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FLORIDA 2005: GAME BY GAME

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We're stuck in the low-pressure eerie quiet preceding the hurricane of college football kind of moment lately. We've read our previews, hate CFN's site now, and pace the floors drinking wayyyy too many cups of coffee and throwing for 625 yards a game with Omar Jacobs in NCAA 2006.

(Tony, Omar can fucking thrash people in that game. Take joy in the fact that your team can lay claim to one of the greatest video game qbs ever. Seriously, it's "near-Jerome-Bettis-in-College Football's-National-Championship" level domination. Raise a pimp cup. )

BGSU fans, raise a pimp cup to your deity of a virtual qb, Omar Jacobs.

We realized, though, that we hadn't in fact tried to reinvent every devoted fan's doting preseason column, the absurdly presumptious game where you attempt to pick the exact score of the game and the outcome before you've even seen down one of the season. It's just asinine enough for us to try it. Strictly for entertainment purposes, of course, unless you like to gamble illegally, which tons of people do. In that case, they're just as valid as anyone else's crappy guesses.

Wyoming. Speed Buggy used to make this noise when he talked, a kind of sputter mated to a cough crossed with a laugh. That is the noise we're guessing will be coming from the Swamp as the Urban Meyer offense, like a growing boy, shows all elbows and knees in an unexpectedly challenging first matchup of the season. Okay, at least for the first half, when an option pitch or two goes awry, receivers miss their marks, and Chris Leak sees live fire from the roll-bar only cockpit of the midget sprint car that is the Urban Meyer offense. It may not be pretty, and it may be nothing close to comfortable at halftime, prompting fans to look not to Urban Meyer, but to the sidelines for a clueless man with a granitic chin urging his team to calm down and just play losing defense. (Don't worry--he's in Champaign-Urbana getting "excited" and calling bubble screens.)

Once a few fans have plunged from the upper deck onto the pavement of North-South Drive, though, the second half will ease up a bit as the Gators settle down and run the ball right over the ten-gallon hats of a fatigued and dehydrated Cowboys squad. As in all cases, conditioning will play a key role in the game, especially for the 35 or so freshmen who discover the joys of not drinking a whole lot of water with the gallon plastic baggie of rum you taped to your chest. Not exactly art, but not a loss, either: UF 27-Wyoming 17.

Anxiety level: Haldol and scotch. A ten point victory over the lowly Cowboys, no matter how improved, will have UF fans eating the paint off the walls and send bloggers into a tizzy. Phil Fulmer will eat a donut and ask Randy Sanders to rub his feet the way he likes 'em done: tenderly.

Louisiana Tech: The team that beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 1999 will...er, they will stand no chance whatsoever of doing anything they want to in this game. They might not actually have the ball once, with the Gators electing to just stand at midfield and hold the ball while daring the La. Tech players to take it from them while they stomp en masse to the tune of "Still Tippin'". We're saying they'll do that for the entire second half, actually. Urban Meyer will have spent the week before the game making the team pit-fight convicts from the State Prison in Starke in pits for his amusement, so the team should be well-motivated following the Wyoming letdown, as well as potentially tuberculosis-positive after all that good wrasslin' with the reprobates. Meyer, upon hearing the diagnosis, makes them run gassers for punishment.

Score: UF 52, La Tech 17.

Anxiety level: Beer, and not even the good stuff. Miller High Life will do just fine going into Vol week.

Tennessee In the week leading up to the game, a UF player continues the fine tradition of trash-talk between Florida and Tennessee by calling Phil Fulmer "a fat lyin'-ass trick bitch." Fulmer responds by offering him a scholarship, which the player declines live on camera as he pushes Meyer, relaxing in his tastefully outfitted Lexus sedan home in neutral, six miles to the coach's house.

Gameday comes to Gainesville, and Corso puts on the big Smokey head to pick Tennessee. Regrettably, another mascot head fails to suffocate the oft-concussed ex-Hoosiers coach on-camera, and ESPN hurriedly cuts away as angry Gator fans show their class by tossing go-cups full of hot urine at the Gameday set.

