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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 5 Preview

Week 5 Preview

431USC vs. Washington State– Its hard to get a good read on Southern Cal. Just when it appears they have worked out all the kinks and the team is good to go, see their game against Stanford, they turn in two mediocre games against Texas and California. The most logical explanation is that they play to the level of their competition. If this is true, they’d better be ready to run a lot and run fast during their visit to Pullman, WA. In every game, except Stanford, the Trojans started off slowly and then had to come back in the second half to win. Head Coach Helton admits that finishing in the fourth quarter is “kind of our hallmark”. He seems pleased that his team is able to come from behind, and that’s usually a good sign for a team. But, to be frank, against Texas and California they should never have been in that position. We’re giving them them a pass on the Western Michigan game because it was the first game of the season and some rust is bound to exist. Redshirt sophomore QB Sam Darnold has been great when the game is on the line. But between the 1st quarter and the 3rrd quarter he has been inconsistent, throwing seven interceptions which is just two fewer than he had in 10 starts last season. This might not be the best time to struggle as Washington State’s defense ranks No. 1 in the PAC-12 against the pass. They are only allowing 142 yards per game, and that’s pretty darn good in the tourist league on the Left Coast. All the weight of the offense has been on Darnold and it might be this way yet again as top running back Ronal Jones II might miss his second consecutive game due to an ankle injury. This, in turn, puts a lot of pressure on true freshman Stephen Carr to carry the mail and serve as a release value for QB Darnold. That is asking a lot of a freshman. The Trojans’ defnse has been greedy in garnering turnovers. They have 11 takeaways so far this year, good enough to be the third most by any team in the nation. Against Cal, they forced six turnovers, SIX!  Either the Bears had a terrible case of the butter-fingers or Southern Cal is very good at hawking the ball. Having ballhawks in the secondary against WSU might prove essential to beating the Cougars.

Washington State- It’s been a very long time since the spotlight has been on Martin Stadium, and the Cougars. They host the Trojans at 4-0 as they also sit at 4-0. The four games that the Cougars have won have mostly been appetizers;- this game will be their first main course entree. The Cougs come out of the tunnel fast and have outscored opponents 87-19 in the first half this season. This trend needs to continue against251 USC-west. The bigger the lead Washington State can build, the better it will be for them. Du-uh! It’s not just because Southern Cal has a habit of coming back in the second half, but it’s also because WSU doesn’t score a lot in the second half and the defense gives up points after halftime. This could be because all the starters have been pulled, or even because they have such a lead that they can coast for the last two quarters. An example would be QB Luke Falk’s performance against Nevada. In the first half, he threw for four touchdowns. Then the Cougars took their foot off the gas. Last year Wazzou improved some in their ground game. If they are able to get anything going running the ball, it could totally freak out USC’s game plan. The Men of Troy are coming in with the mind set of stopping the pass and letting the run break itself against their front five. However, if Wazzou starts running effectively, it will throw the Trojans completely off their game plan. Of course, Head Coach Mike Leach thrives on this sort of upsetting the apple cart, and he’ll be happy for his Cougars to run the Trojans into the ground. Washington State can win the game, they are perfectly capable of doing everything needed to win,but their history of not showing up in the big games works against them. It is possible that they will overcome this hex, and, if they do, Washington State could beat Southern Cal! USC has more talent, and if they play like they did against Stanford, SoCal will have little trouble. If they allow WSU to build a big lead early, it could be too much to overcome. All signs are pointing to a USC victory, but I’m not believing the signs, it’s time to go with the gut, Washington State wins! Remember though, my gut has been wrong before;- just look at my past dating life. ˜Nuff said.

210Mississippi State vs Auburn– The battered Bulldogs take another road trip this weekend, this time to UCLA (Ugly Corner of Lower Alabama). Last week much was expected of them and they just flat out didn’t deliver. Either Georgia’s defense was very good, or MSU stepped all over themselves. Something says it was a mixture of both, so this is redemption time. Basically all they have to do is show the form they had against LSU, and the Georgia fiasco will be forgiven. If they don’t, the rest of the season will be spent trying to stop the downward slide. Nick Fitzgerald is a very good QB, he has good receivers to throw to and the running backs are kind-of good. These backs and receivers need to put on their big-boy pants and take some of the pressure off the QB. The defense that played so well against LSU was nowhere to be found in Athens, GA. Should the Dogs find their mojo again, they could shut down Auburn, but they have to find that LSU-game desire again. Shoulda’a, would’a, could’a. Find out Saturday if they do.

Auburn-The Tigers of Alabama (I’ll bet AU fans hate it when I call them that!) have not redeemed themselves from that loss to Clemson. Last week they did just fine, scoring over 50 points but134 that was against a hapless Missouri squad that no one is going to mistake for the black and gold of Vanderbilt. It was a win, true enough, but the stink from struggling against Mercer still hasn’t left the Plains. The War Eagle defense has been good and has signs of getting better. The offense hasn’t found that spark yet. QB Stidham was supposed to solve the problem that has haunted them for the last couple of years, lack of an outstanding QB, but, so far, he has fallen short of expectations. Maybe it’s because the offensive line is simply not giving him enough time to set his feet, run through his progressions, and deliver a laser strike to one of those promising receivers. Not sure what the problem is, but he was sacked NINE times by Clemson. The Tigers get Pettway back after he has been nursing an ankle injury, but something simply hasn’t meshed for this talented squad. They struggle when they shouldn’t have to. This week they have a chance to pull it all together. Both teams are seeking redemption and only one is going to get it. The loser can pretty much count themselves out the SEC west race. MSU has already turned in one impressive performance, AU hasn’t, so the pick here is for the Maroon Bulldogs.

