Podcast: Previewing Florida Gators official visitors and talking championship games

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we talk about several things including Florida Gators recruiting and potential bowl match-ups.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre preview the official visitors for the Florida Gators this weekend, plus we talk about the guys that Florida has visited this week.

Andrew and Nick also talk about potential bowl games for Florida and predict several of the championship games around the country.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:​What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, no game to predict this week. No game to break down. None of that good old stuff, but we’ll talk some recruiting, and we’ll predict some games around the country that could help shape where Florida goes in the bowl game.

Nick:​I guess the first little bit of football news we have, a lot of the guys are off this week, finals and stuff, getting ready for that. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson declared for the Draft. That was really no surprise. Any surprise on your end there?

Andrew:​Zero surprise. Zero surprise. You and I had talked about this before. You and I talked about this as that he was a guy that was going to go. I think the biggest thing for me, and you and I brought this up Sunday, was we thought he would wait to announce until maybe after finals the bowl games was there, but he told everyone. His parents were telling everyone after the FSU game that was it.

Nick:​Yeah. I think what would have kept Chauncey at Florida would be like an injury this year. I think that would have brought him back, if he physically wasn’t able to get ready for the Draft and to be drafted.

Andrew:​Right. Exactly. Again, no surprise there. Just maybe a surprise that he did it so soon. The interesting thing for me, and I know he said that he plans to play in the bowl game, I wonder if his agent …

Nick:​If his agent, once you start getting those people around you, managers, agents, to be frank, a lot of players are doing, and I respect that. I respect your decision to skip a bowl game. You’ve put in nearly three years of work. In Chauncey’s case, he enrolled early. He’s been here over three years. If he wants to sit out a bowl game, that’s his deal. Cool, man, go get paid. There’s no sense in playing in a game and tearing your ACL three months before the Draft.

Andrew:​You and I are going to disagree here. I say this knowing that he may tweet at me on Twitter. I’m saying this and crossing my fingers. When I say this, I’m saying this no disrespect to Chauncey, no disrespect to anyone. I agree with you. You’ve put your three years in. Chauncey’s done a lot of great things for the University of Florida. He’s made a lot of big plays for the University of Florida, respected the University of Florida, but I don’t agree. I don’t think that that’s fair to his teammates, Nick. I don’t. I’ve said that with everyone. I said that with Leonard Fournette. I’ve said that with all of them. I don’t think that that is cool for your teammates. For guys that are going to play, I know the bowl game, it’s meaningless for the most part. What do you gain by winning? But still, you go win a bowl game. You win a bowl game, you get 10 wins. I personally, I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t like it. I’m against it. I don’t think it’s fair to his teammates.

Nick:​I think that would be something that if a teammate had a problem with it then you would handle that internally. To me, if you have the opportunity to leave early. Maybe it’s different with a New Year’s Six bowl.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​Then with a Birmingham Bowl or an Outback Bowl. Maybe that played into his decision, and maybe he wouldn’t be playing in the bowl game if they were going to the Citrus Bowl.

Andrew:​Right. Maybe.

Nick:​Maybe the chance to play in a New Year’s Six bowl is what keeps him around. I go back to Jake Butt at Michigan. He decided to play in his last game, and he tore his ACL in the bowl game, and then missed his entire rookie season. He plays for sure this year and doesn’t look the same. You’re going to sacrifice potentially your entire professional career for a pretty meaningless bowl game?

Andrew:​Yeah.

Nick:​Unless you’re in the playoff, bowl games are pretty much meaningless. You’re not winning a championship, unless you’re UCF.

Andrew:​Again, I get that. I get that. I’m not saying your opinion is wrong. I don’t know that either one of our opinions are wrong. I just, personally, I think that you’ve played a whole year. You play as a team, and you lose as a team. Again, that’s just my take. Again, I’m not saying my take is right, and I’m not saying your take is wrong, Nick. I just think that as a team you should go out, and you should play this game. That’s my belief. Again, I wouldn’t think anything less of anyone about that at all. Just I personally think that it’s only fair to your teammates to go play this game. Your team wants to win the game. I just think it would be more of a distraction if you didn’t.

