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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Preview of Week 1

Week 1 Preview
As an adult there aren’t many holidays to get excited about. First, Christmas. Christmas trumps rules them all (See how cleverly I inserted my political leanings?). What’s not to get excited about? It’s the greatest time of the year, hands down, for lots of reasons. Second is Labor Day weekend, and in SEC country – this is SEC country – this weekend signals the end of the 33 week drought with no college games. Yes! Nearly everyone kicks off this weekend and they are billing it as the Greatest Opening Weekend Ever! Thank the Lord above we’ve got college football Back! There some teams that are still content to start off with a cupcake or two, see BIG conference teams, before they take on meaningful games. But most big boys are banging heads with other big boys.

164South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt – This is the biggest game Thursday night. The Gamecocks have not had the best opening day lately when they start off with another SEC team. Remember a couple of years ago, USC-South was poised to capture the East and they met a Manziel-less Texas A&M team? The Aggies ran the score up and crushed any hope the Fighting Birds had of a championship season. That was then, this is now, Spurrier is gone, Coach Boom (Muschamp) is now the head coach and he is looking for redemption after his unfortunate stint at Florida. Beating Vandy will not provide much redemption, but losing this game is a prelude to disaster. Now, Vanderbilt is not A&M, let’s get that straight. However, the Commodores, ad Coach Mason, need a statement win, one that catapults them into the big boy mix. Winning this game would do exactly that for good ole Vandy. New coach and a new scheme at USC-South, Vanderbilt is not in a rebuilding mode, not saying there’s going to be an upset but this game should be on everyone’s upset radar. Okay, I’ll say it;- watch for the ‘Dores to beat the Gamecocks.

Appalachian State vs (9) Tennessee – The Vols did not get the memo that all the cool schools are starting the year off playing against other 081cool schools. News does not carry fast in Knoxville, it appears. History isn’t their strong suite, either, or the Orange and White would have remembered when Michigan started off with the Mountaineers and began the Wolverine season at 0-1. But there is a ton of hype floating on the Tennessee River. Heck, there’s so much hype that the Volunteer navy isn’t even able to get their boats wet;- they’re sailing on all the press clippings (and other stuff in a large river). This is UT’s year! Big Orange is going to march through the SEC East, win the SEC Championship, and be the first SEC East team in the Final Four! Smokey is barking, guns are firing in the air, while someone says, “Here, hold my beer.” When that line is heard it almost always leads to premature death or bodily injury. Which is exactly what might happen in Knoxville. It was 2007 Michigan when was preseason ranked number 5, they were picked to win the Big Ten Conference and be contenders for the National Championship. There was a lot of hype around the Wolverines. Something went wrong. That something was opening game against Appalachian State, who didn’t give a hoot and holler about preseason polls. The Mountaineers pulled the greatest opening day upset, 34-32. History has a funny way of repeating itself. Guess UT didn’t get that memo, either. Fortunately, UT isn’t ranked #5. That ought to save them, right? Right?

Army vs Temple– Last year the Temple Owls pulled an upset against Penn State. It put the Owls on national radar and gave them that boost they needed to be relevant. Turn about is fair play. The Black Knights of the Hudson are going to pull the upset and start their bowling season with a victory, which is going to catch some folks completely off guard! Go Army! (Remember there is a small, however slight, possibility that we’re raving maniacs here at CSF, but, then again, we could be Mad Geniuses! And vocal genii, to boot. Plural of genius is genii.)

362Kansas State vs Stanford– The Kansas State Wildcats are in a rebuilding year. Coach Synder, the coach with the quips for the press, is a master at rebuilding. Enough cannot, and never will, be said about the job he has done in Manhattan. Now, though, even Coach Snyder has his work cut out for him. K-State does not appear to be in good 310enough shape to be taking on the Cardinal right out of the gate. They are replacing a lot of players and still working out key positions. Stanford is loaded for bear. They are fast on offense and have a lot of mean hitters on defense. Oh, yeah, they have this do-everything-type of player named McCaffery, might have heard of him. He placed second in the Heisman vote last year and well, you know, he’s kind-of back this year. But, hey, Northwestern stopped Stanford in the opening game last year, they’re purple and white Wildcats, why can’t K-State’s purple and white Wildcats do the same?

In other games Friday night, Michigan State takes on the Furman Paladins. Always liked the Paladins. What a great name. Not just a Knight, but a Holy Knight, a Knight among Knights! However, that will not help them against the phalanx of the Michigan State Spartans. Always liked the Spartans, too. That’s a mascot with a great history and an awesome movie called, “300”.

This is the DAY! Hearing that theme music of College GameDay is like opening the first Christmas present in the morning!

