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Pigskin picks: UCF, UM to win conference titles; Jags win division

Glory be!

It is that time; a time to spread the holiday cheer and sing our own sports version of that classic Christmas carol — “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

Jump in where you can and sing along:

“There’ll be tailgates for hosting,

Beating your rival and boasting,

And covering the spread!

New coaches are hired,

When will Frost be fired,

Look, Corso just put on the Ibis head!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!”

Finally, at long last, football season is here with a full slate of college football games this week and NFL games next week.

And that means it’s time once again for our studio audience to ask questions and seek out the sage advice from the “Oracle of Oblong” — better known as the proficient, profound, prophetic Professor Pigskin.

Studio Audience: Professor, I hate to start this off on a negative note, but didn’t you tell us last year that the Miami Dolphins were going to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy and Tua Tagovailoa would outduel Tom Brady in the Super Bowl?

Professor Pigskin: Last year’s column was hacked! Unfortunately, by the time it was discovered, it had already been printed in the newspaper and posted online. Actually, I picked the Rams to beat the Bengals in the Super Bowl. If you don’t believe me, just ask Donald Trump’s election enablers. They’ll vouch for me.

SA: OK, forget about last year and let’s talk about this season. What intense rivalry matchup are you most looking forward?

PP: Oh, that’s easy. I cannot wait to see when the Gator Collective goes head-to-head with Miami Hurricanes billionaire booster John Ruiz for Cormani McClain — the uncommitted 5-star cornerback from Lakeland High School. This will be an epic battle for NIL (Now It’s Legal) superiority.

SA: Speaking of the Gators and Hurricanes, how do you think UF’s Billy Napier and UM’s Mario Cristobal will fare in their first seasons at their respective programs?

PP: I think the Gators will be lucky to win eight games this year, but I think 7-5 is more likely. As for the Hurricanes, watch out! They have one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Tyler Van Dyke, who will lead the 11-win Hurricanes to the ACC Championship in Cristobal’s first season.

SA: What about Florida State and coach Mike Norvell? Will Norvell be fired if he has another losing record in his third season?

PP: Florida State is still paying off former coach Willie Taggart’s $20 million buyout. Considering the financial state of FSU’s athletic department and the ACC’s bad TV deal, the ‘Noles can’t afford to buy out the assistant custodian’s contract right now. I’m not saying FSU is poor, but burglars broke into the athletic department a few nights ago and left money!

SA: So what are you saying, Professor Piggy?

PP: I’m saying, with apologies to Al Davis, Florida State’s mantra this season should be, “Just be bowl eligible, baby!” I think Norvell is a good coach and will begin to make strides this season. I like the Seminoles to finish 8-4.

SA: What about UCF? Can Ole Miss transfer John Rhys Plumlee lead the Knights back to national prominence in coach Gus Malzahn’s second season?

PP: I believe Plumlee will run for more than 1,000 yards and account for more total yardage this season than former Knights quarterback Dillon Gabriel accounts for at Oklahoma. I think the Knights will go 11-1 and head into the Big 12 as the American Athletic Conference champions.

SA: Professor Piggy, that’s such a homer prediction! When did you become such a shill and a lackey for UCF?

PP: As the great Carnac the Magnificent once said, “May a crazed genie put splinters in your toilet tissue.”

SA: Who will win the college football national championship this year?

PP: Remember where you heard this first: Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher will not only taste sweet revenge when he beats Nick Saban during the regular season, the Aggies will beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game and take down Ohio State for the national title. And Texas A&M boosters will celebrate by doubling the salaries, er, NIL payments of the entire roster.

SA: What do you foresee from the Jaguars in the post-Urban Meyer era?

PP: I think it’s definitely a plus that they have a coach in Doug Pederson who will actually fly home with the team from road trips instead of staying in town to party down with booty-shaking blondes. And, plus, the Jaguars were so bad on offense last year under Meyer, the only way they could gain yardage was by running the game film in reverse. Pederson will work wonders with Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars will — wait for it — go from the worst team in the league to best team in the AFC South.

SA: Professor, with all due respect, I think the doctor needs to lessen your dosage of medical marijuana because you’re obviously stoned out of your gourd.

PP: May a diseased yak squat in your hot tub.

SA: What about the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Miami Dolphins?

PP: It’s been a tumultuous offseason for Tampa Bay with coach Bruce Arians shockingly stepping down and Tom Brady retiring, unretiring and then taking a mysterious 11-day personal leave of absence during training camp. Operating behind a makeshift offensive line, Brady can still lead the Bucs to a division title in the weak NFC South, but Tampa Bay will fizzle out in the playoffs.

SA: And the Dolphins? With Tyreek Hill at his disposal, is this the year Tua emerges as a legit franchise QB?

PP: Yes! Tua finally has weapons all around him and an offensive-minded head coach who believes in him. In fact, the Dolphins would have a chance to win their division if they weren’t in the AFC East.

SA: I’m assuming you think the Buffalo Bills are going to win the AFC East?

PP: Not only are the Bills going to win the AFC East, they will win a franchise-first NFL championship by beating the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl.

SA: Last thing, Professor, will you give us your Rodney Dangerfield public-service announcement as you do every year?

PP: You bet. This is for all you fans out there who will be attending football games this fall. As you’re tailgating, don’t overindulge, don’t get too intoxicated, don’t drink and drive and don’t be like Rodney Dangerfield, who, before he died, posed for the cover of the annual Orlando Sentinel football preview section.

“I drink way too much,” Rodney once said. “The last time I gave a urine sample, it had an olive in it.”

Email me at [email protected]. Hit me up on Twitter @BianchiWrites and listen to my Open Mike radio show every weekday from 6 to 9:30 a.m. on FM 96.9, AM 740 and HD 101.1-2


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