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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 5 Preview

Week 5

Utah vs Oregon State- The Utah Utes are 4-0, and they’ve done it without their number one quarterback, Cam Rising, who tore his ACL in the Rose Bowl last season. So far this season, he has been listed as questionable, but it is suspected that he will making his return against the Beavers. Utah has been winning with Nate Johnson at the helm. The running game has averaged more yards per game than the passing game. So, if QB Rising does return, it could be a huge uptick for their overall attack. In their first game of the 2023 season, they dismantled Florida in Salt Lake City, and then had a couple of tune up games. The next test came this last week against UCLA where the offense was only able to produce one touchdown. The Utes had to rely upon their stifling defensive to win the game, and an interception return for a touchdown, coupled with their meager offensive production, was enough. Without their offense firing on all cylinders, the defense has had , to take up the slack, and they have. But as the competition gets tougher, the Utes are going to need the offense to step it up. This is why Rising’s return would be a most welcome event. Oregon State, for their part, needs to recover after losing in the PAC-2 Championship game to Washington State, where the Beavers struggled all game long. Then, in the final stanza, they scored 21 points to close within three points. That’s as close as they got, though, and the Cougars from Washington State won, 38-35. Oregon State can’t beat Utah with another three quarter snooze. The Beavers have been effective in their ground assault, which is their bread and butter, but they’ve got to add some spice to that offense and get the passing game in sync. With Clemson transfer QB Uiagalelei taking the snaps, their was hope that they would have at least a two-pronged offense, but so far that has not happened. Last week OSU’s QB U went 17 for 34 for 198 yards.  Going up against the Ute defense the Beavers have got to find a way to get around the stonewalling defensive front. Should Utah QB Rising make his return Friday night, it would be a tough hill for OSU to climb, but Oregon State has a habit of playing FAR above their heads at least once a year, and winning a game they shouldn’t. Utah is the pick to win, but it’s not going to be a blow out….probably. If this is an audition for the Michigan State job, Coach Kyle Whittingham needs to do it, and do it now.

LSU vs Ole Miss – Since their opening debacle against the Seminoles (didn’t I write the same thing last season?), the LSU Tigers have been playing much better, annihilating Grambling and burying Mississippi State. Last week they had their hands full with Arkansas, but the Bengals won. It was a struggle, but that’s what life, and South East Conference football, is all about. LSU has had problems when they faced a pressuring defense. Florida State had another advantage, and that was that their QB play was on point in the second half. The Tigers, meanwhile, have QB Daniels, who is always looking to look good instead of what looks good for the LSU team. He loves to run the ball when he probably shouldn’t. If his primary receiver is covered, he tends to take that as his cue to take off running. Against good offenses the LSU defense has lived up their billing. Florida State was able to exploit them, and Arkansas did too. The Razorbacks could have won if they hadn’t had stalled twice in the red zone. Could’a, would’a, should’a. The Bayou Bengals under HC Kelly have been able to get their defense to be intimidating. With Daniels’ inappropriate jaunts on offense, they’ve honestly needed it. Ole Miss’s offense was clicking right along, looking almost unstoppable. QB Dart, when he is in rhythm, has led the Rebels up and down the field with little or no trouble. Then, last week, they ran into a surprisingly improved and spirited Alabama defense ( and thank the good Lord above for that one!) The Ole Miss defense let Bama get away with some long plays, and it cost them. Is this a characteristic that contributed to DC Golding switching from the Tide to the Rebels this year?. If HC Kiffin has been studying recordings of LSU games, he surely noticed that when the opposing offensives held on to the ball for extended periods of time, it prevented LSU from getting into sync. LSU has a history of beating Ole Miss (except in the 1960 Sugar Bowl – look it up), this game will be played in Oxford, MS, and the Rebels need to recover from their Alabama loss. It’s probably going to turn into a shootout, with both teams defensive secondaries vulnerable. This fits more into HC Kiffin’s wheel house than it does HC Kelly’s. Ole Miss is the pick to win, in a high scoring game. Then again, you just never know.

