Picks

Legend has it, Vandy is still trying to score a point.

The Commodores were blanked by the Gators on Saturday despite being led by the quarterback with the most quarterback-sounding name in the country: Deuce Wallace.

I mean, it’s perfect. Our only complaint is that he plays for Vanderbilt instead of Mississippi State, which feels like the most natural fit.

But Deuce put up nada, and Florida remains squarely in the New Year’s Six race ahead of a road matchup against Missouri, who UF never struggles with at all.

Since that game should be a snooze-fest and the Tigers definitely won’t take Florida to triple overtime, we’ll focus on games with Playoff ImplicationsTM.

No. 10 Oklahoma travels to No. 13 Baylor for what could be a preview of the Big 12 Championship. Both teams likely need a win to keep playoff hopes alive, and football writers Kyle Wood and Dylan Rudolph have their picks for that one.

Oklahoma will win because…

This is a Big 12 game, and the Sooners have the offensive firepower to keep them in it.

Hiding in the smoke behind the Joe Burrow and Tua Tagavailoa Heisman hype is Jalen Hurts. The former Crimson Tide quarterback has 39 total touchdowns this season and averages just over 400 yards of offense per game.

He has produced at least four touchdowns in eight games, and Oklahoma has only been held under 40 points once all season long. The Sooners should be able to expose Baylor’s defense, which holds opponents under 20 points per game but hasn’t played an offense like OU’s yet — or even a ranked opponent.

Hurts being able to beat you on the ground and in the air, with receiver Ceedee Lamb (13 receiving touchdowns) at his disposal, helps diversify the Sooners’ offense.

Sure, OU doesn’t play the best defense. But if you can win every game in a shootout (besides the loss to Kansas State), why not have fun like Oklahoma does?

That loss to the Wildcats dropped OU out of the good graces of the College Football Playoff Committee. A win against an undefeated, Baylor team on the road would do well for the Sooners’ resume and shoot them up near the top four with the season winding down.

— Dylan Rudolph

Baylor (+10.5) will win because…

Let’s do a comparison of Baylor and Oklahoma against Kansas State this year:

Against the Sooners, KSU rushed for 213 yards and gashed the Sooners defense for six touchdowns on the ground. Against Baylor, the Wildcats mustered just 123 yards on 3.1 yards a carry and no touchdowns.

Kansas State hung 48 points and 426 yards of total offense on a lackluster Oklahoma defense while holding OU running backs to 26 total yards and no touchdowns. In the game against Baylor, KSU allowed 158 rushing yards on 5.1 a carry and three touchdowns.

Baylor beat Kansas State. Oklahoma did not. Baylor is the better team. Plain and simple.

The Bears walk into their biggest game of the year against the Sooners undefeated through nine games just two years after a 1-11 season and with their best chance at beating Oklahoma for the first time since 2014. And the Baylor defense will be the deciding factor.

OU quarterback Jalen Hurts will be tough to handle. In the game against Kansas State, he had almost 500 all-purpose yards and four total touchdowns, nearly dragging his team to a late comeback victory after going down 48-23 in the fourth quarter.

The Baylor defense will have its hands full, but a solid Bears’ defensive front, which leads the Big 12 in sacks (29), should get enough penetration throughout the game to knock Hurts off balance and create turnovers.

If the front seven can create pressure, the offense — led by junior quarterback Charlie Brewer and his 2338 yards and 16 touchdowns — should be enough to get the job done from there.

— Kyle Wood

Now onto the picks… 

In first at 57-30 is Tyler “Anti-Publix” Nettuno, who had no issue quote-tweeting the popular “What was your first paid job, and what did you learn about working from that job?” with his disdain for the beloved Florida-based company. How dare you throw shade at the company that gave you your big break, Tyler? I mean, they should just ban you from all future Pub Subs sales now while they have the chance. No more discounted Chicken Tender Pub Subs for you!

