Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm isn’t the only rookie who will be showing his talents at this year’s World’s Largest Outdoor Trash Cleanup.
When Brad Nessler was handed the job as the CBS lead play-by-play man for SEC football, he mentally circled the date on his calendar.
“Absolutely,” said the 61-year-old broadcaster. “It’s one of the few games I haven’t done. Of course, living in Atlanta, I had a lot of friends and neighbors wondering where we’re all going to stay and could they get tickets. They think I have a condo down there.”
Nessler doesn’t have a condo at Sawgrass, but he has had big shoes to fill this year after taking over for Uncle Verne Lundquist.
“There’s a responsibility there, to try to be as good as Verne, to carry on his legacy,” Nessler said. “I’m having a blast. It’s probably the most fun I’ve had in a long time.”
Nessler has been a spectator at the Florida-Georgia game a couple of times before, as a side trip when he was doing Atlanta Falcons games in the 1980s. So he knows what it’s like outside the stadium.
“The party is pretty insane,” he said. “Going into that game, it’s like you’re in a parade. It gets you so fired up. We’ll go early, take in the sights and sounds.
“I’ve done eight or 10 Texas-Oklahoma games so I’ve seen the split crowds. That’s pretty cool.”
What I have been able to watch of the CBS telecasts of other games (kinda busy during the Florida games) has been impressive and not surprising. Nessler is a pro’s pro and the transition has been seamless.
He even handled analyst Gary Danielson’s scratchy throat brought on by the flu last week.
“I probably talked more than I have ever talked early in that game,” he said. “But Gary bounced back. And I’ll be leaning on him this week because he has seen so many of these and he remembers them all.”
Nessler will be a rookie in the broadcast booth, but Dr. Football showed he is no rookie again with a second straight 9-1 week and 56-24 for the season. Hold my beer while I pat myself on the back. On to this week’s games.
FLORIDA-GEORGIA: Even the travelers driving through Jacksonville on Saturday afternoon will wake up with hangovers Sunday morning. It’s osmosis. I think Florida will play with its hair on fire, but Georgia is just too talented. The talent gap is there even if it is inflated by UF’s personnel losses. Georgia, 24-17.
PENN STATE AT OHIO STATE: Can this be a double-revenge game? Ohio State wants to get back at the Nittanys for last year’s loss. Penn State wants revenge for getting pushed out of the playoffs. Tough pick. Penn State, 34-31.
N.C. STATE AT NOTRE DAME: Ryan Finley is the only FBS quarterback in the country who has yet to throw an interception. I think that changes. Notre Dame, 37-21.
TCU AT IOWA STATE: Who would have thought before this season this game would have made The Picks? Not me. TCU, 28-21.
VANDERBILT AT SOUTH CAROLINA: It doesn’t seem that long ago that Vanderbilt was one of the reasons we thought the East was better this year. We were wrong. South Carolina, 27-19.
ARKANSAS AT OLE MISS: Arkansas is really bad. What is that Bret Bielema buyout again? Even without Shea Patterson, I think Ole Miss will find a way. Ole Miss, 23-21.
MISS. STATE AT TEXAS A&M: Unless Mississippi State has figured out why it can’t play on the road, it could get ugly. Because both teams wear burgundy, you already know it will. Don’t you just hate that color in a football uniform. What? It’s still better than swamp green? A&M, 38-20.
TENNESSEE AT KENTUCKY: Kentucky was upset it wasn’t getting more recognition. Then we all saw the Wildcats smell the place up last week. So I picked Tennessee. Did it on our TV show that airs Saturday. But then John Kelly was suspended. I’m allowed to change my mind. Kentucky, 35-24.
OKLAHOMA STATE AT WEST VIRGINIA: I can’t get off that Cowboys bandwagon yet. Okie State, 45-43.
GEORGIA TECH AT CLEMSON: Want to see how to stop the Yellow Jackets triple option? Watch what Dabo does. Clemson, 23-17.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.