Nick:​Got it. I like that you address it right away. When you declare, don’t make it, I like that Chauncey came out and said, “I am going to play in the game. I’m 100% committed. I’m going to play in the game.” Don’t leave early for the NFL, which is fine, no problem with that, and then just have a month of speculation of is he going to play in the game? Is he going to practice?

Andrew:​Right. Exactly. We’ll see. We’ll see how it is. Like you said, Chauncey did say that he is planning on playing the bowl game on Saturday, so that’s big news for him and for the team. I guess we’ll talk about that real quick. Florida comes in #9 in the Playoff. Pretty much all but guaranteed to play in a New Year’s Six bowl. I think now the biggest question is will it be out in Tempe or will it be in Atlanta? It looks like if it’s in Tempe it’s going to be against UCF, as long as they handle business against Memphis. If it’s out in Atlanta, it looks like it could possibly be Michigan, unless something crazy happened in the Big 10 Championship, where Northwestern was to beat Ohio State, which I don’t know if that’s really out of the question. It kind of depends on which Ohio State team shows up.

Nick:​You’re right on that. I just wanted to tell people why. The committee doesn’t like sending teams back to bowl sites where they played the previous year. Obviously, UCF won their National Championship last year in the Peach Bowl, so they would try to send, if UCF were to win, they would the highest Group of Five team, and they would go to a New Year’s Six bowl, so that would kind of push UCF out to the Fiesta Bowl. I think it would be hilarious if you’ve got two teams that are an hour and a half to two hours away from each other, flying 1,000, 2,000 miles to go play a football game.

Andrew:​I think that would be awesome.

Nick:​Why don’t we just play this one in Ocala or something? Meet halfway.

Andrew:​I think Florida and UCF would both be okay with just going right down the road to Orlando. Then again, I’ve heard from players …

Nick:​Sign me up for Glendale.

Andrew:​That’s what I was going to say. I’ve heard from players and stuff that they like that trip to Glendale. You got to remember, these guys get per diem money for driving. Not driving. Of course, they’re not going to drive, but for going that far. And they get to see a different place. Listen, that’s more time away from everything. Not that they would be in school or anything like that, but that’s more time away. I’ve heard guys say that they would prefer to go out there. We’ll see. Again, it’ll be all determined this weekend. Bowls are announced on Sunday, so that will be something to follow. After that happens, then you’ll see Florida get back to the practice field and start getting ready.

​I personally, Nick, would not mind seeing that Michigan game again, because that Michigan team is pretty close, with a little bit better of a quarterback, than they were last year, and this is a Florida team that’s pretty close to what they were last year. To run it again and see what happens when Dan Mullen is coach and calling plays compared to Doug Nussmeier calling plays.

Nick:​Yeah. I was on that, the Gator panel last night, and I was interested in that, because I’ve got friends that go to Michigan, so I kind of follow Michigan more so than I follow other teams, just to be able to keep up in the conversations with them. A lot of fans were saying, I’m tired of seeing Michigan. I’m like, are you tired of seeing Michigan, or are you tired of getting your butt kicked by Michigan?

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​Would this be an opportunity to not get your butt kicked by Michigan? They just said they didn’t want it. They didn’t want to see that again. A lot of Michigan fans are down. I don’t know how well Michigan would travel to the Peach Bowl, because it’s kind of like Auburn last year, when you’re thinking playoff, playoff, and then all of a sudden you’re going to a Peach Bowl, and UCF takes over Mercedes Benz Stadium. Because that’s their Super Bowl, and you’re thinking, shoot, we missed out. We’re not there anymore.

Andrew:​Right. I was talking to someone this morning, on Thursday morning, about that, and they said they thought it would be a great matchup for Florida, because where’s Michigan’s head right now? They’re a team who we’re going to playoff, we’re going to the Big 10 Championship, and then they get just clobbered by Ohio State. Where is their mindset? I mean, this is no disrespect or anything against Florida, but they’ve known for a little while they’re not going to a playoff game. I think they also understand that coming from where they were last year, that this is a huge step. Like it or not, they understand that going to a bowl game now is a reward. I think that’s a big thing for those guys, and to see that could potentially play in Florida’s favor a little bit.