The game is almost secondary after all this. Tennessee runs, then runs some more, then runs a little bit more while throwing the patterns called by the PS2 CPU Randy Sanders' assistants have cooking up in the booth. (Really--have you ever seen weirder pass-play-calling from a major college coordinator? They're the only team we know that'll hit big yards with a play and then avoid that play like AIDS for the rest of the goddamn game. Thus the PS2 guess....) Tennessee will score 27 points. Florida, facing maulers for the first time, will not, despite the best efforts of John Chavis, Bulgarian customs agent, to lose the game by covering Chad Jackson with the number four cornerback. ('Cause that's where corners go.) Florida loses to Tennessee for the third time in a row in the Swamp, the jails fill up for four counties around Alachua with despondent Gator fans and exuberent, hookworm-infested Tennessee fans, and UF under Meyer gets their first long-term goal of beating Tennessee so badly Fulmer loses his job.

Score: UF 24, UT 27.

Anxiety level: Thorazine and grain alcohol. A bad night we shall not speak of, only to say that the blood on our shirt isn't ours, officer, and no, we're not talking about it without our attorney present.

Kentucky Following a week of silent reflection and hours of running while strapped into human yokes for a golden chariot pulling Meyer around campus, the Florida teams takes solace in scoring a few points in Kentucky. Like, a hundred and forty of them. Kentucky will score a little more often than you might think--especially if the two-headed monster that is MattiStrong at DC is waxing a little towards Charlie's side, since Brooks' offense had him befuddled in 2003 in Lexington--but the offense, fresh from getting hit in the face with their own fist by the Tennessee line, sneezes at the cool Autumn breeze that is the Kentucky D. Chris Leak throws five TDs in an old-school, Mike Lupica-galling rout of the Wildcats that will earn exactly 22 seconds of coverage on Sportscenter.

Score: UF>50, Kentucky 14.

Anxiety level: cheap Merlot, preferably from a 1.5 liter bottle. But no Franzia, please.

At Alabama: Alabama coach Joe Kines will call a great game here, mixing in devastating blitzes with solid man/zone variations to befuddle the spread for most of the first half. He'll also try to ignore the spacey-looking baffled guy named Mike with the headset pacing the sidelines next to him while he's doing it, too, the same guy who keeps murmuring "off-tackle, off-tackle" into the mike every seven seconds or so. Call it now, though, while you've still got the chance: Brodie Croyle, if not injured prior to this game, sustains an injury here, though. He just breaks when people hit him--it's nothing personal at this point, it's just physiology made manifest through punishing hits from 230 pound linebackers moving at full speed. Once that happens, the game, for all intents and purposes, will be tight but over. Don't worry, though, Bama fans--if Leak makes it through Tennesee, he'll have had to sustain an injury by this point. Both teams might lose their starting qbs in this low scoring slugfest. 'Bama would be a great pick if they could score. They can't, so they lose, and Shula goes straight to the Pit of Despair following a close home loss.

Score: UF 17, 'Bama 10.

Anxiety level: Vodka tonic. Two of 'em. If Leak goes out, throw a percocet or two on the fire and
sacrifice a goat to appease the injury gods in the two weeks you have before LSU.

Mississippi State After the boisterous Gainesville parade in honor of the Bulldogs--the team responsible for the last straw loss in 2004 that prompted the Zook firing--Florida then proceeds to beat Mississippi state with a Buford Pusser-like vengeance in the Swamp. This will not be a simple first-half sprint followed by a second-half grind to the end. No, as in a Seagal move, no finishing gesture would be too nasty: a stiff arm in the face for the touchdown to make it 56-10, a deep throw with a minute left, or safety Jarvis Herring peeing on an injured Bulldog following a vicious spear. (We're thinking in particular of the move in Under Siege where he catches a punch, pulls a Tai Chi jointlock on the guys arm, breaking everything down to the shoulder, kicks the poor schmuck's knee out of socket, and throws him opposite shoulder first into a running ban saw. Something like that.) This will be a classic, classless, fingerless-gloved bully backstreet break-knuckle beatdown we haven't seen since the days of SOS. Bring a book.

Score: UF 52, MSU 20.

Anxiety level: Margarita with salt, please. And no more than two, since that's when clothes start coming off, and the G-ville police do not approve in most cases of public nudity.

