Picks Column Graphic

Week 1 is officially in the books, and it was a doozy.

True freshman Auburn quarterback Bo Nix grew up right before our eyes to lead a game-winning touchdown drive against Oregon, Florida State failed to score in the second half and blew an 18-point lead against Boise State and Tennessee lost at home to a program that didn’t exist the last time the Vols won 10 games in 2007.

Football is so back.

The Gators dropped from No. 8 to No. 11 in the AP Poll this week after an uninspiring performance against the bye week, but UF has the chance to get things right before SEC play starts at Kentucky. 

And apparently, Florida’s definition of “get things right” is to pay Tennessee-Martin $500,000 to play the role of punching bag.

To each their own, I suppose.

The Gators are as much as 44.5-point favorites against the Skyhawks, depending on the sports book. To cover that spread, they’ll have to score at least 45, a feat they only accomplished twice in the entirety Jim McElwain’s two year and change tenure.

But this is Mullen’s program now, and if last season’s matchups against Charleston Southern and Idaho are any indicator, he likes scoring lots of points on defenseless FCS teams.

Before we get into the picks for UF-UTM and Week 2’s marquee games, Online Sports Editor Sam Campisano and Kyle Wood debate the best of the bunch: the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at the Florida International Panthers. 

WKU will win because...

The only way to bounce back from losing to an FCS team with a Bear mascot is to beat an FBS team with a Panther mascot, a far less imposing animal, albeit a much more imposing opponent. The Hilltoppers head to flat Miami to take on FIU, where there are quite literally no hills to top. The alien concept of a hill in the 305, much less someone — or something — on top of one, will be too much for the Panthers to handle.

Plus, Western Kentucky has luck on their side — Lucky Jackson, that is. The senior wide receiver had 36 yards on four touches last week. The Hilltoppers will need more luck and Lucky in Week 2.

— Kyle Wood

FIU (-7) will win because…

Two words:

Butch Davis.

Yes, that Butch Davis. The guy who saved Miami from the brink of implosion due to NCAA sanctions in 1995 and who became the architect of the greatest college football teams of all time at UM in the early 2000’s.  This is the man who will lead FIU into battle on Saturday.

His counterpart on Western Kentucky’s sideline, Tyson Helton, isn’t even the best coach in his own family. Hell, he’s probably not even the second-best coach in his own family. His father Kim won a Conference USA title with Houston and his brother Clay is the current coach at USC.

Notably, neither Kim nor Clay have ever lost a game to FCS Central Arkansas, which Tyson managed to do on his debut Saturday.

One of the best coaches in South Florida history vs. the third-best in his own family. A team predicted to finish second in its division in the preseason media poll vs. a team that just lost to an FCS school. With the raucous FIU faithful behind them, expect FIU to run away with it.  

— Sam Campisano

Now onto the picks

In a tie for first place at 7-1 is Tyler “I Send Out Budgets at 2 in the Morning” Nettuno. We get it Tyler, you have a life outside of the amazingly independent student-run paper that gave you your start in sports journalism, however, some of us are not pleased when greeted with your GroupMe message as we’re getting lit at Mid. It’s just bad press, my man. How am I supposed to get rowdy if you’re giving out homework assignments? Just tryin’ to keep it real here. But who’s to say. At the very least, you haven’t forgotten to send one out (yet). 

Also in first is Nick “BBQ Elitist” de la Torre who had some hot Twitter takes on Thursday about Brooklyn-style BBQ. Normally, this section would be a roast, but in this case, we agree completely. Maybe brisket exists outside of the south. If it does, we don’t want to know. Keep fighting back against these BBQ charlatans, Nick. For God’s sake, there’s only like one side in that picture.

Next, in a tie for second at 6-2 is Edgar “Bud” Thompson, who endearingly referred to Tyler as “bud” in an email. First, you finally follow me back on Twitter, and now I even have a nickname? I’m glad we’ve graduated to the next level of our professional relationship, Edgar.

Alongside Edgar in second is Mark “Clutch” Long, who barely got his picks in on time this week. It’s cool, Mark. You’re a busy guy. Only a select few people could cover not one, but two, incredibly depressing North Florida football teams and not lose their sanity. Props to you. Hopefully you’ll have a consistent quarterback to write about real soon.

We have another two-way tie for third at 5-3. First, there’s Sam “Autodraft” Campisano, otherwise known as the only member of the alligatorSports crew to miss our fantasy football draft. Yes, Sam, we know you were at a football game. We also know that you never told us you couldn’t draft on Saturday. Anyway, enjoy having Mark Andrews as your top tight end.

There’s also Graham “Hydration Specialist” Hall, who was not a fan of FSU coach Willie Taggart’s comment about the team’s lack of water intake before the Boise State loss. We get it, that was a pretty memeable thing to say. But you’re yelling into the abyss, my man. He’s got you blocked.

In a four-way tie for fourth is Kyle “I Can’t Let Go of the Past” Wood. It’s near embarrassing that you still carry around your FSU student ID in your wallet, Kyle. I mean, come on. It’s time to let things go. It’s not like you can use your FSU Card to take the bus to and around campus or when you’re eating out at Gator Dining. It’s downright despicable that you have this piece of plastic lying all comfy in its sleeve. 

Dylan “Did You Make It Through Dorian” Rudolph is also in a tie for fourth. While writing this we realize you have not spoken to any of us or messaged any of us since we got our extended vacation (thanks, Hurricane Doran). There’s an art to putting pen to paper and at least giving us some kind of indication you are, in fact, OK and well. I guess we’ll know on Saturday if we do (or don’t) see you at the game.

Zach “Exclusive Interview” Goodall joins Kyle and Dylan at 4-4. Zach got into it on Twitter with a certain UF fan page over both outlets having “exclusive” talks with former UF defensive tackle and current Tennessee-Martin defensive line coach Clint McMillan. It’s cool, Zach. We’ve seen the timestamps — your story was posted first. Just remember, if you want to get petty, we can get petty.

The last picker in the fourth-place spot is Brian “I Actually Need To Meet You IRL” Fox. Brian (for some reason) was very interested in being a part of the picks column this year, but, so far, his and Tyler’s correspondences have been exclusively over text and email. Hey, Brian, let’s chat next time we’re both at media. That way, we’ll have more material to roast you with in the coming weeks.

And, all alone in last place with a measly 2-6 record in Week 1, we have Mari “Ohio State Stan” Faiello, who donned her favorite, mint-condition, THE Ohio State University hoodie at the office Thursday night. We’re proud that you’re bold enough to wear enemy colors in Gainesville. We just wonder what UF fans will think about your opinions once they find out how you really feel about Urban Meyer...