The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend that wasn’t as electric as the one before but still packed plenty of fun. And winning is always more fun than the alternative.
- Because of SEC scheduling, it now feels like the rest of this journey with the 2021 team will be on the road. This is the part of the schedule that I felt before the season would define this team. Even with all of the hype around the Alabama game, I’ve always known that it’s about October. At Kentucky. At LSU. Georgia in Jax. I know there is the one home game against Vandy, but these are the three games that will tell you whether this is a true contender or just a contender for the Outback Bowl. The first third of the season is over with pretty much the expected results. Now, it gets serious. Now, it’s about fortitude and resilience and want-to.
- And I feel pretty good about it. I said before the season that this was the best roster top to bottom since 2009 and there are guys who have exceeded my expectations. If Anthony Richardson is half the player in October that he was in September and Emory Jones continues his growth, this offense may not be one that has a lot of huge chunk plays, but it is pretty good at staying ahead of the chains. I know that you have to wait an entire season to really make comparisons but look at last year’s prolific offense through 12 games and this one through four.
30.8 points per game
22.8 first downs a game
428 yards per game
36.0 points per game
26.0 first downs per game
540.8 yards per game
And that’s with only a few dozen plays from Richardson.
- We talked before about how remarkable it would be for Florida to lead the country in passing yards and then the next season lead the country in rushing yards (Florida is third right now behind Air Force and Army). That could happen. We do know this stat – Florida has the longest active streak in the country in terms of 400-yard games at 14. Maybe this would be a good week to let Dan Mullen work on a game plan without anybody offering any advice. It also feels like players are starting to figure out their places on this team. Or I could be dead wrong and defenses start figuring things out. But I don’t think I’m dead wrong.
- For the second week in a row, the SEC officials were called out for a bad call that went against a team not in the SEC. This time it was the replay dudes in the Auburn-Georgia State game who upheld a catch that led to the winning Auburn drive. “When you play in the SEC, you gotta take the hits,” said Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott. I looked at the play and it was probably the wrong call, but it was close.
- I don’t want to pick games anymore. Dr. Football thought that when I “retired” he would retire as well and he wants to know why this is happening. And I had to remind myself that this is the first time I have been picking against the spread and there is a reason they have all of those giant glitzy buildings in Las Vegas. Anyway, The Picks can’t quit even after a record of (gulp) 0-5-1 last week. That’s 13-15-2 for the season. Come on. Papa needs a new pair of shoes:
* Florida is giving 8 points on the road this week to a Kentucky team I have liked all year. The Wildcats may be more physical than Alabama (but probably not). I just know that this game always gets weird, so I’m taking the Gators to win but not cover the eight.
* Auburn is getting four points in the battle of the Tigers, and this one is impossible to figure out because Aubie and LSU can’t decide what they are. The most interesting thing here is to see what Auburn does at quarterback after Bo Nix was benched for former LSU quarterback T.J. Finley. It all sounds so incestuous. I’m taking LSU and giving the 4 points.
* Is College GameDay really going to a game where the home team is favored by 18? To be honest, that spread is not surprising because of what Georgia has been able to do this season. The Dogs lead the nation in scoring defense and total defense. I still like Arkansas and the 18 points. Too many.
* And 15 points seems like a lot to give Ole Miss against Alabama. But I have a feeling the Tide wants to remind people who they are, so I am taking Alabama and giving you the gift of 15 points.
* I need to stay away from Wisconsin games. They give me gas. Michigan and the 4 points.
* Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame is basically a pick ‘em and I’ll take the Bearcats and the measly one point I have been assigned.
- It does feel like we could see fresh teams in the College Football Playoff, but the committee still needs to go ahead with some sort of expanded playoff, hopefully when they meet this week. There is a lot of talk of eight instead of 12, and that’s fine, but to truly try to be more inclusive the number of teams invited must be significant. There is so much going on behind closed doors right now it must be fascinating.
- My gosh, was the Ryder Cup entertaining or what? I know a lot of it was because we were the ones pouring putts in instead of the Euros, but the golf was superb and the course amazing. We even found ourselves getting a kick out of Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka hugging it out. But to me, the most poignant part of the whole weekend was Rory McIlroy’s tearful interview about how much he felt he let down his team and how much it means to him. That’s why the Europeans have been dominant of late, because it is just as important to be on a winning Ryder Cup team as to wear a green jacket. This new group of Americans that was so dominant Sunday had better understand that.
- It really is the most wonderful time of the year as we are only a week or so away from the baseball playoffs starting right after the last big golf event of the year to give us other things to watch when football is not on. Hold on, Braves. Just get me to the playoffs.
- It has been a weird couple of weeks for me because it feels like they are flying past me like branches in a hurricane. As a result, I have been listening to way too much sports and not enough music. I will work on it. Still, you will love this playlist:
* “Pyramid Song” by Radiohead.
* ”If I Dare” by Sara Bareilles.
* ”Good Life” by Francis Dunnery.