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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow threw as many touchdowns as he did incompletions on Saturday: three.

That’s also how many alligatorSports football writers sauntered into the state of Louisiana for the first time to cover that game. None of us except Dylan — a Bayou State native — had ever experienced the delightful Cajun accents and debaucherous streets of New Orleans.

Drunken frat guys wearing Florida polos may have invaded Bourbon Street before the game, but getting loaded off overpriced liquor would be the only win they’d experience.

The Gators suffered the first tick in the loss column, and the football staff gained a greater appreciation for playing night games in Death Valley, which is — frankly — loud as hell.

Florida has the chance to bounce back big time this week with a game against a 3-3 South Carolina team that *checks notes* just upset No. 3 Georgia in Sanford Stadium.

Our panel of football experts will tell you if the Gators can avoid the trap game, but first, Sports Editor Tyler Nettuno and Assistant Sports Editor Mari Faiello will debate the Battle to Finish Second in the Big 10 East: No. 16 Michigan at No. 7 Penn State.

Michigan will win because…

Jim Harbaugh rarely loses to Penn State. In his four tries against the Nittany Lions, he’s 3-1, including a 42-7 win last season.

Quarterback Shea Patterson scored three touchdowns in that game. The senior is off to a good start this season with 1,246 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions. Against a PSU defense that’s yet to face a dynamic passer, he could replicate some of last season’s success.

Also, people may be reading too much into Michigan’s 35-14 loss to Wisconsin. The Badgers could legitimately be one of the best teams in the country, and since then the Wolverines have won three straight.

Both teams have a common opponent — Iowa — and both won in comically stereotypical Big 10 fashion. But Michigan allowed three points against the Hawkeyes and won by seven, while Penn State allowed 12 and won by five.

The transitive property is scientifically proven to be an accurate way to compare teams, and due to that unflinching law, Michigan will earn a big win Saturday.

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— Tyler Nettuno

Penn State (-9.5) will win because…

There’s no other way to say it: I’d hate to be the team playing in Happy Valley on Saturday night.

Penn State’s “White Out” is one of the best college football traditions and you can’t convince me it isn’t an intimidation factor when a road team comes into Beaver Stadium literally greeted with a sea of white.

That alone gives the Nittany Lions the edge over Ick-chigan.

The Lions have had a nice start to their season, going 6-0 heading into this weekend’s matchup.

Quarterback Sean Clifford is second in the Big 10 with 1,560 passing yards on the season, second to Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke (1,596 yards). In six games, he has tallied 13 touchdowns and thrown only two interceptions.

And if we’re going the history route, it’s not really on Harbaugh’s side. The UM coach is only 1-9 against top-10 teams in his five-year reign. He’s also 1-6 in games on the road against ranked teams.

But PSU’s coach James Franklin isn’t getting off clean either. Franklin’s 1-3 against the Wolverines since Harbaugh took over the program. The PSU coach’s sole win against UM came in Beaver a White Out…

— Mari Faiello

Now onto the picks…

Tied for first at 38-17 is Kyle “I Can’t Pick A Profile Pic” Wood, who decided to change his Twitter profile pic, again. Yes, that’s right. Go check it out, ladies. I guess Kyle didn’t think his Miami one was up to par, or maybe he just felt like he had to show off the fact he covered a Gators game in Death Valley and got to go on the field. We get it, Kyle. You’re cool. Now, pick a pic and stick with it.

Also in first is Tyler “I Will Die In My Jags Gear” Nettuno. Oh, Tyler. I applaud your devotion to your beloved Jaguars, but it’s a little distasteful to wear a Jags shirt in Louisiana when the Saints are playing. C’mon man, that’s just bad form. I mean, they did *checks notes* lose 13-6, so I guess it wasn’t too big of a deal at the end of the day. The Saints prevailed, so you were just the odd man out. Nothing new to see here.

There’s another tie for second at 34-21. First up is Mark “Exclusive Jags Reporter” Long, who didn’t make the trip to Baton Rouge, instead opting to cover the Jaguars’ loss to the Saints. We know the draw of Minshew Magic is hard to resist, but was it worth it to miss a top-10 matchup? Your tweet about Gardner’s “minor groin soreness” was pretty funny, though.

Tied with Mark is Nick “Fed Up With ESPN” De La Torre. Nick was not happy when during Freddie Swain’s press conference after the LSU game, the ESPN camera crew continued to open and close the door to the room, allowing waves of victory-fueled Cajun sounds to flood in. Calm down, Nick. Yeah, Swain’s audio may be completely useless now, but that’s no reason to rage against the national media.

In fifth at 32-23 is Graham “Gamer” Hall, who had a viral tweet during the game. Congrats on the Twitter clout, Graham, but how about you pull a pro-gamer move and listen to your girlfriend when she’s talking to you. Wrecking 12-year-olds’ dreams in Fortnite can wait.

In sixth at 31-24 is Sam “Have You Ever Been In A Car Before?” Campisano. Sam’s a noted backseat driver, but put him behind the wheel, and he freezes. Sam couldn’t figure the headlights, wipers and seats in Tyler’s car, and upon taking over driving, nearly got the entire staff killed merging on I-10. Instead of enjoying shrimpzilla po’ boys, we were almost left a fiery heap on the shoulder in Mississippi. Not cool, Sam. Not cool.

In seventh at 30-25 is Edgar “Keeping Up With The Youths” Thompson, who Trevon Grimes told to check out NBA YoungBoy on his Alexa. It’s cool that you’re making conversation with players about artists you’ve never heard of, Edgar. Just please heed Grimes’ advice and opt for the clean version. We don’t know if your ears can take it.

Tied for eighth is Dylan “What’s With The Hometown Hate?” Rudolph. Dylan spent a large portion of his childhood in NOLA, and I’ve never seen someone with so much disdain for where they’re from. As the alligatorSports crew made the hour trek from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, Dylan became increasingly angrier as the mile markers passed by. When we crossed the city limits, Dylan’s fury grew to peak levels. I don’t know what that godforsaken city did to you, but you don’t have to take it out on every pedestrian we pass by.

Also in eighth is Zach “Huge Rams Guy” Goodall, who announced that he will be purchasing a throwback Rams Jalen Ramsey jersey. Surrendering your Jacksonville fandom over one player? SMH. Zach tried to play it off as though he’s wanted a Los Angeles jersey for a while, but everyone who hit him with the Twitter ratio knew better.

In tenth at 27-28 is Mari “Biased Prediction” Faiello. Really, Mari? Ick-Chigan? We know your THE Ohio State University fandom can be blinding at times, but such disrespect of the proud Michigan (or Harvard of the North, as I like to call it) program is unacceptable. The Picks Column is a beacon of journalistic integrity. So, on behalf of Mari, I apologize to the Wolverine faithful for such a brazen slight.

In last at 24-31 is Brian “Straight Up Kind Of Guy” Fox, who mentioned that he’s not a fan of picking these games against the spread. Well, of course, Brian. It makes it harder. Such difficulty should be expected when entering the thunderdome that is the Picks Column. We take no prisoners here.

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