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Monday, February 06, 2023

Week 1 of the college football season has come and gone, and we’ve learned quite a lot.

Rather, we learned a lot about what we already knew. Willie Taggart is a fraud, Chip Kelly was a bad choice and Hawaii’s Cole McDonald is the Heisman frontrunner.

Now that we’ve gotten the obvious out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks. There’s only two top-25 matchups this week. A 31-game winning streak that you’ve definitely never heard of is on the line. And the alligatorSports Picks Column is back despite your cries for mercy.

Before we meet our competitors for this season, writers Alanis Thames and Morgan McMullen will debate the highly anticipated matchup between Western Kentucky and Maine.

Western Kentucky (-9.5) will win because...

There’s no way the Hilltoppers are as bad as they played in that 34-3 loss to Wisconsin last week. Nope. And you better believe Western Kentucky will be looking for blood when it visits LT Smith Stadium to take on the Maine Black Bears.

Sure, the Hilltoppers failed to find the endzone last week. And sure their defense struggled mightily. But their offensive line only gave up one sack against the Badgers.

Quarterback Drew Eckels wasn’t that bad either, especially given it was his first career start at QB. He finished 15-26 for 167 yards.

And you know what else? It was WISCONSIN. The No. 4 team in the nation. The same team that almost made the college football playoff.

It’d be delusional to think that the Hilltoppers -- a team that led the country in yards per carry two years ago -- won’t get it done against the Black Bears, who went 4-6 last season. Maine also lost its leading rusher from last year in Josh Mack, who transferred to Liberty after it became an FBS team.

So, even though the Black Bears picked up an impressive win over New Hampshire last week, I’m not ready to yell upset just yet.

-- Alanis Thames, @alanisthames

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Maine will win (+10.5) will win because…

Have you ever tried to tackle a Black Bear? It’s a wonder these monsters ever lose.

Maine brings a truly balanced attack to its home turf. Its offense overpowered a helpless New Hampshire squad with 24 first downs last week, including 11 each via the pass and rush. Stud sophomore quarterback Chris Ferguson aired the ball out 31 times, completing 21 for a shade under 200 yards. He didn’t throw a pick last week. You know who did? The Hilltoppers, that’s who.

The Black Bears also bring a two-headed monster in running backs Joe Fitzpatrick and Ramon Jefferson. Fitzpatrick serves as the thunder. He rumbled for 80 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown over the Wildcats in Week 1. Jefferson, the 5-foot-10 lightning, racked up an additional 74 yards on 12 carries. TWELVE! You know who else had a roughly 6.2-yard average per carry in Week 1? Kentucky’s Benny Snell. You know who else is a darkhorse Heisman candidate through Week 1? Maine’s Ramon Jefferson.

Bring your bobby pins, Maine fans, because this one is a hard lock. An easy three-touchdown margin of victory tells us what we already know: Bears are godless killing machines.

-- Morgan McMullen, @MorganMcMuffin

Now onto the picks!

In first, at 7-1, is the Alligator’s Alanis “No one can pronounce my last name” Thames, who can’t seem to get anybody to say her last name correctly. Not even our Multimedia Czar Justin Ahlum got it right on our podcast. Hey Alanis, if it’s really pronounced “Tims,” why hasn’t Justin made a correction yet? Checkmate.

Kentucky @ Florida (-14.5): Kentucky

Georgia @ South Carolina (+9.5): Georgia

Clemson @ Texas A&M(+12.5): Clemson

USC @ Stanford (-3.5): Stanford

Michigan St. @ Arizona St. (+6.5): Arizona St.

Mississippi St. @ Kansas St. (+9.5): Mississippi St.

Duke @ Northwestern (-3): Northwestern

Maine @ Western Kentucky (-9.5): Western Kentucky

Next, in a tie for second, at 6-2, is the Gainesville Sun’s Graham “destined to stay in Gainesville” Hall, who actually grew up in Gainesville as a child. But now that he is fully integrated into the Gainesville Sun machine, he will slowly realize there is no escape. Enjoy your next 50 years in this swampish Hell, Graham.

Kentucky @ Florida (-14.5): Florida

Georgia @ South Carolina (+9.5): Georgia

Clemson @ Texas A&M(+12.5): Clemson

USC @ Stanford (-3.5): USC

Michigan St. @ Arizona St. (+6.5): Michigan St.

Mississippi St. @ Kansas St. (+9.5): Mississippi St.

