All About Football: Week 2

All About Football with Blaine Fentress

Hello, Blaine Train again. 
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Week 2 of All About Football.  Yes, I have made it to Week 2, don’t looked so shocked.
Want to take this second to thank all the folks that checked out last week’s debut.  I thought it went pretty well, but I am always looking for feedback.  So…
Twitter:  @BlaineTrain310
Drop me a line, tell me what you think.  And, together, we will sing around the fire the finer points of the game of football.  I will make Smores.
Plus, NFL STARTS THIS WEEK.  Check out my picks at the bottom of the page.
Anyway, before we head into this week, let’s talk about last.


Hail Mary.  December 28, 1975.
The Dallas Cowboys were trailing the Minnesota Vikings 14-10 with 32 seconds left.  Cowboys were within seconds of being bounced out of the playoffs.  Quarterback Roger Staubach was standing at midfield, just looking to complete a pass in the end zone for the win, said a prayer and threw a long pass towards one of the his favorite receivers, Drew Pearson.  Pearson caught the ball on his hip at the 5 yard line and he made it into the end zone.  Cowboys won and the pass was forever remembered as the Hail Mary.
Fast forward to Saturday.  Trailing 28-27 to Nebraska with one second left, backup BYU Quarterback Mitch Mangum, filling in for the starter who was knocked out of the game, threw a 42 yard Hail Mary pass to Tanner Mangum, who catches it and fell into the end zone for the game winning touchdown.  Cougars prevailed 33-28 and made me 14-1 in predictions for the first week of AAF.  Sure, Indiana and Kentucky made things interesting in their games.  Plus, South Carolina and even Auburn had to fight off some stiff challenges.  But, it was BYU that put a loss in my column.  That’s how it goes.  Let’s talk about this week.
LAST WEEK:  14 – 1

TRI-STATE GAMES  (All times in Central)
Louisiana Tech @ Western Kentucky ….. Thurs, September 10 ….. 7 PM, Fox Sports 1
My Pick:  Western Kentucky 
WKU and Vanderbilt played a hard-hitting, low-scoring affair last Thursday.  A game that saw it all come down to a 2 point conversion for the Commodores to tie the game stopped by a great tackle at the 1 yard line by the Hilltoppers.  WKU claims another win over an SEC team, winning 3 out of their last 4 games against the conference.
But, now they move onto their home opener against Tech. The Bulldogs come in with Florida transfer Jeff Driskel at quarterback.  Driskel threw four touchdowns against Southern last weekend, throwing for 208 yards.  But, Hilltoppers QB Brandon Doughty will be looking to improve on the lukewarm performance he gave last week against Vandy, only throwing for one touchdown.  Should be a offensive slugfest at L.T. Smith Stadium, one that I give to WKU.
Western Illinois @ Illinois ….. Saturday, September 12 ….. 11 AM, Big Ten Network
My Pick:  Illinois
The Bill Cubit Era, a moment in time that had not existed until he was named interim head coach one week before the season began, got off on the right foot Saturday.  The Illini scored 38 points in the first half and defeated Kent St. 52-3.  Exactly what the program wanted considering all the clouds that were overhead, thanks to the dismissal of head coach Tim Beckman.
And, expect the winning to continue into this week.  While the Leathernecks will bring a dynamic player in Lance Lenoir, who is a wide receiver and primary returner, it will be tough against that defense.  Illinois QB Wes Lunt threw for 4 touchdowns last week, and spread the throws among seven different receivers.  Expect a repeat of what they did against the Golden Flashes again this week in Champaign.
Houston @ Louisville ….. Saturday, September 12 ….. 11 AM, ESPN 3
My Pick:  Louisville
The Cardinals started off on the wrong foot against Auburn, throwing an interception on their first offensive play of the game.  Then, the run game struggled to get going, putting more pressure on the starting quarterback, Reggie Bonnafon.  Head Coach Bobby Petrino had to make a change and went to freshman Lamar Jackson the rest of the game.  His throwing wasn’t any better, but he proved to be a dual-threat with rushing for 106 yards.  He helped pull the Cards into striking distance but, it was too little, too late.
Now, Louisville heads home against Houston.  The Cougs will be coming into Cardinal Stadium with their own dual-threat quarterback in Greg Ward Jr.  Only difference, he completes more of his passes than Jackson.  What the “X Factor” will be for Louisville will be getting the other running backs, primarily Brandon Radcliff, more involved.  It will help ease the burden for Jackson to scramble and allow Louisville to do something they had a hard time doing last week: controlling the clock.  Expect the Cardinals to play better this week ahead of their ACC opener against Clemson.
Florida International @ Indiana ….. Saturday, September 12 ….. 7 PM, Big Ten Network
My Pick:  FIU
At halftime of last week’s game, the Hoosiers trailed Southern Illinois 32-21.  Indiana could have thrown in the towel but, QB Nate Sudfeld turned it on in the 2nd half.  He led four drives of over 60 yards and pushed IU into the lead.  Luck was also on the Hoosiers side as the Salukis failed to convert a two-point conversion with seconds left that would have put SIU in the lead.  They barely won, but a win is a win.
This week, Indiana hopes it will be an easier time to defeat the Panthers.  But, it won’t be if the defense gives up close to 700 yards, like it did last week. Meanwhile, FIU is coming off a huge win against Central Florida last week.  So, my first upset call of the week, if you want to call it that, has this being another offensive slugfest.  Indiana will have to put up a lot of points in these type of games because that defense is not good right now.  I have FIU marching into Bloomington and marching right out with a win.
10.  Oregon State @ Michigan ….. Saturday, September 12 ….. 11 AM, ABC
My Pick:  Oregon State

