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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Gators did it.

They shocked the world by beating the Bulldogs. It was dodgy at times, but despite a late push, UF survived, 5-3.

The Florida baseball team, that is.

What did you think we were talking about? Was there another Gators-Bulldogs matchup going on in Jacksonville last weekend?

I’m pretty sure there wasn’t…

Regardless, Vanderbilt comes to town to play Florida at noon on Saturday. Based on recent history, that should be a recipe for a low-stress, easy-going afternoon that definitely won’t get weird as hell.

Secretly, the alligatorSports football writers will be hoping the UF-Vandy game can be wrapped up quickly so they can catch the end of the most prolific matchup of the day: No. 2 LSU at No. 3 Alabama. Sports Editor Tyler Nettuno and football beat writer Dylan Rudolph predict the outcome of that one below.

LSU will win because… 

Every streak has to end sometime.

When Florida had beaten Kentucky for 31 straight years, I refused to pick the Wildcats to win that game until they proved they could. Last year, they did.

Beginning with a National Championship showdown in 2012, the Crimson Tide have scored eight consecutive wins against the Tigers. But this year’s LSU team is going to be the one to change that.

The Tigers have the best quarterback in the country in Joe Burrow (who has 30 touchdowns and four interceptions this season) and the best offensive coordinator in the country in Joe Brady, who has modernized the LSU offense in less than a year’s time.

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Meanwhile, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had ankle surgery several weeks ago and is questionable against the Tigers. Coach Nick Saban has hinted that he will play — and I’d be surprised if he didn’t try — but it’s hard to imagine Tagovailoa will be at 100 percent.

Based on what we’ve seen from backup Mac Jones, that could be problematic for the Tide. LSU is rolling, and for once, Alabama isn’t going to stand in its way.

— Tyler Nettuno

Alabama (-6.5) will win because…

Eight years ago, America had a different president, Portal 2 came out and the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl. Eight years is a long time, and a lot has changed. But one thing remains constant: Alabama will beat LSU.

In 2011, LSU and Alabama met as No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation, respectively. Both teams, with hardened defenses, battled it out until LSU came out on top 9-6 in overtime after three missed Alabama field goals. It took a lot of luck for the Tigers to win that game, luck they haven’t had since and won’t again this year. 

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — who’s tallied 2,166 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions with a 74.7 percent completion rate this season — went down with a high ankle sprain against Tennessee on Oct. 19. After surgery and limited practice during the last two weeks, Tagovailoa remains a “game-time decision.” But LSU knows it’s not that lucky.

Coach Nick Saban has already hinted at Tagovailoa’s return when he told ESPN that the junior quarterback was “doing even better than expected.”

Tagovailoa and the Alabama offense, which hasn’t finished a game with fewer than 35 points, is primed for another huge game against a shoddy LSU defense that’s allowed 315.4 yards a game this season.

The Tigers will try to answer with their own pass attack led by senior quarterback Joe Burrow — who threw for just 184 yards, no touchdowns and an interception in the 29-0 loss against Alabama last year — but they won’t be able to keep up with the Crimson Tide in front of its home crowd, and Bama will inch one win closer to a decade of dominance over the boys from the bayou.

— Dylan Rudolph

Now onto the picks…

In first at 51-28 is Tyler “Give Me The Prime Time Spot” Nettuno, who took to Twitter — and even went so far as to tag the ESPN account — to beg for his own TV show on prime time. We get it Tyler, you’re THE sports editor for The Independent Florida Alligator, and you think you’re hilarious, but no one wants to hear your hot takes on the Jags, Nick Foles or Baker Mayfield. Thanks, but no thanks. 

In second at 50-29 is Kyle “I Gave Him The Click” Wood, who couldn’t resist the urge to take a peek at Carron J. Phillips’ recent take on Mama Mullen. At least you completely discounted Phillips’ take, Kyle. But really, you just couldn’t resist and that in itself is abysmal. How dare you give Phillips one minute of your time to discredit one of the best college football moms in the “deep south.” 


In third at 46-33 is Nick “Skipped Leg Day” De La Torre, who had to roast fellow Gators football reporter Thomas Goldkamp on his picture of the beloved Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. We get it, Nick. You’re not a fan of stadiums given the fact you practically live there anyways. But if anything, that’s all the more encouragement to work out in one of Gainesville’s finest attractions. So, don’t harp on Thomas for his stadiums flex.

Tied for fourth at 45-34 is Sam “I’ll Take The Room, I Guess” Campisano, who never hesitates to claim the most comfortable accommodations when the football writers travel. Three couches and a spare bedroom? You can guess where Sam’s going to try to sleep. He even goes as far as to go to sleep first, so he gets his choice of sleeping arrangement. It’s fine, Sam. You want to travel the southeast in boujee fashion. But you can bet your ass we’ll make fun of you for it.

Tied with Sam is Graham “Rise And Grind” Hall, who woke up at 4:15 in the freaking morning to get his Starbucks red holiday cup. We’re glad you’re feeling super festive, Graham. Even if it is only the first week of November. Just don’t post your overpriced java goodness on the internet — that’s what Mari does. For shame, Graham. For shame.

In sixth at 44-35 is Dylan “It’s Fine Guys, I’ll Just Take The ‘Stang” Rudolph. Dylan didn’t ride with the rest of the football crew to Jacksonville on Friday night because he had to stay for “an assignment” that he didn’t even do. Our only theory is that Dylan wanted to drive up alone in his sports car. Sure, you made it really quickly, but did you really need to flex on us like that?

In seventh at 43-36 is Mark “Why Are You Like This?” Long, who said that Jim McElwain would be “a neat hire” at Florida State. As much as Gators fans might like that, I’m not sure I see it. Though, I think his “PB&Js-for-all” policy would play well in the swing states.

Leading off a three-way tie for eighth at 41-38 is Edgar “Golf Reporter In A Football Reporter’s Body” Thompson. Edgar only writes about UF football because the Orlando Sentinel makes him. If he had his way, he’d ditch the boring gridiron entirely for the excitement of the fairway. Seriously, Edgar. First, you show off your swinging technique in the press box at UF’s biggest game of the year, and now you’re tweeting about UF golf? I guess the heart wants what it wants.

Joining Edgar is Zach “OK, Boomer” Goodall, who isn’t too good with the email-machine. Since this has been a problem in the past, we’ll spell it out for you in a way that even Edgar and Mark would understand. That button that says “reply all” responds to everyone. What you’re looking for is the one labeled “reply.” No “all.” Think about it, Zach. You don’t want us copying your picks so we can end up in eighth, too.

The last member of eighth is Mari “Convenient Timing...” Faiello, who wrote a column about the integrity and hard work of the College Football Playoff Committee the very same night that her beloved committee put her also-beloved Ohio State Buckeyes (No, Mari, I didn’t put the THE. You don’t deserve it.) No. 1 in the poll. I’m not saying Mari is colluding with the committee, I’m just saying the timing is suspicious. Also, I’m definitely saying Mari colluded with the committee.

In last at 39-40 is Brian “Don’t Give Mark Stine The Satisfaction” Fox. Brian quote tweeted the former alligatorSports editor’s story, calling it “correct.” It’s OK, Brian. You don’t have to stroke Mark’s ego. You can tell the world how terrible his takes are.

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