At LSU It'll be a night game. It has to be. We're not even looking it up, since it would be lunacy for the Tigers to have it any other way. Tiger stadium during the day is just another rain-stained concrete holding pen with turf in the middle. At night it becomes a tribal whipping ground, inky black darkness surrounding a brightly lit patch of pure green evil, bordered by a froth of maniacal fans so drunk their breath could deforest a small Central American country. We buy the mystique hook, line, and sinker, almost to the point where LSU's players look faster at night. Jimbo Fisher will be less conservative but just as inscrutable in his play-calling, LSU's Bo Pelini defense will bring the irons, and UF loses their first road game of the season after a battering under the lights highlighted by the pounding runs of Alley Broussard, who Miles is going to put some serious wear on this year. We'd love to be wrong, but the Gators aren't ready to win this one yet.

Score: LSU 37, UF 20

Anxiety level: Scotch, the drink of middle-aged men and the feeling of resignation, since UF in the modern age always drops a game in the West. No medication necessary, just some sad tunes to accent the feeling, like slow Ray Charles, Sinatra, or even a little Getz/Gilberto will do.

Georgia We'll make a stretch here: the Gators by ten, at least. What makes us think this? Just this:

1. Ron Zook took two out of three from UGA.
2. Mark Richt and David Greene lost two out of three to Ron Zook.
3. Ron Zook has a .667 winning percentage against UGA.

Urban Meyer's squad should be fine, especially after a loss at LSU, which will no doubt cause Meyer to banish his squad to a Chinese labor camp on the edge of Tibet for the week to learn the proletarian values of work and team sacrifice. Tormented by the memories of trying to grow rice with their bare hands at 9,000 feet in freezing water, the Gators will take out their pain on the 'Dawgs, especially in the form of emerging big 'un Ray McDonald, thriving in his new spot at defensive end. Shockley throws three picks and the D shines in a sound defeat at the Cocktail Party in Stinktown.

Score: UF 38, UGA 24

Anxiety level: Champagne--Duval-Leroy is affordable and elegant, but in a pinch some Oregon sparkling wines can do in the eight to nine dollar range. Or just say "fuck it" and get a twelve dollar gallon hurricane with the rest of the world and go blotto 'til you fumble your way back to the Comfort Inn.

Vanderbilt Moses Osemwegie deserves better than this.

Score: UF 41, Vandy 7.

Anxiety level: Chamomile tea with honey, so we can catch a decent nap in the third.

South Carolina An entire game played in service of the post-game handshake, this matchup won't be nice to the Gators. Spurrier will fake, play-action, reverse, and Idaho-penal league-play the Gators to death here. South Carolina's D won't be easy to read either, with scattershot 3-3-5 fan John Thompson bringing his "bucket of minnows" attack to the fore. The way around Thompson's D was always to run right into it and hit the holes vacated by blitzers, which Florida should be able to do. But exhausted by the triumph over UGA and facing a coach bent on salvaging a scratch-and-dent year, this is a classic trip-up game. It would be just the kind of dick thing Spurrier used to do to other teams all the time. Why not us?

Score: SC 27, UF 24

Anxiety level: Shots. Anything. Tequila. Muriatic Acid. Bronzer. Anything to dull the pain of our old coach roostering his way out of the tunnel.

Florida State Is Jeff Bowden coaching the offense at this point? Seriously, that's the only question here, unless Xavier Lee and Drew Weatherford both do something crazy like dropping acid the week before the game, writes a bunch of bad checks and hightails it to the arena league, or shows up unannounced at a total stranger's door, walks in uninvited, and starts cooking a hot dog. Then it's a total lock for a Gator victory, with a wide receiver at qb after the Bowdens are forced to run a single wing following still more qb troubles.

With Bowden the Unready coaching the offense, there's little to make anyone think they'll be any better on offense. You can't run every play, and when they do pass, it'll be in patterns so simplistic even the Zooker could call them pre-snap. We've waited for the moment Jeff Bowden pulls off the headset and starts bawling on the sideline; so has every single FSU fan frustrated with the dark side of Bobby Bowden's nepotism. This might be that game, with the Florida offense finally starting to hum along nicely enough to keep the valiant FSU defense on the run. FSU's defense will likely score more points than their offense, and Bobby Bowden will be forced to put on the headset at least once during the course of the game. Urban Meyer celebrates the victory by having the team carry him for the next week across burning coals.

Score: UF 35, FSU 27.

Anxiety level: Joyous, Octoberfest-levels of beer beer beer!

Predicted final record, year one of Urban Reclamation: 8-3.