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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 1

It’s been a long dark period, hockey was fun to watch, but that ended a while ago, baseball and basketball games just can’t fill the void, what we need are college football games. Well great news! This weekend the dark times are over! College football kicks-off and the world of men give a great sigh of relief. So fire up the grills, pack the cooler will plenty to drink, and get ready for some FOOTBALL!!! Yes, ok, a lot of the games this weekend will be cupcake games, but there are plenty that are not and one or two that could influence the playoffs, Thank goodness for Labor Day weekend! So let’s get it on!

West “By Golly” Virginia vs Pittsburgh- Thursday night gets us going will a real humdinger of a game! The backyard brawl is back baby! Basically this game is going to be a duel between two USC transfers, JT Daniel (WVU) and Kedon Slovis (Pitt). For the Mountaineers JT Daniels is big upgrade, provided he can stay upright and not get dinged up, which has been his number one problem of keeping the starting job. Last year the WVU offense wasn’t bad per say, it just wasn’t, as some in the business might say, consistent. This year with a new QB and new OC Graham Harrell, both from USC, and with an offensive line returning all five, the expectations and points scored are both set high. Pitt, followed the WVU, formula went and got a USC QB as well, but that is where the difference in offensives stops. On the WVU side, JT Daniels is expected to do it all, because even with a veteran offensive line, they were last in rushing in the Big 12 that only has ten teams last year. Pitt has RB Israel Abanikanda who just happens to have lead the team in rushing last year and is back for more. He along with plenty of other talent on the Pitt side will be able to carry their part of the load and help out their new QB. However WVU is not just going to roll over and play dead, no siree, their front defensive seven all returned and they are a stout bunch, so rushing the ball is not going to be all that easy for the Panthers. The secondary however is a mite touchy, as in they have one returning player which does not bode well going up against a talented receiver corps. Pitt’s defense, under the tutelage of Pat Narduzzi, lives in other teams heads rent free. They were No.1 in the ACC against the run, second in the nation for total sacks, and fifth in the nation for tackles for loss and oh by the way, they return just about everyone as well. Both teams are going to score, the offensives are just too good not to. However the Panthers are built for the grind, while the Mountaineers prefer the quick strike. The Pitt defense will be difference maker, if they are as good as advertised, then they win, if they’re not then WVU pulls the upset.

Oregon vs Georgia – Before anyone writes this game off as a sure win for the Bulldogs, I’d like to remind everyone of a certain game last year played in Columbus, OH were the Ducks beat the Buckeyes 35-28. This Oregon team has the talent to pull the upset. The Quack-Attack is going to be led by their front five, which just might be the best offensive front UGA sees until the SEC championship game. Who’s going to lead this attack is still a question mark and will more than likely be game time decision, between Bo Nix, the transfer from Auburn and Kenny Dillingham. And let’s not forget that the new Head Coach of Oregon is none other than Dan Lanning who just happen to be the DC for Georgia last year, It’s possible he has some inside information on the personal they’ll be facing in this game. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Georgia is the defending national champions, bark loud Dawgs! And in the NFL draft a whole bunch of those guys got taken, which leads to a fine problem, how to replace all that talent. It won’t be easy, HC Kirby Smart saw this coming and he’s recruited well and the defensive line always plays a rotation, so they’ve got some experience but this year’s defense is not going to be AS dominate as they were last year, sad to say. The offensive philosophy for UGA is not going to change, at least not until there’s a need to change that is. Returning QB Stetson Bennett doesn’t have to be flashy, he doesn’t have to be over the top talented, he just has to make smart decisions, and be the game manager that he is. He has lots of help in the backfield the Receiver corps is expected to be a notch lower than last year, but the TE’s they have are next level talent. Besides all that this team is tough, they believe in being physical and they want to hurt people. Oregon has got the talent to hang with anyone, they pulled the huge upset last year against OSU and they certainly can pull the upset this year as well, but they have to score first and let no Georgia scores go unanswered. If they fall behind, it’s doubtful they’ll be able to catch up, cause that is when the big uglies of the UGA defensive line pin their ears back and met at the QB. Fully expect the Dawgs the win, but won’t be surprised if Oregon pull the upset.

Utah vs Florida – We’ll just stay here in the SEC, where it just means more. The Billy Napier era in Gainesville could get off to a rocky start. 1- he’s a new coach rebuilding the team, 2- he’s facing one of the best defensives in the entire country, 3- he has the honor of the SEC riding on him in his very first game. So no pressure there! The Gators have QB Anthony Richardson who is already getting NFL talk, but the Gators can’t rely on QB Richardson alone, somehow or another they have to get the rushing attack going, and it’s not going to be easy against what is being projected as the best defense in the nation. Utah appears to be following the Georgia formula, which followed Alabama’s, which is “Defense is KING!” Make the defense so strong that no one can score, and that’s what the Ute’s appear to have done. Florida is not going to face as fierce a defense all year.  That’s right Georgia, I said it and I mean it! Everyone returns for the Utes, the front seven is massive and the secondary is talented and experienced, and they’re lead by very fast linebackers with a nose for the ball. This might not have been the best game for the revamped Napier offense it test its wings. Then again, he does have something in his favor and that is Utah is a terrible road team. Outside Salt Lake City they lose, why? No answer. Last year on the road they lost to BYU, San Diego State and Oregon State AND then lost the Rose Bowl which as one might remember is not played in Utah. Saturday night Utah has to play in the Swamp, and in the Florida heat and humidly, this will not help them overcome their road warrior blues. The Gators will take whatever win they can get out of this, tough win, close win, barely won, it doesn’t matter. Utah if they want to live up to expectations has got to win this game, and they have to look good doing it. The powers that be, whoever they might be, are predicting a Florida victory, buuuut no so fast, this isn’t the dominate Florida Gators team everyone wants them to be, Napier will get them there but it’s doubtful it’ll happen his first year much less his first game. Utes takes the win, and with it their dream of making the playoffs just might become a reality.

