GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we bring you our Friday prediction podcast for the Florida Gators vs. Missouri game on the road on Saturday.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre breakdown the keys for Florida on both offense and defense on Saturday on the road against Missouri.
Andrew and Nick also give you three players to watch for Florida, plus we predict several games around the country on Saturday.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we’re back. Little hiatus. Personal news, my father-in-law passed away, so I was away, and we were not podcasting, but we’re back, Nick. The Gators did win against Vandy, and it was a blowout.
Nick: Yup. We wanted to be here for you and give you time to do the family. I’m sure everyone that had questions completely understands. We’re back, and we’re ready to go.
Andrew: Yeah. Big win over Vandy. Caught glimpses of that, and that was a good game. We’ll spend a second here. We’ll talk about it, but the main focus here is the Missouri game. Real quick on the Vandy game. Real quick, Nick, back to that. Complete game. You can talk about how bad Vandy is. Vandy’s a very bad football team, but complete game. You did your job, and a lot of young guys played well. Mohamoud Diabate, great game for him.
Nick: Really only got 19 snaps, but talk about making the most of them. Three sacks, four tackles, forced fumble that ends up getting returned for a touchdown. Huge game for him. He’s a kid, Mohamoud is a kid I think that when you start looking at all the players that are leaving, the seniors, and there’s more on offense than defense, but when you start looking at all the players that are leaving, he’s one that makes you feel okay about the future.
Andrew: Right. Oh yeah, absolutely. Ethan White had a pretty good game. Him and Richard Gouraige. We’ve talked about, and I’ve been very critical of the offensive line and said they need to get better, and Ethan White played decent, or played better than decent, played pretty good. We’ll see how he does this week against a Missouri defensive line that’s pretty good. Yeah. I thought it was positive steps on the offensive line.
Nick: Yeah. It’s kind of forced their hand. It’s something that you and I have called for, fans have called for, to shake up the offensive line. It kind of just forced your hand with Chris Bleich quitting on the team to kind of make that move. Then Brett Heggie being concussed. I think Brett Heggie’s back at practice this week, so it’ll be interesting to see what the line looks like up in Columbia. I thought the line did a pretty good job, especially considering you’re starting a true freshman and a redshirt freshman.
Andrew: Right. Absolutely. Good week. We talk about this, and, again, I don’t know the best way to say this, but you’re not really playing, I mean, you’re playing for a better bowl game. Obviously, you’re playing for a chance to win 10 games in the season and possibly 11 if you win your bowl game. I’m not discrediting that, because that’s huge and everything else. But it’s also a little bit of a time to start focusing on next year. Diabate, Bogle, Ethan White, the Richard Gouraiges of the world, it’s time to get those guys involved. I thought they played well. You get a little bit of excitement for next year.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, listen, it’s not impossible, but I don’t think Georgia is going to lose their next two games, so it’s very unlikely that Florida gets to the SEC Championship game, but you’re still playing for 10 wins in the regular season, and you win your bowl game, that’s 11 wins. That’s more than last year.
Nick: I know it probably seems disappointing to some, because you get to a point when you’re against Georgia, and you’re thinking, and, crap, we said it, I mean you and I said it. If Florida wins out, they’re in the playoff. So, fans start thinking playoff. Now that you’re talking about not even going to the SEC Championship game. I can see why it can be a letdown, but for me this season has not been a disappointment, in any shape, in any form or fashion.
Andrew: Yeah. You and I have disagreed a little bit on that. I say, listen, every year you should not be playing for a college football playoff, but, Nick, and I know you’re in the same mindset as I am, but any year you don’t win a championship is a little bit of a disappointment. It just is. Did I expect them to go? No. Did I expect them to be in this position they’re in right now? Pretty much. I think I said 2-3 losses in the regular season. I think we all had that Auburn game as a little bit of a tossup game, and they won that game. You’re in position to take that next step. I think a lot of people forget how hard it is to win 10 football games. It’s tough. It’s very tough to win 10 football games. To do that, potentially, in back to back seasons is big.
Nick: Yeah. You can’t take that away from Florida. I mean, 10 wins, like you said, is not an easy feat. Florida had, sure, two FCS opponents on the schedule, three if you want to include Tennessee in that. Actually, Tennessee, your boy up there he’s got them playing some good football now.
Andrew: He got pissed off.
Nick: But when they came to Florida.
Andrew: They were bad.
Nick: They were bad. They’ve gotten better, but when they came to Florida, they were bad.