Army vs UTEP– The Black Knights have not had a good two weeks. First, they lost to Ohio State, no shame there, but then they lost to Tulane, and they shouldn’t have. I take full responsibility for that loss as I did not write about them in the main article but only mentioned the game in the short smokes. Not a good move on my part, you’re never supposed to mess with a STREAK! Time to start a new streak, against the 0-4 Miners of El Paso. Army shouldn’t have much trouble, but, who knows, they might. Heck, Army West Point MIGHT even complete a forward pass. But they’re only allowed to attempt it once they are up by 28 points.

042South Carolina vs Texas A&M– The Aggies have taken a very different approach to the season. Losing to UCLA as they did has given them a huge black cloud that follows them where ever they go. That cloud is keeping them from playing the way they are capable. They’ve been winning, and, against Arkansas, they did man up and come from behind to force OT and then win the game. The Hogs deficiencies were exploited by TCU, A&M should have taken full advantage of them, but the Aggies didn’t. Yes, they’re playing with a freshman QB, but so is Georgia, and Florida State, and many other team. It has nothing to do with how the defense plays. In truth, Texas A&M has problems;- if you’d like a list of those problems, please contact The Daughter as she keeps a running summary. Now they are entering the SEC portion of their schedule and prior years this is where the bottom falls out. The best way to avoid this disaster is to come right out and sock it to the Gamecocks from the get go! Will they? Who knows.

South Carolina -The Gamecocks looked much better than most thought they would to start. They beat NC State (who just got done beating Florida State and knocking them out of the top 25), then they beat up poor ole Missouri (but everyone has done that ), and, right when it looked like a great season in the making, they lose to Kentucky. Even this, though, is forgivable, because the Wildcats are much164 better than they have been. Then along comes LA Tech, and USC-East has to win it on a last play field goal kick? Yeah, something smells here. The loud mouthed, self-proclaimed, best coach in the world, Coach Boom, is up to his old tricks from his Florida days. Remember those? Team has talent, they’re expected to be a force in the SEC East only never, EVER, living up to those expectations. There may be little thought to the Gamecocks winning the SEC East, but, for crying out loud, they’ve got to play better than they did against LA Tech! With A&M they’ll have the opportunity to show up and prove they are a force to be reckoned with. Only, they probably won’t, it’ll be a close game. The Daughter’s heart will stop a few times during the game and her anger will be expressed even if no one on the TV can hear her. A&M doesn’t know how to win big, or even dominate, but the Aggies will win.

265Clemson vs VA Tech – The month of September has been tough on the Tigers, South Carolina variety, they have played two top 20 teams and then had to score 27 points in the fourth quarter to break away from lowly Boston College. They got a little bloody in the BC game but they put it away. They beat Auburn and Louisville, but these were tough games, especially against the other Tigers. This will be Clemson’s first visit to Blacksburg since 2011 when they beat the Hokies 23-3. This proved to be a shift in the ACC, Virginia Tech had won four ACC championships, and by beating the Hokies it put Clemson on the winning track. VaTech will be the Tigers fourth tough test. Clemson has a stout defense and ranked third in the nation, allowing the fewest yards and fewest points allowed. They have 17 sacks and only trail Michigan, who has 18. The defense has allowed the South Carolina Tigers to stay in the games until their offense shakes off their doldrums. Against the Hokies they’re going to have to put it together a little quicker.

Virginia Tech– knows they have a tough game on their hands. Offensively, the Hokies have been showing progress. Head Coach Fuente has been able to work his magic in Blacksburg and against Clemson they have got to be at the top of their game. Luckily, the defense has produced two shutouts and has been able to stop everyone they have faced. So far the last three opponents have rushed for 211 yards combined, and they have not given up a rushing touchdown. This sounds like what I just said about Clemson. Granted, the last three Hokie opponents have been Delaware, ECU, and ODU, so not exactly like they’ve gone up against the Viking hordes. This weekend will be their toughest test yet, but if Virginia Tech wins, it might signal another shift in the space continuum within the ACC ranks. Clemson should win, and they are the favorite, but, maybe, just maybe, VA Tech will win in Blacksburg- but we’re still picking Clemson.


Short Smokes

Texas is going to lose to Iowa State. You saw it right here first.

Memphis continues winning against Georgia State-no shock there

Duke has its best opportunity in years to beat Miami, but they won’t

Nebraska has to beat Illinois, or it’s lights out for the Cornhuskers in 2017

Florida could very easily lose to Vanderbilt, without even trying

Minnesota rows, rows, rows over Maryland

North Carolina will see their heels come off against Georgia Tech

Penn State rocks Indiana

Georgia truncates Rocky Top in Tennessee. What is truncates? Look it up.

The world will be shocked should Wake Forrest beat Florida State. Prepare for a tremor.

Arizona State vs Stanford-who knows. Is Blake Barnett playing for the Sun Devils yet?

Iowa takes down the Michigan State Spartans

LSU wins against Troy, yawn!

Ohio State challenges Rutgers. It’ll be an easy win for the Buckeyes

Alabama runs over Ole Miss and my brother will not be happy with me

Colorado can, and will, beat UCLA

Oregon has to win against Cal and they should

Oklahoma State and Texas Tech will be very high scoring, but OSU wins

Washington barks Oregon State up a tree

UNA better bounce back against West Georgia, Roar Lions!


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