Notre Dame vs Ohio State– Everyone that calls themselves a sports writer is building up this game as if the winner is guaranteed a trip to the playoffs and then the National Championship game, which is complete BS. Say what you want but both teams have serious problems. Ohio State’s defense was porous last year at best, yes they did great against Rutgers, Tulsa, and Akron but when it came to playing against the tougher opponents they didn’t stand up very well. But not to worry OSU has CJ Stroud the preseason Heisman Trophy winner, the kid is good to be sure but he hasn’t proven himself to that level just yet. Last year in their first game of the season against Minnesota, he made very poor decisions and nearly cost them the game, he didn’t follow that up with an outstanding showing against Oregon and was dismal against Michigan at the end of the year when he should have been his best. From all that he has learned, and applied those lessons to becoming better, which is good, but until that appears on the field it doesn’t count. Also they have to replace their receivers which were extremely good last year.  Notre Dame is not off the hook either, they have their name and that’s about it. Everything else about this program is tarnished, and they have to prove themselves, beating OSU at OSU would be a good a start. They’ve got a new coach in Marcus Freeman, who was promoted from his DC job, but still a new HC is a new HC. The Irish have good personal, they have talented receivers what they don’t have is a good stout defense.  They’ve got to improve there and they have to play tough when it counts. Falling to Cincinnati at South Bend last year, undermined their entire season, and new HC Freeman actually did coach as the HC in the Fiesta Bowl where the Irish do what they do in bowl games, they lost to Oklahoma State. Both teams have a tremendous amount to prove, all eyes are on Ohio State they should win, they really should,….they’ll more than likely win.

Florida State vs LSU–  Brian Kelly has taken over at LSU where he is going to try and bring the Tigers back to contention two removed from winning the Natty. Can he do it? YES, in his entire coaching career he has only had two losing seasons, no matter where he goes, he wins, he hasn’t won the National Championship in Division I yet, but he has at the other levels. Entering this game he still has not announced who the starting QB will be, but that’s more likely a game strategy than anything else. What LSU has to improve is both Lines. They have good running backs on offense but if the O-Line doesn’t open up holes it doesn’t matter how good the back is, he’s not going to gain much yardage. The Defensive line put very little pressure on opposing QB’s last year and even thought the Tigers pride themselves on being the DB-U of college football, if they don’t improve and put respect in opposing QB this year, they’re going to lose that title. As for FSU, the pressure is on Mike Norvell, they started off last year 0-4 and that’s not acceptable in Tallahassee anymore. In 2021 the Noles started off against Notre Dame and darn near beat them. If they had, it would have turned the entire season around. If a frog  had wings, … .This year, they’re trying the same thing only they are taking on LSU, and this might be the right opportunity for the Seminoles.  FSU returns 9 starters on Defense and they added good players in the transfer portal to fill some holes. This will be their strength and it should give them enough breathing room for the offense to open it up a bit. Florida State enters this game with nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Brain Kelly is about to experience the pressure of being an SEC Head Coach, where it just means more, and if he doesn’t believe that, just lose the first game to Florida State and watch what happens. LSU is the pick to win, but it won’t be by much.

Short Smokes:

Indianatakes the game of the “I’s” against Illinois

TCU skins the buffs of Colorado

A&M beats Sam Houston. Oh, way to go Aggies

NC State shells the pirates of East Carolina

Boston College is a heavy favorite against Rutgers. So is Northwest Arizona School for the Blind.

North Carolina better watch out playing against Appalachian State

Oklahoma gets UTEP to start off with

Cincinnati wants to prove last year wasn’t a fluke against Arkansas

Houston and UTSA could be a lot closer than most people think

It is very possible that Arizona loses to San Diego State, no, not possible…probable

Nebraska gets to lick its wounds against North Dakota, luckily it’s not North Dakota State or they’d lose

Ole Miss will defeat the Trojans of Troy

Wisconsin eats cupcakes against Illinois State

Auburn better not lose or even let it be close against Mercer

Army takes on Coastal Carolina and WINS!!! Go Army beat Navy!

Liberty and Southern Miss will be a good game that most won’t watch

Alabama will feast upon Utah State

Memphis will more than likely not fare well against Mississippi State

Syracuse will try and start the year off with a win against Louisville, doubtful

Boise State vs Oregon State will be a worthy game to stay up late on Saturday 

Clemson will seek vengeance upon the state of Georgia by taking down Georgia Tech

And the North Alabama Lions will roar into the 2022 season by clawing Indiana State, so take that Larry Bird.

Isn’t great to have college football back!

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