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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 1&2

Imagine being a kid again, and it’s Christmas time. For the past month you’ve been on your best behavior, pretty much, your room has remained clean, by small boy standards, and you’ve dutifully completed your chores without being reminded to do so, at least, not repeatedly reminded. You even made sure to offer to share with your little sister, when there was absolutely no logical reason to do so, but you’ve got to be good. Christmas is coming. It’s near, it’s almost here, visions of sugar plums dance in your head. Then, you find out that Mom and Dad have been called away on some trumped-up grown up thing, that makes little sense, and now you have to spend Christmas with your Aunt Karen. Aunt Karen’s nice, and she does what she can to make Christmas enjoyable, but Aunt Karen doesn’t watch the commercials on TV, she has never even HEARD of Turbo Man and his boomerang shooter. There are presents under the tree, but none of the items you specifically wrote to Santa Claus about. You smile, try to act happy, and tell her, ‘Thank you’, and you make the best of it. But all the while you’re hoping that when your parent figures come home next week there’ll be all the presents that you’ve been dreaming about, and one of them will contain only the most sought after toy EVER! The Turbo Man action figure with arms and legs that move, has the boomerang shooter and his rock’n roller jet pack and realistic voice activator that says *FIVE* different phases including, “It’s Turbo Time!”  This is pretty much the best way to sum up this past weekend in College Football. Yes, the season is under way… kind-of. All the fun, passion, and pageantry were sorely missing. The roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd (that’s the name of a Broadway play, for the uninitiated), the tailgating, and all the unique qualities that make college football, College Football, were absent. Hopefully, they’ll return right soon.

Here is a quick review of what did happened on the gridirons. Marshall kicked Eastern Kentucky around as if the Colonels were a rented mule, winning the game, 59-0. Army hosted Middle Tennessee State, and the Cadets marched up and down the field as if they were walking the area to work off demerits. Forty-two to zip was the final score, and that’s got to wipe out a bunch of demerits.  Memphis, with their new coach, underestimated Arkansas State and found themselves in a heck of a fight, but managed to prevail over the Red Wolves who used to be the Indians, 37-24. SMU vs Texas State was interesting, but the Mustangs galloped away in the end, 31-24. North Texas beat Houston Baptist, 57-31…wait, there’s a school named Houston Baptist? And they scored 31 points against North Texas State University? My, oh, my. UTEP started their season off with a win over Stephen F. Austin, 24-14. This is the first time the Miners began with a win in…many, many, many years. Then, in the Labor Day special Monday night game, BYU visited the Naval Academy and the Cougars didn’t just sink the Midshipman’s Battleship, they took down at least one aircraft carrier and a whole bunch of support vessels, 55-3. It could have been worse. Navy was trailing, 48-0, before they kicked a field goal. Catching up three points at a time was going to take the Middies a long time, and the game ended long before they accomplished this feat. I have to say some derogatory remark about the Sailors or I’ll lose my editor.   

This weekend the ACC, the AAC, and the Big 12 that only has ten teams will kick-off their season. Give the Big 12 that only has ten teams credit, at least they’re playing football. Do you hear me, Big 10 that has 14 teams, none of which are playing? (The SEC will begin the following weekend).

This coming Thursday night, Miami will be hosting UAB. Now, most people would see this as a warm up game, but the Blazers are not a pushover, not at all. As a matter of fact, it would not be a surprise if they bested the Canes. Here’s why: – 1) Miami is always overrated at the start of the season. It’s like sports writers must take an oath to promote the “U” all through the preseason, just as they’re duty-bound to tout Notre Dame. 2) UAB has a Quarterback in Tyler Johnston III. Miami is still searching for their next great signal caller, which, by the way, they haven’t found since the early 90’s. 

Saturday, we start off with Syracuse vs North Carolina. Old Man Mac Brown has made a huge impact with the Tar Heel program. They, meaning UNC, just made the best recruiting haul in the entire Coastal division of the ACC! People are actually excited about this football team. There’s more and more people wearing those Carolina Blue jerseys, and everyone knows that God made the sky Carolina Blue. Unlike Joe Biden, they’re not staying in their basements anymore, they’re actually flaunting them around town! Some call North Carolina a wide-awake sleeper to win the Coastal Division, and that’s a good way to put it. The Tar Heels have some stiff competition in both the Virginia schools. Five Dooley Buttons to every reader who knows why UNC is called the Tar Heels. The biggest area that should show improvement from last year is the defense. It appears Old Man Mac recruited and targeted players that will help them on that side of the ball. Offensively, there is a lot of hope that QB Sam Howell will take a big jump in his development, and he wasn’t a slacker last year. Syracuse should provide the Baby Blue Boys from Chapel Hill a good test on opening day to measure just how much this team has improved since last season. The Orange, meanwhile, are coming off a very disappointing 2019 season. They only recorded two ACC wins last year, one over Duke, and the other a fluke overtime victory over Wake Forest. What happened to the 2018 team that went 10-3? Across the board, Syracuse needs help. They lost their number one rusher to graduation,  and, even though they have two backs battling it out, they’re both young and unproven. QB Tommy DeVito is back, and he is pretty good, as in, he tied the record for the most TD’s tosses by a sophomore in school history. At least they have him. Where they need the most help is on defense. Last year they ranked last in the ACC, and, let’s face it, it’s not like placing last in the SEC, where it just means more. This is ACC defenses, where only Clemson has figured out that the “D” is an important ingredient in the game. Doubtful the Orange will give Old Man Mac any heart issues as they take on the Tar Heels, but, hopefully, they’ll make it competitive.

