The Picks: Weekend will decide fourth seed in playoffs

Once again, a college football season has flown by like paper in the wind (borrowed from Tom Petty’s “To Find A Friend”). And as the great one also sings in that underrated song, “Everything changed, then changed again.”
That encapsulates what has been a spectacular regular season of college football. We think we know and then we find out we really don’t know.
That’s the beauty of the sport and there is so much more to come with the championship games and then bowl season, which starts about an hour after you read this column.
(Actually, it begins Dec. 20, but it will seem like it will be here even faster).
Who knows what is still to come? On Sunday we’ll find out the bowl game for the mighty Gators as well as the other bowl eligible teams (other than Missouri) and — most importantly for the rest of the nation — which four teams make the playoffs.
There seems to be a consensus that the top three teams are in no matter what happens this weekend. I’m not so sure about Clemson despite Dabo Swinney’s tiresome rants about a lack of respect just because the Tigers don’t have the quality wins.
But riddle me this — if Clemson is in no matter what, isn’t the ACC title game just for T-shirts and giggles? I mean, won’t Virginia be in the Orange Bowl whether it wins or loses?
Let’s say the top three all win and the rankings stay the same. That’s some reward LSU gets if it remains the No. 2 seed — playing the defending national champs who will have the 15th longest winning streak in the HISTORY OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL two hours from the Clemson campus.
Of course, the big question will be which team gets in as the fourth seed and obviously, the SEC is rooting for a Georgia upset so it will have a pair of teams in the final four.
(Auburn fans find themselves rooting for the Bulldogs as well because it would open a New Year’s Six bowl game spot for the Tigers).
If not Georgia, Utah or Oklahoma? Or maybe even Baylor if the Bears win the Big 12 (unlikely).
I think it’s pretty simple. If we see chalk this weekend, Utah will be the fourth team and get to play Ohio State. That might well lead to another of those boring playoff games, but I digress.
Mostly, I’m trying to divert your attention from an awful 5-5 record last week for Dr. Football in The Picks. That leaves the season record at 106-39. I need to finish stronger than Biohazard Coffee, which is considered one of the strongest in the world. I’m not making that up.
SEC: LSU VS. GEORGIA: This may be the dumbest pick of my career and that is saying something. LSU has been unstoppable. Georgia has been the best defense I’ve seen all year. I’m going with defense (don’t @ me). Georgia, 26-24.
PAC-12: OREGON VS. UTAH (Friday): Hey, Utah fans, forget about what I said about Georgia beating LSU. What do I know? Win and you’re in. Utah, 34-23.
BIG 12: BAYLOR VS. OKLAHOMA: I still don’t know how Baylor blew that game to Oklahoma earlier this season. This time, the Bears finish it. Baylor, 35-31.
ACC: CLEMSON VS. VIRGINIA: Swinney has been playing the Rodney Dangerfield card this week. No respect. I tell ya, my dog keeps barking at the front door. He doesn’t want to go out. He wants me to leave. I’ll be here all week. Clemson, 43-21.
BIG 10: OHIO STATE VS. WISCONSIN: This could get ugly early. Ohio State, 40-18.
AAC: CINCINNATI AT MEMPHIS: Mike Norvell’s farewell game at Memphis? Might as well go out a winner. Memphis, 34-23.
MID-AMERICAN: CENTRAL MICHIGAN VS. MIAMI OF OHIO: Hey, here’s the thing. We’re going to get on a bus and then get on a plane and then take another bus and we’re going to show up and hopefully our fans don’t get too mad at us for winning s conference title. Central Mich, 34-28.
SUN BELT: LAFAYETTE AT APPALACHIAN ST.: Appy State makes one more case for being the Group of Five rep in the Cotton Bowl. Appy, 27-15.
CONFERENCE USA: UAB AT FAU: Both coaches could be gone after this one because if someone with a coaching opening doesn’t snatch up UAB’s Bill Clark, I just don’t understand. FAU, 38-31.
MOUNTAIN WEST: HAWAII AT BOISE STATE: I might have lobbied to cover this game, but I realized where it’s being played. Never mind. Boise, 40-27.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


  1. I hate THE PLAYOFFS!! YAY! because they kept the worst aspect of the BCS, while diminishing conference titles. The BCS began this in ’01, ’03, ’04, and ’11 by stupidly allowing a non-conference champ to play for a national title. Now THE PLAYOFFS!! YAY! are flagrantly dismissing conference title importance for LSU and Urban’s Blackeyes (yeah, I know, he’s gone, but it works). The SEC constantly whining to have two teams playoffing makes the SEC title game largely irrelevant. What happened to “it just means more?” It really doesn’t if the SEC Champ is punished by giving Bama or LSU a mulligan (Granted, Bama would steal a used national title out of the back pocket of an alley wino if they could). SEC fans shouldn’t even care as much about the NC as winning the SEC (here I read from the Book of Spurrier), and losing our haughty, snobby lookdown on other conference titles just means we will be increasingly homogenized into a NFL Jr. league. The current system stinks, and SEC fans can’t see that they are joining the herd. Very sad.

