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Christmas Day is here!

GAINESVILLE -- I woke up this morning like I was 10 years old and it was Christmas Day. Oh, boy, look what Gator Claus left me under the cypress tree! A shiny new college football season!

Not even a right cross from LeGarrette Blount could keep me away from the television/computer today. College football is finally here. (We'll give the sport we love TWO mulligans after Thursday's doubleheader debacle.)

OK, let's be serious. Did anyone other than me scream "Down goes the champ!" when Blount -- the pride of Madison County, Fla. -- dropped that Boise State lineman? I didn't see it live but that was my first reaction the next morning. Should Blount have been suspended for an entire season? Probably. After all, he possibly could have gone to a Utah jail for longer if Don Flamenco would have pressed charges.

The Gators don't play until 7 p.m. I'm not really feeling a season opener against Charleston Southern, so here's a link to the game notes if you want to study up on the Buccaneers.

Here's a link to a couple of feature stories I wrote this week about the season opener, enjoy ... Maturity pays off for Brandon James... Florida Gators opener an opportunity to tinker with offense... Brandon Spikes is the Predator!

Since we're not doing an Ultimate Preview this week (will begin the often-imitaded-but-never-duplicated Ultimate Preview when UF actually plays a team from its own division) we'll throw up our college football picks for Week One of the college football season. (These are in today's paper but I don't think they made it online.)

Florida State 31, Miami 27: Evenly matched teams except for one noticeable difference: Florida State QB Christian Ponder is a veteran playing behind a talented offensive line while Canes QB Jacory Harris is making his first start at The Doak. Hey, Jacory, how’s your play-action fake coming along? We’ll find out on Monday. (Favorite: FSU by 6.)


Florida 63, Charleston Southern 0: The Gators should be ashamed of themselves. (Favorite: No line.)


Nebraska 45, Florida Atlantic 24: Owls QB Rusty Smith will have a fine senior season but he must first endure an FAU payday at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. Coach Howard Schnellenberger, who coached at Oklahoma in 1995, did FAU no favors by torching Nebraska’s logo during a team bonfire this week. (Favorite: Nebraska by 23.)


South Florida 42, Wofford 10: No contest here. This is the first of three tune-up games for the Bulls before they play at Florida State on Sept. 26. (Favorite: No line.)


Georgia 27, Oklahoma State 24: Upset special. The Bulldogs will win this game on the offensive and defensive lines. Expect a big day from Georgia receiver A.J. Green, who will be the best playmaker on the field. Sorry, Dez Bryant. (Favorite: Oklahoma State by 5.)


Notre Dame 30, Nevada 14: A statement game for the Fighting Irish. [Pause for contemplation.] Irish QB Jimmy Clausen has matured into a leader and was named a team captain this preseason. Behind a veteran line, Clausen will begin leading Notre Dame back to respectable this Saturday. (Favorite: Notre Dame by 14 ½).


Oklahoma 40, BYU 17: This is a bad match-up for Brigham Young, which should rebound after this week to contend for the Mountain West Conference championship. The Sooners, losers to Florida in last season’s title game, get back on track with the return of running back DeMarco Murray. (Favorite: Oklahoma by 22 ½.)


Alabama 20, Virginia Tech 13: The second straight season opener for Alabama at the Georgia Dome. This is basically a home game for the Crimson Tide, which has one of the best defenses in the nation. Virginia Tech is shaky at quarterback and thin at running back. (Favorite: Alabama by 6.)



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