Andrew: They were really bad. He’s gotten pissed off up there.
Nick: Yeah. Listen, it’s hard. It’s hard to win 10 football games. Winning every single week is hard.
Nick: So, to me, it’s an accomplishment. Is it the college football playoffs? Is it a national championship? No. But like you said, listen, there’s one team that wins that every year. Even the team that plays for it and loses is going to have a segment of the fanbase that’s pissed off and mad and thinks it was a bummer, but there’s only one team that can win it every year. You have to have realistic goals.
Andrew: Let me ask you this though. This is a legit question. Is next year Atlanta or bust?
Nick: I don’t know, because I think the roster next year takes such a hit. I really need to see what’s left. I mean, you run down the list of players that are going to be leaving. I did it a couple weeks ago on the podcast, just on offense. The schedule gets easier, but you’re losing a ton of talent.
Andrew: I think though at some point, and probably next year, you have to go back to that. I mean, you have to take that next step. Listen, I am the world’s biggest critic of Mark Richt out there, and I can’t be a critic of Mark Richt and then say it’s okay for Dan Mullen just to win 10 games and never go to Atlanta, because that’s not good enough. At some point or another he has to take that next step. I think it has to be starting next year. You say, well, the roster takes a hit. Well, this is Dan Mullen’s roster now. Would you agree with that?
Nick: Yeah. It’s coming up to be pretty much his full roster. This will be he’ll have three recruiting classes on campus.
Andrew: Right. Yeah.
Nick: Yeah. Certainly. I mean, at some point, I’m just, from me knowing who’s here, so for me it’s kind of just like knowing what you’re losing, stuff like that. I’m thinking, ugh. That’s going to be tough.
Nick: But I mean, everything you said is not wrong. You got to figure out a way to get to Atlanta, and then once you get to Atlanta, that’s not good enough. We saw that with Jim McElwain. You can’t get to Atlanta and get blown out. That’s not going to make anyone happy.
Andrew: Right. Exactly. Nick, let’s get into this Missouri game here. You talked a little bit about injuries offensively. It looks like Heggie will be back there. Defensively, Jabari’s questionable. I would say probably questionable to doubtful. Would you agree with that?
Nick: Yeah. I would say probably questionable, not doubtful.
Andrew: It’s cold up there. I just don’t know how that ankle’s going to respond.
Nick: Yeah. You can get out there and feel good all week, and you have a bad ankle, and all of a sudden. It feels good when you’re playing and running around in Gainesville and it’s humid and it’s hot, and the ligaments can stretch out, and then all of a sudden, you get up there, and you try to plant and everything freezes up.
Andrew: Yeah. Burney. Burney’s same thing, right?
Nick: I think same thing with Burney. The one I’m really unsure about, I guess I would say, is Brad Stewart. At the time, on Monday when we talked to Dan Mullen, and then we asked him again on Wednesday on the SEC teleconference, he said same thing as Monday. He said Brad is fine. I saw Brad on Monday, and he was not walking well, and then I was told he didn’t practice on Monday. So for me, Brad Stewart would be one that I’d want to watch, especially with a knee injury like he has. Same thing, like you said, do you maybe feel good walking around on practice Wednesday and practice Thursday, and then you get on a plane and get into a different temperature, and now it’s all tight again?
Andrew: Right. I mean, like you said, it’s that, and then you get a situation where Kelly Bryant’s going to make you run. You’re going to run a lot. Do you go from that and then it stiffens up throughout the game? We’ll see. Yeah. I’m with you. I think Brad Stewart’s a big one to watch in this game, because safety play is going to be big. Kelly Bryant is going to use his legs. Kelly Bryant is going to make you work in the secondary.
Nick: Yeah. Barry Odom came out and said, Kelly Bryant, I mean, he had the one knee injury that kind of looked gruesome but didn’t miss any time from that. Then last week was actually the first time he missed a start or missed a game.
Nick: So, for me, obviously the offense had less than 200 yards last week against Georgia on the road without him there, so you need him back in the lineup. They’re a better team with him, and it’s going to be interesting, because where does Florida stand when it comes to mobile quarterbacks? Kelly Bryant’s not necessarily running around like Mike Vick back in Madden ’04.
Andrew: He ain’t Baker Mayfield?
