Pat Dooley’s Back Nine (Oct. 16)

The Back Nine comes at you with what brain cells are left after a great weekend that included the rarest of sights – the Gators celebrating a road win.

 10. There was a point Saturday with Florida down 10 and nine minutes to go where I was trying to figure out what Monday would be like on “The Tailgate.” And throughout the entire Gator Nation. Oh, there will still be some complaining because – say it with me – “Nobody suffers winning like Gator fans.” But if you can’t feel good about a comeback like that and seeing all of that young talent on the Florida team, well, I can’t help you off the ledge.

11. It’s funny because when I was looking at Graham Mertz’s yardage numbers I immediately reached for the media guide to see if that was a top-five performance. Silly me. His 423 yards passing – and Florida needed every one of them – would be 14th all-time in UF history. One pretty cool stat for me, because my wife asked about it, nine of those 14 performances (from Danny to Kyle to Rex to AR last year) came in SEC games and Florida won seven of them.

12. I can’t and won’t apologize to Mertz for the lack of trust I had in him to handle this job and the mean things I said all summer. The dude is a baller who is taking a beating and keeps on ticking. I was just going by the way he played the last two years at Wisconsin. So, it’s one of those sorry, not sorry things I guess.

13. A lot of people are going to believe Steve Spurrier’s comments about throwing the ball deep led to Billy Napier trying way more deep shots. That’s a great narrative, but the bottom line is that everyone who has watched South Carolina this season knows it plays its safeties in run support a lot and that’s when you throw deep. So, the Gators did. There were some underthrown balls, but you have to give them the threat to keep defenses honest.

14. I wondered how Miami would respond to the heartbreaking loss last week and it did not go well in Chapel Hill. Mack Brown knows how to coach doesn’t he? Even with a near school record in penalties! And that Washington game didn’t get enough of my attention with the Gator game on, but I did see enough to know Michael Penix Jr. had his Heisman Trophy moment. Caleb Williams did not.

15. You know we’re heading for a Georgia-FSU national title game, don’t you? I know, you threw up in your mouth a little bit. Who would you root against? Because I know none of you who read the Back Nine (except my bro-in-law Dick Smith) are rooting FOR either one of those teams. My gosh, we may be headed for Harbaugh-geddon where we actually have to root for Michigan in the playoffs.

16. OK, so somehow I managed not to add to my win total in The Picks. That seems impossible, but Dr. Football managed to go 0-3-2. What is this, soccer? Two pushes put the record at 18-15-3. I hope I don’t get relegated. On to the open week:

  • Tennessee is getting 9.5 points at Alabama and that seems like a lot of points to be giving a team playing a Tide team which wins a lot of close games. I’ll take Rocky Top and the points.
  • Penn State is getting 3.5 points at Ohio State. This opened at 7.5 and I think it will close around 1.5. We’re about to see if the moment is too big for the Nitts. I’ll take the Buckeyes and give the points.
  • Duke is getting 13.5 at FSU and that means nobody thinks the Blue Devils have a chance. I’m saying there’s a chance. Duke with the points.
  • Clemson opened as a 10-point favorite, and I hope you got some of that. It has dropped to 2.5 and I am surprised Clemson is even favored. I’ll take the floundering ‘Canes.
  • Utah is a seven-point underdog at USC and unless Cam is Rising off the bench, I don’t see USC losing two in a row. Give me the Trojans.

17. I won’t be watching the playoffs in baseball. My team chose not to score runs and is not playing any longer. The 104 wins all seem so shallow. Enjoy watching, but I am devoted to football now. Until college basketball starts.

18. What a great time I had with Kyle Cohan, Mike Martin and Les Lewis at the Stop Children’s Cancer Tournament last Friday. It was really hot and so was the playlist after I took over on the back nine (it only seemed right):

  • “Mind Over Matter” by Young the Giant.

  • The beautiful “My Love Mine All Mine” by Mitski.

  • And to match the way a lot of people felt Saturday night, “Happy” by my buddies Sister Hazel.

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