The readers have spoken, so the Back Nine comes at you with a new numbering system. No burgers at the turn, just a light salad.
10. It’s one thing to lose a chance to go to the Super Bowl but to lose it the way the Vikings did has to keep the purple faithful awake for several nights this week. Six fumbles, two picks and that awful penalty for 12 men on the field that cost them a chance for the game-winning field goal. Ouch. All of the New Orleans voodoo hit the Vikings on Sunday night. But that’s life with Brett Favre. You know the bad interception is coming. It’s just a matter of how bad it is. His last pass for the Packers was an interception as well. I’ve heard people saying that his last passes for all three teams he has played for were interceptions, but it was his next-to-last pass against Miami that was intercepted by Andre Goodman. His last pass was a four-yarder to Leon Washington, who lateraled back to Favre who threw an illegal forward pass in a desperation situation. And finally, there was Sunday night, a throw that violates the first rule of Quarterbacking 101, rolling right and throwing back left.
11. Which brings us to the story that has become an annual event. Will Favre call it quits? He said it’s highly unlikely he’ll be back, which means, well, nothing. I will believe him when he hasn’t suited up by November. Look, I have been as annoyed as anyone by all of the shenanigans of the off-seasons, but I have to admit I’m hoping he comes back. Actually, I’m hoping he announces he’ll come back very soon so we won’t have to deal with it all summer. But the NFL is a lot more interesting with Favre in it. Just the fact that he was leading his team down the field with a chance to win after suffering a major ankle injury was riveting stuff. Some people thought the hit on Favre by Bobby McCray, a former Gator, was illegal. All I know is he has been tough on aging quarterbacks in the playoffs (see: block on Kurt Warner.)
12. McCray becomes the 41st different Gator to play in the Super Bowl, but it’s not always a good thing to have a former UF player on your team for the big game (unless his name is Emmitt Smith). In 55 total appearances by Gators in the Super Bowl, their overall record is 23-32. The last time the game was played in Miami, Rex Grossman was among four Gators playing for the losing team. Here’s a trivia question for you — who was the first Gator to play in a Super Bowl? The answer later.
13. Devan Downey’s performance Saturday night in the O-Dome ranks right up there with some of the best I’ve ever seen in the building by an opponent. Chris Jackson’s 53-point game for LSU in 1988 still is No. 1, and there were some amazing performances by Charles Barkley, Buck Johnson and Jarvis Hayes on Florida’s home court. But none of those guys were 5-foot-nothing. Downey is putting up incredible numbers because he has to. In conference games only, the South Carolina guard is averaging 31.6 points per game. Georgia’s Trey Thompkins is second in the league and he’s more than 12 points a game behind Downey.
14. Downey helps make the SEC East as tough as it has been in a long time. People can talk about the SEC being weak, but not in this division. Florida is improved as we know, and Kentucky is what it is, which would be unbeaten and No. 1. Tennessee is a top 20 team even without Tyler Smith. Georgia has beaten the Vols and Georgia Tech already in January. Vanderbilt might be as good as I have ever seen the Commodores. And South Carolina is dangerous because of Downey. It’s not a division for the faint-hearted. The West, on the other hand …
15. One of the most interesting games going on in the media right now is to predict when Kentucky will lose a game (or where Tim Tebow will be drafted). I’ll take at Vanderbilt on Feb. 20. Not for Tebow, for Kentucky. The Wildcats are young and it’s not easy to take a bunch of freshmen into that bizarre gym and win. The Wildcats are also going to have to deal with being No. 1 now, which is often a burden.
16. Um, I was thinking about getting lottery tickets this week. Can Chandler Parsons pick out the numbers for me?
17. Nice win for Amanda Butler’s team Sunday. Amazing that the scores against South Carolina on successive days were almost identical and in both cases Florida made a late shot to win. This is a big week for the men and the women.
18. Time for download recommendations, and I continue to get great tips from the readers. This week, take a listen to “This is the New Year” by Ian Axel, a very cool Vampire Weekend video “Cousins” and for you old-schoolers how about a little “Lowdown” by Chicago? And Don Chandler was the first UF player to be in a Super Bowl, kicking five extra points for Green Bay in the very first one.
19th hole: Do yourself a favor and find a copy of your favorite football game and save it because the drought is coming. I’ve got a half-dozen on DVR. They will help you get through the days of summer. So will my famous chili. There’s no recipe, just feel it. Use every kind of meat possible, plenty of spices and cashews instead of beans. You won’t regret it. Until the middle of the night.