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Picks of the Weak: Natural disasters, man-made disasters – we’ve got ’em all

Posted on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at 5:22 am

Editor’s Note: The version of this column in Saturday’s print edition of the News-Gazette was published before the cancellation of the state’s college football games. Stay safe!

By Rick Pedone
There are so many disasters – both natural and man made – to process right now that it’s hard to know where to begin.
First and most important, we’ll just keep waving Irma somewhere else and hope for the best here in Central Florida. Texas will be drying out from Harvey for a long time, so let’s hope that we are soon done brewing these monster storms.
Irma already caused several football casualties days before she reached the Florida shores as NFL and college teams scrambled to avoid her catastrophic winds.
Most prominent was the NFL’s decision to move the Tampa Bay-Miami game scheduled for Sunday to Nov. 19, where each team had a bye week. The Bucs and Dolphins must play 16 games in a row now, an obvious disadvantage.
The aptly named Miami Hurricanes canceled their game at Arkansas State Saturday, fearing that they would have a hard time returning to Miami after the game.
Of course, the question becomes: “Do you really want to return to Miami on Sunday?”
Everyone else initially shifted their game dates or times, but eventually everything was canceled. It’s harder to find a football game in Florida than a water bottle on store shelves.
FSU and Florida can take some time to digest their early-season man-made football disasters.
Two teams last week had the worst season openers they possibly could have, and the Noles were one of them.
Early Saturday evening, they were legitimate national championship material – then Alabama happened.
More precisely, Alabama’s special teams and defense happened. For much of the game, the Noles were toe-to-toe with the Tide, but a blocked field goal, a blocked punt and a fumbled kickoff return added up to a 24-7 Alabama win.
Oh, and then there was the loss of only the most important player on the FSU roster – quarterback Deondre Francois, out for the remainder of the season with a fourth-quarter knee injury.
Texas A&M might have one-upped the Seminoles for Disaster Game of the Week honors, however. The Aggies not only lost their starting quarterback, Nick Starkel, to an ankle injury, but they also blew a 34-point second-half lead against UCLA.
That historic loss was so bad that one of the school’s regents called for Coach Kevin Sumlin to be fired.
Which brings us to a man-made disaster long in the making in the form of the Florida Gators offense under Coach Jim McElwain, who might not want to schedule any autograph-signing gigs soon.
When your best offense plays are a pair of pick-6’s during the 33-17 season-opening loss against Michigan last week, well, – what the heck?
It didn’t help that McElwain suspended two of his best receivers and his best running back before the game, but Gators fans are not happy about the prospect of watching another season of offensive football that ranks triple-digits low in the NCAA rankings.
Is there a chance that Florida fans soon will be fondly remembering the Will Muschamp years?
This is probably another bridge year for McElwain and he is going to take plenty of grief from a fan base nine years removed from a national championship. And these aren’t the most patient people in the world to begin with.
The good news is that the Gators have three healthy quarterbacks. They just need to find the one who can play.
The disastrous Mighty News-Gazette Divine 9:
No. 1: The Titanic. No. 2: The 1962 New York Mets. No. 3: Florida’s offense. No. 4: The 1976 Bucs. No. 5: Most other Bucs teams. No. 6: The 21st Century Jaguars. No. 7: Justin Bieber. No. 8: Almost any Cleveland quarterback since 1999. No. 9: The Picks of the Weak.

To the picks:
Pitt at Penn State (-21): Well, guess who was the only team last year to beat both the Big Ten (Penn State) and ACC (Clemson) champs? That would be Pitt, which will find out today that history does not always repeat. Nittany Cats by 20.
Auburn at Clemson (-5.5): Since Clemson is probably the most SEC-like of all the ACC schools, we are going to make this our honorary SEC Game of the Century of the Week. Climpson by 3.
Georgia at Notre Dame (-4): Interesting matchup between two teams that wish that they were as good as they used to be. Golden Domers by 3.
Oklahoma at Ohio State (-7.5): Is there a powerhouse football school in the country that constantly underwhelms like the Buckeyes? But, the bottom line is, they win … THE Bucks by 9.

The paid professionals:
Jacksonville at Houston (-5.5): Irony in action. The Jags fly to hurricane-ravaged Houston, and after the game they might fly home to hurricane-ravaged Jacksonville. Tenacious Texans by 10.
Seattle at Green Bay (-3): In a NFL opening week of mediocre matchups, this one is a welcome sight pitting a pair of Super Bowl contenders. Not Yet Frozen Tundra by 2.
NY Giants at Dallas (-4): Last year the Giants ruined Dak Prescott’s debut. Like Pitt, the Giants won’t see history repeat. Pokes by 7.
Baltimore at Cincinnati (-3): Well, it’s no Bucs-Dolphins matchup, but we’ll have to roll with it. Bengals by 1.
New Orleans at Minnesota (-3.5): How many more miles does Drew Brees have in that arm? Not enough to carry the Saints very far. Purple People by 3.

Brian “Big Man” McBride’s Super Sniffer Upset Special: Oakland over Tennessee by 3. (And, for the record, he had Kansas City’s huge upset over New England on Thursday, but we didn’t have room to put it in the Picks of the Weak last week. Way to go, Big Man!)
Petey “The Gators Are Going To Win” Covino says: Well, at least we won’t lose.
Ken “Young Jackson the Elder” says: War Eagle by 3 in “Last Year Was Nice” Upset Special; Bulldogs by 1 in “Touchdown Jesus Is A Little Busy” Upset Special II; Saints by 6 in “Brees Can Still Play” Upset Special III.