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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 2 Preview

Preview Week 2
Week one gave us some fantastic games. A come-back win by UCLA that depressed The Daughter, a ground game by Army that was second to none and dramatic win by Alabama. Week 2 has a lot to live up to, but this is college football and it just keeps getting better as the season goes along.
IMG_7848Pitt vs Penn State– The Panthers started the season by jumping to a 21 point lead over Youngstown State. Then the Penguins fought back. I’ve never seen an actual Penguin fight but I’ve heard it can be ferocious. At the end of regulation the score was tied 21-21. Pitt won the game in overtime 28-21. Now they meet the Nitttany Lions. Last year Pitt beat the Great White North Champions 42 to 39. Can they repeat that performance? The worst problem the Panthers had last year was defending against the pass, as they gave up an average of 333.2 yard through the air per game. Granted, they went up against some stellar QB’s, but you have to do better than that. Coach Narduzzi was known as a defensive guru while he was Michigan State, and, against the run, Pitt was really good. They weren’t so good against the Penguins, but, hey, who can tackle a penguin? On the Panther offense is Max Browne, who, if you recall, started his college career at USC before losing that job and transferred to Pittsburgh. In 2017 the Panthers had All ACC running back James Conner, but he entered the pro draft, and the task now falls to Qadree Ollison. Qadree is no slouch, rushing for 1000 yards in 2016. However, against the Penguins – I like saying that word. Kinda like the Pittsburg State Gorillas, or the New Braunfels Unicorns – he managed only 91 yards. That’s more than double what Bo Scarborough got against Florida State. They say the biggest improvement for a college team occurs between week one and two, so if Pitt wants to make statement, now’s the time to do it. The offensive line will have to open up some running holes and the defensive secondary will have to keep Penn State passing yards to a minimum.
Penn State – comes into this game ranked 4th in the nation. Last week they had very little trouble, beating Akron, 52-0. QB McSorley threw for386 280 yards with 2 TD and 1INT. He showed poise in the pocket and was able to pick apart the Zips. (Zips are not Penguins so let’s not over react) McSorley is doing his best to build a resume for a Heisman invite at the end of the season. An impressive performance against Pitt might get him an invite to New York. But should the Panthers stop the passing game, they’ll still have to stop RB Barkley who had 172 yards and 2 TDs last Saturday. Both McSorley and Barkley are Heisman candidates. This dramatic duo is going to be tough to stop. Pitt has to at least slow them down. The Nittany Lions won the Great White North (GWN) conference last year, but they were not invited to the College Football Playoffs (CFP). Besides politics, and intense lobbying by Ohio State alums and athletic directors of some ilk, one of the reasons was that they had lost to Pittsburgh. Lemmee think, someone else lost to Pitt in 2016. It wasn’t Clemson, was it? Vey shallow excuses, CFP Selection Committee. Now it’s revenge time and you may be sure that Coach Franklin is going to use this carrot to motivate Lion team. Look for Pitt to play Penn State tough, but more than likely only until the second quarter. Penn State wins the battle of Pennsylvania. Or doesn’t.

