The Picks: Big game among cupcakes


Who says there aren’t any big games Saturday?

There is a huge one — in Nashville of all places. It’s at 7:30 p.m. and I think it’s being televised on Nickelodeon. (Actually, the SEC Network and, yes, that is a stale joke).

Ole Miss is at Vanderbilt. Before you start yawning, think about this.

The SEC East has been called the Least, it has been ridiculed and dismissed. But on Saturday night, the East could clinch the series against the West for 2018.

This is a division that three years ago only won two games in the head-to-head matchups.

We all kept saying that these things are cyclical, but I’m not sure how many of us really believed it. On more win and you can truly believe it.

The East is 7-5 against the West this year with two games plus the SEC title game to go. Next week it’s Arkansas and Missouri to finish the season. I like the division’s chances to have a winning record.

So is the East really better than the West now? Hey, you are what your record is, right?

How did this happen?

• For one thing, you can thank the Gators for winning both of their games against LSU and Mississippi State, the only East team to go 2-0.

• Every SEC East team except Missouri, which can still do it next week, has a win against the West.

• Auburn won the West last year, but hasn’t helped this year losing both games against the East.

OK, so maybe this isn’t a big deal to a lot of people. But if the SEC wins these last two and somehow Georgia beats Alabama in the title game. The East will have gone 10-5.

Wrap your arms around that.

Also, wrap your arms around the fact that both Shannon Seal, my guest picker, and I went 8-2 last week. I knew competition would bring out the best in me (stop snickering).

So this week I’m going against someone who knows more about football than most sportswriters — my daughter Kelsey.

One correction — I messed up my overall record last week and one reader pointed that out to me. It’s now 75-35. I think.

IDAHO AT FLORIDA: I want to thank everyone for the great birthday wishes Wednesday. I remember thinking when I was a teenager and the Beatles came out with “When I’m Sixty-Four” and it seemed ancient. Turns out, it is. Florida, 42-10.

Kelsey’s pick: Florida.

CINCINNATI AT UCF: If the GameDay boys thought they saw a wild scene in Pullman, Wash., wait until they get a load of this. Maybe the guest picker should be Mickey Mouse. Or Mike Bianchi. Six of one … UCF, 42-28.

Kelsey’s pick: UCF.

NOTRE DAME-SYRACUSE: They are expecting a pro-Notre Dame crowd for this game in Yankee Stadium and the Irish are wearing helmets with a dash of pinstripes. Does that mean Notre Dame will hit a lot of home runs and fall short of the Red Sox? Notre Dame, 28-21.

Kelsey’s pick: Syracuse.

MISSOURI AT TENNESSEE: Don’t look now, but the Vols can become bowl-eligible with a win in this game or at Vandy next week. Tennessee, 27-24.

Kelsey’s pick: Missouri.

OLE MISS AT VANDERBILT: Think we’ll have to wait until next week for the East to clinch. Vandy can’t score with the Rebs. Ole Miss, 42-31.

Kelsey’s pick: Vanderbilt.

ARKANSAS AS MISSISSIPPI STATE: It feels like there have been a lot of weird seasons in the SEC. Cannibalism can be ugly. But the Bulldogs have a real chance to finish 8-4. Mississippi State, 24-14.

Kelsey’s pick: Mississippi State.

BOSTON COLLEGE AT FSU: The good news for the Semis is that the game time temperature will be 65 degrees. Those guys looked like they wanted to get off the field in South Bend. FSU, 31-28.

Kelsey’s pick: Boston College.

MIAMI AT VIRGINIA TECH: They should call this the Disappointment Bowl. Miami was a preseason No. 8, Virginia Tech was ranked No. 12 a week into the season. They are now a combined 9-10. Miami, 23-21.

Kelsey’s pick: Miami.

DUKE AT CLEMSON: I love what Duke has done this year. I had the Dookies in my AP poll this week. Not next week. Clemson, 43-19.

Kelsey’s pick: Clemson.

IOWA STATE AT TEXAS: I am watching last week’s Iowa State-Baylor game as I write this. Yes, I am a football junkie. Texas, 34-24.

Kelsey’s pick: Iowa State.

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


  1. Ground and pound and pound the rock some more! Play all the Seniors, and everyone eligible! Sneak in the water boy. Pull a Georgia Southern and throw the ball 0 times! More than anything, prepare for the semi-holes. Get out of this game with a 30-0 win.

      • Joe. I doubt Jones plays in this game. He will likely be held back just in case he is needed in the FSU game and the bowl game so he can play in those games if needed and still keep his redshirt. But I think you will see one of the walk on QBs play in the game.

        • It makes no sense not ronplay Jones against Idaho. He needs the reps and confidence-building in a game like this.

          If he’s needed against fsu or in the bowl game is really a moot point. He’ll burn his RS if Franks goes down because we have no one else.

    • Or we could do the intelligent thing which would be to throw the ball a lot. What if Franks goes down on the first snap of the FSU game? Better get whoever Mullen considers to be the back up as many pass attempts as possible in the tune up.

  2. Florida will be thinking about Tallahassee mid way through the first quarter and wins by about as far as Idaho is from Florida. Say 62 to 10, while still showing mercy. Take the over on 70.

    UCF rolls another cupcake in a cupcake conference on their way to another cupcake national title.

    Notre Dame gets rolled just like the press does by another Orange thing in an upset, which rolls down hard on the Gators chances of getting a New Year’s Day bowl. And the Gators challenge the 5th amendment with first amendment rights as a result. And the rule of NCAA law wins out….yet again.

    Missouri destroys Tennessee in a way not close final score and the Vols wonder why they did not also play a cupcake this weekend (oh, they thought Missouri would be, just like Florida did).

    The Rebels win a not so epic battle fought between land sharks and sea creatures.

    Miss. State vs. Arkansas. Yes, Bulldogs do sometimes feast on Hogs.

    FSU will be looking ahead to Florida. And behind in the final score vs. Boston College.

    Miami vs. Va. Tech. Toss the coin up in the air and it might not ever come down again. The winner is the team that bothers to show up. Who knows which team that will be this year? But I pick Va. Tech to show up more than Miami.

    Clemson is looking ahead to Clemson. Will not matter. Take the Tigers and the over on 60.

    Texas fans are just glad this game is being played in Austin this weekend. Will not matter. Iowa State still wins because who wants to play Iowa State right now? Not Texas. Iowa State by 7 to 10 points and take the over on 60.

    On to Tallahassee.

  3. Hit 40 points and get all the starters out of the game imo, then let the young guys play the rest of the way.

    As many times that I’ve watched our starters get hurt in the game before fsu, we don’t need to take any chances.