Yeah, Michigan made the list again.  Last week, they had some moments against Utah.  Quarterback Jake Rudock threw two touchdowns.  Granted, he also threw three interceptions but, if you are Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, you can’t dwell on the negative.  Last week was a good measuring stick and that stick told him he needs a better performance from his running backs.  Leading RB, De’Veon Smith, only rushed for 47 yards.  Yikes.
They head home to Ann Arbor to “right the ship” against Oregon State.  Guess I need to do a word count on the number of times I use the word “Dual Quarterback” in this column.  Beavers QB Seth Collins only threw for 92, but he scrambled for 152.  Beavers were able to gain close to 300 yards on the ground and that might be bit much for Harbaugh’s defense to stop.  I have Michigan falling to 0-2 to start the season.
9.  Iowa @ Iowa State ….. Saturday, September 12 ….. 3:45 PM, FOX 

My Pick:  Iowa State

This is one of the best rivalry games that gets played at the beginning of each season.  They have been playing each other for the Cy-Hawk trophy.  Great name for a trophy.  Also, it sounds like a enemy base for the bad guys in some 80s action flick.  “We need to get Ford back to base before troops from Cy-Hawk get us.”
For the record, counting back in the 1800’s, Iowa owns the series 40-22 over Iowa State.  Iowa QB C.J. Beathard comes from a great week 1 game, throwing one touchdown and rushing for two.  But, he maybe running into a wall by the name of Cyclones Defensive End Dale Pierson.  Last week, Pierson had three sacks and an interception.  So, this will be a quality matchup and while Iowa may have speed, I am siding with the defense on this one.  Cyclones pick up win #23 in the series.
8.  Kentucky @ South Carolina ….. Saturday, September 12 ….. 6:30 PM, SEC Network
My Pick:  South Carolina
I’m thinking Kentucky worked hard at practice this week, especially on defense.  After going up 33-10 in the 4th quarter, the Ragin Cajuns from Louisiana raged back against the Wildcats, tying the game at 33.  Mikel Horton ran in a touchdown with under a minute left to win the game for UK, but hopefully it opened some eyes that the defense made need more improvement. 
Unfortunately, there is no rest for the wicked because, now they have to open their SEC schedule on the road at South Carolina.  Gamecocks QB Connor Mitch did not look good against North Carolina.  9 of 22 passes will not get the job done.  But, the running game was pretty steady and Kentucky gave up 247 yards on the ground.  This should be an easy win for South Carolina.
7.  #9 Notre Dame @ Virginia ….. Saturday, September 12 ….. 2:30 PM, ABC
My Pick:  Notre Dame
Going to throw some credit to the Cavaliers way.  They were able to get over 300 yards at the Rose Bowl against UCLA to start the season.  They weren’t blown out of the stadium and that is a good sign for Head Coach Mike London.  And now, they get to be upset-minded again on home turf against Notre Dame.
But, this would be that point when Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast.”  Fighting Irish QB Malik Zaire looked like Aaron Rodgers against Texas, throwing for 313 yards and three touchdowns.  Many are wondering if this team is for real, especially since Texas has already replaced their offensive coordinator after just one game.  But, we have seen confident ND teams before head down the road and lose at places they don’t have any business losing before.  This won’t be one of those times.  Irish for the win.
6.  Utah St. @ #24 Utah ….. Friday, September 11 ….. 8 PM, ESPN 2
My Pick:  Utah
The game is called “Battle of the Brothers.”  Utes lead the series 78-29-4.  And, now there is a ranked team in this matchup again, thanks to Utah defeating Michigan last week.  Wasn’t the greatest offensive output from Utah RB Devontae Booker, only rushing for 69 yards.  But, he did have one touchdown and Utah defense did a great job in keeping Michigan at bay the entire game. 
Booker may not get a chance this week against an Aggies defense that allowed only 163 yards last week.  Utah St. is not coming in with the greatest win, only winning 12-9 last week.  Offense struggled on the field and had to rely on their defense to keep them in the lead.  So, expect the much higher octane Utes able to run and pass all over the Aggies.  I have Utah improving their ranking and going 2-0.
5.  #22 Arizona @ Nevada ….. Saturday, September 12 ….. 6 PM, CBS SN
My Pick:  Arizona