Nick: No. He’s got 250 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. Obviously, he’s been dealing with a hamstring injury. That kind of hampers you a little bit. To me, it’s kind of like the Joe Burrow situation, and Kelly Bryant’s much more athletic than Joe Burrow, but he’s a guy like Burrow that if your pass rush gets to him, he’s very good at taking that one step in the pocket, left, right, up, back. Just to get that guy out of position. Jonathan Greenard fires off the line of scrimmage, gets back there, but the quarterback’s able to just slip away. Now Greenard’s out of the play.
Andrew: Right. Exactly.
Nick: You saw that over and over and over again against LSU, and that’s something that once that happens, you got pressure, but it didn’t necessarily work, and now you’re asking your defensive guys to cover for four, five seconds. That’s when you get guys running open downfield.
Andrew: Right. That RPO game is a game that Kelly Bryant was very good with at Clemson, and something he uses at Missouri. If you don’t respect it, or you get undisciplined in the pass rushing, or even in the run gaps, he can beat you. That’ll be a situation that Florida at times has struggled with, especially opposite of Greenard, losing containment, getting out of assignment football, and especially now without Moon. You’re looking at Diabate. You’re looking at Bogle. You’re looking at Adam Shuler. Guys that haven’t started a lot. Can you stay home there? Because if not, Kelly Bryant will make you pay.
Nick: Kelly Bryant is good. I’m interested to see how healthy he is. Odom says he’s as close to 100% as he’s been in weeks.
Andrew: Cold weather’s not going to help him either.
Nick: Yeah. Luckily, it’ll be, for them, but see, for them now it’s going to be warm, because it was fricking snowing on Monday.
Nick: So, this 45 degree weather on Saturday is a nice warm front for them. So, there’s also that context.
Andrew: Yeah. Kelly Bryant’s still a little new to Missouri weather, so we’ll see how that goes there. Some impressive numbers though overall, Nick. I think, when you look at what they’re doing. They’re running the ball 4.8 yards per carry. Not too bad on that. They’ve done well running the ball, but they’ve given up 14 sacks.
Nick: Here’s the thing. They’ve been …
Andrew: Excuse me. They’ve given up 19 sacks.
Nick: Here’s the thing about them. They are two completely different football teams. They are one football team when they’re on the road, and they’re one football team when they’re at home. They’re not coming to Gainesville this year. They average more than 40 points at home and just over 24 on the road. They don’t give up much. They only give up, they’re blowing teams out. They’re giving up just over 14 points a game at home. I don’t know, they didn’t ask Barry Odom, what’s up? What the hell? To me, that’s a very real thing. Momentum is a real thing, whether you want to believe it or not, especially in college football, when you’re talking about 18, 19, 20, 21-year-old kids. It’s a real thing. That’s a stat for me that really jumped off the page. Dan Mullen mentioned it on Monday, and then when I went through the numbers, looked at it, it’s kind of eye popping about how much better Missouri is at home.
Andrew: Right. Yeah. Like I said, they’ve had 14 sacks on the year, and they’ve done decently against the running game, giving up 3.78 yards per attempt there. Got eight interceptions, so they’re decently on that. The stat that stuck out to me though, Nick, is they’re only 37% in 3rd downs. That could be where this game’s won or lost, who can win 3rd downs again.
Nick: Yeah. That’s an issue. Not an issue, but that’s when you say, Kelly Bryant can give you an extra one second in the pocket. It’s really hard to cover guys for five seconds, six seconds.
Andrew: Right. Yeah. When you’re Florida here, Nick, do you play a little more contain D, or do you think you come after Bryant with the injury? What are you kind of thinking? What’s kind of been the overall feel this week?
Nick: Florida’s made a move. Tre Dean, we saw it for the first time. He’s not starting anymore. He’s basically coming off the bench and playing outside. So, you’re going to see when Florida is in a nickel situation, when they’re playing nickel, Marco Wilson is going to play inside. Marco Wilson’s also going to start outside. When Marco Wilson’s playing nickel, Kaiir Elam’s playing outside, opposite of CJ Henderson. So, with that group do you trust the freshman to play press and to maybe only leave one guy high, because you’re bringing pressure? Those are questions that a coach that gets paid $1.3 million to call defenses needs to answer.
Andrew: Right. No, I agree.
Nick: I know everyone wants to play press man, but you play press man and Kaiir Elam gets beat over the top, because he’s a freshman and got his eyes caught in the backfield and makes a freshman mistake, and then it’s fire Todd Grantham. Why aren’t you playing more conservative? This and that. It’s a tough question, because Kaiir Elam is a good player. He’s going to be a good player, but he’s going to get beat. He’s young. He’s a freshman. All cornerbacks get beat, especially young freshmen cornerbacks. They’re going to get beat.
