picks

It’s Thanksgiving week, and here at alligatorSports, we’re thankful for food, family, friends and, arguably most importantly, a full slate of rivalry weekend football ahead of us.

The Gators have Florida State, who they haven’t beaten in Gainesville since Tim Tebow’s Senior Night in 2009.

Last season, Florida finally won the Sunshine Showdown after losing five straight matchups against the Seminoles, walking out of Doak Campbell Stadium with a 41-14 victory.

This time around, the Gators are 17.5-point favorites as 6-5 FSU stumbles down the stretch with interim coach Odell Haggins. With a win, they could set themselves up nicely for a New Year’s Six Bowl game.

Our team of “experts” has predictions for that game and the other top contests of rivalry week, starting with No. 5 Alabama at No. 15 Auburn. Football writers Kyle Wood and Sam Campisano debate the outcome of that one below:

Alabama will win because…

Crazy things happen in rivalry games. And what would be crazier than Alabama logging its first quality win on the road in Week 14 and thus punching its ticket to the College Football Playoff. Well actually, maybe that wouldn’t be that crazy. It actually sounds kind of scripted.

Relatively unchallenged, unproven Alabama sneaking into the top four and a four-loss Auburn team actually being really good just makes too much sense for this game to go any other way, let’s be honest.

Yes, ‘Bama is missing Tua Tagovailoa. But Mac Jones still has one of the best wide receiver trios in all of college football to sling the ball to and if that doesn’t work, he can just turn around and hand the ball off to the deadly Najee Harris, who is averaging six yards per carry as the Crimson Tide’s lead back.

Auburn and Alabama have almost identical defensive statistics, but the Crimson Tide have by far the superior offense. It remains to be seen how that offense will perform against stiffer competition than Western Carolina, but I don’t imagine the dropoff being disastrous. No disrespect to Tagovailoa, but Nick Saban is the kind of coach to implement the exact kind of next man up mentality for situations like this. 

— Kyle Wood

Auburn (+3.5) will win because…

Tua Tagovailoa isn’t playing. 

Alabama’s star quarterback is out for the season with a dislocated hip. In his place, Mac Jones will be making the first road start of his career. 

Against Auburn. In the biggest rivalry game south of the Mason-Dixon Line. With the nation watching.

The jury is still out on Jones, but he certainly isn’t Tua. That gives Auburn the edge. 

Sure, I think Auburn will win more because of who Alabama doesn’t have vs. who the Tigers do have, but I don’t want to discredit AU.

Auburn has looked good lately. Third-best defense in the SEC. Freshman Bo Nix has only gotten better as the season has progressed, and the Tigers gave both No. 2 LSU and No. 4 Georgia a run for their money before falling short. AU is looking for a statement win, and this is the time to do it. 

Alabama looks vulnerable? Check. The entire country watching? Check. Opportunity to kill your biggest rival’s hopes for a national championship? Check. 

War Eagle.

— Sam Campisano

Now onto the picks… 

In first at 68-35 is Tyler “I Did It” Nettuno, who casually suggested on Twitter that the way you block Ohio State defensive end Chase Young from playing is turning in an anonymous tip to the NCAA. I mean, I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt that you’re just stating an obvious fact, but how do we know that YOU weren’t the one who called in the tip to the NCAA, Tyler? I wouldn’t put it past you to try to crush my hopes and dreams of another National Championship. 

In second at 62-41 is Kyle “Easily Distracted” Wood, who carelessly ignored his cousin’s presentation on Ireland while the Bears and Lions were playing on Thanksgiving. Gosh, Kyle. Show your little cousin some respect. He’s proud of his elementary presentation and just wanted to share it with the family. How dare you pay more attention to Mitch Trubisky than your cousin. The shame.

Tied for third at 57-46 is Mark “Throw That Coughlin Shade” Long. Mark, claiming that Tom Coughlin — pretty inarguably the most successful head coach in franchise history — has a legacy of ruining the Jags twice is pretty bold. But at the same time, I can’t disagree with you. Clean house and stop giving this man control of football operations. 

Tied with Mark is Sam “High School Me Was Peak Me” Campisano, who decided to throw his teachers from Joe E. Newsome High School under the bus with a Tweet of his first quarter grades. We’re unsure what year it was from, but that’s not the only thing Sam omitted from his followers. He also opted to cut off the names of his teachers. Don’t worry, Sam. Mari knew exactly who you were throwing under the bus. She’s got you — and your barely passing grade — all figured out. 

In fifth at 56-47 is Nick “Please Don’t Do This” De La Torre, who outed himself on Instagram as being a person who dresses up their dog. This isn’t just about you, Nick. This is a PSA to all dog owners: Don’t do that. Dogs clearly don’t like it, and posting it on social media will lead to people making fun of you, especially if they write an everything-goes picks column.

Leading off a three-way tie for sixth at 55-48 is Dylan “Ice Cream Communist” Rudolph, who didn’t know what type of ice cream Cold Stone served. It’s not that hard to remember or know this Dylan, but there are two main types of ice cream: soft serve and hard serve. Cold STONE serves hard serve ice cream, stones are hard. Makes sense right? We hope you take this valuable lesson to heart, but more importantly never make this mistake again. Also, who goes to Cold Stone just for their ice cream without mixing in any kind of toppings? You don’t deserve such luxuries. 

Also tied for sixth is Zach “Likes The Draft More Than The Actual Games” Goodall, who, despite being a football writer, enjoys discussing and watching the NFL Draft more than the sport he covers. Zach, I get that the First Round can be fun to watch, if a bit drawn out. But Day 3? It’s painfully boring, man.

Tied with Dylan and Zach is Graham “Journalism Is Dying” Hall, who carelessly tweeted on Thanksgiving that his industry of choice was dying but he was unthankful for the fact that the pound that supplied the dogs for Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp” live-action remake was doing so well. Y i k e s, Graham. What did the dogs do to you to deserve such a take? I mean, ya, print journalism isn’t thriving like it did in the 90s, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say the whole industry is caput. The dogs don’t deserve that kind of attitude at all. 

In ninth at 54-49 is Brian “Wants Mari’s Hate” Fox, who criticized Ohio State fans for storming the field after winning a game by 11 points that the Buckeyes were favored in. Brian, we don’t disagree that they should “act like they’ve been there before,” but Mari is a very irrational OSU fan and doesn’t take criticism of THE Ohio State too kindly. All I’m saying is, watch your back.

Tied for last at 53-50 is Edgar “Sappy Moment” Thompson, who greeted his Twitter followers with a nice Thanksgiving wish on Thursday. Way to go, Edgar. We knew you had it in you. I’m sure the tweet was a nice change of pace for some of your most ardent followers, although no one wished you a Happy Thanksgiving back so we’re still trying to figure out exactly what that means. 

Tied with Edgar is Mari “Twitter Sleuth” Faiello. After figuring out that Tyler has to post unpublished class stories on Twitter and didn’t want to use his main account to post half-assed stories he wasn’t very proud of, Mari easily located his burner account. She then proceed to like every tweet the account had ever posted. Congrats on cleverly deducing my pseudonym, Mari. But please, stop engaging with those tweets. I don’t want the algorithm to pick them up.