The Picks: Thankful for a winning record


Because it is Thanksgiving, I could write one of those cliche Thanksgiving columns about all of the things I am thankful for on this day.

Like my incredible family and terrific friends and colleagues and all of the great people at the University of Florida and this spectacular community. I could thank all of the great athletes I have had the pleasure to interview and the wonderful coaches and how lucky I am to be at the Gainesville Sun for the last 30 years.

I could thank college football for being college football and for moments like Chris Chiozza’s shot and Tyrie Cleveland’s catch and the right arms of Alex Faedo and Kelly Barnhill and the spring in Alex McMurtry’s legs.

Or Contour television or the makers of Bud Light Lime or an old hack named Earl Fannin, who showed me that chili with cashews instead of kidney beans is the way to go.

But I don’t do cliches.

I do The Picks.

But if I did do cliches … because we’re down to the homestretch of the season and actions speak louder than words, it’s time to put my nose to the grindstone and show I’m the big man on campus.

Of course, you can’t judge a book by its cover because the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Because it is Rivalry Weekend, we moved The Picks up a day and included 13 games. A perfect record means 99 wins on the year, which I think would be a career high prior to Championship Weekend which is followed by Where Did College Football Go Weekend.

Last week was another Stellar Weekend with a 9-1 record, which isn’t all that great because there weren’t a lot of tough picks and no upsets.

Still, 86-36 isn’t bad and it was helped by a smart reader who pointed out that I shortchanged myself the previous week. I need all the help I can get.

Here we go:

FSU AT FLORIDA: When you think about it, Florida has been like a lot of teams in that it seems to be a much better team at home than on the road. The time has come to take advantage of that even if both seasons are in the bank. It’s time to rise up and show the Semis that The Swamp can still be The Swamp. It’s time for the Gators to play like Gators. Wow, that was a great speech. Unfortunately, I can’t see UF scoring with FSU. Four more quarters of the Doug Nussmeier, play-action-on-third-and-long offense. FSU, 28-21.

ALABAMA AT AUBURN: Auburn is going to be a trendy pick for a lot of reasons. One of them is what the Tigers did to a Georgia team that has hammered the rest of the league. But when Lord Saban slips on that black helmet, it’s all over for the War Eagles. Alabama, 30-19.

USF AT UCF (FRIDAY): I’ve watched a lot of USF games because of Charlie Strong. The Bulls might be the least impressive one-loss team in the country. UCF, 38-21.

OLE MISS AT MISS. STATE (TONIGHT): So if you are a fan of the winning team in the Egg Bowl, do you have to eat eggs on Thanksgiving? I’ve always been curious. Miss. St., 37-31.

LOUISVILLE AT KENTUCKY: Again, thank you college football for a game like this, which I expect to be a beauty because neither team can defend. Louisville, 48-43.

TEXAS A&M AT LSU: A year ago, LSU’s win over A&M probably lined Ed Orgeron up as a legitimate candidate for the permanent job if a bunch of guys turned Joe Alleva down. Beating A&M (LSU is going for its seventh straight) hasn’t been the problem for LSU. LSU, 37-29.

MISSOURI AT ARKANSAS (FRIDAY): Should Barry Odom get some votes for SEC coach of the year? Asking for a friend. Missouri, 48-29.

GEORGIA AT GEORGIA TECH: Sometime, in a long season with a lot going on, things slip up on you. Like Georgia Tech needs a win to be bowl eligible. Man, that game it gave away on opening weekend against Tennessee. Georgia, 52-18.

OHIO STATE AT MICHIGAN: Can Michigan salvage its season? Isn’t that what a lot of these rivalry games are all about? Ohio State, 27-19.

VANDERBILT AT TENNESSEE: If there was a trophy for this game (between two 0-7 SEC teams), it would be a life raft. Tennessee, 27-21.

CLEMSON AT SOUTH CAROLINA: There’s a part of me that wants to pick South Carolina to pull the upset. Fortunately, that part of me came to. Clemson, 34-23.

NOTRE DAME AT STANFORD: I am perplexed as to where or if Bryce Love is on my Heisman Trophy ballot. I just know this — the mailers aren’t helping, Stanford. Stanford, 26-21.

WASHINGTON STATE AT WASHINGTON: Huge game in the Pac-12. I know this because I am a big fan of the long-running series “Pac-12 After Dark.” Washington, 31-23.

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


  1. People seem to forget that WSU beat both USC and Stanford this year, and Washington’s defense is not the same as it was last year. I think WSU should win this game, but then they may also Coug it. (to Coug (verb) to blow a 3 touchdown lead in the 4th quarter or lose your opener against a team from the Big Sky Conference.)