Andrew: Well, I mean, you’re going to take your chances against him before you take your chances against CJ.
Nick: Right. Absolutely. You see freshman. You open up the depth chart, and you see freshman. You say, that’s the way we’re going.
Andrew: Right. I mean, here’s the thing though. I don’t have a problem so much of allowing Kaiir to be on an island a little bit in this game, but I think you have to mix it up some. It’s a little bit different, I think, this week too, Nick, because Missouri usually is big, tall wide receivers, not so much this year. Their three leading receivers are 6’, 5’9”, 5’10”.
Andrew: So, you feel a little bit more comfortable with it.
Nick: Not the typical. Missouri for a while just had, you look at their roster, and it was like 6’2” and over at receiver.
Andrew: Right. Exactly. So, you feel a little bit more comfortable going man there. The biggest question I have for you though, Nick, and I think this is a question mark in this game is how in the world they’re going to stop the tight end without Amari Burney.
Nick: I’m pulling a Spivey. Not even going to try to pronounce his last name. He’s just Albert O.
Andrew: Albert Okwuegbunam.
Nick: Okay. Close enough. Albert O.
Andrew: Albert O.
Nick: Albert O is an older and more experienced Kyle Pitts.
Nick: There’s no covering him.
Andrew: No. Six touchdowns on the year.
Nick: Six touchdowns on the year. He is, how tall is he? 6’7”?
Andrew: Yeah. 6’6”.
Nick: 6’6”. He’s just long, athletic. Kind of like when I talk about Kyle Pitts, like a basketball player, like a rebounder. Able to box people out and use his length and his size. There’s just no covering him. Amari Burney would be Florida’s best shot at doing it, but you’re going to need safety help on it.
Andrew: That’s where Brad Stewart comes in.
Nick: If he could play.
Andrew: If he could play. So, yeah. I mean, Larry Roundtree is not bad out of the backfield either.
Andrew: That’s a question mark for me, Nick, when I was going through Missouri notes earlier, before the podcast. Just where Florida was going to go to stop this tight end play, because we’ve all talked about it. We’ve talked about it a ton with Kyle Pitts, but you’ve got to find a way. I mean, if you’re Missouri here, and he gets matched up on David Reese, I’m going to Albert O every time.
Nick: 100%. That’s a mismatch. Todd Grantham, I asked him, and he said they sure do. They move guys around. They’ll pre snap, so if you’re showing that they’ve got a safety on him, we’ll just motion him to the other side of the offensive line. Who’s on him now? Oh, now you have Ventrell Miller on him. Cool. Change the progression. We have a new progression. We’re going to Albert O’s the first look. That’s a huge key to me. Let me pull up. What did he do last year against Florida? I know he had a touchdown. Game logs. Last year against Florida he had four catches for 46 and a touchdown. I mean, that’s 11.5 yards a catch.
Andrew: He’s one of those guys where I’ll steal your phrase. Throw it to him 20 times, you didn’t throw it to him enough.
Andrew: Who would you put on him?
Nick: To me it’s got to be … Oh, shoot, he got hurt in the Florida game last year too.
Nick: And left. Then didn’t play the rest of the year.
Andrew: Okay. Who would you put on him? In my opinion, it’s almost going to have to be linebacker help with safety.
Andrew: Almost a linebacker has the first 10-15. Safety has to pick up and go there, and just really hope and pray that they don’t start hitting out routes on your linebackers.
Andrew: I’m trying to think here. I mean, you wouldn’t want to put Marco on him, because he’s going to be bigger than Marco. Like you said, you’d love to have Amari Burney play there. For Florida though, when you go on offense, I think you can try to get the running game going here a little bit. We’ll see how Ethan White and Gouraige play, but this should be a game that Florida should get the running game going a little bit.
Nick: You’d hope so. As you already mentioned, Missouri’s rushing stats, they don’t rush the ball that well. They’re eighth rushing it, but against the run they’re also eighth, giving up 140 a game. It’s the last SEC game for Lamical Perine, the last SEC game for Nick Buchanan and a lot of these guys. You’d like to be able to see the running game get going and kind of ease off the pressure of everyone else.
Andrew: Yeah. Again, go to Kyle Pitts. They ain’t got anybody to stop him. Keep going there.
Nick: Battle of the tight ends.