South Carolina vs Tennessee – Last year Tennessee’s Vols were on a tear, and folks were jumping on the Tennessee bandwagon. They even said that UT was back. They’ve been saying that one, or both of the UT”s, Tennessee and Texas, were back every year, but, so far, the Vols and Horns haven’t played for the Nattie. But, I digress, the 2022 Vols where going to win the SEC and join the playoffs….then South Carolina happened. The Gamecocks whipped up on the Vols, 63-38. You read that right, 63-38. That “pppphhhhhhfffff” sound was all the air coming out of UT’s balloon. The Vols had a respectful year, but their weakness was exposed, and exploited, by those who could exploit it. This year, Tennessee is not as exciting as they were a year ago. They’ve whipped up on Austin Peay and downed a depleted Virginia squad, but when they came up against SEC competition in Florida, they got beat. Even though the score was only 29-16, the thrashing they received from the Gators was much worse. The one thing that the Orange team has in its favor is that they have a good pass rush, expect when they don’t, but the pass rush has been their signature defensive calling. They are third in the nation in sacks and tackles for loss, and going up against a South Carolina offensive line that ranks at the bottom of the SEC plays into their wheelhouse. However, the UT offensive line isn’t anything to brag about. They allowed too much pressure on QB Joe Milton. When he was up at Michigan, he had trouble handling pressure, and now that he’s at Tennessee, he still has trouble handling the pressure. South Carolina tore the UT defense apart last year with their passing game. QB Rattler had the game of his life as he threw the ball wherever and to whomever he wanted, and the Vols’ secondary was unable to stop him. This year the Gamecocks are looking for a repeat performance. USC-South is 2-2, but their losses have been to North Carolina and Georgia, not slouchy teams, and, even in those games, Rattler performed well. If the Gamecocks can get their running game to catch fire and make themselves multidimensional, they’d be a team that rents pigs, and someone who rents pigs is hard to stop. Just ask Augustus McCrea. The talking heads, sarcastic comment for “experts”, love Tennessee, it’s almost as if they are trying to will them back into prominence again. However, it probably won’t matter. South Carolina used this game as their launching point last year, so look for them to do it again. Any Volunteer worth his salt should be able to handle a chicken, but, … .

Short Smokes

NC State needs a win that will give them a jump start, and Louisville could be it. Could’a, would’a, should’a.

Penn State will have no problems with Northwestern, none at all.

Colorado was exposed last week, and USC is going to do more of the same

Florida is in for tough sledding against Kentucky

Texas A&M vs Arkansas is almost always a close game. The Hogs darn near took LSU to the mat last week, but the Aggies have to win because The Daughter will be in the stands, so for her sake, A&M wins.

Minnesota was supposed to be better than they’ve showed, maybe a tune game against Louisiana will help. Is Fleck auditioning for the move from Minnehaha to Michigan State?

Is it possible that Clemson loses to Syracuse? Yes, yes it is, it’s happened before, and it might happen again. But not this time.

Winless Virginia searches for their first win of the year against one-win Boston College. The Whoo’s will have to keep searching.

Georgia faces their oldest rival in Auburn, at Jordon-Hare, and strange, eerie things have happened to UGA in this stadium. Seriously doubt them Dawgs will have any problems this Saturday.

Michigan, who seemingly avoids anyone with a winning record, goes up against Nebraska, who has a losing record, so the Wolverines keep their streak alive.

In what might be the most overlooked game of the weekend, Kansas visits Austin to wrangle the Longhorns and the Jayhawks could very well win it. Any Longhorn that can’t handle a Jaysquawk bird needs to meet a Vol not handling a chicken.

Maryland reaches win number 5 against Indiana. How about them apples?

Welcome to Bizarro world, where UCF is favored against Baylor….what happened to the Bears?

Missouri will be 5-0 after they down Vanderbilt. Who would have thunk it?

After what Oregon did to Colorado, there is no way Standford is the team that stops the Ducks.

Iowa State is having a bit of a rough time, so maybe playing Oklahoma right now isn’t the answer they were looking for. Unless HC Matt Campbell is auditioning for the vacant Michigan State job

College Gameday will be in Durham, NC, for the first time ever as Notre Dame gets kicked around by Duke for the first time ever, that’s right I said it! The Blue Devils pull another huge upset! (Is HC Enos auditioning for the Spartan opening?)

Michigan State has become a joke thanks to HC Tucker, but look at how many are auditioning for his opening. Iowa is going to knock them down even further.

Pitt and VA Tech each look for their second win (Narducci is not auditioning, is he?)….this is a pick’em game.

West “By Golly” Virginia is not going to beat TCU, it might be close, but the Horned Frogs win.

Alabama has no option but to beat Mississippi State, there is no room for error, no matter how late the game starts.

In the actual late game, Washington puts their undefeated record on the line against Arizona. Don’t worry about the Huskies, they’ll be fine.

In the Late Late game, for the night owls, Nevada, who haven’t won a game yet, meets Fresno State, who hasn’t lost a game yet. Bulldogs-Wolfpack. I’ll take the Dogs.

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