that or you could put your head in a clothes dryer full of hammers. I’d take the latter. LSU, 38-21.

KANSAS STATE AT VANDERBILT: I bet the Wildcats can’t wait to play a game in an SEC environment. Instead, they get Nashville. Vanderbilt, 21-18.

CLEMSON AT LOUISVILLE: If Lamar Jackson lights up Clemson, he can start posing for a second straight Heisman Trophy. On the other hand … Clemson, 24-15.

OLE MISS AT CAL: The Rebels should know they can’t hide from the NCAA, even in Berkeley. Cal, 42-34.

KENTUCKY AT SOUTH CAROLINA: So I was big on Kentucky in the preseason. And now I’m big on Will Muschamp’s team. I should make up my mind. South Carolina, 28-21.

TEXAS AT USC: Remember when everyone thought Muschamp might hire Clay Helton to be the offensive coordinator? Sigh. USC, 40-21.

PURDUE AT MISSOURI: Mizzou’s Barry Odom fired his defensive coordinator for “philosophical reasons.” I took philosophy in college. Lesson 1 — Don’t let the other team score touchdowns. Lesson 2 — see Lesson 1. Purdue, 23-21.

ILLINOIS AT SOUTH FLORIDA (Friday): I dropped South Florida from my top 25. Beating Lovie Smith isn’t getting Charlie Strong’s team back in. USF, 38-25.

UCLA AT MEMPHIS: Lovie is not the only coach returning to his old stomping grounds. UCLA tight ends coach Rip Scherer used to be the head coach at Memphis. Alex, I’ll take USELESS FOOTBALL TRIVIA for $500. UCLA, 41-34.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


  1. I love the “dead fish” reference. For a coach who “peddled a tricycle of an offense all the way to Atlanta,” he sure looks like a coach who still hasn’t found a bicycle with training wheels yet. It’s year 3, and there has to be improvement. The Football team hasn’t had an offensive touchdown scored since the 3rd quarter of the Outback Bowl. In 2014, Pat Dooley wrote of the Gators after a game in Alabama, “you didn’t expect to win, but you believed you’d be better than this.” And, we’re not. There is an underlying problem somewhere in the program. Either the suspensions, or attitudes, or coaching staff or something, somewhere….this program has not moved forward since last year. It’s time to find an identity and an attitude of winning. “Winning is a habit,” said Steve Spurrier. You get into a habit by doing the things that make you successful every day, and then give you an identity. Here’s a start: 1) dump those stupid white helmets and burn all orange jerseys. 2) play with an attitude and aggressiveness. Let every single team we play from here on know that after a turnover, we go to the endzone. Doesn’t matter if we’re on our own 20 yard line, we’re going deep after the turnover. 3) As a coaching staff, sit the players down, and challenge their hearts and commitments. Let them know that if their hearts and minds are not with the UF program, the door is behind them and they can clean out their lockers on the way. These players that are now under investigation for credit card fraud, let the team know they’re done and will not be back. It’s just interesting to note that not once this year we’ve heard McElwain say “giving of yourself for the betterment of others” or “committing to something bigger than you,” or even “we’re giving them the answers to the test, here’s the answers, now, go take the test.” I believe McElwain knows what he’s doing. I think he’s a brilliant football mind. But, it’s beginning to look as though he has no control over the players. You can’t always be a dad, coach. Sometimes, you need to be the boss. Go Gators.

  2. It’s always a good sign whenever Dooley and Andreu pick the Gators to lose. Hope Andreu follows suit. It would be an interesting tidbit to find out what are their records on toss-up Gator games, not the cupcake ones.

  3. It isn’t what happens to you in life, it’s how you respond that matters the most!
    If this 2017 Gator football team is predominately made up of, ”man, life sux, we can’t win, yada-yada, woe is me!” crap, then your right, Pat! And I’d agree. But I would bet U.F scores last and wins, like in 2015 with Calloway’s miracle score (how’s that for a sample size?). A coming out party (like Calloway’s vs. U.T. in ’15) for someone else. As life is full of ironies.
    Go Gators!!! Vols -STILL- taste like chicken!

  4. Hey Pat it might be time you packed up and retired. You are SO NEGATIVE. Wow give them boys a break. The coaches suck, the players suck everyone and everything is horrible. You are getting harder and harder to read. Pat Dooley AKA NED NEGATIVE