IMG_7761Oklahoma vs Houston– There isn’t any way possible one could convince me that Oklahoma knew Houston was going to be this good when they scheduled this game and agreed to play in Houston! I‘m sure the Sooners thought this would be a cakewalk and they’d throw a potential Big 12 that only have ten teams conference member a cupcake to chew on and the Cougars a ray of hope. But a funny thing happened on the way to the fair. Instead of a cupcake, the Sooners are heading down to face what may be one of their toughest games of the year, Ohio State included. Last year Houston showed the world they are a force to be reckoned with, and this year they have their sights set on scrambling the Final Four process and making it into the playoffs! They are that good. Oklahoma, after getting beat in their initial participation in the final four, decided to make this year the year of the Sooners, and they have every single piece of the puzzle to do just that. They are good, loaded, hungry and on a mission. First things first, they have to get by Houston, which may represent a monkey wrench for Sooner plans.

033UCLA vs Texas A&M- The Daughter, who is in the A&M system as a student, will be glued to her small TV in her dorm 042room watching this game while chewing on the edge of her quilt. The Aggies started off last year by destroying Arizona State, which pretty much ruined the Sun Devils’ entire season. Now A&M has Trevor Knight as their starting QB and they are betting the farm that he’s going to provide the magic the same way he did in the Sugar Bowl one fateful (and for an Alabama fan, Horrible) night a couple of years ago. He is good, he will be a big upgrade from what they had last year. If the rest of the pieces fall into place, the Corps should have plenty of opportunities to kiss their dates. UCLA, however, has a QB of their own, in “Chosen Rosen”. He hasn’t beaten Alabama so we still like him, except for his big mouth and politically motivated caps. He proved that he can complete a pass to anyone of his teammates anywhere on the field at any time. The Bruins fans that have dates to the game will also have plenty of opportunities to kiss their dates. Do UCLA fans kiss their dates after every touchdown? If they don’t, they should. Southern California produces some good-looking dates. Defense is going to settle this game, which team has a semblance of a defenseis going to win. Which is interesting, cause that’s where both teams have the most questions.

LSU vs. Wisconsin– Not sure when the last time a big college game was held in Lambeau field (never) but, wow! What an opportunity. LSU065 played the Badgers a couple of years ago in Dallas, and in the second half, the Bayou Bengals found themselves down 24-7. They came back and won 28-24, but that was too close for their comfort. Now they venture up into the frozen northland to take on the decedents of Vikings that found America but got lost going home so they just stayed in the coldest part they could find. LSU is going to use Running Back Fournette so much his legs will be cramping in the fourth quarter. So he’ll be drinking lots of pickle juice. The Badgers will counter Fournette with what might be the best Defensive front in the Great White North Conference. If they watched how Alabama shut down Fournette and can somehow mimic that, Wisconsin will win the game, cause LSU QB Harris isn’t a passer. Wisconsin doesn’t throw the ball much, either, but it’s just cause they don’t like to. Interesting note;- LSU’s Defensive Coordinator, Dave Aranda, was Wisconsin’s DC last year. So if the Badger’s front seven shut down Fournette and win the game, will he be proud of them or upset?

140Georgia vs. North Carolina– Right down the street from Athens, GA, is Atlanta, where this game is being played. Why 460the Bulldogs are not the home team I don’t know, but they’re not. North Carolina came SO close to beating Clemson in the ACC championship last year. The only other loss they had was the one they suffered opening day against USC-South. Now the Tarheels, if they want to make it back to the ACC championship game and be considered a force on the east coast, cannot have a repeat opening day performance. Tough to say how they’re going to do, they’ll play well but there are some big holes that have to filled, especially on offense. Georgia has questions, they have a new head coach, a new freshman QB (we think), and a star running back coming back from a season ending knee injury, and they have a player or two suspended for opening day. If new Head Coach Kirby Smart wants to win over any lingering doubts about his capability to head up a program, now’s the time to clear up those doubts. Win, and fans will love him for a week;- lose, and the season will be an omelette of missed opportunities and doubts.

