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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Gators must be feeling pretty “cocky” (I’m sorry) after their win over South Carolina. The team survived the wind and rain from Tropical Storm Nestor, and so did the alligatorSports football writers.

After walking from the stadium to the car — a nearly quarter-mile journey — we were all thoroughly soaked for the five-hour car ride back to Gainesville.

Georgia is up next for UF, but both teams have a bye Saturday prior to that game.

We intend to use our weekend off from traveling to catch up on schoolwork, hit the town and actually watch more than one college football game for once.

The Gators may not be playing, but there are still lots of games for our “experts” to weigh in on. Football writers Sam Campisano and Kyle Wood debate the most intriguing matchup of the week: No. 9 Auburn at No. 2 LSU.

Auburn will win because… 

Auburn’s ineptitude in Baton Rouge is so famous that there’s even a curse for it. 

After upsetting LSU on the road in 1999, Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville handed out cigars to his players on the field. That was the last time AU won at LSU. The Cigar Curse was born.

What makes this year’s Tigers team different? 

Bo Nix.

(I’m talking about the War Eagle Tigers, by the way)

Auburn’s freshman quarterback is legit. The AU offense is legit, too, averaging the third-most points per game in the SEC. LSU’s defense, on the other hand? Not so legit. 

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To be fair, No. 6 in the conference isn’t terrible, but it’s not exactly befitting of the No. 2 team in the nation. It’s something Nix will take advantage of, shocking the world in the process. Smoke on that, LSU. 

— Sam Campisano

LSU (-11.5) will win because…

I’ve been to Death Valley. It was very loud. I saw Auburn quarterback Bo Nix play in a hostile environment in The Swamp. He folded. Death Valley was louder than The Swamp. 

This is an easy pick, but I’ll expand upon my reasoning as to why the LSU Tigers will beat the Auburn Tigers in the most tiger-heavy conference in football.

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, the Heisman frontrunner, leads the second-highest scoring offense in the FBS and the Tigers have an average victory margin of just over 30 points.

Both Tigers defenses are very similar, with both teams allowing almost the exact same number of yards per game, but LSU yields three more points per game. The difference is Auburn can’t score with LSU, and its defense isn’t quite good enough to limit Burrow, receivers Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Auburn hasn’t won in Baton Rouge since 1999. It’ll have to wait until at least 2021 to put an end to that streak.

LSU will score its third quality win of the season and head into its matchup against Alabama, which holds SEC title game implications, fresh off a win over the Crimson Tide’s biggest rival.

— Kyle Wood

Now onto the picks…

Tied for first at 43-20 is Kyle “Driver’s Ed Can Screw Off” Wood, who nearly missed his exit and decided to park it in the median and wait for traffic to clear. We made it to Columbia in one piece, Kyle, but I’m pretty sure that type of driving behavior is frowned upon. I’m just glad Florida Highway Patrol didn’t put a stop to our journey before it even had a chance to begin.

Also in first is Tyler “Oh Crap I Left My Car On” Nettuno, who left his Nissan Pathfinder on for the entirety of the Florida-South Carolina game. It was kind of cold, and there was an off chance we would have to make a quick exit from Columbia, so maybe leaving it running wasn’t the worst idea. After all, there were enough drops of gas left for Sam to pull us into a gas station that was (for whatever reason) next to an armory, a Waffle House and a Zaxby’s. God, I love the SEC.

In third at 38-25 is Nick “Nice Zoolander Reference” De La Torre. We wanted to roast you here, Nick. We really did. But then we saw that you referenced one of the best cult-classic comedies of all time in your tweet about Florida’s new football-only facility. Nicely done. We just have one question: Why male models?

Also in third is Sam “Waited Till the 11th Hour” Campisano, who waited until 11 p.m. Friday night to take an Honor Lock exam after a day of traveling to South Carolina. Upon getting to Tyler’s family’s house, Sam disregarded their southern hospitality and freshly smoked pork barbecue for an off-brand ProctorU exam that he could have taken earlier in the day. I hope not being a journalism major is worth it.

Tied for fifth at 37-26 is Graham “Clearly Not a Bandwagon Fan” Hall. We don’t know if it was true fandom or just pure guts that led Graham to travel to the Amway Center wearing a Cavaliers wine and gold jersey. LeBron didn’t start his third stint with the Cavs (yet), so maybe this was truly a crime of passion. Or maybe Graham is, indeed, a HUGE sports guy.

Tied with Graham is Mark “LA Ramsey” Long, who took full advantage of the All-Pro cornerback’s trade to Los Angeles in order to get some sweet, sweet Twitter content. We get it, Mark. Those retweets on your post about tearing down the Ramsey banners must be intoxicating. But there are some Jags fans in this column (who will remain nameless) who don’t need constant reminders of how terribly this front office manages personnel.

In seventh at 35-28 is Dylan “No Rules In A Cook Out Parking Lot” Rudolph. Dylan tried to do the impossible Saturday night — ruin a trip to the lovely regional fast food restaurant Cook Out. Upon leaving the restaurant, he ignored the “Do Not Enter” sign and proceeded to enter into the one-way drive-thru line at the end. The driver of the car that turned a corner to find four terrified sports writers driving the wrong way must’ve been spooked, but I’m sure she admired the skill of your 11-point turn.

In eighth at 34-29 is Edgar “Premature Feature” Thompson, who wasted his in-depth story about receiver Jacob Copeland earlier in the season after the UT-Martin game. That’s a real shame, Edgar. Cope had a breakout game against South Carolina, and here you sit, contentless. Maybe you’ll be slower with that trigger finger next time.

In ninth at 32-31 is Zach “How You Holding Up, Bro?” Goodall. The Ramsey trade affected all of us, but maybe no one as much as Zach. A notorious Ramsey stan, we were all concerned for Zach’s well-being after the corner was shipped to the Rams. If you need to talk, we’re here for you. If it’s any consolation, you’re finally above .500 in the picks column!

In 10th at 31-32 is Mari “Tries To Be Basic, Fails” Faiello, who constantly professes her love of Starbucks coffee and then proceeds to post on her Snapchat story complaining that the poor barista behind the counter didn’t fill the drink to her satisfaction. Mari, how about you show some assertiveness and ask for more coffee? Besides, the point of posting Starbucks on your story is to flex that you can afford $6 coffee, not to complain about it.

In last at 30-33 is Brian “Getting REAL Comfortable Here” Fox, who has now been on the bottom of the picks column standings since Week 5. Come on, Brian. It’s time to make like a Butch Jones-coached Tennessee team and finish the season strong despite blowing it during the first half.

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