Nick:​Right. As you said, Michigan is thinking playoff. Michigan literally just had to beat Ohio State, and then they would have probably beaten Northwestern too, and they’re in a playoff.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​Now they’re consolation prize is a New Year’s Six bowl. Whereas Florida, after you lost to Georgia, there was really no chance you were going to the playoff, but your focus shifted over a month ago to get to a New Year’s Six bowl. Now you’re going to get to where you’ve been going. You’ve been looking forward to this for a month.

Andrew:​Right. Exactly. It’ll be interesting. Nick, the news of the week has been recruiting. Recruiting, recruiting.

Nick:​Oh yeah. Big, big time in recruiting. Man, coaches were in the private jets and on planes Sunday. Wasted no time to get out there.

Andrew:​They were. They were out there. They visited, if they’re a prospect that Florida wants, they’ve pretty much been visited this week. As they get ready, they’re going to start their first official visit weekend this weekend. I’ll run down that visitors list here in a few minutes for this weekend. So far, I mean, they’ve made some big visits. Some of the bigger ones, per se, this week have been to Derick Hunter, the big FSU commit defense end. I know he’s played his games, but there’s no games to be played when it gets close to Signing Day and time to sign. That was a big one for Florida. Really think Florida’s got a great shot there.

Another big one, and one that has surprised a lot of people this week and is something they’ve kind of tried to keep under wraps of how the interest level is is Evan Neal, big offensive lineman out of Miami. Goes to IMG now. That was a big one for those guys. They got out there, and they visited those guys. Looks like now they’re probably going to get an official visit out of that.

Another big one, and I’ll go ahead and spoil it, but he’s going to come this weekend from Miami, the Miami commit out of Ocala, is Michael Tarquin. Nick, talking about this a month ago, maybe even a couple weeks ago, the offense and defensive line, that was the situation where we were all wondering where the studs were going to come from. Now you start thinking about it, and it’s like, okay, you might start being able to get some of these guys.

Let me just throw this out there. On the offensive line, if you were to do well this weekend and flip Michael Tarquin, like many expect, the Miami commit.

Nick:​That’s an official you said?

Andrew:​That’s an official. Let’s just say you were to flip, or not flip, get one of Evan Neal or flip Donthe Lucas, the FSU commit, or Keiondre Jones from Auburn. You go from an okay recruiting class on the offensive line to now a really good class on the offensive line.

Nick:​That’s an area, I mean that’s Freddie Swain’s area. That’s an area, Citrus, Florida, North Marion High School, Ocala, you don’t want those kids going down South. You want to kind of put a fence around that area right around your school and say, listen, if we want a kid from this area, we’re not going to get beat for him.

Andrew:​Yeah. It becomes a thing, and listen, I get it, those guys, like a Michael Tarquin, he was a guy who didn’t have a ton of interest in the last staff, but that’s an area, and Jacksonville as well, that Florida has got to be able to go in there and almost put that gate up. Listen, Jacksonville is a lot harder. Miami has done a lot better in Jacksonville. Those are areas that when the Gators are doing well they’re owning.

Nick:​Yeah. Those are kids that have grown up, shoot, what is that? An hour away from campus, if that?

Andrew:​Same thing with Jacksonville. It’s an hour. Think about the guys who came from there. I mean, a lot of those guys grew up hearing about Tebow, that kind of stuff. You’re an hour from it. You get to see a Gator game in your hometown every year. It’s big.

Nick:​Shoot. Mom and dad are going to be at every home game.

Andrew:​There you go. They get another home game 15 minutes, 20 minutes from home. They get to go see their kid play in a big stadium. It’s been a major week for them in recruiting. They did pick up another one in 2021 commit Trevonte Rucker, the receiver. Big, big school, Vanguard, out of Ocala. Big time receiver next year, Leonard Manuel. Big time defensive end in Bryce Langston. They’ve got an offensive lineman there in Miller Lewis. They picked up the 2021 receiver Trevonte Rucker. He committed this week. Jut a huge step for them at that school. When you talk about next year, you want two of those dudes.

Nick:​I was about to ask you that. Where have I been? When did Vanguard in Ocala become this powerhouse?

Andrew:​You ain’t lying. Recruiting is real down there, my friend.

Nick:​That’s a little too far north for my South Florida roots, but they kind of snuck up on me.

