We used to think the heat coming out of Baton Rouge was from the spicy gumbo. But not this week.
This week, everyone wearing purple and gold has been steaming because elite linebacker Devin White was ejected for targeting in the second half of the Mississippi State game last Saturday.
As a result, he’ll miss the first half of the Alabama game next week (conspiracy theorists, the line forms to the left) and if you have been watching Bama, you know that the game may be over by the time White is allowed out of the locker room.
The whole deal prompted a #FreeDevinWhite billboard in Birmingham, home of the SEC office, and a GoFundMe account to pay for it.
More importantly (because the decision cannot be appealed), it has brought up a lot of discussion about the targeting rule. A lot of people believe it should change, that it should be like basketball where you have a Flagrant 1 and a Flagrant 2. In football, the argument goes, the latter resulting in a 15-yard penalty.
In theory, it makes sense. There have definitely been some targeting calls that were accurate by the letter of the rule, but probably not fair.
The problem is twofold — 1. How do you judge intent? Did a player accidentally make contact with a defenseless player or do it on purpose? That’s a new can of worms (nice cliche) I’m not sure college football wants to deal with; 2. Can college football really walk back any rules on player safety?
I’m not sure that will happen. But it will be interesting to see if there are any changes in the future. It’s so strange to watch college football on Saturday and then watch the NFL on Sunday where there are plays that would be targeting in college that are not violations in the pros by rule.
I know, The Picks usually doesn’t tangle with such serious subjects. I blame it on the bye week. Brain cells were regenerated. I’ll get back to being silly next week.
After a bit of a mid-season slump, The Picks made some adjustments and rolled to a 9-1 record last week. That’s 54-26 for the year. Thank goodness I didn’t have Ohio State-Purdue as one of my picks.
FLORIDA-GEORGIA: So is it better to be coming off a bye week after a loss or a bye week after five straight wins? Look, the only thing I know for sure is that this is the first of a long series of meetings between Kirby Smart and Dan Mullen and it’s likely only going to get better. By my count, the two coaches who faced each other the most in this series were Vince Dooley and Doug Dickey. That Dooley went 6-3 in those nine games. This Dooley is 3-4 picking Florida games. The two are unrelated in more ways than one. Georgia, 28-23.
CLEMSON AT FSU: So all week we’ve been hearing about how the No. 2 team in the nation has been knocked off two weeks in a row and now it could be Clemson’s turn. That’s giving FSU way too much credit for beating an awful Wake Forest team that lost to Clemson 63-3 two weeks ago. At home. Clemson, 38-21.
TEXAS A&M AT MISS. STATE: The Bulldogs have lost three of four and in those three losses have scored 16 total points. Good thing they hired an offensive-minded coach. A&M, 24-7.
IOWA AT PENN STATE: Remember before the season when I had Penn State in my Final Four? I blame myself. Penn State, 31-24.
KENTUCKY AT MISSOURI: Kentucky just continues to be handed gifts like Vandy’s play-calling last week (awful) and the motivation of unranked Missouri being a touchdown favorite over a team with a shot at winning the East. There’s a reason Mizzou is favored. Missouri, 27-20.
MIAMI AT BOSTON COLLEGE (Friday): A.J. Dillon hasn’t played in October because of a bum ankle, but he is supposed to be back. I’m not sure what’s going on with Miami. But the ’Canes are the better team. Miami, 24-20.
TENNESSEE AT SOUTH CAROLINA: I hate to say it but this is exactly the kind of game South Carolina figures a way to lose. But I’m going opposite of my gut on this one. South Carolina, 28-17.
VANDERBILT AT ARKANSAS: Here’s one thing I know about this game — one team will win its first SEC contest of the season. The other has a shot at 0-8. Vandy, 21-13.
WASHINGTON STATE AT STANFORD: How good is it going for Steve Spurrier? His son Steve Jr. is a coach at 14th-ranked Washington State and his other son Scott is a quality control assistant at 21st-ranked South Florida and his Gators are ranked ninth. And he gets to start calling ball plays again soon. Washington State, 34-23.
UTAH AT UCLA (Friday): This seems difficult to believe, but Chip Kelly actually has his 2-5 team right smack in the middle of the race in the Pac-12 South. And you wonder why that conference won’t have a team in the College Football Playoff? Utah, 35-21.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.