The Back Nine: How Florida gets past Michigan

Michigan vs. Florida in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 1, 2016. Florida will have to play way better than on this day to beat Michigan.

The Back Nine comes at you after the first Saturday of college football where the games may not have been great, but at least they counted in the win-loss records of the teams.

10. We take you live to the campuses of Michigan and Florida where the two head coaches of the schools are having their news conferences. First, Jim McElwain: “I’m not tellllliing. Nah-na-nah-nah-boo-boo.” Next Jim Harbaugh: “Then I’m not telling either. And your mother wears army boots.” This is now officially a big game when both coaches are wearing their paranoia on their sleeves. You know who should be ticked off? ABC. Their pre-production people aren’t going to be able to have the great stories behind the stories of the quarterbacks. “He was born to play football, so obsessed with the sport that he once wore a Joe Montana jersey to bed.” Whatever. Someone give me a nudge when this game starts and we actually get to see who the quarterbacks are. But understand this — the quarterbacks are not that high in the list of things that really matter in this game. Here are the five things that Florida has to do to win Saturday:

• Avoid important injuries. Especially at linebacker.

• Have breakout games for at least two wide receivers.

• Don’t get blown off the ball by the Michigan offensive line.

• Win special teams.

• Don’t get fooled by double moves or trick plays.

Even then, you know the post-game stories are going to center on the quarterbacks. And the coach whose quarterback underperforms is going to get a lot of second-guessing.

11. McElwain has been giving the media the impression that all of the work in camp has been to make the Gators better and that they haven’t worried too much about Michigan. This, we know, is not true considering McElwain’s penchant for the film room. Certainly, Michigan has been thinking about Florida for awhile. “We’ve had stuff throughout the whole camp focused on Florida,” said Wolverines safety Jordan Glasgow. “We’ve had periods in which we’ve run plays they would run in the last year or two.” Is there anyone else who is like me and just wants to see what happens and move on? I mean, I’m looking forward to the game, but this is something we’re not used to — an opener with hype. It wears on you. That said, the summer of hype is closer to being over than ever and I have the feeling this college football season is going to be one to remember. It just feels bigger than normal.

12. Yes, I did watch some college football Saturday. My daughter, Kelsey, insisted I be home in time to watch the opening kickoff and I made it. We saw a little bit of everything, including a stadium that looked like they forgot to tell everyone there was a game (San Jose State) and a self-inflicted safety (Texas Southern) and a performance by Stanford that has me thinking that I was on to something when I put Stanford eighth in my AP ballot. I also watched the Colorado State-Oregon State game for two reasons — 1. I wanted to see the new stadium in Fort Collins which looked like a smaller version of the old Mile High Stadium; 2. I wanted to see how bad Oregon State is. The answer is, “very.” It’s hard to believe Gary Anderson paid $3 million in buyout money to take that job. He’s now 6-19 and it doesn’t look like a banner season. BTW, Oregon State is now 51 games under .500 lifetime.

13. I guess on the pool I did last week I should have had the Gators wearing all blue with white helmets because that’s what Nike has decided they will wear. Meanwhile, the word out of Michigan is that the Wolverines will wear all maize. You may want to get your TV color adjusted now.

14. Needless to say, it was a pretty cool weekend for Gator fans who are into all of the sports this campus has to offer with both volleyball and soccer knocking off the No. 1 teams in the country on Friday within hours of each other. Becky Burleigh’s soccer team is now 4-0 and heads out to Washington for a weekend tournament there. Volleyball fed off an amazing crowd to knock off No. 1 Texas and didn’t suffer a hangover a day later in beating No. 5 Nebraska. I was especially impressed with the performance by 6-foot-8 Rachael Kramer. Mary Wise told The Back Nine that Kramer gained 23 pounds of muscle during the offseason. “We’ve seen her do that in practice,” Wise said of Kramer’s domination at the net. “But it was a surprise to have her do it this early in her sophomore season.” Wise was especially happy with the crowds this weekend. When you push for a crowd and get it and then deliver a win, it’s only going to bring them back for more.

15. So it is now time to make my NFL predictions, although I’m not sure if you can take them seriously since I’m not in a fantasy league. But here goes nothing. AFC — New England, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Denver win their divisions with Oakland and Houston the wild cards. NFC — New York, Green Bay, Tampa Bay and Seattle win their divisions with Carolina and Dallas as the wild cards. Take those picks to the bank, but know you won’t be cashing a check.

16. So which got more hype — the eclipse or the fight? All I know is the eclipse got better reviews. The hidden gem of the month might have been the 351-yard all-or-nothing drive Dustin Johnson hit in sudden death on Sunday. That was pretty cool.

17. OK, so I don’t know Megan Brown nor do I follow her, but someone retweeted something this sports fan from New York City tweeted and it made me laugh so the Tweet of the Week — “Don Cheadle is at the fight. If Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, George Clooney & a Chinese gymnast show up, the Bellagio is in trouble.” If you have never seen the remake of “Oceans 11” you won’t get it.

18. It’s a long way to Tipperary and a long flight to Dallas so I know I need a good playlist. Let’s start with this one:

•  “Raining” by The Front Bottoms (with apologies to the people of Houston and surrounding areas).

• “Mexican Fender” by Weezer (the video is odd and hilarious).

• “Blind” by Brother Sundance.

• “Stranger Thing” by The War On Drugs.”

• And for an old one because we’re heading out there, “Dallas” by Johnny Winter.

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




  1. Michigan lost 32 players out of their two-deep from last year, including 17 or 18 starters. They have a junior QB, a pair of good RB’s, and a good DL. They lost both kickers and will be hurting on special teams, replacing their entire secondary and all of their starting WR’s. They also will have a young OL.

    Jim Harbaugh hardly played any of his bench warmers last year and mostly his starters and two-deep because he knew he had a good chances at a title run, but it ended up being a mistake for this year because he lost his last three games last season and ended those hopes.

    UM doesn’t bring a lot of actual game-time experience on their roster (hence Harbaugh’s reluctance to reveal his roster). He knows match-ups are going to be tough for his young team.

    I like UF’s chances in this game and believe special teams and turnovers will play a big part, but mostly, stop Michigan’s run game and UF wins this game going away.

  2. Two quick comments: First, it is embarrassing each time ESPN runs the scroll announcing 8 UF players are now suspended for this game. Not a compliment to our school! Secondly, the Nike “color blast” unis are hideous, and adding the white helmet to it doesn’t help. Have we won any game in which we wore this helmet?

  3. Two quick comments; I wish ESPN would stop running the scroll about the Gators now being up to 8 players suspended for Saturday’s game. It is an embarrassment and serves no purpose, Secondly, the Nike “color splash” concept is flat out ugly. When we add the white helmet to this (have we ever one a game with this design?) and you have a recipe for “yuck”! Go Gators.