Andrew: Battle of the tight ends. Albert O versus Kyle Pitts. Who you got? There you go. That’ll be a big one. I mean, it’s the last SEC game for several of these guys. You look at Van Jefferson. You look at, I just drew a blank here. Van Jefferson, Tyrie Cleveland, Lamical, Buchanan, Stone, this is his last game, last SEC game. It’s a time to kind of put out. Again, what little bit of hope you have to get to Atlanta, which is very, very slim, means nothing if you lose on Saturday.
Nick: Yeah. This is just, to bring up a different point, this is also like a just figure it out kind of game.
Andrew: Get over that hump against Missouri.
Nick: Yeah. I can’t explain. Florida’s gotten blown out the last two games, like not even competitive the last two games against Missouri. They lose more than they win against Missouri, and I don’t understand it, because it’s never like, I know when Missouri first came they went to the SEC Championship the first two years, but it’s not like Missouri’s a national power. They fired a coach in the middle of this weird back and forth with Florida. It’s just like get over the hump and figure it out against Missouri. That’s the other thing. Sure, winning this game for Florida means a better bowl game and stuff like that, but it’s just like, just figure it out. It’s Missouri football.
Andrew: Right. No, I’m with you. Now that you talked about the bowl game, let’s talk about that a little bit here. You look at this, and you see different bowls. Some have Florida going to the Orange Bowl. Some have Florida potentially going to the Cotton Bowl. I think that’s a little out of the question. I don’t think they’re going to the Cotton Bowl. Then some have it going to the Citrus Bowl. Three, I would say. I mean, I know the Citrus Bowl for you and I, Nick, is kind of just whatever, but that’s still a bigger bowl. You don’t want to drop to the Outback Bowl.
Nick: I will not be happy with the Citrus Bowl.
Andrew: I won’t be happy with it either, but I’m just saying. If you’re Florida, you would much rather the Citrus Bowl than the Outback Bowl.
Andrew: I mean, granted, Miami would be wonderful.
Nick: That’d be beautiful.
Andrew: I mean, would you agree about the Cotton Bowl though?
Nick: Yeah. Right now, Cotton Bowl probably seems the destination for Florida. Florida, to get to the Orange Bowl, because the Orange Bowl has to take an ACC team.
Nick: Literally has to take the ACC team, even if there’s no ranked team. If there’s no ranked team, then the Orange Bowl just gets to pick whichever ACC team they want. Looking at that terrible football conference, they might not have any.
Andrew: Right. Yeah. I just don’t think the Cotton Bowl, I just don’t see them going to the Cotton Bowl, Nick.
Nick: I could see them going to the Cotton Bowl. Listen, the playoff committee’s job is to get the four teams right. After that, they don’t care where the other teams go. That’s not their job, not what they signed up for, and not what they’re getting paid. Well, they’re not getting paid, but not what they signed up for.
To me, it’s they need to get rid of the bowl tie-ins. You don’t need to have, right now the Rose Bowl can only take a PAC-12 team or a Big 10 team. Why can’t Florida play in the Rose Bowl? I get that there’s history, and there’s stuff like that, but we’ve gotten to a point in college football where it’s different. There’s a playoff system. We’re talking now about are you going to even expand the playoff system, and these bowl tie-ins don’t need to be there. You’re telling me that if there’s no ranked ACC team, outside of Clemson, who might be in the college football playoff, that an 8-4 Miami gets to go to a New Year’s Six Orange Bowl? That’s ridiculous.
Andrew: I think there needs to be stipulations to that. If it’s not a certain thing, then, no, they can’t go to the bowl game, but I’m okay with the tie-ins. For me, and I know what you’re saying, Nick, it would be cool to go to the Rose Bowl. It’d be awesome to go to the Rose Bowl, but the Rose Bowl for Florida wouldn’t mean as much as it would to Ohio State or Wisconsin or USC or whatever it may be. The same thing with the Sugar Bowl. The Sugar Bowl is not the Sugar Bowl without an SEC team, so like I’m okay with them having the tie-ins. I think it just needs to be some kind of stipulation put in there, where if there’s not an ACC team in the top 15, then the Orange Bowl doesn’t have to take them.
Nick: So, leave the tie-ins, but tighten it up.
Andrew: Yeah. Like you said.
Nick: Because literally that scenario that I just said is a real thing.
Andrew: Oh, Clemson’s the only ACC team that is worth a damn. Sorry. I guess Wake Forest is okay. Outside of that, they’re the only team worth a damn.