Andrew:​Exactly. It’s big. I know some people say, and listen, I get it. I understand it. People say they don’t care about 2021 recruiting. They’ve got a lot of time to flip, and they do. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I guarantee you all three of those guys are going to sign with Florida. TrevonteRucker, George Jackson and Kamar Wilcoxson. I mean, who knows? They may be terrible, and Florida drop one of them. I don’t know. I don’t think so. They’re all pretty rated high and very good players.

​But it’s a huge step because it created momentum again. With Rucker, you’re getting in with that school. Let’s also be real about it, 2021 will be here before you and I know it. I mean, you think about it. 2020 guys are already committing now with 2019 guys. Fast forward here four months, and you’re going to have 2021 guys committing at Junior Day and stuff like that.

Nick:​This is why I can’t be a college football coach. 2021? It’s too early for me. It’s not too early for them. I agree with what you’re saying.

Andrew:​The ADs are scheduling games for 2029.

Nick:​Oh yeah. You don’t even know who’s going to be coaching in 2029.

Andrew:​You better hope your football team don’t get the death penalty or some trash. I mean, that’s what I’m saying, Nick. Again, I get it. I understand everyone says, what’s the big deal about 2021 commits? I get it. I’m not sitting here arguing that they’re going to sign or anything like that. I’m just simply saying that it’s a situation where it creates momentum. I think the biggest thing that fans should be excited about was it shows the success, that success on the field is starting to pay off.

That’s kind of what I wanted to go to next. The big athlete out of West Palm Beach is Mark Anthony Richards. I think he is the Kadarius Toney of this class. Maybe even a little bit quicker than Kadarius, if you can believe it. He’s a phenomenal athlete, one of the best athletes in the country. I know he’s very high on Dan Mullen’s board. I asked him that quite frankly on Wednesday when I talked to him. Florida visited him in home on Monday. I said, did seeing Florida’s success and seeing KadariusToney make you more interested in Florida? Did that really open your eyes and get Florida back in the picture? Because Florida really wasn’t in the picture heading into the season. He said, absolutely. He said, “Seeing what Dan Mullen did in Year 1, I can’t imagine what he would do while I’m in school.” I think that that’s what we’re starting to see more of.

That is why I continue to say, Nick, that beating FSU was such a big thing. You going out on the road with a W as your last record is big. It’s a lot better than going out with a loss.

Nick:​Touching on your point about seeing guys like Kadarius Toney, seeing guys like the running backs. Florida really hasn’t had those guys that were able to stand out in an offense. As we talked about for the past couple years in recruiting, Jim McElwain’s first year, show these guys, these recruits, something that you can see yourself doing, something that you can get excited. I can see myself being used like that. You just didn’t really have that. I think you got some of that this year. Kadarius needed to touch the ball more. I get that. We touched on that multiple times, different reasons why he didn’t at times, and things like that.

​I think you’re getting that now. I think you’re getting that excitement. Guys are looking at Dan Mullen’s offense and thinking, man, if they can get me the ball in space like they did Kadarius Toney or they did Trevon Grimes, I can make plays in this offense.

Andrew:​While we say, yes, Kadarius should have got the ball more, and there’s zero people who would disagree. Heck, Dan Mullen said it best last week. He said should we have gotten the ball to Kadarius more this year? He said, yeah. The thing about it is is when he touched the ball, he always did something crazy and did something well with the ball. Listen, the Mississippi State play is, in my opinion, one of the biggest plays of the year for Florida, if not the biggest. I mean, simply because of had they not won that game, I don’t think we’re talking about a team who even does near as well, because I think the confidence of the team would have went downhill.

​To see that, like you say, and to be able to pinpoint, we’re going to use you like this. This is how we’re going to get you the ball. They found different ways. Did Kadarius touch it enough? No. But they found different ways to get him the ball that he was getting the ball enough and in so many different ways he was getting the ball.

Nick:​Exactly.

Andrew:​Again, we could talk about it on the defensive side of the ball as well. Coaches are able to go back and say, look, you see how we used Jachai Polite? You see how we used Jabari? That’s how we’re going to use you if you come to Florida. Those guys had great years. When they’re in Derick Hunter’s living room on Tuesday, I believe, I’m not looking at my sheet, on Tuesday, they were saying, we’re going to use you like Jabari. Jabari had a great year. When they were in QuashonFuller’s living room, they were saying, we’re going to use you like we used Jachai Polite. Jachai Polite is a first round Draft pick probably.