134Auburn vs. Clemson – The Tigers of the Plains hung with Clemson pretty well last year, losing, 19-13. One of Auburn’s biggest improvements was on defense where they improved their national standing by 47 places. They were 7th in points allowed. Against Georgia Southern, Alabama’s Tigers only allowed 7 points. Their number one goal this year is to play championship defense and this week will be their first step in showcasing their improvement. On offense, a very good QB is at the helm in Jarrett Stidham, who played his freshman year at Baylor. According to Coach Malzahn, Stidham has the skill set the offense has been missing. He can throw the ball and he can run. For the Malzahn offense to work, it relies on having a dynamic signal caller who possesses a certain skill set. Stidham has that set. He’ll have plenty of help in the backfield as Kamryn Pettway returns as the number 1 running back. If there is going to be a difference maker in the ground game, Pettway is going to have to be that guy. He’s not as big as some Alabama running backs, but he can get the tough yards on the inside. In the open field he’s able to kick it into high gear. Auburn has gotten a lot of hype in the preseason and there is even talk they might be able to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Right now, it’s just talk. Let’s hope it stays that way.
Clemson– The Tigers are the defending National Champions, even if it was an illegal pick play that gave them that final touchdown. Now they 265have to retool. The greatest problem is replacing one of the greatest players in Clemson’s history, Deshaun Watson. Kelly Bryant has stepped into Deshaun’s shoes, and last week, against Kent State, he had a pretty darn good showing, throwing for 236 yards and a touchdown and running for 77 more yards. The media has gone wild with expectations. The media went wild with expectations with Hilary Clinton, too. The road to Hell is littered with good intentations, and QB flashes in the pan, as well. Remember Kenny Hill, of Texas A&M ? (Maybe not the best example, as he’s the starting QB at TCU this year). Let’s see how Bryant does against an SEC defense that even caused Watson trouble last year. Even with all the press about the South Carolina Tigers’ offense in 2016, the biggest reason for their success was a stout defense. Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables has done a masterful job in the past, but this year might be his biggest challenge. He has to replace four starters, but he still starts with one of the strongest defensive lines in the nation. Defending against the pass will be an emphasis since the secondary is were they lost the most talent. In 2016 it took a little while before the offense found their rhythm and they had to rely on the defense to hold the line. This year will be no different. The Clemson defense is going to have to man up against Auburn. Being an Alabama fan, this is painful to write, but the Tigers, Alabama variety, are going to exploit Clemson’s newcomers on the defensive line and come home with the victory. Unless it rains.

