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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 3

Week 3

Week 3 is among us and we’ve already seen upsets, struggle wins, disappointments, and dominance which is what makes college football so great!  Everyone was shocked by Oregon beating Ohio State in the Horseshoe but Stanford defeating USC was just as surprising. USC took this lost so badly that they fired Coach Clay Helton. That’s what? Five USC coaches in the past ten years, or something like that?  So, what does this weekend have in store for us? Well, obviously more of the same, we hope.  Not sure where the upsets will come from, of if any other coaches will be shown the door, as one never knows what will happen, but we sure do have fun guessing at it!

Auburn vs Penn State – Crazy trivia question, how many times has Auburn played at a Big Ten School? The answer is, zero! But that will be changed on Saturday when the Tigers, Alabama variety, take on Penn State in Happy Valley. Auburn is 2-0 after beating Akron and Alabama State, so it’s safe to say that New Head Coach Bryan Harsin, and team have neither been tested yet. That doesn’t mean there was nothing to glean from their performances so far this year. QB Bo Nix doesn’t quite grasp this new offense, it seems. With the Plainsmen beating Alabama State 62-0, he went 9-for-17 through in the air, totaling 108 yards. It is feasible that Alabama State has the most dominant secondary in all of college football, – highly unlikely, but in the realm of possibilities. However, the Tigers ran the ball with RB Jarquez Hunter and RB Tank Bigsby, gobbling up yards like Pac-Man eats dots. Safe to say that these two backs, and the offensive line, are going to be relied upon once again. If Auburn is still not able to run the ball against the Nittany Lions, and has to rely upon their passing attack, supporters better hope ole’ Bo has the game of his life. As for the Defense, well, they did a fine job against the Zips and the Hornets, good job boys. However, we didn’t learn much there, either. Last year the Tigers struggled on defense, but still leaned on them heavily to bail them out of tight games. This reliance didn’t go particularly well, which is one reason there’s a new head coach prowling the sidelines. They are going to be tested by Penn State. The Lions’ offensive line answered the call against what is considered a solid Wisconsin defense where the Nittany Lions came out on top.

Penn State– has already faced a test and passed, the afore- mentioned beating of Wisconsin. Like Auburn, they did not have a fantastic year in 2020. But that is history, and now they look like a team again and one that is playing with purpose. In their first two weeks PSU has two games that would very much catch the playoff committee’s eye, Wisconsin and Auburn. If Coach Franklin’s team beats the Tigers like they beat the Badgers, you may be sure the Committee’s collective eyes will lock in on Happy Valley. Against Wisconsin, it was sluggers game, neither team gave up much and every score was grudgingly conceded. Against Ball State the points came quick and fast. The highlight from these two contests has been the Lion defense. The Badgers got the ball inside the Penn State 25 four times, and three inside the 10, and they came away with only 10 points for the entire game. Not being a fan of the “bend but don’t break” type of defense they were able to stiffen up when the time came. Against Auburn, Penn State’s defense has got to be rigid from the get-go. They’re going to have to keep their SEC opponent from generating any kind of offense. The Lions did just fine offensively against Ball State, they did, they seriously did. Against the Badgers, eh…not so much.  In that game they got one first down in the entire first half of play and only gained 43 yards in the same time span. In the second half they did much better because they started throwing the ball. Sean Clifford went 18-33 for 247 yards;- ok, maybe not a complete turn-around from the first half, but it was good enough to garner the “W”. With two games to get their things in order, they have an early opportunity to put them in the playoff talks this year.

What to expect- QB Bo Nix was the proclaimed savior years ago, he has never had a performance where he’s matched the hype, doubtful he’ll do that here. Auburn is 1-6 when their opponent hosts College GameDay. They last won against Tennessee, 34-10, on Oct 2, 2004. Not just that, but they have one nonconference road victory against a top 10 team…..Ever! The only time they pulled off this trick was in 1984 against Florida State. To say that history is against them would be an understatement.  But, this is the SEC taking on the Great White North, where we always want the SEC to prove its dominance. Both teams are trying to recover from poor seasons, both are 2-0, and even though the Plainsmen head north carrying the SEC banner, it doesn’t look promising. Penn State has designated this a “White Out” game, and or some reason, when they do this it fires up the crowd, the players, and everyone else. Auburn looks like they’re heading for trouble.

Virginia Tech vs West “By Golly” Virginia – This is the Black Diamond Trophy game, a nod to the region’s history with coal mining. Nothing to do with diamonds. Actually, coal is diamonds  in the making so putting the two words, “Black”, and, ”Diamonds” together is somehow appropriate. The Gobblers opened their season by burying North Carolina when the popular opinion was that the Tar Heels would challenge Climpson in the ACC. The Hokies snuffed out that notion. QB Braxton Burmeister has been having a good time at Blacksburg, he’s 5-1, and has completed 61% of his passes. He took a hit against Middle Tennessee that knocked him out the game for a while, but he seems to have recovered, and is starting this weekend. The last two games have been the first two times that VA Tech has looked like a well-rounded, and solidly coached football team since HC Fuentes arrived. Maybe it just took a bit longer than anyone anticipated for his system to take hold. Whatever the reason, the Turkeys are causing folks to take note.

West “By Golly” Virginia is the exact opposite of the Hokies. They started off with a disappointing loss to Maryland in a game that they might have won, but turn-overs doomed WVU. QB Jarret Doege has thrown for over 250 yards in each of their first two games, but he also has two INT’s and several drops. On the flip side, the defense already has 4 takeaways, but when one of their opponents is Long Island University, who most people just found out existed, these stats are suspect. The defense did look much improved when they played to Terps.

