“Blind Squirrels” continue to find nuts

Almost two years ago, in the aftermath of firing their coach, the Florida Gators hired Dan Mullen as their football coach. This hire came on the heels of rival Georgia winning the SEC and Rose Bowl titles, and playing in the national championship game. Speaking at a Gator rally, Mullen decided to diss Georgia by proclaiming, “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in awhile.” The crowd roared with laughter.

Here we are, two years later, and Georgia just whipped Florida for the third straight season. In those games, the Bulldogs have outscored Florida 102-41. But just totaling the games Mullen has coached — the 2017 game against his old team, Mississippi State, and the last two games — the Bulldogs have outscored Mullen’s three teams by a score of — and let’s all count the nuts together — 91-37. 

In the ACC, Clemson has merely a cakewalk to the championship game and an appearance in the CFB playoff. The only other ACC team in the Top 25 is Wake Forest at No. 21. The Demon Deacons make a trip to Death Valley soon and could furnish their own preacher to officiate their last rites there. Of the top ten teams, Clemson’s schedule is the most pathetic. Do they deserve the “bye” into the Final Four?

It’s time to mount the dartboard and forecast this week’s games.

FLORIDA STATE at BOSTON COLLEGE:  While the Seminoles are sludging their way through a forgettable season, the Eagles are soaring high.  Unthinkable three years ago, FSU is the underdog here. If Boston College continues to run at will, this could get ugly. Boston College 34, Florida State 24.

GEORGIA TECH at VIRGINIA: Virginia did what they had to do in Chapel Hill. Just go home with a win — and they did. Georgia Tech continues to struggle, but Fearless says brighter days and years are ahead —starting next season. Virginia 38, Georgia Tech 14.

WAKE FOREST at VIRGINIA TECH:  Wake Forest is on a roll, and Coach Clawson is likely the ACC coach-of-the-year. Despite the heartbreaking 21-20 loss to Notre Dame, the Hokies are an improved team and can still salvage the season. To do so, they must win here. This is as close as razor blades can get. It’s dead even. Virginia Tech 28, Wake Forest 27.

NOTRE DAME at DUKE: The Irish have looked sluggish the last two games, but the heart rate hit the ceiling in that last-second victory over Virginia Tech. Look for Notre Dame to come in fired up Saturday night. If not, they could be shocked. Will they?  Notre Dame 35, Duke 17.

CLEMSON at N.C. STATE:  Normally a close game, but not this time. The Wolfpack has lost 11 starters to injuries and look nothing like the team that started the season. The Pack’s backups just aren’t much good, and they have been blown out in two road games. Playing “quarterback de jour” hasn’t helped, either. They are a much better home team, but it won’t matter here. Clemson whipped little Wofford, 59-14, last week and that sounds about right here. State is better than Wofford, so let’s make it......Clemson 56, N.C. State 13, but it could be worse.

EAST CAROLINA at SMU:  While East Carolina played its best game of the season, they still lost a 46-43 heartbreaker to Cincinnati. Meanwhile SMU was battling a good Memphis team on national TV. The importance of that game for the Mustangs might make this one a “trap game” for them. Can the Pirates go on the road and duplicate their effort from last week? Yes, they could. May be closer than most think, its.....SMU 42, ECU 34.

LSU at ALABAMA:  Fearless thinks LSU plays smart football on offense — not greedy, just efficient. While the Bayou Bengals have big wins over Texas, Florida and Auburn, the Crimson Tide has cruised through Cupcake City without as much as a parking ticket. The key to this game is easy. If Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa is healthy and plays, Bama wins. If not, all bets are off. Is the biggest, and could be the best game of the year. Winner has the inside track to the CFB playoff. Close —real close. Alabama 20, LSU 17.

OTHER MAJOR GAMES THIS WEEKEND:  Miami over Louisville, Georgia over Missouri (trap game), Florida over Vanderbilt, Ohio State over Maryland, West Virginia over Texas Tech, Penn State over Minnesota, Purdue over Northwestern, Baylor over TCU (toss-up), Charlotte over UTEP, Texas over Kansas State, Wisconsin over Iowa, South Carolina over Appalachian, Kentucky over Tennessee (even) and Oklahoma over Iowa State.

TOFF COMPOSITE RANKINGS (The average of the AP, coaches and FPI for this week.)

1. Alabama 2. LSU 3. Ohio State 4. Clemson 5. Penn State 6. Georgia 7. Oregon 8. Oklahoma 9. Florida 10. Utah.

Southeast Sports Syndicate, 2019