​To see the way those guys were used in so many different ways, they’re able to pinpoint that and really go about that. Listen, I don’t think enough coaches do that, and I think that’s what kind of makes some of these coaches better recruiters per se. When they’re able to go into a kid’s room and say, we’re going to use you like this player, because they can easily go back nowadays, turn on YouTube, turn on the ESPN Watch, and turn on all these games and rewatch these games and see how Jachai played, Kadarius played, Van Jefferson played, that kind of stuff. That’s a big key about technology.

Nick:​I think that’s probably one of the biggest things that they have going for them in recruiting is the success of this season, the hype surrounding this season, and being able to show guys, like you said. Not just on offense, but on defense as well.

Andrew:​Exactly. Again, it’s big for them. I think that they’re definitely seeing the success so far on the trail. Now they got to finish, and it all starts this weekend with the big visits starting. Next weekend is the bigger list. A lot of the commits are coming in next weekend as well. This weekend starts it all off, and if you can’t make it to the SEC Championship game, you get a heads up in recruiting. Now, Florida would, and every coach in America would much rather lose that week of recruiting to be playing for an SEC Championship, but only two teams get to do that. So, they’re using it wisely. It should be a big weekend for those guys.

​They’re going to host a couple guys. Again, like I said, next weekend is the bigger weekend, but they’re going to host Virginia Tech commit defensive end Brandon Dorlus. He’s out of the Deerfield Beach area as well. They’re going host, I’m pulling my list up here, Nick. Michael Tarquin, like we said. The Miami offensive lineman down out of Citra, North Marian, Freddie Swain’s school. Offensive tackle. There’s a little bit of question marks about him, as he had shoulder surgery with a labrum. How will he recover? He says he may or may not be ready for spring. Again, he’s a tackle, and he’s a big timeprospect overall. If he’s healthy, he’s a good one.

Then a guy they just offered this week out of Jacksonville. We just talked about that Jacksonville area, Nick. Kingsley Eguakun. You know I mispronounced that, and I’m sorry, Kingsley. Out of Sandalwood. He’s also committed to Miami. He’s more of a guard, but they offered him this week, and he’s already coming on campus.

​Those are three really big ones that are coming. Then also Derrick Hall, the big outside linebacker out of Gulfport. Looks like Mississippi State is going to be the team early on for him, but is a guy that Mullen has a long relationship. Out of Gulfport, Mississippi. Is a guy that they’re trying to really get in the picture for early signing. Still, four big visitors, including those three guys that are really big in state guys.

Nick:​What is the thought process behind the visits? Why next weekend? How are you grouping these kids to come in? How much of that is you can control, and how much of that is where else are they going?

Andrew:​I mean, it’s a little bit of a couple things. It’s all about when is better for the kid. For instance, Michael Tarquin, this last weekend was the only weekend his parents could make the long trip to Miami, but they could make the short drive up to Florida on Saturday morning for their official visit. It’s a little bit of that, but it’s also spacing it out. You don’t want 40 guys on campus on official visits and not having that. With the commits next weekend, I don’t want to say it’s less important for the commits, but you don’t have to recruit those guys as much. While next weekend is going to be a bigger list, it’s also full of commits as well. You don’t have to sell those guys as much on things.

​It kind of works out well. You have two offensive guys and two defensive guys, so it splits out well. A lot of it is when can guys make it, and then if they don’t have any more visits, go ahead and get it in and shut it down if you can.

Nick:​I know like Dan Mullen only gets one official visit. How do you kind of space out how you see guys? Who are you sending to them? Assistant coaches can go see whenever.

Andrew:​Right. Assistant coaches get once a week. Mullen gets one. I had someone tell me about Saban a long time ago. Listen, if Nick Saban is doing it in recruiting, I take it as gold. You can write it in blood, because, Nick, you know my respect for him. I know your hatred for him, but I also know that you respect the hell out of him in recruiting. He says he tries to be the last head coach that sees a kid, unless he needs to go in to be the one that says, we need to get you on campus. If Mullen is using a visit early, it’s because, A, they’ve taken all their visits, and they’re done with visits, and he’s going in to seal the deal, or, B, he’s going in to set it up to officially get an official visit. That is a case that it’s kid by kid where it has to go.

