Picks

Can you believe it’s already Week 3?

It seems like just yesterday we were heading into Week 0, starved for football. Now, the regular season is almost a quarter of the way done.

Last week’s games weren’t the most eventful — aside from Tennessee losing to a Group of Five team at home again, of course. 

Meanwhile, Florida earned a 45-0 win over Tennessee-Martin, and naturally, fans are unhappy. The Gators take on Kentucky this week to open SEC play, and although Florida’s 31-game winning streak over the Wildcats is no more, UK still hasn’t beaten UF in Lexington, Kentucky, since 1986.

So, for all intents and purposes, the streak is still alive. No pressure, Florida.

Aside from the Gators’ revenge game, this week’s lineup features several storylines.

ACC teams North Carolina and Wake Forest play a non-conference game against each other Friday night (which is weird as hell), Florida State tries to avoid complete freefall against Virginia, and, most importantly, Florida Atlantic (0-2) travels to Muncie, Indiana, to take on Ball State (1-1). 

Sports Editor Tyler Nettuno and football beat writer Dylan Rudolph debate that one below:

FAU will win because…

Three words, seven syllables: Joey Freaking Freshwater.

Owls coach Lane Kiffin’s Tuscaloosa bar-hound alter ego makes him a pop culture icon in his own right, but Kiffin also has a trick up his sleeve — he’s actually a pretty good football coach.

FAU took a step back last season after winning 11 games in Kiffin’s first year, dropping to 5-7. Still, the Owls return last year’s starting quarterback in redshirt sophomore Chris Robison. He was shaky as a freshman, throwing 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. But if there’s one thing Kiffin can do, it’s coach offense. 

Don’t read too much into that 0-2 record. FAU’s start has been brutal, as it’s been an early season sacrificial lamb for Ohio State and UCF.

With Muncie’s lame nightlife (I’m assuming), Kiffin will have no choice but to spend Friday night game-planning. A focused Freshwater is basically game over for Ball State.

-Tyler Nettuno

Ball State (+2) will win because…

Ball State has a lot to be confident about entering this Week 3 matchup.

Coming off a 57-29 stomping of Fordham, the Cardinals are on the verge of prominence with their high-flying offense headed by redshirt junior quarterback Drew Plitt, who has amassed 737 passing yards and eight touchdowns in his first two games of the season.

The Cardinals’ top receiver, redshirt senior Riley Miller, has grabbed 11 balls in the same span for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Miller totaled 878 yards last year and is expected to cross the 1,000-yard mark in his final year with the team.

Ball State matches up well with FAU, which has allowed a combined 1,043 total yards and 93 points in its first two contests and has a 2-4 record in its last six non-conference games.

The Cardinals proved they don’t balk at tough competition when they impressed against Big 10 opponent Indiana in Week 1, coming just two yards short of eclipsing 400 yards of total offense in the unexpectedly close game. If Ball State continues its laudable play, it should keep FAU and head coach Joey Freshwater Lane Kiffin winless after three games.

-Dylan Rudolph

And now onto the picks...

Three pickers top our standings at 12-4. First up is Tyler “I Set A Bad Precedent” Nettuno, who was late to the new hires meeting that he — oh wait for it — set up. Yes, I know it’s shocking for our leader to set such a bad example for the young and eager copy editors we hired this week. I mean, come on Tyler. You set the time for 5:45 p.m. and both of the new hires were able to make their way inside our tight-security building (without a keycard) before you waltzed in at 5:51 p.m. I know your iPhone X has a clock on its screen, Tyler. Maybe you should use it, sometime. 

Also in the lead is Mark “Throws Shade At Team USA” Long, who tweeted that USA Basketball team “will get a participation ribbon” after playing Poland in the seventh-place game at the FIBA World Cup. I know its showing at the World Cup has been pretty embarrassing so far, but come on, Mark. There are no superstars playing. Did you really expect Brook Lopez to lead this team to a title?

The final member of the first-place trio is Edgar “Knows More About Feleipe Franks Than Feleipe Franks” Thompson. Edgar scored a sassy answer from the UF quarterback — who seems to be doling out attitude in droves — after Saturday's game. Edgar asked Franks if he had ever completed his first 15 passes in a game, and was shut down with a “I don’t know, seems like you know more than me.” Ouch. We thought it was a good question, at least. He didn’t need to treat you like he treats the Florida student section.

Alone in fourth at 11-5 is Kyle “I Can’t Miss Class Because I’m A Star Student” Wood, who is the only football writer to have class on Friday. We get it Kyle, you prioritize your academics at the seventh-ranked university in the nation. But it’s OK to miss class every once in a while, especially since you’re the sole reason sprots can’t hit the road for Kentucky early on Friday morning. I mean, come on. You knew this when you planned out your classes, you could have fixed this. Also, missing class doesn’t mean the university will send you back to FSU. 

Leading off a two-way tie for fifth at 10-6 is Graham “Nate Silver” Hall, who was on the receiving end of abuse from one Florida fan who wasn’t pleased with Graham trying to shove Franks’ statline down his throat. Every athlete knows stats are hippy mumbo-jumbo and must be ignored at all costs. Way to out yourself as a non-football-playing nerd, Graham.

Tied with Graham is “Dr.” Nick De La Torre, who took far too long to prognosticate the severity of Kadarius Toney and CJ Henderson’s injuries. We heard you the first 30 times, Nick. Florida doesn’t give injury updates during games. That doesn’t change the fact that anxious fans on the timeline need to know now.

In seventh at 9-7 is Dylan “I’m A Senior And I’ve Never Used the Weimer Equipment Room” Rudolph, who looked like a lost puppy coming into the College of Journalism’s AV room this week. We understand this was your first time Dylan, but we expected a better performance. I mean, how hard is it to check out some telecom equipment for your class? Mari really isn’t that scary to deal with and wouldn’t steer you wrong. She was just happy you knew what course you were checking out equipment for.   

We have another three-way tie for eighth at 7-9. Sam “I’m Selfish And Don’t Offer to Bring My Co-Workers Food” Campisano had the audacity to show up to the Sunday weekly staff meeting with PDQ. For context, Sam gets to do his job from the comfort of his home while Tyler and Mari slave away at the office for hours and hours three nights a week. It wouldn’t have hurt for Sam to offer to bring us food. I promise my Venmo skills are top-notch, Sam, and I won’t be in your debt for very long after you make the purchase. 

There’s also Zach “Aren’t You Glad You Aren’t On The Jags Beat Anymore?” Goodall, who picked an opportune time to switch over from covering the Jacksonville Jaguars, which decided Week 1 was the perfect time to implode. It’s a bold strategy, we’ll see if it pays off. In the meantime, does it feel good to cover a team that didn’t pay $50 million for its quarterback to break his collarbone in the first game?

The last member of the eighth-place spot is Brian “Don’t Steal My Writers” Fox. According to esteemed former Alligator editor Mark Stine, Brian has been trying to get Alligator writers to contribute to his site as well. I appreciate that you recognize my staff’s abilities, Brian. But they’re mine, OK? You can’t have them.

Once again alone in 11th place at 4-12 (yikes) is Mari “Who is Chase?” Faiello, who removed the name of a childhood friend from her column on Wednesday after feeling uncomfortable due to the amount of inquiries from the rest of the sports staff about Chase’s significance. Don’t be embarrassed, Mari. We just wanted to know more about your personal life, that’s all. Also, if you were coloring alone, you can tell us. We’ll only make fun of you a little bit.