431USC vs Alabama– These two Aristocrats of the College Football world have met only seven times. The last time was in 1985, in 017the Aloha Bowl. Alabama leads the series 5-2. This year they are the marquee matchup of opening day. USC-West has their new head coach (Is he really a “new” head coach? He did hold that position for most of last year while the drunk head coach was being fired) Helton, who saved the program from taking a nose dive into the ocean. Pat Hayden will not be in the press box breathing down his neck this year, which has got to be a major plus, so the team’s rise or fall is all on Coach Helton. The Trojans of Southern California have a lot to prove, they want to get back to being a force, not only within their conference, but in the national press as well. They’re tired of being known for the asinine antics of their coaches. IF they beat the defending National Champions, that will put them right back where they want to be. The bad news is that they are replacing their entire defensive line and most of the defense. That is not where a team wants to be facing Alabama’s returning offensive line. But The Crimson Tide is replacing their entire offensive backfield, which, come to think of it, might not be all that much good news for USC-West, anyway. This isn’t the first time Bama has had to do this, and they’ve become down right testy about it. One Heisman trophy running back leaves, another one steps up and fills the role. One National Champion Quarterback leaves, another slips right in there. Now, granted, no one knows which “B” – Bateman or Barnett – is going to be the Tide’s starter, but what we do know is that, whoever he is, he’s going to be pretty darned good. There’s the Alabama defense, that last year wanted to regain the respect other teams had for them, and they did. In case you were wondering, just ask LSU’s stud horse, Fournette. The 2016 defense, by all accounts, will be just as good, if not BETTER! Teams tend start off a bit sluggish, which is why we have the term mid-season form. There are going to be mistakes, there are going to be bad plays, which can help out both sides. Big games bring out the best, and right now, Alabama is still the best. I’ll still have anxiety during the game and be chewing on my own quilt but, hey, that’s what my Bama quilt is for.

265Clemson vs Auburn– Clemson played a heck of a game in the National Championship, but came up short. After the game, QB 134Watson vowed that they’d be back and would make another run at glory. To start that run, they need to beat the Plainsmen of Auburn. The Tigers, Clemson variety, will move the ball with their fast-paced, quick-strike offense, and they’re going to find the endzone. They are good and the receivers are fantastic, just ask Alabama’s secondary if you don’t believe me. How Auburn is going to stop them passing the ball is a mystery that has yet to have a solution. Clemson had to replace seven of their defensive starters and the way the Tigers, Auburn variety, run that triple option/spread offense is tricky and confusing. It’s going to allow the Blue and Orange, again, Auburn variety, to move the ball and score. The best thing going for the team in Orange and Blue, Clemson variety, is that the Auburn QB isn’t that good and their entire offense is centered on the QB being able to deliver Every. Single. Play. Expect a close contest in the first half;- second half, not so much. The Tigers will pull away and win big, guaranteed. Oh, but which Tiger team? Guess you’re going to have to watch and find out.

160Notre Dame vs. Texas– The fans in Austin, TX, are chomping at the bit for a winning year and for Coach Charlie Strong to deliver on making the Burnt Orange and White winners! They liked beating Oklahoma last year, that tickled their fancy, but now they want more, a whole lot more. Sunday night they’re going to get it. The Fighting Irish are coming into this game…well… like an Irishman stumbling out of a pub at three o’clock in the morning. How many starting players has Coach Kelly had to dismiss or suspend during the off season? Not sure if ND has released those numbers, but it’s like the deleted Clinton emails. Once they release a number, new evidence is found and they have to raise the count. Notre has problems within the team. Nothing solves problems like winning games but it’s hard to do when the team can’t come together. Texas has announced they will be starting a new freshman quarterback and the Longhorn fans are cautiously optomistic They’ve been missing a QB that can actually throw the ball to one of the Longhorn receivers. The Burnt Orange has the big, fast players that they’ve needed. They have everything in place to beat up the Irish opening weekend. That Freshman QB better be as good as they say, or it’s going to be another long season. Either Texas or Notre Dame is going to win this game.

212Mississippi vs Florida State- They got this one right, FSU is closer to Orlando than Ole Miss is, so the Seminoles are the home519 team. Atlanta needs to take a cue from this game. Anyway, Ole Miss is venturing out of familiar ground and taking on all comers. They’ve beaten Alabama twice in a row, they won the Sugar Bowl, and now they have a potential Heisman candidate in Quarterback Kelly. The Rebels are feeling their oats! They are a good team and they’ve recruited some very nice replacement players for the NFL stars that left. They’ve just got to forget about that nasty little NCAA investigation and play their game. They are fully capable of beating the Seminoles. FSU doesn’t see it that way. They have the defense to stop the passing attack the Rebels are bringing to Disneyworld. They’re planning to get to Kelly often, perhaps not sack him all the time, but you cannot let him stand in the pocket. But Florida State has a nasty problem of their own. Their projected starting QB broke his foot and had to have surgery, which knocked him out of at least the first four games. The Rebels do not bring the same D-line they had last year, but, remember those replacement players that are supposed to be really good? Yeah, they’re on the defensive line. FSU is picked to contend for the ACC crown and a spot in the final four. Ole Miss isn’t even picked to win the SEC West, but they are going to win this game, and Florida State will still contend for the ACC crown.


Whew! Now if this opening weekend doesn’t get your blood going, just go to the hospital and check in cause you’re dead, you’re just dead.


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