​For instance, like Derick Hunter, he already went in home with him, but he had already visited Florida, and he’d already visited Florida State. He went in home this weekend to really cap the momentum, because he had just visited Florida State last weekend. Really went to build in the momentum.

Nick:​Hey, did you see the game last week?

Andrew:​For real. He didn’t want to see Titanic. Then again, he went to see Jaren Hardy, the big Auburn commit out of Mississippi this week as well. He hasn’t taken a visit to Florida, but he’s been kind of back and forth on whether he’s actually going to take that visit. Auburn, of course, is trying to talk him out of taking that visit. Guess what? Dan went in to settle it, get the visit set up. Guess what? He walks out of that visit, the visit is set up. He’s coming in January. He did his work there. It’s kind of case by case as to what he does. He’s been visiting a lot of commits the first week, because those guys are committed. They’re solid, so he’s just going out there and making face time with those guys, trying to save as many of his in home visits as he can while he’s still out doing work. It’s a case by case situation that really kind of depends on each kid.

Nick:​Got you. Especially it makes sense, I guess, in a Derick Hunter sense, where you’re committed to a team that you just played. He’s already made his official visit, or no?

Andrew:​Yeah. He’s made visits to both.

Nick:​To me, that makes a lot of sense.

Andrew:​Go in. Seal the deal. See what happens. Then he went and visited Quashon Fuller. He hasn’t taken his official, but the big thing for him was his mom had some bad relationships with Chris Rumph and those guys back in McElwain, and she hadn’t been to Florida yet. He was thinking about early signing, but guess what? Mullen went down there, because he knew he needed to meet mom and get mom on board with it, Quashon not signing early and taking an official to Florida. That was so far has been successful. He’s taking his visit in January.

​Again, it’s case by case. It’s one of those things where the coaches know. Okay, is there something that we need the big dog to go in and take care of, or can us little dogs go in and take care of it?

Nick:​That makes sense. Makes a lot of sense.

Andrew:​I’m going to use this for an example. You’re talking about this, and I’m looking at a tweet right now from Keon Zipperer. Miami sent six coaches to visit him today, on Thursday we’re talking, including Mark Richt. Excuse me, seven coaches including Mark Richt. They did that because Keon was up and down whether he was going to visit. Florida just went in to visit him, and they’re trying to get a visit. They knew they needed to send their big dog in to stop any momentum Florida had of him not taking the visit.

Nick:​There’s really no set blueprint for this.

Andrew:​No.

Nick:​It’s a case by case basis, and some even just gut feeling.

Andrew:​Right. Exactly. Like I said, Saban always says he wants the last visit. If he can help it, he wants to be the last person to visit, unless he’s able to get in there and have to set it up. I know this sounds crazy, but they all say that Saban wants his assistants to do the job, but they also know that Saban is the one that can be the one to drive home whatever they need. That’s the way it is. Same way with Mullen. No offense to Todd Grantham. No offense to any of the other assistants, but their word is not as big as Dan Mullen. Todd Grantham can get a job tomorrow. It’s less likely Dan Mullen leaves for another job tomorrow.

​Anyway, I do want to ask you this though real quick, or to bring this up real quick. It’s kind of recruiting, and it’s coaching related. Alabama OC Mike Locksley looks like he’s going to go interview for that Maryland job.

Nick:​Going back home for him.

Andrew:​Yeah. I think that would be a good hire, expect for he’s not a very good head coach. That Maryland roots for him is good. I don’t think it hurts Alabama recruiting very much though. Saban will just promote Butch Jones or another OC that he’s got in his rehab program.

Nick:​His rehab. I don’t know if you want to hire Butch Jones.

Andrew:​You know what I was meaning. He’s gotten all those guys in his rehab program up there.

Nick:​He might just go ahead and hire Kliff Kingsbury to be an analyst soon. You get fired from your job, Nick Saban’s got a dark basement where you can watch 80 hours of film a week.

Andrew:​Exactly. Let’s move on, Nick. Some big games around the country this week.

Nick:​Championship Saturday.

Andrew:​Championship Saturday is right. Go ahead. Let’s fire off some games you want to talk about.

Nick:​I got them all listed down here. Let’s start with one that impacts Florida. We’ll start with the two that impact Florida the most.

Andrew:​Okay.

Nick:​Let’s do Memphis at UCF. The AAC doesn’t have a championship site. UCF is higher ranked, so they get to play the conference championship at their home stadium.

Andrew:​Let me ask you this though. I may be off. I haven’t followed the playoff as much as you’ve been. Basically this game only really affects Florida in the fact of playing UCF, right? Because if UCF loses, Memphis is not going.

Nick:​No. It would be the next highest rated Group of Five team.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​So, the Group of Five is guaranteed to get one person, one team, into a New Year’s Six bowl.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​That’s whoever is the highest rated.

Andrew:​So, UCF would be out.

Nick:​You know that the committee is just waiting to hammer UCF. The first time UCF loses, talk about freefall. Just gone.

Andrew:​Yeah.

Nick:​They’d drop from 8 to 24.

Andrew:​I agree. I’m going … Man, everything tells me Memphis is going to win this game without McKenzie. I think they overcome adversity. UCF wins.

Nick:​I think McKenzie Milton has really showed his character. He won the AAC Offensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row and said that D’Eriq King, who tore his ACL, a quarterback at Houston, said, “He’s very deserving. I know we’re both going to come back better than we were before.” He’s been Facetiming in with his quarterback room to help them as they get ready for Memphis. Still needing to get knee reconstructive surgery. Had to have emergency surgery to return blood flow to his leg after that gruesome injury, and he’s sitting there in a hospital bed in Tampa Facetiming his quarterbacks. I think that says a lot about his character. I’m going with UCF as well.

Andrew:​I think it’s big time on his part on character. Just insane injury. Looks like though they’ve gotten his blood flow and everything back. It looks like he’ll be fine leg wise. It’ll just be a situation of how he’ll be able to come back next year.

Nick:​I’ve got a scenario for you.

Andrew:​Okay.

Nick:​In the Big 10 Championship, #21 Northwestern is playing #6 Ohio State. If the brainiacs at Northwestern can beat Ohio State, we could get an Ohio State-Florida New Year’s Six bowl game.

Andrew:​I want that.

Nick:​That’s the third game that we didn’t bring up yet, but that’s the third game right there. It would be UCF-Michigan. But if Northwestern wins, they would automatically go to the Rose Bowl as being the Big 10 champion. Ohio State, I don’t think with only two losses would drop out of the top 12. That would be a very intriguing matchup for ticket sales and for TV viewership. Urban and Dan.

Andrew:​Right. For me, Nick, this game is a little tricky, because I still don’t know if Ohio State is that good. I think Urban just owns the …

Nick:​Very suspect on defense.

Andrew:​Right. I think Urban owns that game. He owns that rivalry game. Michigan, I said it all year, Michigan is not that good. I said that. Michigan is still not that good. Northwestern is not that good either, but does Ohio State overcome that big win? Urban is still not healthy. I mean, I’m going to pick Ohio State to win, but I think it’s a game that I could easily see Northwestern winning the game.

Nick:​I’m going to go Ohio State, and I guess I could see them winning, Northwestern, see them winning. Yeah. I’m going to stick with Ohio State.

Andrew:​Okay. Who we got next?

Nick:​PAC 12 Championship. #17 Utah versus #11 Washington.

Andrew:​Where’s the game at?

Nick:​Where do they play the PAC 12 Champion? Levi Stadium.

Andrew:​That’s what I was thinking, San Francisco. I’m going to Washington. I don’t believe in Utah really.

Nick:​I’m going with Chris Peterson too.

Andrew:​I don’t really believe in Washington either, but I’m going to go Washington. I don’t know. By the way, Nick, I don’t know if you saw this, and I don’t know if our listeners did either. There’s a story. A guy out in PAC 12 country doing a breakdown of the PAC 12 and the falls. It’s a four-part series. Definitely check it out. Really showing how bad things are and how the commissioner of the PAC 12 is just robbing them blind of money, and how the PAC 12 is just a controversy. It really shows how bad the PAC 12 is.

Nick:​Okay. Check that out.

Andrew:​PAC 12 out of the playoff again.

Nick:​Got you. All right. We are going now to the ACC, where the Clemson Tigers will play Pitt. Clemson has played in four straight. This will be their fourth straight, and they’ve played in … Shoot. No one except for Clemson and Florida State has played in on the Atlantic Division since 2009. They’re ’15-’18, ’11 and ’09. Florida State was there in 2010, ’12, ’13, and ’14.

Andrew:​Fans better be nice to Dabo, or he’s going to leave.

Nick:​My goodness. Throw a little temper tantrum, Dabo.

Andrew:​For real. Throw a little temper tantrum, big dog. You better call Steve Spurrier and ask him how to deal with it. No worries this week. Clemson wins.

Nick:​Yeah. Pittsburgh has given teams trouble in the past, but I really, and I’ve said it all year, I think there’s two teams that are the cream of the crop, and they are Alabama and Clemson. I think Alabama will beat Clemson handily in a National Championship game.

Andrew:​Yeah. I got Clemson. That should be a good one. I mean, that should be an easy one.

Nick:​#14 Texas versus #5 Oklahoma. Here is another potential game for Florida. If Texas were to beat Oklahoma again, Oklahoma could be a team that Florida could play. That would be a great matchup.

Andrew:​Kyler Murray is not going to play in that game.

Nick:​Kyler Murray is going to play in that bowl. He already said he’s going to spring training, but would he leave?

Andrew:​He’s leaving.

Nick:​He would leave?

Andrew:​I think so.

Nick:​Weren’t you trying to tell me the other day maybe he’ll play football instead of baseball?

Andrew:​No. No. I told you he was stupid for playing football this year.

Nick:​Yes. Agreed.

Andrew:​I told you he was stupid for playing football this year. I mean, that guaranteed baseball money is cake, man. That’s guaranteed. Ain’t nobody signing no $50 million contract like Bryce Harper could potentially get one day in football. No. I’m going to with Oklahoma though.

Nick:​Yup. I’m going with Oklahoma.

Andrew:​Can we see hook ‘em down this week though?

Nick:​I think you’ll see that a bunch.

Andrew:​I do too. They’re saying that now it’s not a penalty all the time, just some of the time. We’ll see. I’m thinking that we’re going to get some hook ‘em down.

Nick:​Then the last one, the SEC Championship game. #1 Alabama taking on Kirby Smart and the puppies up from Athens.

Andrew:​Is this even a game to pick?

Nick:​It’s a game.

Andrew:​What’s the spread?

Nick:​Alabama has beaten every team they’ve played by at least 20 points this year. Do you know the last time that happened?

Andrew:​I don’t.

Nick:​It was Yale.

Andrew:​Oh my God.

Nick:​In 1888. That is the only other time has gone undefeated and beaten all of their opponents by 20 points.

Andrew:​Well, it happens again this week. 13.5 points is not enough. Alabama cruises in the Mercedes Benz.

Nick:​That is a 130-year record that Alabama could tie. It will be interesting to see though.

Andrew:​It goes down.

Nick:​If they can beat them by 20.

Andrew:​Goes down.

Nick:​That’s a lot of points. 20 is a lot of points.

Andrew:​It goes down. Georgia is not good on defense.

Nick:​Those are all of our games.

Andrew:​Do you think they cover?

Nick:​Yeah. I’m going to take Alabama to cover until they don’t.

Andrew:​Do you think they break the record?

Nick:​I think they wax whoever they play in the first game.

Andrew:​I’m not asking that. Do they tie it this week?

Nick:​Yeah. I say they’ll do it. They’ll be the second team.

Andrew:​There you go. Guys, we appreciate it. We’ll be back on Monday, as we’ll break down this big recruiting weekend for the Gators, and we’ll break down where Florida goes in the bowl game. We’ll break down championship week, the SEC Championship and all the other big games around the country. Check out Gator Country. We’ll get you the visitors list preview, and we’ve had all kinds of stories on guys visiting this weekend, next weekend, who Florida’s visiting and all that good stuff. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out and see everyone on Monday.

Nick:​www. GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. Wherever you listen to podcasts, we are there now. Just search @GatorCountry. Hit subscribe. Hit the notification button. Never miss an episode. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountryon Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC. He’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:​There you go. Guys, we appreciate it. As always, chomp, chomp and go Braves.

Nick:​You stay classy, Gator Country.

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.