Nick: There’s a strong possibility, and the Orange Bowl would have no problem picking Miami. When was the last time Miami was in the Orange Bowl? They get to play at their rented home stadium, and people will show up for that, because people in Miami show up for big events. The game’s in South Florida. People in Miami show up for big events, so they’ll show up for the Orange Bowl. Whatever teams goes with them, they’ll show up too. Florida will pack out the Orange Bowl.
Andrew: Yeah. Can we get a Florida-Miami rematch down there?
Nick: I don’t want that.
Andrew: I don’t care if Florida plays Wake, whatever. I’d just like to go to the Orange Bowl.
Nick: Yeah. I was telling somebody on Twitter. They were asking why would I want to go to that one. It’s just selfish for me. My family’s down there. I’d get to spend Christmas at home with my family and see friends and everyone. Get to cover a game in the stadium I grew up watching the Dolphins and Marlins play in. For me, it’s selfishly the Orange Bowl. It’s also a bigger, much bigger bowl than the Citrus or the Outback or the Gator Bowl.
Andrew: I’m just all for new bowl games. We’ve had the shitty draws of Birmingham.
Nick: We’ve bounced around between Birmingham. That’s the worst bowl.
Nick: Birmingham is the worst bowl game ever.
Andrew: Oh, Birmingham’s the worst bowl. Followed quickly by Jacksonville’s bowl game. That was awful. The Outback Bowl was cool. I mean, the Citrus Bowl is just whatever. It’s just whatever to me. I wouldn’t mind the Cotton Bowl.
Nick: That’d be really cool. They play that in Jerry’s World, right?
Andrew: Yes. They play that in Jerry’s World. I actually, I mean, it won’t happen, because Florida’s not going to the SEC Championship game, but the Sugar Bowl would be cool too.
Nick: Yeah. The way that Florida would get to the Orange Bowl, you would need Alabama and LSU to both make the playoff, which is possible, because Alabama’s ranked fifth.
Andrew: Well, if Georgia loses this week.
Nick: Georgia would probably lose to LSU in the SEC Championship game, which would knock them out of the four. Alabama would be the next one up, unless they get jumped. If LSU and Alabama both make the playoff, then that sends Georgia to the Sugar Bowl as the highest ranked non-playoff team.
Andrew: Let me ask you this.
Nick: Highest ranked SEC non-playoff team.
Andrew: Let’s say Georgia loses this week to Auburn. Okay? Then Georgia loses to LSU. Florida has the potential to go to the Sugar Bowl.
Nick: Say it again.
Andrew: Okay. Say Georgia loses this week to Auburn, and then loses the SEC Championship game. They would surely drop behind Florida.
Nick: Right. But then you would need Alabama to get in the playoff.
Andrew: That’s what I’m saying. If Alabama and LSU both go to the bowl games, and Georgia loses those two games, Florida would go to the Sugar Bowl.
Nick: Yeah. I’d probably have to look into it. This is the first time I’ve even looked at it, but yeah.
Andrew: Surely Georgia wouldn’t stay ahead of Florida with three losses. Maybe.
Nick: I don’t know. I mean, Florida already dropped, already went down one.
Andrew: Yeah. I don’t know. We’ll have to see. I’m cool with the Sugar Bowl. I like the Sugar Bowl. Let me ask you this. One last thing before we get into some picks here. Does Alabama deserve to go to the playoff?
Nick: On one hand I say yes. On another hand I say no. I just don’t know if there are four better teams than them, and that’s really what this whole thing is is finding the four best teams. So, I don’t know if there’s four better teams than them. I don’t even think Ohio State, who is undefeated, is better than Alabama.
Andrew: Right. Give me Alabama-LSU again. Give it to me. I’m cool with that. Give me that game again. I am cool with that game again. I’m with you. Here’s the thing too. I’ll say this. Does a healthy Tua flip the script on that game on Saturday, past Saturday? In my opinion, possibly.
Nick: I don’t know, because he’s not stopping LSU’s offense. But shoot, give Nick Saban a month to prepare for only one game, and maybe you find a way to slow LSU down. Nobody has found a way to slow LSU down.
Andrew: Yeah. I’m just saying, I mean, it’s a shootout. When you play LSU this year, it’s a shootout, so that’s why I’m saying does Tua decide. Anyway, we’ll see. We’ll get down there. Nick, your week to go first on the picks. Who you got?
Nick: We’ll pick the games first.
