The Back Nine comes at you with the thrill of victory still ringing in your ears. That’s a good feeling, especially since Florida was 6-10 since I retired but the Gators are 1-0 under Billy Napier.
10. The Swamp was cray-cray as the kids like to say and the players played like their hair was on fire. It was everything Gator fans wanted to be about on Saturday night, imposing their will on a team that was trying to impose its will on the Florida defense. I did feel bad for the Utah team getting stuck on the tarmac for four hours and then hanging around the Gainesville airport. Florida’s staff found them hotels and they finally got out Sunday while Gainesville was still celebrating. Look, we won’t know how important that win was until the season and, in fact, many seasons roll through. But it sure felt important.
11. Especially with all of those recruits on hand. I think one of those recruiting services just crystal-balled every one of them to Florida. We will see, but the point was to get them there and see what the Swamp can be and give the illusion that Florida is back. The Gators still have a long way to go with a team that didn’t throw the deep ball and couldn’t stop the run in the second half, but that was an event Saturday night.
12. I will say this – Utah was just as good as I thought the Utes would be. That’s a really good quarterback and an NFL tight end and running backs that get extra yards. They were also very disciplined. Napier wants 1 penalty in every 30 plays and didn’t quite get there with 1 in every 19. Utah had one in every 45 plays and one of those was intentional. That team could easily go unbeaten the rest of the way and end up in the playoff, although YSC may have something to say about that,
13. By the way, did you see the crowd at the Rose Bowl for UCLA’s game against Bowling Green? They announced 25,000, but there it looked closer to 2,500. Well, Chip Kelly said he didn’t want to be the governor of Florida and he got exactly what he wanted – the third page of the sports section.
14. Back to the Florida game, big shout out to the Gator offensive line, which allowed the Gators to run for 283 yards and average 7.2 yards a play. I said they would have to show me and they did. Yes. Anthony Richardson was part of the reason and his fake jump pass on the two-point conversion was a Heisman moment, but it was nice to see Florida run the ball for plus yardage over and over again.
15. I know a lot of people were complaining about things at the stadium like the long lines to get in and seat row numbers that had been changed at the last minute and impossible concession lines. Scott Stricklin is on it and the next big project will be a make-over for the Swamp that is badly needed. He said this last week, that Florida is partnering with a company that has taken other iconic venues and made them more comfortable without losing the teeth that made them great.
16. Also last week, we found out that the 12-team playoff is on and Greg Sankey came out and said he doesn’t think it will be before 2026. When you see the No. 3 team smoke the No. 11 team, you kind of wonder why we want 12 teams. It’s just more football to watch and teams making the playoffs will be able to recruit better. All I know is I get more games to watch.
17. It was not a good start for Dr. Football on The Picks with a 2-3 record. Maybe I shouldn’t pick against the state teams this year. Anyway, it’s on to Week 2:
* Florida is now giving 6.5 points at home against Kentucky. If the Gators don’t get too full of themselves after that big win, I think they will cover.
* Tennessee is a 5.5-point favorite to win at Pittsburgh. I think the Vols will roll. But I’ll be rooting for Pitt. Could be a t-shirt game.
* Alabama is giving 19 on the road at Texas. That’s too many points. I’m taking Hook ‘Em. And then we’ll get the fun grouchy Nick.
* Iowa State is getting three at Iowa. Or maybe that’s a misprint and it’s the first one to three wins. I’ll take the Cyclones.
* South Carolina is getting 9.5 points at Arkansas. The Hoggies looked pretty good last week. The Gamies looked like they still have a few holes. I’ll take Arky.
18. As we settle into another week and try to get into a football season rhythm, it’s time for another playlist:
* “It’s So Hard to Hold On” by Trampled by Turtles.
* ”This Must Be the Place” by Talking Heads.
* And for an old one, “Gainesville Rock City” by Less Than Jake. And it was rocking Saturday night. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0RRDGoa3TEht.