College football picks: Did LSU make the wrong one in letting Florida hire Billy Napier?
It’s not nice to kick a man while he’s down, so you will not see the name “Brian Kelly” in this week’s predictions column.
Contrary to what you might have heard, a lot of fans are thrilled with the debut of you-know-who as LSU’s coach. Of course, they are mostly FSU and Notre Dame fans.
Meanwhile, in Gainesville, Billy Napier has been fitted for wings and a halo after Florida upset Utah. I bring this up because LSU’s new coach is largely going to be judged by Florida’s new coach. That’s because Florida’s new coach probably could have been LSU’s new coach.
Napier had been patiently waiting for a plum SEC gig. He’d established his Cajun street cred by revitalizing Louisiana-Lafayette. As a bonus, he wouldn’t have to fake a Southern accent when introduced to the faithful in Baton Rouge.
Grading Florida's Week 1 performance:How did offense, defense and special teams look?
We'll never know if Napier would have taken the job because it was never offered. LSU athletics director Scott Woodward likes to make splashy hires.
He sent feelers to Lincoln Riley, Jimbo Fisher, Sean McVay, Vince Lombardi. They were either not interested or dead, so Woodward went for Notre Dame’s coach.
The Irish-Catholic taskmaster will always seem like crawfish of water at LSU, but their marriage of convenience should work out. Contrary to everything you saw against Florida State, you-know-who hasn’t suddenly forgotten how to coach.
One day, Tiger fans might learn to love you-know-who and his guaranteed $100 million contract. But no matter what happens in Baton Rouge, I predict Florida fans will be eternally grateful Woodward made that call.
Speaking of predictions, I was 7-3 in Week 1. Not bad, though picking Oregon to upset Georgia was such a bad call I now qualify to be head referee on an ACC officiating crew.
Week 2 college football predictions
Kentucky at Florida: The Gators jumped from nowhere to 12th in the AP poll after beating Utah, and Anthony Richardson is being compared to Zeus. If Napier’s concerned about his players getting cocky, he should make them watch last year’s game in Lexington. Mark Stoops’ defense is going to cause problems, but UF will not have eight false starts, 15 total penalties or a complete mental breakdown this year. Florida 22-13.
Alabama at Texas: Bama’s Million Dollar Band isn’t making the trip because, unlike the SEC, Big 12 schools can stick visiting bands in the upper deck. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, Big 12 rules still allow visiting teams on the field. Alabama 33-12.
Samford at Georgia: If you compare common opponents, Samford just beat Kennesaw State, which once beat Wofford, which once beat Oglethorpe, which once beat Georgia Tech, which once beat Georgia. Given all that, I’m picking the upset. Georgia 59-8.
Appalachian State at Texas A&M: App State’s a proven giant killer, but NIL rules allow the Aggies to bring their Million Dollar Defensive Line onto the field. Texas A&M 27-16.
Missouri at Kansas State: This one’s a tossup, so I’ll pick the SEC team simply because the SEC teams were 13-1 last week, and the lone loss was because you-know-who worked more on his accent than special teams the past nine months. Missouri 27-17.
Tennessee at Pittsburgh: This one’s also a tossup, so I’ll pick the SEC team simply because I’m an SEC homer and want the Volunteers and Gators to be undefeated when they meet in two weeks. Tennessee 36-27.
Central Arkansas at Mississippi: This one would be a tossup if Lane Kiffin gave every starter and his entire staff the day off to watch “House of the Dragon.” Ole Miss 49-17.
Southern at LSU: This one’s not a tossup, so I’ll pick you-know-who’s team despite the fact it might have every field goal attempt, punt, extra point attempt and kickoff blocked. LSU 43-11.
Trivia Break: The Oglethorpe Stormy Petrels beat Georgia Tech 7-6 in 1926. Tech was a member of the Southern Conference, which was a forerunner of the SEC. It was the last time a quasi-SEC team lost to Oglethorpe, which dropped football in 1942 when an NCAA investigation found that no one on campus knew what a Stormy Petrel was.
Mississippi State at Arizona: If you compare common opponents, Mississippi State beat Memphis and Elvis’s entourage once beat Arizona in a game of two-hand touch at Graceland. Mississippi State 36-18.
Wondering: Shouldn't LSU have guaranteed you-know-who $99 million and hired the Million Dollar Band's trombone section to block on extra-point attempts?
Wake Forest at Vanderbilt: The Commodores have outscored two opponents 105-41, yet they’re 13-point underdogs? That proves you can’t erase a century of skepticism in two weeks. I’m skeptical, but I also can’t pass on predicting VANDERBILT WILL BE 3-0! Might not have that chance again for another century. Upset Special: Vanderbilt 31-25.
Bonus Prediction: Nick Saban will never lose to a team nicknamed the Stormy Petrels.
— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley.