Thursday, September 13, 2012

eViL G's Weekly Picks - September 15 Edition

UF head coach Phil Masecamp and his unborn child prepare for a much improved Tennessee squad

Greetings from Ocoee, Florida, also known as The Center of Good Living.  I love it here in Ocoee.  It's a sleepy little burg west of Orlando with a mix of 4th generation Florida natives, transplanted suburbanites, and just enough Hispanics to keep the cops from profiling my black ass on a regular basis.  We have indeed your back Hector.

Before I get into the weekly picks I'd like to thank the future radio voice of the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, Jason "Lebron is my 3rd cousin" James, for stopping by to give his take on this week's action.  I don't know about you guys, but I am SHOCKED that Campbell County, Tennessee is just a decade or two behind the technology curve.  What sucks for Jason is there are in fact telephone bills on Rocky Top, and the overage charges for that last "broadcast" are gonna be a bitch.

But I'm not here to pick on Jason, that's what our super secret internet message board is for.  We have an entire forum dedicated to it.

There's only one game worth talking about this week, so let's get on with it.


I'm not wasting your time (or mine) talking about FSU-Wake Forest, Ole Miss-Texas, USC-Stanford or even Alabama-Arkansas.  Look at those matchups.  Stevie Wonder can see what's coming. 

Michigan State-Notre Dame is a decent enough matchup, but what game will you be watching Saturday night?  That's what I thought.

This week is all about Florida and Tennessee...let's fire up the Way Back Machine...

My first trip to Neyland Stadium was 1996.  The Knox County locals were calling this game the most important game in Tennessee Football's history, yet in the same breath these same locals were belittling UF's lack of long-term historical significance in college football.  Nevermind my Gators absolutely blasted Tennessee a year ago, and other than Chris Doering, just about everyone on offense returned for the '96 game.  Tennessee fans were convinced they'd get revenge, and Peyton Manning would show everyone who was the best QB in all of college football. 

You know the rest...before a then-record crowd of over 108,000 could get settled, UF was up 35-0 with 10 minutes left in the 2nd quarter.  Danny Wuerffel passed for four touchdowns, Manning tossed four the first half.  The crowd thinned out at halftime, prompting UF linebacker James Bates to quip during the post-game interview, "I'm not sure where they went...maybe the Jeff Foxworthy Show was on."  UF won 35-29, finishing the season ranked #1.  Good times.

Fast forward to 2002...Ron Zook is UF's coach.  Rex Grossman is his starting QB, knee-deep in alcohol, whippets and sorrority girls during any given week.  UF got hammered 41-16 by Miami the week before heading to Knoxville.  Tennessee on the other hand was coming off a huge win at Gainesville the previous season (followed by the mother of all choke jobs in the SEC title game), and their long time nemesis Steve Spurrier left UF for the Redskins. 

The SEC was finally Tennessee's for the taking.  Optimism was at an all-time high in Knoxville.  Surely 2002 was the year UT began their own winning streak against UF right? 


Casey Clausen fumbled about 5 snaps from center, no one in creamsickle orange bothered to cover Taylor Jacobs all day, and Rex Grossman stopped inhaling helium long enough to completely destroy the home team.  UF won 30-13.  Sadly, this was one of the few high points of Zook's time at UF...other than that 2003 recruiting class.

Fast foward ten years to 2012, and I'm hard-pressed to find a time since 1996 when so many Tennessee fans were this confident of a victory.  I referenced the '96 and '02 games because UT was expected by many to win.  Just about every other game in Neyland Stadium since then, the teams were either evenly matched ('98, '00, '04 and '06), or UF was the superior team. ('08 and '10).  Meanwhile, there's a 43-page thread on debating whether or not students should storm the field following Saturday night's game.

Fast forward to 2012 and you'll find the script completely flipped.  Tennessee has the high-powered passing attack while UF is grinding it out with a tough running game, an allegedly stout defense and solid special teams.  Tyler Bray is on fire...again...and this Patterson kid might be better than Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter.  Meanwhile Jeff Driskel is responsible for managing the game while a gimpy Mike Gillislee carries the load, with a little Jordan Reed and Trey Burton sprinkled in here and there to move the chains.  UF's wide receivers are by and large invisible.

Both teams have nagging injuries on defense.

ESPN Gameday is back in Knoxville, the game is sold out, and Neyland Stadium will indeed be rocking.  The last time I felt this sure about a UF loss in Knoxville was 2002.  Thankfully I was wrong.  A decade later I'm struggling to come up with answers for UT's passing game, and how UF's offense will keep pace.  UF will need huge performances from a couple backup linebackers, a secondary that has to play physical (but within the rules), and a QB who might be growing up in front of our very eyes, but will be forced to make a play or two in the most hostile enviroment he's faced yet.

UF head coach Bill Offramp bought some time and earned a little equity with Gator Nation last week in College Station.  If UF somehow pulls off another close road victory, he'd have us all in the palm of his chubby hands.  Hell, I might even start referring to him by his actual name.

But I've got to see it first to believe it.  The win last week was impressive, but unlike Texas A&M, Tennessee has two games under its belt and all the confidence of a Spurrier-coached team in the 90s.  The Vols are expecting to win, while an emotionally spent and dinged up UF squad is hoping they can surprise its own fan base with a win in Knoxville of all places. 

Times have changed, if only for one year.  UF runs out of gas, and Rocky Top rejoices...but only for one year.

Vols - 28
Gators - 19

Be good.


  1. Thank goodness you picked the Vols to win. That means UF might actually have a shot!

  2. I can only feel what my heart tells me to feel Christine. I fear our boys are spent from last week's game.

  3. Christine should take over the column, imo