The Picks: SEC needs strong push on back end of schedule

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks calls out to a receiver during the Gators Homecoming game against LSU. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Let me get this straight (which isn’t easy for someone who did as poorly as I did last week with The Picks).

The SEC was down last year, because it was Alabama and the 13 schlubs, right?

This year there is Alabama and then there are two other teams with a legitimate shot at the College Football Playoffs in Georgia and Auburn. Texas A&M gave that Alabama team all it could handle last week.

And the league is still down?

That’s the perception because there are still so many teams who seem to be underachieving in this league. And because the American Conference has as many teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 as the SEC.

Which IS kind of embarrassing.

The narrative on the league right now is a bit confusing, because there are three teams in the top 10 and the rest seem to be floundering about like fish on a beach fighting for life. (It doesn’t help when Alabama and Georgia are both 30-point favorites over teams in the conference).

The SEC had its chances to change that perception in the nonconference portion of the schedule, but went a pedestrian 6-6 against Power Five teams. How it fares at the back end will have a lot to do with how it is perceived after the season (forget the bowls; they are exhibition games).

The league with the biggest stadiums, most passionate fan bases and biggest paychecks is still fighting to get back to the top. The misguided answer is for one of those three teams winning it all, as if that makes your conference supreme.

But we have a long way before that will be decided. What was decided last week is that I’m really bad at this.

Dr. Football went 4-6 and that makes me 38-22 for the season. Maybe I need a new offensive coordinator.

TEXAS A&M AT FLORIDA: Gator fans don’t necessarily want to see new uniforms as much as they want to see a new offense. With all of the injured and suspended players, that’s not happening. And this team is not built to keep up with an Aggie offense that has the kind of weapons that are a distant memory in Gainesville. The good news is that I have been wrong a lot on Florida. Texas A&M, 31-17.

OKLAHOMA-TEXAS: The Dallas version of Florida-Georgia is part football game and part Carnival Eats episode. I saw a stat this week that Oklahoma has lost to double-digit underdogs each of the last seven years. Fortunately for the Sooners, they are only a touchdown favorite in this one. Oklahoma, 38-29.

AUBURN AT LSU: LSU is bringing back Les Miles back for this game when it honors the 2007 national champs. When he sees all that uneaten grass on the field, he might flip out. Auburn, 27-21.

VANDERBILT AT OLE MISS: If I’m an Ole Miss fan, I just want this to be over. Maybe there is one last hurrah for Matt Luke. Ole Miss, 23-20.

ARKANSAS AT ALABAMA: I think Nick Saban got his team’s attention last week. This could get ugly. Alabama, 38-3.

MISSOURI AT GEORGIA: Missouri has already lost eight fumbles this season and has a turnover margin of minus-10. Yet, somehow, the Tigers won’t fumble against Florida. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Georgia, 37-19.

SOUTH CAROLINA AT TENNESSEE: South Carolina scored three defensive touchdowns last week against Arkansas. Tennessee has a new quarterback. But Butch Jones said his team had the best bye week in his five years at Tennessee. So now the Vols are Champions of the Bye Week. South Carolina, 27-17.

GEORGIA TECH AT MIAMI: In a way, this is a trap game for the Hurricanes because of the big win last week. And Tech has the kind of offense that can make you feel trapped in a clock-management game. Miami, 23-20.

OHIO STATE AT NEBRASKA: Hey, Mike Riley. The Oregon State job is open. Ohio State, 39-21.

FSU AT DUKE: There can’t be an FSU fan in America who thought the Semis would be 1-3 at this point. Of course, if there was one, he might want a job at the Weather Channel. FSU, 28-9.

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


  1. I am hoping against hope that Pat Dooley is wrong (I have a sneaking suspicion though that he is right). Regardless, my heart and mind are with my team, the Florida Gators. I pray that Coach Mac read “The Letter” and uses it to inspire the troops to rise up to the next level and perform to the level they are capable of, but have not yet achieve, due in large part to a lack of confidence. Let’s throw the ball down the field so more – we have a QB who can make the long throws, given the opportunity. Of course, the OL has to block long enough to make this possible. Saw some flashes in our running game – we should continue pushing this to keep A&M’s potent offense off the field (our defense needs the rest if they will have any chance of containing A&M).

  2. Every day I read about more injury problems for the Gators. Is anybody left to suit up? Felipe Franks will finish the season in traction somewhere. By the time the Gators line up with the Nolies, both teams will be down to their 3rd quarterback. Still – Go Gators this week. Stomp the damn Aggies (psst – Ags – Hook ‘Em Horns).

  3. Hard to argue c these predictions, Pat. But I’ll be surprised if the Gators can score as many as 17 points, and it’s more likely that TAMU will put up a whole lot more than just 31. Those guys are very capable of high scores, and from what I’ve seen so far, we’ll be probably incapable of stopping it.

  4. Dooley has his 10 picks. Along those lines, here are my predictions:

    1. Win or lose, Gator fans will still be unhappy.
    2. If we lose, Gidiots will call for the coaches to be fired. Trolls will descend on the message boards to add fuel to the fire.
    3. If we win, trolls will still call for the coaches to be fired in hopes of destabilizing the program and swaying impressionable recruits to go elsewhere.

    • Gator Fan, it’s not Gidiocy to point out the utter failure of coaching that lost a “must-win” last week. It’s not gidiocy to note that in year 2, defensive-pedigreed Kirby Smart has TWO excellent freshmen QB’s, while our offensive Aw Shucks in year 3 has half a QB. It’s not gidiocy to note that suspensions and injuries notwithstanding, there is no overall trend of improvement in Gator football over the last 3 years.

      We will lose tomorrow night. Yes I badly want to beat UGA, and desperately need to beat the damn ‘Noles. But in no way do I want this team to go back to Atlanta to be embarrassed by Bama/Auburn. We need to see long-term, systemic improvement, not a damn sauce-peddler who won’t fire an OC proven to be inept at multiple programs.

    • “GATOR FAN”,
      Passionate fans and “gidiots” aren’t comparable. None of us want to “destabilize the program”, nor do we want to “fire all the coaches”. We expect and want to see week to week improvement. And the only game U.F. looked “improved” was the Vandy game. Then L.S.U. made Florida look like a team regressing again, unfortunately. So the truth tellers and trolls are not the same people. But if it makes some Gator fans feel better, by calling truth tellers, “trolls”, then go for it! But that’s as truthful as calling the 2017 Gator Football team “S.E.C. East contenders”. But, still, “In all kinds of weather…”