In second at 54-33 is Kyle “Where’s My Committee Invite” Wood, who took to Twitter with his official — but unofficial —CFP ballot. In case anyone here isn’t following @Kkylewood, he chose LSU, Georgia, Ohio State and Oregon (in no particular order) when quote-tweeting a crazy and hypothetical finish for top programs, but after some thought he decided to exchange his Oregon pick for Baylor. Don’t worry Kyle, the Ducks aren’t taking your input personally, and the Bears are rejoicing in Waco around Chip and Joanna Gaines’ silos. 

In third at 49-38 is Nick “Anti-Sunshine Showdown” De La Torre, who tweeted out Florida’s non-conference Power 5 schedule through 2031 and just so happened to leave out the “unofficial” Gators-Seminoles showdown post-2023. We get it, Nick. The Seminoles are having a hard time right now, but is that really any reason to cancel the Sunshine Showdown in the next couple of years? You know the contract is coming. The least you could have done was added some * * at the end. Your lack of respect for the Bob Stoops regime is blatantly obvious. 

Tied for fourth at 48-39 is Sam “Offers to Fill In, Needs A Fill-In” Campisano. Mari had to cover an event Tuesday night, so Sam was supposed to cover her assistant editor duties. Instead, he decided to send a proxy — basketball writer River Wells. Sam, we get that ever since you became the online editor you hate coming into the office and will avoid it like the plague. But getting River to do your job for you is a new low.

Tied with Sam is Graham “Holding Up The Line” Hall, who finally got his hands on the new Popeye’s chicken sandwich. But Graham didn’t just get one. Oh, no, no, no, no. Graham felt the need to order FOUR whole sandwiches. In Graham’s defense, one of them was for his girlfriend or whatever. But seriously, man? You’re the reason the drive-thru takes three hours. And then you had the nerve to complain that they didn’t give you the fourth? Shame on you, Graham.

Tied for sixth at 47-40 is Mark “ESPN Classic Guy” Long, who was not amused by the millennial beat reporters’ lack of appreciation for football history — specifically, Jamelle Holieway. For those born after the 19th century, like us, Holieway was the first true freshman quarterback to win a national championship in 1985 (over a decade before any of the alligatorSports football writers were born). We get that these whippersnappers have no respect for the legends, but why don’t you cut them some slack?

Alongside Mark is Dylan “Come At Me Bro” Rudolph, who almost decked a fellow Alligator Sprots member in the middle of — you guessed it — Publix. Dylan was tapped in the back with a shopping cart and, according to video evidence, looked like he was about to throw hands in the checkout line on a peaceful Wednesday afternoon. Geesh, Dylan. There wasn’t a need to terrify poor Bryan. Maybe it’s time for a couple of anger management classes?

Tied for eighth at 46-41 is Edgar “Coming At The National Media” Thompson, who, along with Mark, became frustrated during Mullen’s Monday presser with bowl projections from national sites that don’t consider conference tie-ins. No, really. Look, Edgar has a point. Bowl projections that don’t account for tie-ins won’t be very accurate. But lighten up, man. It’s silly season, just enjoy the ride (and premature predictions).

Tied with Edgar is Zach “Hates God’s Chicken” Goodall, who committed heresy of the highest order — believing the Popeye’s sandwich is better than Chik-fil-a’s. I have a lot of questions, Zach. First of all, how dare you? This is by no means a commentary on Popeye’s, but that is unacceptable. Chik-fil-a is fast, the workers are nice and, most importantly, they never run out of freaking chicken sandwiches. I guess you just don’t like having blessed days.

In 10th at 44-43 is Mari “Stalker” Faiello. When Sam told the alligatorSports staff to like other writers’ tweets to increase engagement, Mari took him a little too literally. She went on a rampage, liking everything the sports section retweeted, including week-old tweets buried on Tyler’s profile. Awk. I get it, Mari, my feed is funny as hell. It’s still a little off-putting, though… 

 

In last at 43-44 is Brian “Culture Warrior” Fox, who is bravely taking a stand against the University of Florida’s oppressive, outdated and downright shameful soft drink policy. This is (unfortunately) a Pepsi school, but that isn’t stopping Brian, who brings his own Coca Cola to each volleyball game he covers. Keep fighting the good fight, Brian. Fight on until Fuchs ends the madness.