Notre Dame will be making their first ever full conference schedule this year as they play nothing but ACC schools. It was either play in the ACC like everyone else in their conference, or don’t have a football season, so conference play didn’t come about because the Irish suddenly had a fraternal instinct. No, this was completely out of necessity. But, hey, at least they didn’t act like a bunch of scared little bitches and stick their heads in the sand hoping everything would just go away (that was for you Big Ten, and Pac-12!!). ND will be playing against Duke, not sure the Blue Devils have ever played outside the eastern seaboard of the USA, could be a first. As it stands now, before any game is played, the Fighting Irish are once again one the most improved, and best teams in the nation! This is going to be the year that the Golden Domers will make it back to relevance. Which they all say every year and have been saying since at least 1988. Just to give you an idea how long ago that was, I was young then, and had hair, a lot of it. But, here we are in a new century, barely two decades old – that’s 20%, for the less-math inclined readers, the Irish still have Ian Book returning as QB and that’s supposed to be the key to their victories, despite the fact they need help everywhere else. The Defense was great against weak competition last year, but struggled in their two big games, Michigan and Georgia. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare in ACC conference play. Duke did not have a bad year in 2019, they just missed out on being bowl eligible. Hey! Calm down, one can’t expect these Eggheads to make it every year. Remember, they’re doing homework on things we couldn’t ever begin to explain, – well some us could, but not me. They do have plenty of returning starters on both sides of the ball, and they have been working on revamping their offense. Two years ago Duke actually beat Notre Dame, wouldn’t it be great if they did it again! The answer to that question is, “yes”, but it’s not expected.

In the Main Event, the Prime Time Featured Presentation, the number one team in the nation, Clemson, will be taking on Wake Forest AT Wake Forest. (For those wondering, yes, there was a lot of sarcasm in that last sentence. Wake is NOT the Number Two team in the Nation) Everyone knows about Clemson, they’re loaded, they’re very good, they have a hippie-wanna-be at Quarterback who is actually very, very good. The only question for this team is, can they go through this year without a conference loss, again? If there is one weakness with these Orange/Purple Tigers, it would have to be on defense. Last year they were very good, but they got lit up by LSU in the Championship game. Their defensive backs just could not keep up. And, as the game wore on, the defensive line got less and less pressure on QB Joe Burrow, who proceeded to bury the Tigers. (Hmmm. That’s a Tiger burying a Tiger. Can’t have that. LSU is the Bayou Bengals.) But let’s be honest, even with a slightly weaker defense, they are still the Goliath within the ACC and it’s hard to see any of the other teams becoming David. Wake Forest is coming off its fourth straight winning season. Last year they started off 5-0, but then, when their schedule got tougher, they struggled. They still recorded a winning season, but it was not pretty down the stretch. Head Coach Dave Clawson has done a great job in Winston Salem every season. The Demon Deacons have improved. They are no longer the basement dwellers of the past. Last year’s QB, Jamie Newman, contributed a great deal to their offense but he transferred to Georgia, and everyone expects WF offense to suffer and they may be right. But here’s a counter offer;  the offense just might be better because of it. Newman was a ball hog and a glory hound and, although he put up impressive numbers, it didn’t’ help the offense grow. This year they will. They don’t have the sling and stone needed to take down Clemson this weekend, but they shall take their beating and learn from it. (Just in case you doubted me about Newman, he announced, after the Georgia Bulldogs named him the Number One signal caller, that he was foregoing this football season to prepare for the NFL draft. That’s real character for you.)

Short Smokes

Iowa State will sweep away Louisiana Lafayette.  

Appalachian State will run all over Charlotte

West Virginia wins over Eastern Kentucky, big shock

Baylor will have a little trouble with LA Tech, in the first quarter, not much after that

Army’s march to victory could be impeded by UL Monroe. It had better not be, but it could be.

Georgia Tech vs Florida State will be interesting to watch, both are starting over.

UTSA against Texas State, pick’em

Campbell Camels taking on Georgia Southern, gotta go with the Eagles

Kansas State better be ready for Arkansas State, those Red Wolves think they’re good (Remember, they used to be Indians)

Pitt will have little to no trouble against Austin Peay, like none. Don’t bet the family farm on this one, though.

The Citadel will invade South Florida, and have to retreat

Tulane will have some sort of weird play that will enable them to beat South Alabama.

UTEP will bring their undefeated record to Texas where they will promptly lose.

Western Kentucky will take a bus ride up to Louisville where they’ll hammer on each other.

Texas Tech better not lose to Houston Baptist, the laughter will never, ever stop if they do.

Kansas will have a better season than last year, and it starts with a victory over Coastal Carolina.

Next week the games will have an uptick to them, as the SEC will kick-off their season. So one more week until we get our Turbo Man Action figure with working parts. 

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