The Back Nine: Gators underdogs at 3 different venues this season

Florida running back Lamical Perine (2), wide receiver Rick Wells (83) and quarterback Kyle Trask (11) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Matt Pendleton/Correspondent]

The Back Nine comes at you after an open week for the Gators, which meant it was kind of a soft week for me. (This is where you point to my stomach and make a joke about every week being soft).

  1. I’m not going to waste the energy to look this up and I’m not even sure it’s look-upable. But I was wondering it anyway and maybe someone knows. Florida has spent all but one week of this season so far ranked in the Top 10. That was the week the poll that came out after the first full weekend of games when the Gators were 11th. So here is a team that clearly has been a Top-10 team getting ready to play its ninth game and for the third time this season the Gators are underdogs. Georgia is favored by 4½ points. Auburn was favored by 3, LSU by 14. So the Gators have pulled off the trifecta of being Top-10 underdogs at home, on the road and at a neutral site. That has to be the first time it’s ever happened. It just shows the difficulty of the UF schedule (and the blatant inequities of the SEC’s archaic scheduling process). All of those spreads seemed about right. Dan Mullen seemed unimpressed with my point. “Unless they are putting 4½ points up on our side of the scoreboard, I don’t pay any attention to that,” Mullen said.
  2. But here’s the thing. Last week, we heard nothing but nice things about Florida (unless it was from South Carolina fans) and a lot of negativity around Georgia. That has already started to shift back the other way, starting with the spread of the game. By the time we get to the weekend, you are going to see most of the national experts pick Georgia because of quarterback Jake Fromm’s experience in big games. Just remember, who anybody picks has nothing to do with the outcome. It’s just for fun. Kind of like the polls and the Belk Bowl. 
  3. You just knew it was going to be a crazy weekend for college football because — on the surface — it didn’t look that interesting. But then Oklahoma lost to Kansas State and Texas lost again and Notre Dame was eliminated and Kansas beat Texas Tech in the most bizarre way possible and you declared it a good weekend to be sitting on couches watching all of the football. If there is one team I really don’t get it’s Missouri. There were so many people who really believed in July that the Tigers could win the East. That was before they had to play a road game. Here’s another thing I need somebody to look up for me — has any team in the history of college football lost to Wyoming, Vanderbilt and Kentucky on the road in the same season? Get back to me on that. The funny thing is that Missouri could still win the East by knocking off Georgia and Florida in consecutive weeks in November. 
  4. Meanwhile, things have not gone well for Will Muschamp at South Carolina. The Gamecocks must have left it all on the field in Athens, because since they beat Georgia they have allowed 38 and 41 points to Florida and Tennessee in two losses and have gone from “Also receiving votes” in the two polls to be dangerously close to not making a bowl game. SC has to win three of the last four to get bowl eligible and even if the Gamies handle Vandy they have 20th-ranked Appalachian State, at Texas A&M and fourth-ranked Clemson remaining. Muschamp’s team has been outscored 126-61 in the second halves of games that weren’t against Charleston Southern. That’s not good. And even with all of this negative talk about those SEC schools, if I was voting for “non-coach of the year” it might be Joe Moorhead at Mississippi State. The Doggies have lost four straight, but could still sneak into a bowl game with the soft finish to their schedule. 
  5. One reason I don’t think seriously about the Heisman Trophy as a voter until November is because it’s an award for the entire season. And I wanted to see Ohio State’s Chase Young in a big game. All he did was dominate it. The dude reminds me of an SEC defensive lineman which is what Urban Meyer tried to bring to Columbus. Derrick Brown of Auburn, who was a beast here against Florida, might have done the same thing Saturday if he was not held in almost every play. His teammate Marlon Davidson spoke out after the game about missed calls. Dude, I can’t tell you this too many times — the bigger the game, the fewer penalties that are called in this conference. The refs are really going to be confused with this LSU-Alabama game. I mean, it’s an unwritten rule that the Tide can’t be called for holding more than once a game, and, if they are also protecting unbeaten LSU, we will probably get the shootout we are looking for. 
  6. It’s nice to have my fellow AP voters join me and finally elevate LSU to No. 1. (The funny thing is that I didn’t think the Tigers played all that well against Auburn). LSU actually only received 17 of the 62 first-place votes in the poll and four different teams received first-place votes (none of them named Penn State). So unless something changes while the two teams are idle Saturday, it will be No. 1 vs. No. 1 (Alabama is first in the sports information directors poll, also known as the coaches’ poll) next week. And even though Minnesota is making a push to have GameDay that Saturday, it’s difficult to believe Rece Davis and the boys will be anywhere but Tuscaloosa that weekend. By the way, I think Florida fans will like this Tweet from Giana Han, who covers Auburn for — “I did my research ahead of LSU. Most lists have Death Valley ranked as way louder than The Swamp. They’re wrong. After going to both, my personal decibel meter (my ears), said The Swamp is by far louder.” What she said. And what Gus Malzahn said after the game — “It wasn’t quite as loud as it was at Florida.”
  7. Congrats to Tiger Woods for catching Sam Snead on the all-time wins list with his 82nd win. (And a shout-out to my man and former Mr. Two Bits Billy Horschel for a sixth-place finish). It is surprising because Woods is coming off yet another surgery, this one on his knee in August, and nobody thought he could win again this soon. The countdown is on to Augusta and a chance to pull closer to Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors. Every time I count out Woods in terms of breaking golf’s most treasured record, he pulls me back in.
  8. The Tweet of the Week comes from that tweeting machine named Peter Burns from the SEC Network — “Every Les Miles win feels like a Choose Your Own Adventure book ending in which you end up in a cave and should be mauled by a bear, yet you somehow befriend the bear and out of nowhere find a treasure map.” Yes. Peter has a young child, but it’s a great analogy.
  9. So Robbie and I went to Tampa for our friend Chris Harry’s 60th birthday party (man, he’s old), but I couldn’t figure out the Bluetooth in his vehicle so we went without music both ways. So when I got home Sunday I was really ready for a playlist. And here it is: 
  • “If You Run” by Desert Sessions.
  • “The End of the Game” by Weezer.