What to expect – WVU hasn’t possessed the Black Diamond trophy since 2003. Granted, these two teams don’t play every year but that’s still been almost 20 years. Both defense are among the national leaders in tackles for loss, with WVU averaging 10.5 per game, and VA Tech nine. IF the Mountaineers hope to beat the Turkeys, it is all going to come down to their defense. True to their Big 12 that has only ten teams, or eight, or twelve heritage – I get confused with all the comings and goings, – WVU is not known as a D-sort of team. Even when Bobby Bowden coached there, and that was several years ago, the Mountaineers don’t seem to care much if you score. They cannot let VA Tech take control of this game in any size shape or form. The Mountain-boys have got to make it a slugfest. Their offense can move the ball, but after what Tech did to North Carolina, so can VA Tech. West Virginia will hang in there, they’ll play tough, but VA Tech has too much for WVU to handle.

Alabama vs Florida– Ok, Ok, due to customer demand, CSF will cover another SEC game. Alabama travels to the Swamp to meet Florida in the regular season instead of the SEC championship game, like last year. The Tide is riding a 16 game winning streak. This started with their trip to the Citrus Bowl when they beat Michigan in 2020, and they have not looked back since. The last time Florida beat Alabama was in the 2008 SEC title game, and they had some guy named Tebow leading them. If memory serves me, he also won the Heisman. These two met last year when Florida had Kyle Task and they had a shoot out with Alabama winning 52-46. The Tide comes into this game as a 15 point favorite. QB Bryce Young will be making his first true road start, and it will be before a complete sell-out crowd of 100,000 or so screaming Gators. The question, is will he be able to handle the  pressure? According to Young, he is fully aware of what the environment is going to be, and that he and the rest of the team will be prepared for, because that’s part of “The Process”. Follow the Process and all will be well. So far, the offense has verified this motto, although they took their sweet time getting their heads into the game against Mercer. The Bama Defense has been a delightful story line so far. Remember when Bama had the most dominate force in the nation on defense? From there to being an after-thought to the Tide high-flying offense. It appears the defenders have decided that the Process includes their dominance once again. Bama nation is pleased.

Florida- The Gators are no used to being the underdog on their own turf;- as a matter of fact they don’t like it one bit. They are taking it a bit personal, and they should! These are the types of games that people live for, this is a big game, and if Swamp-dwelling fans can’t get motivated for this, then what will motivate them? There is no doubt that every single Gator will be up for this one, from the fans, the team, the coaches, even the grounds crew is determined to do its part.  The last time a defending national champion and number 1 team came to Gainesville, was in 2002 when Miami rolled into town. The Canes won that game, 41-16. The Gators would love nothing more than to be “that team” that took down Bama. Couple of problems with that happening. One is their QB situation. QB Richardson has been very impressive when he is sent in off the bench, but, for some reason, the Harbaugh of the South HC Mullen is determined to stick with QB Emory Jones. When a Coach is playing two QB’s, it’s not a good sign. That means that neither one is consistent and neither one is good enough to carry the load. The QBs will lead you to believe that HC has a plan, and that they know the plan. All well and good, but former Heavy Weight Boxing Champion Mike Tyson said, “The plan is only good until one gets punched in the face.” Not entirely sure what this plan is, but, rest assured, Alabama is going to punch them in the face. It’ll be interesting to see what happens then.

What to expect- This makes HC Dan Mullen’s eleventh game against St. Saban, and, at last count, he was 0-10. The importance of this game is already being felt, the TV commenters can’t stop talking about, folks are tuned in. Alabama, of course, is looked at as “The Empire”, the dark forces that come to destroy planets and rule over them. With St. Saban being either the Darth Vader or the Empire, he’s fine with being called either one. Actually, Bama fans like being the Empire. The rest of the world is trying to find that Luke Skywalker type of team, the one that can deal a death blow to Alabama’s reign. After this Saturday, that search is going to continue, because, even though it’s in the Swamp, the Gators are destined to lose, the question being, “By how much?”

Short Smokes

Maryland takes on Illinois and the Terps will go to 3-0.

Nebraska vs Oklahoma- this used to be one of the biggest games of the year, but that was back when the Cornhuskers were actually good, which they’re not now. So much for reviving a rivalry.

If Texas A&M struggles against New Mexico they should be kicked out of the top 25, The Daughter will be livid.

Cincinnati Bearcats are going to gnash Indiana

Michigan State is not raked at 2-0, and Miami is ranked number 24 at 1-1. The Canes struggled, STRUGGLED, really struggled, to beat App State. The Spartans should be ranked after this weekend and the Canes won’t be.

Michigan takes on Northern Illinois. The Wolverines will not face a challenge until they play Wisconsin in Oct.

Tennessee hosts Tennessee Tech and Tech just might win, maybe not….maybe it is UT here.

Army will crush UConn, no contest.

Boston College vs Temple could be very entertaining.

Minnesota vs Colorado is the game of who is going to recover from crushing defeats at home?

Purdue is the underdog against Notre Dame, but don’t be surprised if the Boilermakers win.

Clemson goes against Georgia Tech, and, wouldn’t it be funny if the Yellow Jackets pull off the upset? It won’t happen, but we can hope.

Wake Forest would normally be picked to lose to Florida State, but not this year.

USC travels to Washington State and CSF is picking the Cougars

Mississippi State will not have that much trouble with Memphis, some trouble, sure, but not that much.

Beware of Arkansas State against Washington

South Carolina’s winning streak will come to an end against Georgia and it will be a hard hitting end.

Virginia beating North Carolina would not be a surprise

Tulane is going to have to score a lot to keep up with Ole Miss

Stanford vs Vanderbilt, the battle of the Slide Rules, Stanford wins

Texas vs Rice – the Longhorns will recover and stir Rice

Arizona State vs BYU is the late game and it should be worth staying up for.

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