Buffalo vs Army- Last year the Black Knights were 2-0 when they met Buffalo, and the Cadets lost, 23-20. Here’s an opportunity to avenge that loss. There is no question what the Army game plan is going to be. They’re going to run the ball, then they are going to run the ball some more, and when Buffalo is sick to death of defending the run, the Cadets are going to run the ball some more. They might, might, try to pass the ball, but they can’t. So they’ll run some more. As the Official US Army song says, “The Army goes rolling along!” Army rolls to a win.
310Stanford vs USC- If I was a betting man, and I am, I would say this game is going to be the highlight of the weekend. It is very possible that this will be a preview of the PAC-12 title game. Stanford had last week off as they had to travel all the way back from Sydney, Australia, and if you’ve ever taken that flight, you know that they needed last week off. In the Land Down Under, the Cardinal played Rice and won. Saturday’s game will be an early test for both teams. Coach Shaw has done a fantastic job of making the Stanford program consistent. Last year was the sixth season the Trees had 10-plus victories. They had Mr. Do-it-all Christian McCaffrey;- now they will be relying on Bryce Love. He had 180 yards against Rice. It’ll be tougher on Saturday, but Love is the key to the running game. The Stanford defense has been their strength during Shaw’s tenure, and this year will be no different. They’ll have to pressure the QB to beat the Trojans.
USC – Southern Cal was unexpectedly tested last week as they played Western Michigan. Sam Darnold threw for 283 yards against the Broncos,431 but had two INT’s. He did not help his Heisman resume. WMU still believes in “Rowing the Boat”, even without Coach PJ Fleck. Actually, this early struggle could work in Troy’s favor, as they were not expected to struggle in week one. They had to fight back, toughen up, and they came away with a W. Against Stanford, which is a different kettle of fish from the Broncos, they’re going to need every bit of that determination. Sam Darnold came into his own last year after the Alabama thrashing, and enters this year as one of the top QBs in the nation. He is gifted with a strong arm and has the ability to read defenses and exploit their weakness. Wonder if he’d consider a Graduate transfer to Alabama? The Tide needs a QB who can read defenses and make accurate throws. Just musing. Tailback U, that would be USC, will be using Junior Ronald Jones II, who ran for 159 yards and 3 TD’s against Western Michigan. The offensive line will be facing a hard hitting Cardinal line. In the past nine meetings, the team with an advantage in running the football has won. Last week, USC gave up 263 yards, the most the Trojans have allowed since Stanford ran for 302 yards last September. One of the trademarks for Stanford football has been winning on the road. The Cardinal has won four of the past five games at the Coliseum. Coach Helton is winless against Stanford, at 0-2. This game will be hard hitting, and tough, but the Cardinal pulls out the victory.
OklahomaOklahoma vs Ohio State– Oklahoma invited Ohio State to Norman last year and got manhandled, 45-24. One might look at this year and draw the conclusion that the Buckeyes will repeat that performance. The Sooners will be trying to not buy into this narrative. Since last year’s game, OU has not lost. They have the longest winning streak in the Nation, 11 games, as they enter the Horseshoe. Quarterback Baker Mayfield will have to be at the top of his game. Last year he threw for two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. It gave the Buckeyes a 14-0 lead and took the wind right out of the Sooners sails. To say OU is motivated should be an understatement. But there are a few things that need to be considered; One, Bob Stoops is not the head coach anymore. Lincoln Riley is, and this will be not only his return to Columbus, but his first major game as a head coach. (Apologies to UTEP). Coach Stoops stepping down sent a shock wave through the college football world and it remains to be seen how this will affect the team. If young coach Riley wants to make a statement win here’s his chance. Two, can Baker Mayfield make the plays in the big game? Last year he was shaky, at best, against OSU. Now it’s time to put up or shut up. The Oklahoma defense will need to be at their best. There’s also a new Offensive Coordinator that believes in a fast-paced, option attack, where discipline and lane responsibility will be the keys to success.
Ohio State– started off very sluggish against Indiana, but picked up steam using freshman running back J.K. Dobbins. (181 yards). J.T. Barrettohio state logo threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns. (What’s with OSU players using their initials, do they not like their given names?) OSU is ranked number 2 in the nation and the press is already putting them against Alabama in the championship game. CSF is not projecting anyone into that game yet, even though my heart wants Bama in it. The Buckeye offense cannot start off slow again. Oklahoma’s D-line is huge, as in possibly the biggest they’ve had in their storied history. The Ohio State O-Line will have their work cut out for them. The biggest advantage Ohio State has is on offense, but they’ll need to start off fast and rock OU on their heels, similar to what they did last year. The defense also started off slow against Indiana, but rebounded in the second half. Against the Sooners they need to play stonewall all game long. Pushing Mayfield out of the pocket doesn’t always work, for he’s the best I’ve seen throwing the ball on the run. Allowing him to remain in the pocket and scan his receivers ain’t good either. The Buck’s secondary was weak against the pass and showed some vulnerability. OU has speedy receivers who can push a secondary to their limits. Ohio State is favored to win, heck the press is slobbering all over themselves for the Buckeyes, but this will not be last years game, it will be much closer. Urban Myer is a more experienced coach, and, unfortunately, the press is going to get slobber all over their shirts as the Buckeyes win again. But, maybe, just maybe, OU will unleash some genie from a bottle and win the game. You don’t believe in genies, do you?

Short Smokes
Georgia plays Notre Dame for the first time since the Bulldogs beat them in the Sugar Bowl in winning the National Championship. This time they don’t have their star QB but will still win. You hear me Dawgs, you’re going to win.
South Carolina plays Missouri and will be 2-0 at the end of the game
TCU and Arkansas – last year this one was close. This year, the Hogs run wild
Alabama vs Fresno State – Roll Tide Roll. Jalen Hurts throws the ball! (You don’t believe in genies, do you?)
Louisville vs North Carolina – this game could be closer than most people think, but the Cardinals win
Iowa vs Iowa State – Hawkeyes soar over the Cyclones
Indiana is going to have a difficult time against Virginia, and ,believe it or not, UVA wins
Western Michigan meets Michigan State and may very well be the victors
Nebraska travels Oregon – and it won’t just the forest fires that keep the Ducks from winning. Ole Big Red is tougher than you think.
Memphis and Central Florida will be one heck of an entertaining game but the Tigers get the victory
The Holy War – Utah and BYU will smash heads and the Utes will win, they’ll have a headache, but they’ll win.
Nicholls State goes to College Station and will give the Aggies a big lead and hope they can pull off a come from behind victory. Heck UCLA did it, why can’t they? A&M still wins and The Daughter will be happier, not fully happy, but happier. Oh, by the way, hope is never a course of action.


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