Andrew: Okay. Go ahead. We’ll pick some games.
Nick: Run through these. We’ll run through these pretty quickly. Bunch of ranked games this week. Let’s start with Navy at Notre Dame. A note about this game. Navy, who is actually a rival with Notre Dame, Notre Dame is rivals with all the academies, did not sell out this game, and I think it’s like a 20-something year, 23 years, breaking a 23-year sellout streak at Notre Dame.
Andrew: Oh wow. Wow. People getting pissed at Brian Kelly.
Nick: I don’t know what it is. How do you not sell out for like a Navy, but you sell out for like Cincinnati?
Andrew: Good question. Notre Dame wins. You’re not going to go with the upset, are you?
Nick: I’m going upset. I’m going midshipmen.
Nick: Midshipmen. I support the men and women that have chosen to protect our country. They’re going to beat the Catholics up there.
Andrew: Okay. I’m cool with that. I mean, I wouldn’t mind seeing it. I ain’t going to lie to you. I wouldn’t mind seeing it at all. We’ll see. Who we got next?
Nick: #8 Minnesota, fresh off an upset win over Penn State, heading on the road at #20 Iowa. Does the boat keep rowing, or does Iowa figure a way? Does the clock strike twelve for Fleck and the Gophers?
Andrew: This is a game Iowa is sneaky good in. Iowa likes to win games they’re not supposed to win.
Nick: At home. You’re stealing my line, Spivey.
Andrew: Give me the Hawkeyes.
Nick: No love for the boat. You’re going Hawkeyes. Iowa. Little emotional letdown. I’m going to keep Minnesota in there, and I think Minnesota might continue shaking things up.
Andrew: You don’t know what you’re talking about.
Nick: I don’t.
Andrew: Don’t know what you’re talking about.
Nick: #10 Oklahoma at #13 Baylor.
Nick: Yeah. I got Oklahoma.
Andrew: Is Baylor undefeated still?
Nick: I think Baylor is undefeated. Yeah. Let me pull it up. They beat CCU 29-23. They beat West Virginia. Yup. They’re first in the Big 12.
Andrew: Give me Jalen Hurts though.
Nick: Oklahoma has a loss, so this is a huge game in the Big 12.
Andrew: I don’t care. Give me Oklahoma.
Nick: So, same with me. Oklahoma. It’s the game, not the game, but probably the second biggest game on Michigan’s schedule. Michigan State Spartans struggling this year at the big house playing Michigan.
Andrew: Jim Harbaugh don’t like to win these games, Nick.
Nick: He doesn’t.
Andrew: But he wins this one.
Nick: He beat them last year too.
Andrew: Michigan State’s bad.
Nick: We both got Michigan. Let’s go back up. SEC game. #4 Georgia at Auburn. That’s a tough place to play. Florida, if they want to go to the SEC Championship, needs to be there. So, what do you think?
Andrew: It’s at home for Auburn, which means Bo Nix does not have to worry about the crowd. Auburn can run the ball, and the Tigers are going to win this football game.
Nick: I’m going Dogs.
Andrew: I said this, and I don’t mean this to be sour grapes or anything else. I feel like we’re pretty fair on this podcast. I don’t think Georgia’s that good. I don’t. If you, Nick, give me the option right now and tell me Georgia or Alabama for the playoff, pick the best team, it’s not Georgia. It’s not.
Nick: Yeah. I agree with you there. I just, I think Auburn’s worse.
Andrew: I don’t know. I think Auburn’s been a terrible disappointment this year, and Gus is probably going to ride off into the sunset and go back home to Arkansas so he don’t get fired, but just defensive line, in my opinion, for Auburn, I could go back to what we said when we talked about the game, and that is Auburn’s defensive line is the best defensive line in the country. There’s zero questions in my opinion about that, and I think that they’re going to get the win.
Nick: I love that Georgia offensive line though. That’s a great matchup. If you’re a trenches guy, you like the big uglies, this is a game for you. If you’re about high flying offense and scoring and this and that, might not be your game. If you’re an NFL scout, if you’re a football nerd and a trenches nerd, this game is for you. These are some monstars, if you’ve ever seen Space Jam. These are monstars going up against each other.
Andrew: If you want to see what Florida’s offensive line should look like, turn this game on.
Andrew: Turn this game on. Yeah. Again, I just I think Auburn’s defensive line wins. That’s just me.
