It’s always about this time of year that Dr. Football starts paying attention to the numbers.
Not the College Football Playoff rankings.
Not the polls.
Not the Heisman Trophy hopefuls’ stats.
Not my electric bill.
This is the time when it’s relevant to pay attention to the barely relevant. I’m talking about the East vs. West competition in the SEC. They award no trophy (and I’m not sure Arkansas would get a participation ribbon), but it is still interesting to see which division is better.
Now you are probably saying the West is obviously better than the East, because of the teams ranked 1, 5 and 12 in the latest CFP Rankings, whereas the East doesn’t have a third team behind Georgia and Florida.
But let’s go head-to-head, which was a big deal when the West was always dominating, but less so after the East had the better record for some reason.
Right now, the West has the lead at 6-4 thanks in part to LSU and Alabama sweeping their Eastern opponents. But it’s not too late for the East with four games remaining.
Two involve Georgia, two involve Texas A&M. The two teams play each other next week. Georgia has Auburn this week and A&M has South Carolina next week. The other game is Missouri against what’s left of Arkansas to close the season.
The East has to sweep to win the series — which won’t happen — but could win three of the four to tie. Not that any Gator fans are rooting for the Bulldogs to ever win again.
This is a top-heavy league this year. The bottom is really bad on both sides. So we could end up with a 7-7 finale.
But all anyone is really going to care about is who wins in Atlanta and which teams get into the playoffs and — to a point — the New Year’s Six bowl games.
It was another foray into mediocre on The Picks and another 7-3 record leaves Dr. Football with an overall mark of 85-30, which sounds good on the surface.
But you know better.
FLORIDA AT MISSOURI: I know that Missouri is way better at home than on the road. But we also know the Gators under Dan Mullen have been really good on the road (Jacksonville is another story). Florida’s only road loss in two seasons has been against the No. 1 team in the country. And I know it’s going to be cold (gloves, check; long underwear, check). And I know about the history of this series. But I think the Gators find a way to pull this one out. Florida, 31-24.
GEORGIA AT AUBURN: So let me get this straight — Alabama fans will be rooting for Auburn, because it will help their playoff chances for Georgia to lose again? Right. I can see Alabama fans being able to live with an Auburn win, but you won’t hear anyone in a houndstooth jacket yelling “War Eagle” on Saturday. Georgia, 24-17.
OKLAHOMA AT BAYLOR: This is the biggest game in Waco in a long time. And Jalen Hurts has been very uneven lately. You’d think I would learn after incorrectly picking the other unbeaten upstart to lose last week. Oklahoma, 34-24.
SOUTH CAROLINA AT TEXAS A&M: Will Muschamp’s 2019 season sounds more and more like his 2013 season at Florida. Injuries, losses, no bowl game, fans ticked off. Followed by the proverbial hot seat. A&M, 31-21.
NAVY AT NOTRE DAME: Both teams are ranked in the Top 25. This a huge game every year and especially this year because of the bowl implications. Or so I’ve been told. Notre Dame, 24-21.
LSU AT OLE MISS: Classic trap game. Well, it would be if Ole Miss was any good. Or Joe Burrow missed the team plane. Like they wouldn’t hold it. LSU, 42-21.
MINNESOTA AT IOWA: Boy, talk about a back-ended schedule. I can’t go against the Gophers two weeks in a row. Minnesota, 28-24.
ALABAMA AT MISS. STATE: Certainly, there will be a little bit of a letdown for the Tide, but this is a different animal Alabama will face. You know, Bulldog instead of Tiger. Alabama, 42-19.
KENTUCKY AT VANDERBILT: Seriously, after watching Vandy play offense in person and then watching Kentucky play offense on TV, I had to check and make sure nobody had pulled my fingernails out with pliers. It was that painful. Kentucky, 17-10.
WAKE FOREST AT CLEMSON: Has there ever been a playoff-bound team that is more ignored than Clemson? Asking for a friend. Clemson, 35-21.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.