Duke @ Northwestern (-3): Northwestern

Maine @ Western Kentucky (-9.5): Maine

Also at 6-2 is the Alligator’s Morgan “I have a closet love for the Western Kentucky Hilltopper” McMullen, who’s picking Maine just to tease it (the Hilltopper’s sex and gender is unknowable). Morgan, the first time you met the Hilltopper you were wasted, why are you keeping it in this commitment? You know Hilly can do so much better.

Kentucky @ Florida (-14.5): Florida

Georgia @ South Carolina (+9.5): South Carolina

Clemson @ Texas A&M(+12.5): Clemson

USC @ Stanford (-3.5): Stanford

Michigan St. @ Arizona St. (+6.5): Arizona St. 

Mississippi St. @ Kansas St. (+9.5): Kansas St. 

Duke @ Northwestern (-3): Nothwestern

Maine @ Western Kentucky (-9.5): Maine 

We have a five-way tie for fourth at 5-3. First is the AP’s Mark “Garbage-time substitution” Long. Long was gracious enough to fill in for 247Sports’ Thomas Goldkamp last Thursday. We’re sure he thinks he’s hot stuff now that 20-somethings actually want to hang out with him (We don’t, but don’t tell him).

Kentucky @ Florida (-14.5): Florida

Georgia @ South Carolina (+9.5): Georgia

Clemson @ Texas A&M(+12.5): Clemson

USC @ Stanford (-3.5): Stanford

Michigan St. @ Arizona St. (+6.5): Arizona St.

Mississippi St. @ Kansas St. (+9.5): Mississippi St.

Duke @ Northwestern (-3): Duke

Maine @ Western Kentucky (-9.5): Western Kentucky

Still in fourth at 5-3 is the Alligator’s Mark “What time is media?” Stine, who showed up late to Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. media opportunity after misreading the time listed on an email. Hey Mark, we know we called you Benjamin Button last week because of your receding hairline and taste in music, but we didn’t think your eyesight was starting to go too.

Kentucky @ Florida (-14.5): Kentucky

Georgia @ South Carolina (+9.5): Georgia

Clemson @ Texas A&M(+12.5): Clemson

USC @ Stanford (-3.5): Stanford

Michigan St. @ Arizona St. (+6.5): Michigan St.

Mississippi St. @ Kansas St. (+9.5): Mississippi St.

Duke @ Northwestern (-3): Northwestern

Maine @ Western Kentucky (-9.5): Western Kentucky

Up next is the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar “Tell him to lighten up” Thompson, who told Morgan on Thursday in no uncertain terms that the games we use in our Picks Column suck eggs. Edgar thinks Jake is the one who picks these games, since he’s the one who emails everybody. Edgar, your anger may be misdirected, but your skimpy tripod never is.

Kentucky @ Florida (-14.5): Florida

Georgia @ South Carolina (+9.5): South Carolina

Clemson @ Texas A&M(+12.5): Texas A&M

USC @ Stanford (-3.5): Stanford

Michigan St. @ Arizona St. (+6.5): Michigan St.

Mississippi St. @ Kansas St. (+9.5): Mississippi St.

Duke @ Northwestern (-3): Northwestern

Maine @ Western Kentucky (-9.5): Western Kentucky

Following Edgar is Gator Country’s Nick “Maybe pineapple does belong on pizza” de la Torre, who left a very vague answer when a fan on Twitter asked him if that fruit does go with pizza. We agree that pizza is inherently good, Nick. But when it comes to pineapple on it, that’s just a crime against nature. Just say no next time, Nick. Just say no.

Kentucky @ Florida (-14.5): Florida

Georgia @ South Carolina (+9.5): Georgia

Clemson @ Texas A&M(+12.5): Clemson

USC @ Stanford (-3.5): USC

Michigan St. @ Arizona St. (+6.5): Michigan St.

Mississippi St. @ Kansas St. (+9.5): Mississippi St.

Duke @ Northwestern (-3): Northwesterm

Maine @ Western Kentucky (-9.5): Western Kentucky

Last, we’ve got the Alligator’s Jake “Lit” Dreilinger, who has a new favorite word. There’s no joke here. Jake, this is an intervention. It’s OK that you have a problem. We’re not offering our help, but we implore that you seek some. Lit? Lit.

Kentucky @ Florida (-14.5): Florida

Georgia @ South Carolina (+9.5): Georgia

Clemson @ Texas A&M(+12.5): Clemson

USC @ Stanford (-3.5): Stanford

Michigan St. @ Arizona St. (+6.5): Michigan St.

Mississippi St. @ Kansas St. (+9.5): Kansas St.

Duke @ Northwestern (-3): Northwestern

Maine @ Western Kentucky (-9.5): Maine

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