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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Two bye weeks in a month?

Why, it must be SEC football in November!

The Gators are on hiatus with in-state rival (and currently full-time head coach-less) Florida State up next, but hot takes know no bye. 

There are several games this week which affect playoff and conference races, and our team of “experts” is ready to help you make lots of money.

(Disclaimer: We are not experts. The Alligator does not guarantee that you will make any money using these picks.)

Sports Editor Tyler Nettuno and football beat writer Kyle Wood debate the most important of those: a matchup between No. 9 Penn State and THE No. 2 Ohio State that will likely decide the Big 10 East Division.

Penn State will win because…

The Nittany Lions will be the first team to truly test the Buckeyes.

THE Ohio State has beaten just two ranked teams (and only one Power Five team with a winning record) — current-No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 19 Cincinnati. It beat the Badgers the week after their playoff hopes were dashed by Illinois, and it beat the Bearcats in Week 2.

Penn State will present a much tougher challenge on Big Noon Saturday (or, Big Nude Saturday, as Gus Johnson with a cold would say). 

Quarterback Sean Clifford is in the middle of a fantastic sophomore campaign in which he has logged 2,450 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He also has 374 yards and five more scores on the ground.

He has been one of the best at his position in the nation, despite what Penn State fans — who sent Clifford death threats after the passer *checks notes* lost a single game (seriously, college football sucks sometimes) — may say.

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The Buckeyes seem to have a clear path to the playoffs, and because this game is no longer the CFP semifinal it once appeared to be, they’ll be looking past the Nittany Lions.

PSU’s defense will force quarterback Justin Fields to win a competitive game in the second half for the first time, and he’ll falter as Penn State completely shakes up the playoff race.

— Tyler Nettuno

Ohio State (-17.5) will win because…

Chase Young is back from his ridiculous suspension. And, per his Instagram, the chip on his shoulder has only gotten bigger.

The Buckeyes’ dark horse Heisman defensive end was suspended for two games for taking a loan from a family friend and, somehow, THE OSU survived against Maryland and Rutgers.

Now, he returns for a true test against the Nittany Lions, anchoring one of the top defensive units in the country. THE Ohio State allows fewer than 10 points per game and has held all but two of its opponents under the 20-point mark.

Conversely, THE OSU offense averages better than 50 points per game, boasts an average margin of victory of 42 and have yet to score fewer than 33 points in a game this season. Quarterback Justin Fields and running back J.K. Dobbins lead the top scoring offense in the FBS. 

Fields, in his first year as a Buckeye, has a ridiculous 33-1 touchdown-interception ratio. When things aren’t working through the air, he can hand the ball off to Dobbins, who has more than 1,300 yards on the ground and 13 rushing touchdowns. Fields also makes plays on the ground, with 377 rushing yards and 10 scores on the ground as well.

THE Ohio State, like other teams near the top of the CFP rankings (besides LSU) has not been truly tested. However, they’ve rolled through their schedule up to this point. They won their two games against ranked teams (then-No. 25 Michigan State and then-No. 13 Wisconsin) by a combined 55 points.

Penn State will not be a pushover, but playing in Columbus will benefit THE Ohio State. They are outscoring opponents 308-57 at home. The Buckeyes will remain undefeated this weekend and continue their death march back to the CFP.

— Kyle Wood

Now onto the picks:

In first at 64-31 is Tyler “420” Nettuno, who decided to act like the child he is Tuesday night while casually looking at his Twitter profile and coming to the realization he had 420 Twitter followers. We get it, Tyler, aka @TylerNettuno. It’s hard for you to resist the urge to make a 420 joke whenever the opportunity arises. It’s not your fault, but it also kind of is. It’s also why I unfollowed you for a hot minute, but I guess I’m not the only one since at present time you only have 418 followers. 

In second at 59-36 is Kyle “Anti Disney” Wood, who shamelessly retweeted an anti-Mavs jersey hot take on Twitter. I mean c’mon, Kyle. You’re telling me that you don’t approve of a straight-out-of-Disney look for Dallas Mavericks, a jersey so majestic it may as well have a Disney castle printed on it, too. Hey, at least the new Mavs jersey looks better than the Orlando Dreamers logo, but that’s another conversation. 

Tied for third at 53-42 is Graham “Call Your Shot” Hall, who accurately predicted that Bradley Beal would score 30+ points and the Magic would still win Sunday night. Good call, Graham. Usually, we’d make fun of you for even going to an Orlando game, but we know you’re a Cavs fan. You’ve got to get some “quality” basketball somewhere.

Tied with Graham is Mark “What Did Mason Rudolph Do To You?” Long. Mark posted a picture on Twitter of him enjoying Clevelander Ale while the Browns were beating the Steelers last Thursday night — shortly before the controversial brawl that resulted in Myles Garrett’s rest-of-season suspension. Mark, we’re not saying what happened to Rudolph’s skull is your fault. We’re just saying that the Browns are a cursed franchise, and you can’t expect to post about their success without something happening to ruin it.

In fifth at 52-43 is Nick “Punters Are People Too” De La Torre, who fangirled over Florida punter Tommy Townsend’s semifinalist status for the Ray Guy Award, which is annually given to college football’s best punters, for the second straight year. Your #PuntersArePeopleToo mantra lives on, Nick. Thank you for taking such a strong stance on the most important issue facing college sports. 

Tied for sixth at 51-44 is Dylan “I Hate Louisiana But Not Enough To Hate A Good Pic” Rudolph, who laments his hatred for his home state of Louisiana, yet doesn’t follow through all the way. Dylan, also known as @dyrudolph, has an interesting profile picture. The anti-Louisiana sports writer has deemed his pic at Death Valley his most photogenic look. I understand you carry this strong hatred for the Cajuns, Dylan, but I think you have more feelings to work through. 

Tied with Dylan is Zach “Film Junkie” Goodall. Say what you will about Zach, but he knows what a run-pass option is. When another sports journo on Twitter (who will not be named here) posted an unfortunate video labelling a normal read option as an RPO, Zach’s Xs and Os knowledge kicked in. He asked the reporter which receiver was the option, joining in the pile-on. We get it, Zach. Everyone thinks everything is an RPO these days. But you didn’t have to do him like that… 

Tied for eighth at 50-45 is Sam “Coys Before Boys” Campisano, who decided to attend open mic night at the Bull with some bros from sprots, but decided to ditch them for a “better” group of friends halfway through the evening. It’s insane that you have friends at all pulling moves like that, Sam. I really expected more from you. I expected more from our friendship, too, but I guess that’s my b. 

Alongside Sam is Brian “Movin’ On Up” Fox, who had an impressive 7-1 week in the picks column to jump several spots on the standings. Brian, you’ve been talking a big game all year, but maybe now’s the time for a November push. That, or the football gods were just smiling down upon you for your faith in #9Windiana.

In 10th at 49-46 is Edgar “What’s That iPad For?” Thompson, who, despite utilizing a second screen during Florida games to keep up with the rest of the country, is struggling mightily in the picks column this year. It’s fine, Edgar. Gambling has its ups and downs. But maybe if you spent less time talking up Tyler and Kyle’s picks to Bianchi, yours would be better. 

And in last at 48-47 is Mari “It Was Fun While It Lasted” Faiello, who is ranked at the bottom for the first time since Week 4. It’s been a battle between her and Brian nearly the whole way for whose picks are the worst, but with only one week to go, Mari may only have to fend off one new challenger in Edgar for the coveted last-place spot. Hey, on the bright side, you’re still over .500 despite basing your picks only off watching THE Ohio State.

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