Nick: Okay. Moving on to players. This is a big week for Florida in terms of what it means to the guys. I know we talked to Freddie Swain, and he’s lost to Missouri a bunch. There’s guys that really want to beat Missouri. I’m going to go with, first and foremost, I think it’s going to be a big game for him, my man. You’ve taken him the last couple times we’ve done this. I’m going to start with Jon Greenard. Also, his first time playing Missouri, but his last SEC game, and his last conference game as a college player. I think he gets after it Saturday.
Andrew: My man, who will finish his career in the Reese’s Senior Bowl at home, is going to out in his SEC game with 100 yards. Put it on for the LP deuce.
Nick: Yup. I actually ran into him. After the game last week, went to go watch the end of Alabama-LSU, and ran into Miss Sabrina and Lamical and Mr. Jimmy, and they were all there hanging out. I found a picture in my phone from when me, you, and Cassidy Hill went and did the video. Cassidy was doing video for us then and did the video about Lamical. I have a picture of him from 2016 in my phone. I said, look at this little kid.
Andrew: Yeah. That was the old-school. Yes. By the way, congrats to him on going to the Senior Bowl. Major honor for him and Jonathan Greenard.
Nick: We can’t even put into words how much it means to Lamical Perine, being a kid from Mobile. The city kind of stops, doesn’t it? I mean, the city kind of stops for Senior Bowl day and for Senior Bowl week. It’s the biggest thing that’s happening in town. Growing up all year, seeing that game, and then getting the opportunity to go back and to play in it. I don’t know if anyone at Theodore is listening to this, but maybe there’s a jersey retirement ceremony that week.
Andrew: You better get ready to put it into words, because when you come to Alabama that’s going to be your job is to put it into words. Be ready for it. Who you got Pick 2?
Nick: Pick 2 I’m going to go with my boy who said that he really wants to win. I’m going to go with Freddie Swain.
Andrew: Okay. I’m going to go with the man that’s going to get him that ball, and that’s the gunslinger from Texas. We’re going to touch God tonight.
Nick: I’m going to go with Marco Wilson. We talked about him being in a different role. He’s kind of a guy now where the coaching staff has said we only want guys playing 40-50 snaps. Marco Wilson’s playing all the snaps.
Andrew: That’s cool, because you give the Kyle to Kyle. It’s going to be an offensive day for the Gators, and Kyle to Kyle wants to go.
Nick: All right.
Andrew: That’s my pick. Real quick. Give me an X factor.
Nick: X factor for me is is Florida going to be able to handle the intangibles? It’s early. It’s 11:00 a.m. kickoff. Now, don’t get confused if you live on the East Coast. It’s a noon kickoff, but in Columbia, Missouri it’s 11:00 a.m. It’s a really hard place to get to. This will be the longest trip Florida takes all year. Handle that. Handle the early kickoff. Handle the cold. This is a Missouri team that despite them being so much better at home, you’re better than, that you should beat. Like I said before Vanderbilt, this is a team in Missouri that if you are living up to that Gator standard that Dan Mullen has preached about, that you guys are talking about, this is a game you don’t lose. So, don’t get caught up in all the other things. To me, the X factor is going to be how does Florida handle it. How do you handle everything involved that’s off the football field, and do you not let it, can’t afford to let it affect you on the football field?
Andrew: Yup. My X factor is going to be a linebacker in David Reese. Another guy who’s going out, and this isn’t a game that you would typically think he’d have a big game, but sneaky feeling he has some kind of play in the output of this game. There it is. Nick, you kind of spoiled your pick, but who you got?
Nick: I got Florida. I think Florida will figure out a way to get over the hump, get off the snide, end this weird patch of games against Missouri.
Andrew: I agree. Smart money says pick Missouri, because they win, but I don’t usually play smart. Yeah. I got Florida in a close game, and then get another bye week. Let’s go. Tell everybody where they can find us, Nick. We’ll get out of here. We’ll see everyone on Monday.
Nick: www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. The podcast can be found wherever you listen to podcasts. Just search Gator Country. Never miss an episode. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. You can find me @NickdelaTorreGC and him @AndrewSpiveyGC.
Andrew: Yup. Yup. There we go. By the way, congrats to Pete Alonso. Rookie of the Year.
Nick: Yeah. Well deserved Rookie of the Year. Incredible season.
Andrew: Yeah. Anyway, as always, guys, we appreciate it. We will see everyone on Monday. As always, go Braves and chomp, chomp.
Nick: You stay classy, Gator Country.