We never thought we’d say this, but it’s good to be back in Gainesville.

The alligatorSports staff made back-to-back trips to Knoxville and Starkville, and our ears haven’t recovered from Rocky Top or the clanging of individualized cowbells.

We realize that with the return home comes a new sensory obstacle: the sweet smell of corndogs and the adorable southern drawl of coach Ed Orgeron.

But enough about us. Let’s debate the second-best service academy game of the year: Navy at Air Force.

Before we meet our competitors, sports editor Morgan McMullen and assistant sports editor Jake Dreilinger will debate this highly anticipated matchup.

 

Navy (-3.5) will win because…

People always assume Air Force is the only military branch that flies planes. Jake did, and so did you. Well, you’re all wrong.

The only place Navy doesn’t go through the air is on the gridiron. Of its 88 first downs on the season, only 14 have come via pass. Quarterback Malcolm Perry and fullback (Yes, an actual fullback) Nelson Smith lead the nation’s best rushing attack (355.8 yards per game).

The Air Force homers will object to this. “Oh, we have the No. 12 rushing defense in the nation!” they’ll shout from their air traffic control towers or wherever their safe spaces are. “Nobody would dare run on us.”

Navy would. Navy will.

-Morgan

 

Air Force (+3.5) will win because…

The mission of the Air Force is “to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace.” It might as well add football field to the list of things it wins at, because that’s exactly what will happen when the Air Force faces Navy on Saturday.

It’s also ironic that flight is in that phrase. Air Force finds most of its success by running the ball rather than letting it fly.

The Falcons have had 16 different players run the ball this season, six of which are averaging over four yards per carry. That should be no problem when they play Navy, which limps in with the 70th-ranked rushing defense in the country.

-Jake

Now onto the picks…

Leading the pack at 25-15 is Alanis “Master of Data” Thames, who has sacrificed her phone two Sundays in a row in order to stream NFL RedZone in the car on the way back from football games. No roast here. We genuinely appreciate it. Thank you for letting us all know just how terrible our fantasy teams are.

Coming in second with a record of 23-17 is Mark “Sorry, I overslept” Stine, who missed his fifth class in a row for Sports Information Management due to his “alarm not going off.” It’s fine, Mark, we’ve all been there. But we’re starting to have suspicions you don’t actually set your alarm. That or you just don’t want to see our multimedia czar Justin Ahlum every Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

Tied for third at 22-18 is the Gainesville Sun’s Graham “Hey, I’m a Notre Dame fan” Hall, who was accidentally put down for Stanford last week and responded saying, “I’d never pick Stanford. I’m a Notre Dame fan!” Your secret is out, Graham. You can longer hide behind from the embarrassment that comes with rooting for the modern-day Fighting Irish. Albeit, you didn’t reveal your secret until AFTER the victory over the Cardinal. Luckily you have a sympathizer on our staff. He just won’t admit it publicly.

Deadlocked with Graham is Jake “Violent Snorer” Dreilinger, who, during the alligatorSports road trip to Starkville, kept one of his coworkers up with his rendition of two aardvarks fighting to the death. We’re not blaming you, Jake. Genetics play a role in a lot of things: snoring, an aversion to the sun, having no soul. We don’t blame you. Mostly.

Only one game back in a three-way tie (21-19) for fifth is the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar “Recycler Extraordinaire” Thompson. After lobbying to not save trees and continuing to print out stacks of game notes at Monday’s press conference, Edgar showed off his true green self by throwing the previous week’s notes in the recycling bin to show everyone present how good of a recycler he is. Why do you want more trees, Edgar? You’re always hitting out of them on the golf course.

Also at 21-19 is the AP’s Mark “No Filter” Long, who told fellow reporter Jackson Ramer to tell his parents to “get a life” and change his name because his first name is William, not Jackson, and it confused him when jotting down his colleague’s email. Chill out, Mark. He’s just a college kid. There’s probably a perfectly good reason why he goes by Jackson. Maybe you should get a life and stop worrying about other people’s names.

The last writer in this tie is Nick “Tebow Defender” de la Torre. After Thomas Goldkamp received a hate tweet about Tim Tebow picking Mississippi State over Florida, Nick jumped in to defend Tebow’s honor as an impartial analyst. Just let the folks hate away, Nick. You’re not changing hearts or minds on Twitter. You’re just adding kerosene to the dumpster fire.

Alone in last place (20-20) for the second week in a row is Morgan “S.O.S.” McMullen, who couldn’t get out of a long conversation with some local folk at a Popeyes in Tallahassee. Morgan, we know you just wanted to enjoy your chicken tenders. And we saw your text asking for help in our group chat. It’s not that we couldn’t save you, we just chose not to.