All that being said, this past Saturday was almost a fucking disaster. FAU is a 2 win FBS team and doesn't have the talent to win in Gainesville, and yet we entered overtime at a distinct disadvantage because we have no kicker. Sure enough, we had another PAT blocked and it could have cost us a lot of the good momentum that Mac has built this year. Losing to FSU or Bama is one thing, losing to FAU sets you back. Thankfully, like we've done so many times this year, we managed to pull it out by playing outstanding defense, punting well, and squeezing out just enough points to carry the day. 10-1 against our schedule is nothing to sneeze at, no matter how gross we look on offense most of the time. I'm looking forward to see what Mac can do offensively once he finally gets a line and a QB on campus to run his scheme.
While we were struggling with the Owls, our other SEC Eastern brethren had similar issues. Mizzou is awful. South Carolina lost to The Citadel, and Georgia had to go to OT to beat Georgia Southern (something we'd have killed for a few years back). More significantly, Ohio State lost their season opener against an actual opponent and Urban's locker room splintered as a result. He's an amazing recruiter, but the knock on Meyer is that he gives preferential treatment to his stars, so much so that he loses control of them. The fact that his star tailback and former starting QB both announced they were going pro with their biggest rivalry game and post season still on the horizon tells you everything you need to know. LSU also failed to show up again for the third week in a row. If you'd have told me back in October that Les Miles would be on the verge of getting fired I would have thought you were mistaking him for Mark Richt, but there's enough noise coming out of Baton Rouge to make me think it might actually happen. I'd tell LSU the same thing I'd say to Georgia- Be careful. Tennessee fired a guy that won 9-10 games every year and they're still pointing to "next year" up in Rockytop and haven't sniffed Atlanta since Fulmer got the axe. The rumor I hear most often is that Jimbo would be the go to choice for LSU, but I think you'd have to be crazy to make a lateral move like that and pick up a significantly harder schedule. Note to Jimbo- If you can avoid playing Alabama every year, do it.
Turning to our friends from Tallahassee, they did what Florida was supposed to do against an outmatched FBS opponent and rolled through Chattanooga on Saturday. The Everett Golson experiment appears officially over and I've been impressed with Sean Maguire's arm. I think they're a far more formidable offense than they were with Golson. That said, if you're playing FSU you'd better first worry about #4. Dalvin Cook is an incredible talent and singlehandedly won games for FSU when they couldn't do anything through the air. Their O line isn't as good as last year, but Cook is so explosive that he doesn't need much. I'm not as overwhelmed with their defense as I've been in the past, but they are fast, talented and have good size up front. Typical FSU D. The biggest mismatch Saturday will be in the kicking game. Their FG kicker is a future NFL star, ours is likely never going to kick for points after this season.
In terms of good news, you'll recall that if Florida had any offense at all last year we turned Jameis over multiple times and probably could have pulled the upset against a Noles squad that was superior to this year's version. FSU has lost to a lousy Georgia Tech team, albeit on a fluke blocked FG, and a good Clemson team. They've beaten two Division 1 teams with winning records. I think we have the better defense and, like it or not, Treon and the offense played their best game against the best team (LSU) we've faced since Grier was suspended. Plus, we get them at home and I predict the Swamp will be rocking after a long day of tailgating.
I think one stat will tell the tale on Saturday- Turnovers. If we are positive on turnovers we'll win. If we turn it over and make it hard on our defense we'll lose. I'm assuming that the D will be close to full strength come Saturday night, and barring turnovers I think we hold them to scoring similar to their games against Clemson (they scored 13) and BC (they scored 14). Sean Maguire is an upgrade for their passing game, but this is the best secondary he's faced in his life and they don't have a legit weapon at wideout or tight end like they've had in the past. I don't know how in the hell we'll score more than 14, but I don't know how in the hell we've won 10 games with this offense, so I'm just going to trust that it will work out somehow. It has been a crazy season, but the breaks have gone our way and I don't think that stops in the biggest home game of the year. I think Florida wins 20-16 and Coach Mac goes perfect at home in year 1.
I'm traveling next week a good bit for work so I'm going to go ahead and give you my prediction for the SEC Championship game as well. Prediction 1- We're playing Bama. There's no way they slip up to Auburn. None. Prediction 2- Our defense will keep us in it for the first half, but there's nothing we'll be able to do with our O line against their defensive front. I just hope Treon survives. Come the fourth quarter our D will have fought their hearts out but tackling Derrick Henry when the game is no longer in doubt becomes extremely difficult. Bama 30-Florida 13.
I'll give you a few picks this week and then talk to you once the bowls are announced-
Auburn v. Alabama- See above. This ends badly for Boom and the Tigers. Bama 35-Tigers 9.
Michigan v. Ohio State- This is going to be fascinating. I don't love Big Blue's talent level this year but Urban's got his work cut out for him getting this team to believe again and you know that Harbaugh has been looking forward to this one all year. That said, Urban's lost one regular season game in the Big 10 in four years. He's not losing two in a row. Buckeyes 24-Big Blue 18.
Nebraska v. Iowa- This is a great game for Friday. Nebraska is coming off a bye and Iowa now has the pressure of being the lone undefeated team in the Big 10. I think the world of Kirk Ferentz, but I have a feeling that if Ohio State can't run the table, then neither can the Hawkeyes. Big Red 28-Hawks 23.
Stanford v. Notre Dame- Stanford gets more love in spite of having two losses than any team in the country. I think Notre Dame is the better side, but if you haven't figured it out by now I'm rooting for complete chaos for the playoff committee. Cardinal 27-Domers 24.
TCU v. Baylor- TCU gave the Sooners all they wanted on Saturday night while Baylor handled OSU in Stillwater. This is another great Friday game but I like Baylor to outscore the Frogs and stay in the hunt for the playoffs. Bears 42-Frogs 33.
Oklahoma State v. Oklahoma- OSU won in Norman last year in overtime. I like them to get off the mat and find a way to give Stoops an 0-2 record in major rivalry games this year. Cowboys 38-Sooners 35.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. I hope to see many of you in God's Country come Saturday for what promises to be an extremely fun way to end the regular season. I'll be back talking to you one more time after the dust settles in Hotlanta.