College football picks have returned from the dead. Will the Gators? | David Whitley
We all need somebody who makes us feel better about ourselves. With that in mind, it’s time to break out my weekly football predictions.
Follow them and 94% of you will realize how much smarter you are than me. The other 6% should cut up your credit cards before you bet on Vanderbilt to win the SEC West.
I’m not being falsely immodest. I wasn’t even picking against the spread last year and went something like 72-58. I stopped counting after predicting Florida would hold Samford under 42 points in the first half.
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In hopes of retaining a shred of journalistic credibility, I considered retiring from the prediction business this year. Then I realized that might force me to write cogent, analytical columns on the Gators’ 4-3 defense.
Or is it a 3-4?
Beats me. I just know it’s more fun triggering FSU fans by predicting the Seminoles will lose to Elon. So, without further ado, here are some scores you’ll see in the next 72 hours.
If you out-predict me, please feel free to gloat. That’s what I’m here for.
My picks for this weekend
Utah at Florida: I’d feel a lot better about the Gators’ chances if they were kicking off at noon and Utah QB Cam Rising got detained by customs. We know what to expect out of a team with 17 returning starters and a coach who’s been on the job 18 years. We don’t truly know what to expect out of Anthony Richardson or a program making its debut under Billy Napier.
If Napier’s mojo immediately kicks in, if AR lives up to the hype, if the nighttime humidity stays at 102%, if a big-play receiver emerges, it could be party time in Gainesville. Those are a lot of ifs against a 8th-ranked opponent. Utah 24-17.
Oregon vs. Georgia: The Dawgs lost approximately 27 defensive starters to the NFL. Their heads are still in the national-championship cloud. And if anyone knows how to turn Stetson Bennett III into the scrub Georgia fans fear he is, it’s Ducks coach Dan Lanning, who was Georgia’s defensive coordinator last year. Upset Special: Oregon 24-17.
Cincinnati at Arkansas: I cannot predict another SEC team to lose, especially since Cincinnati violated at least 14 laws of physics last year by becoming the first Group of Five team to make the playoffs. Back to steerage, you interlopers! Arkansas 24-17.
FSU vs. LSU (Sunday): The Seminoles aren’t really playing Elon, which couldn’t afford to pay Brian Kelly $100 million to leave Notre Dame. LSU could, and Kelly immediately started trying to sound like an extra on “Duck Dynasty.” That triggered a million guffaws, but Kelly’s the kind of coach and LSU’s the kind of program that can quickly bring back the glory days. Year 3, and we haven’t seen that yet from Mike Norvell and FSU. LSU 24-17.
Miami of Ohio at Kentucky of Kentucky – Assuming the Wildcats will be looking ahead to next week’s game against Florida. Kentucky 24-17.
Notre Dame at Ohio State: This not only is the debut of Marcus Freeman as Notre Dame’s coach, but also the unveiling of Safelite Field. Yes, Ohio State sold its field’s naming rights to the windshield repair company. I presume the marching band will now ceremonially dot the “i” in Safelite before the game. That alone makes me wish the Irish would win by 39 touchdowns. Unfortunately, they’re not good enough to crack C.J. Stroud’s windshield. Safelite State 24-17.
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Utah State at Alabama: Oh sure, Florida gets Utah and Alabama gets Utah State. I really wanted every game to end 24-17 this week, but I fear nobody would take me seriously if I went with that here. Alabama 240-17.
Consolation Florida prediction
Consolation UF Prediction – The Gators will not give up 42 points in a half to any team this season.
Mercer at Auburn: These schools first played in 1896. The Tigers won 46-0, but Auburn boosters still ran the athletic director out of town and flooded Twitter with salacious rumors about the coach. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Bryan Harsin will win Saturday but eventually succumb to the dark forces that perpetually lurk in the Most Dysfunctional Football Village on the Plains. Auburn 46-0.
Bethune-Cookman at Miami Not of Ohio: I’d donate a non-essential organ if the Wildcats could shock the world. Alas, the transplant team does not need to be on call. Miami 64-3.
Elon at Vanderbilt: In all honesty, I didn’t even know Elon Musk had a football team. Of course, people have sorta wondered that about Cornelius Vanderbilt since 1873. But hark, this year’s team just beat Hawaii 63-10. The Commodores going 2-0 might be the third sign of the apocalypse, but it appears inevitable. Vanderbilt 37-28.
Consolation UF Prediction II: The Gators will never change the name of their field to Steve Spurrier-Florida-Safelite Field.
— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley.
Saturday college football
TV schedule subject to change and/or blackouts
Noon: ABC — Colorado St. at Michigan, ESPN — NC State at East Carolina, ESPNU — North Carolina at Appalachian St., FS1 — S. Dakota St. at Iowa.
3:30 p.m.: ABC — Oregon vs. Georgia, in Atlanta, CBS — Arizona at San Diego St., ESPN — Cincinnati at Arkansas, FOX — UTEP at Oklahoma, FS1 — Tulsa at Wyoming.
4 p.m.: ESPNU — BYU at South Florida.
7 p.m.: ESPN — Utah at Florida, FS1 — Illinois St. at Wisconsin.
7:30 p.m.: ABC — Notre Dame at Ohio St., ESPNU — Memphis at Mississippi St.
10:30 p.m.: ESPN — Boise St. at Oregon St., FS1 — Kent St. at Washington.