Seriously, did I already have this song on a playlist? Maybe. Give it a listen (again) anyway.

  • “Forces” by Jill Andrews.
  • “Sleeping on the Blacktop” by Colter Wall.
  • And for an old one, this is a somewhat modern version of a great Beatles song and may be the best cover of the lads ever, “I’m Only Sleeping” by Roseanne Cash.

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


  1. Aside from BEATING UGA, like the dawgs they are, I have one ask of Florida.
    DO NOT WEAR THOSE ORANGE JERSEYS at J’ville vs. UGA ever again… ever!
    Yea, I grew up in the 80’s here in Hogtown.
    Go Gators! Beat UGA like a damn drum! Go Gators! Just win baby!

  2. The odds makers must put greater value on recruiting stats than performance. The Gators’ best win was over Auburn. The Dawgs beat the Leprechauns. The Gators lost to #1 LSU. And the Dawgs? Need I say more? All kinds of craziness happens in Jacksonville, but right now odds are there’re a lot of nervous Dawgie fans and the Gators are just feeling hungry.

    • Georgia beat Notre Dame. Florida, without their defense for a considerable amount of time during the game, lost to LSU. Florida, with their defense essentially intact, beat Auburn pretty decisively, and Auburn only lost to LSU by 3 points. Odds are decent that Florida would beat LSU in a rematch, assuming Florida is healthy. Notre Dame isn’t what the adoring media said they were when Georgia beat them. Really, is there any doubt that Florida can beat Georgia?

      Of course, we have to wait until the game is over to know if this logic holds, but why wouldn’t it? Perhaps as so often is the case, somebody should remember to remind Georgia that they are supposed to lose — but absent that, I would say that Daz Wazzle being strong on the Gators in Jax this year bodes well.