Whitley: Cheer up, Gator fans. Things could always be worse

David Whitley
The Gainesville Sun
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It’s been a depressing week for Florida fans. In hopes of making everybody feel better, so here goes nothing.

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”

It’s unclear where that proverb originated, but the first half is easily applied to what Gator fans are saying — “I cried because I had no defense or top-100 recruits or prayer against Georgia...”

Allow me to provide the second half of the proverb …

“until I met a man who cheered for Miami or Arizona or Kansas or Rice or Vanderbilt.”

I realize playing the perspective card is probably futile. Fans are waking up in cold sweats as LSU’s Tyrion Davis-Price runs untouched through their nightmares. But it’s Florida’s bye week, an ideal time to unplug, reflect and at least try to count your football blessings.

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UF’s program is not reaching its potential, but at least the potential is there. With most schools, the best fans can hope for is a bid to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. They would love to have UF’s riches, facilities and cachet.

The mass indigestion is understandable, but give yourself a break this weekend. Go for a nice walk. Take your kids or grandkids to a park. Rearrange your sock drawer.

Avoid football, other than maybe checking the scores. Then imagine what it’s like to walk in the shoes of most fans. It’d be like having no feet.

Feel better?

Yeah, I didn’t think so. If you’re determined to treat this as a normal football weekend, I’m obligated to give you my normal lead-pipe-cinch predictions.

I somehow sprung a leak last week, going 7-3. In keeping with the spirit of things, I’m blaming Todd Grantham.

Tennessee at Alabama: This could be surprisingly interesting. The Crimson Tide’s defense isn’t great against the run, which is a Tennessee strength. And security at Bryant-Denny Stadium isn’t great against fans throwing golf balls, which is also a Tennessee strength. Alas, those factors won’t be enough for the upset. Alabama, 39-17.

UMass at FSU: UMass hasn’t had a winning season since the Pilgrims landed. And stop the presses! The Seminoles have a longer winning streak than Alabama, Oregon, Notre Dame, Iowa, Texas, Florida, New England, Buffalo and the L.A. Lakers. Unless Mike Norvell uses the Jacksonville State game plan … FSU, 43-9.                 

LSU at Ole Miss: Do not adjust your sets. The end zones have been painted with “Manning,” to honor the retirement of Eli Manning’s No. 10 jersey. And do not adjust your sets if the Tigers keep rallying around Ed Orgeron as his farewell tour begins. But, unlike the Florida game, LSU can’t count on the opposing quarterback(s) tossing four interceptions or Tyrion Davis-Price gaining 287 yards. Ole Miss, 49-42.

Mississippi State at Vanderbilt: It took three games, but the Commodores finally scored against an SEC opponent last week. I predict they’ll run their scoring streak to two games, which would be only 412 games behind the NCAA record currently held by the Gators. If Georgia shuts out UF next week and Vandy keeps scoring, the Commodores will break UF’s record in the 2055 season. Mississippi State, 38-17.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Arkansas: Trivia note – No team has ever beaten Texas and Texas A&M and lost to Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the same season. Trivia note II – NFL Hall of Fame receiver Don Hutson was born in Pine Bluff. Unless he comes back to life and enrolls with 14 clones … Arkansas, 44-12.

South Carolina at Texas A&M: The Gamecocks are coming off a 21-20 win over Vanderbilt, which should give them zero momentum heading into Kyle Field. Their only hope is that the Aggies are looking ahead to next week’s game against Open Date. Texas A&M, 34-13.

Upset Special — Clemson at Pittsburgh: The Panthers are 3-point favorites over Clemson. That is not a typo. The Tigers haven’t been the underdog in a regular-season game in five years, but the world has officially spun off its axis. It seems crazy to call this an upset, but I still believe the Earth is round and the Panthers aren’t championship material. Clemson, 24-16.

USC at Notre Dame: These teams have played some of the most memorable and consequential games in college football history. This won’t be one of them. Notre Dame, 26-15.

UTSA at Louisiana Tech: These teams have not played some of the most memorable and consequential games in college football history. But I’ll be darned if this matchup doesn’t have as many top-25 teams as USC-Notre Dame. Roadrunner Fever, catch it! UTSA, 39-17.

North Carolina State at Miami-Pine Bluff: It’s still technically “Miami,” but it feels as if the Hurricanes are hopelessly drifting into Pine Bluff territory. Grounds crews at Hard Rock Stadium can only paint “Please Score” in the end zones and hope for the best. NC State, 31-17.

— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at dwhitley@gannett.com. And follow him on Twitter: @DavidEWhitley

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