    • Do you have a solution? I for one would rather we just all argued about who the “National Champion” is, seriously. I don’t know why we have to have a National Champion. I mean, who amongst us denies UCF’s 2017 undefeated season and National Championship.

      • I for one deny UCF’s 2017 National Championship, which even their coach at the time said, in the kindest way possible, was a stretch and by any other name would be declared patently ridiculous if not outright insane. Their delusional AD, with a significant Napoleanic complex, can say anything he wants but it doesn’t make it so just because his last name is White.

        As far as a solution, conference champions playing it off, which can certainly include the AAC, works for me. Why, that way even UCF would have a legitimate shot instead of making believe. In an 8 team format you can even have wild cards to account for your poor, victimized and disadvantaged favorite teams who might have lost their conference championship game since they only assumed that they were superior on the day it was played. See? By God, social justice even prevails in football! Tell me I’m not woke! Aw prairie shyt, let the Irish in too. Just not Notre Dame.

    • It’s not the SEC’s fault that other P5 conferences can’t compete!

      I’m all-in for any system you propose that doesn’t reward 1-loss Utah, who’s played nobody and is marginally better than undefeated UCF in ‘17, with a playoff spot, ahead of 1-loss LSU that will have taken on all serious comers, but Clemson and Ohio State.

      We may as well return to the pre-BCS days of mythical NCs, because THAT outcome would be the real travesty!!!

          • What? That a million wild eyed Mormons don’t set St Louis on fire looking for your hide, or that Utah doesn’t get in and win out?

          • I don’t know, bud — I never managed to piss any of ’em off!

            Now, I do have some experience with woke leftists, wild eyed progressives, marxists, socialists and communists — why do you think I always carry a gun? Good old fashioned American liberals I get along with fine, mind you, though I haven’t met one in these parts in quite a few years. Got any up there? Even Kinky Friedman won’t come out down here these days.

        • Good old fashioned St. Louis liberals are hiding under their beds, praying to whatever idol they worship to these days for help taking back their party from the woke loons, without bloodshed. I wish them luck with that… they’ll need it!

          • When the entire history of this sordid conversation is duly, or even Dooley recorded, it will be noted that it was I who was on the right side of history when I first said that Utah wasn’t worth a hill of bean, not being good enough in the first place to amount to a hill of beans, and that they couldn’t beat their way out of a wet paper bag much less Oregon, or Ogeron, or even Corn Pop as the case may be.

            See what I did there? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

            I’m also planning on running for President on the Democrat ticket, counting on a ton of Mormon votes even though I am entering late, having found out most of them are BYU fans instead.

        • Utah’s performance last night vs. REAL competition is just the latest example (as if we need any more) that narratives the fake news media push without supporting evidence should be rejected out of hand. The word of ESPN talking heads should NOT count for much!

          The CFP Committee just had their credibility undermined by the ESPN Utah narrative. My advice to them is to resist elevating the ranking of teams from lesser P5 conferences that perform well against weak competition UNLESS they are on multi-year runs of excellence, like Clemson is this season. Clemson has a tremendous resume, beyond their weak ACC competition this season that must be considered because they haven’t lost a game to ANYBODY since October 2017!

  2. The FINAL FOUR, C.F.P., is better than an undefeated Auburn getting NADA (see: 2004 Tigers). While the Final Four is not perfect, it’s better than 8 TEAMS. As 8 college playoff teams would dilute the medicine, and make this all so unwatchable. I enjoy four teams, because all the DOMINANT TEAMS this season, L.S.U., Ohio State, Clemson get a shot at the title.
    It’s much better than previous years. Now just BEAT U.G.A. and L.S.U. (again) Gators and… get some!!!

    • How is it better when the SEC Championship is reduced to a liability? If LSU loses, they are still in. So why risk injury and put your starters at risk? How has it ever made sense that a non-division, non-conference winner could win the NC? Anything that diminishes the value of the SEC title is worse IMO.

  3. I think 16 would be great. You would have every conference champion (that way you don’t diminish any of the championship games). That would take up 10 spots (ACC, SEC, Big10, Big12, Pac10, AAC, Mountain West, Conference USA, MAC, and Sunbelt). Any deserving independents would also get in as part of the remaining top 6 at large spots. Go back to 11 games in the regular season. That would mean you are only adding one net extra week to the season. This would allow every conference a chance to get in along with the independents and at large if they deserved it (if you can’t get in with six at large spots, you didn’t deserve to). You could play the games in the existing bowl structure as well to preserve that.