Pat Dooley’s Back Nine (Nov. 20)

The Back Nine comes at you after another soul-crushing loss by Florida’s football team that is going to send us down a weird rabbit hole.

10. Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there. My favorite dish is the stuffing, but it’s kind of like beer — not all stuffing tastes great. Also, my wife makes this incredible cranberry bread. Thursday should be a time to talk about all of the things we are truly thankful for. Two things you should avoid talking about at dinner — politics and Gator football. You don’t want anyone throwing mashed potatoes. I did want to mention that we will be only doing one “Tailgate Show” this week and that will be Tuesday. It’s more about other sports taking over the airwaves than the holiday.

11. See, I could write something without telling you how depressing November has been even for a guy who just celebrated a birthday. Florida has now lost four in a row and averaged 34 points a game in the last three defeats. You should win AT LEAST ONE OF THOSE GAMES!! Sorry, I got a little carried away. Heck of an effort by this team against a top-10 club on the road, but Billy Napier needs to find that clutch gene that apparently only shows up occasionally since he arrived in Gainesville. Hey, I believe in the clutch gene.

12. One day, we are all going to look back at three straight losing seasons by Florida football and jokingly refer to it as “The Golden Era” the way they talk about the last time Florida had three straight losing seasons from 1945-47 (that stretch also included only one SEC win). At least you hope you can one day laugh about it like you brag about going to every game during the 0-10-1 season of 1979. Could there be any worse feeling (sports-wise, of course) than going 5-7 while your two biggest rivals are playing for a national title? I may throw up in my mouth a little bit.

13. As usual, the football season has flown right past us and it feels incredible that the last game of this season will likely be Saturday against an undefeated FSU team. The bad news is that the Semis will be ready for Max Brown running the ball the way Missouri seemed surprised by it. It’s a different offense with him playing, but even with the Brown fumble, that offense did enough to win the game. Florida’s offensive stats are good enough to be winning way more games than it has — 425 yards a game, 29.6 points a game and only 10 turnovers in 11 games. You know what the problem is.

14. Let’s move on to something else, like maybe the injuries to the two guys we were looking forward to duking it out Saturday night at The Swamp. You can be anti-FSU and still have covered your face when you saw Jordan Travis leave the game on a cart. And what Billy Napier blurted out about Graham Mertz was kind of insulting when he said that if the Gator Nation doesn’t respect him now we have a problem. We have a problem, but it’s not been the way people feel about Mertz. Not even close.

15. It’s not right that I went this long without commenting on Florida’s basketball win Friday night. That was just a dominant performance against FSU. Now comes the weird part where we hope the Semis are really good this year instead of being what last year’s team was. I do know that I like this team. Remember when FSU would throw a bunch of bigs against you? That was Florida on Friday night.

16. The Picks would like to make an argument that even though I took Missouri and gave 10.5 points, when the spread got up to 11.5 I was all in on Florida. That’s like Albert Brooks asking the casino manager in “Lost in America” to get his money back as a spectacular public relations move. Didn’t work then either. So, Dr. Football goes 2-2-1 and is 30-26-2 for the season. On to this week:

  • There are so many great rivalry games with giant spreads. FSU giving 6.5 to Florida is not one of them. I’ll reluctantly take Florida State, because, well, it is better. Sorry. Watch this spread bounce around with the two quarterbacks out.
  • Ole Miss is giving 11 points at Mississippi State on Thanksgiving night and if you think I am betting on Greg Knox, you are in need of help. Give the points.
  • Alabama is a 14.5-point favorite over Auburn on the Plains and it’s difficult to figure out how to evaluate a team that bought a game for $1.8 million and then lost it 31-10. Two pieces of advice — 1. Never schedule a Jerry Kill team. 2. Take the Tide.
  • Ohio State is a road dog against Michigan by 3.5 points. I have no idea who wins this game, so go with the home team.
  • Missouri (boo, hiss) is giving seven points at Arkansas and Sam Pittman could be coaching for his job. Take the Hogs.

17. Dr. Football likes to call this time of the year in the NFL “Moving Day,” which is a golf term for Saturdays on Tour. This is when teams jostle around in the Parity League and get into position for a stretch run. Or, they decide whether to move on from a coach or a player. Everybody has played either 10 or 11 games. It’s time to get moving.

18. Why are there no Thanksgiving songs? There are. They are called Christmas songs. Already getting bombarded. Here’s your playlist (bah, humbug):

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