Last week, I called the trap game of Arizona State traveling to Houston to take on Texas A&M.  And, I was right, Aggies prevailed in that game, knocking the Sun Devils out of the Top 25.  Could it be the Wildcats turn?  They didn’t have the greatest of debuts last week, having to go toe-to-toe against Texas San Antonio Roadrunners.  Plus, losing star linebacker Scooby Wright III for a month will put more pressure on the defense to step up, something they struggled with when they gave up over 500 yards to the Roadrunners.
Nevada comes in with a good running back in Don Jackson, who rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns last week. Quarterback Tyler Stewart also passed for 163 yards and a touchdown.  So, there are weapons there to pull off the upset.  But, the true X factor in this matchup is Arizona Quarterback Anu Solomon.  He didn’t have the greatest Quarterback Rating last week but, he did still throw for four touchdowns.  Expect this game to be close, but the Wildcats will prevail.
4.  #14 LSU @ #25 Mississippi State ….. Saturday, September 12 ….. 8:15 PM, ESPN
My Pick:  Mississippi State
Funny how the SEC schedule gets underway for certain teams in Week 2.  And, Starksville will be hoping for a Top 25 matchup between the Tigers and the Bulldogs.  Can’t really rate LSU’s performance last week because, their game against McNeese St. was cancelled due to lightning.  I can tell you that they have a Heisman candidate at running back in Leonard Fournette.  The sophomore will have a tough, two game stretch against Mississippi St, then Auburn next week.  But, if he can pull out some monster numbers in those two games, he will be the frontrunner for the Heisman by week three.
Mississippi State’s hopes and dreams of a great run in the dreaded SEC West falls on the shoulders of Quarterback Dak Prescott.  Do you know how close we were to having the Egg Bowl and not the Iron Bowl decide who moved on into the playoffs.  Pretty darn close.  Bulldogs got off to a great start last season before, you know, that SEC West schedule kicked in and knocked them down a peg or two.  That is why I have the first upset in the SEC this week in this game.  LSU will be starting their season on the road and there are too many factors we still don’t know about the Tigers.  Meanwhile, Bulldogs have a talented leader and that may just be enough for the upset.
3.  #20 Boise State @ BYU ….. Saturday, September 12 ….. 9:15 PM, ESPN 2
My Pick:  Boise State
If you read the beginning of this week’s column, BYU completed a Hail Mary at Nebraska to beat the Cornhuskers.  But, the game wasn’t without some loss for the Cougars.  Quarterback Taysom Hill is gone for the season due to injury.  A blow to the chances of the Cougars but, they have a second big matchup this week at home against Boise St.  They will have to turn to Tanner Mangum to lead them.  So, the dual threat might be gone but, considering that Tanner has a big arm, the passing game should remain to be effective
Boise St. had a bit of an emotional game last week.  They defeated former long time coach Chris Petersen and Washington at home.  Wasn’t pretty but, Broncos defense was for real, holding the Huskies to only 29 yards rushing.  Very low number.  Broncos will have to lean on Jeremy McNichols on the ground, who already has two touchdowns on the season.  I think the loss of Hill might be a bit much for BYU to overcome in one week.  Boise St with the win.
2.  #19 Oklahoma @ #23 Tennessee ….. Saturday, September 12 ….. 5 PM, ESPN
My Pick:  Oklahoma
Sooners were not a happy much last season, pretty much out of the Big 12 title picture very early on.  But, if the game against Akron is an indication of what Oklahoma can bring to the table this season, watch out.  Quarterback Baker Mayfield, making his debut, threw for 388 yards and three touchdowns.  Running Back Joe Mixon caught for 115 yards and rushed for 27.  And, don’t forget about Samaje Perine still in the backfield for Oklahoma.  An improved offense maybe tough to stop for Tennessee
Volunteers did some running on their own.  Alvin Kamara gained 144 yards and two touchdowns last week against Bowling Green.  One thing however that may hurt Tennessee this week, they gave up 433 yards passing last week.  Something that is a strong suit for Oklahoma.  Give credit, Tennessee has continue to add the bricks to rebuild the program to where it once was.  Even being ranked this early in the season is a bit of a victory for them.  But, they will be heading out of the Top 25 as I have the Sooners coming in and controlling the game through the air.
1.  #7 Oregon @ #5 Michigan State ….. Saturday, September 12 ….. 7 PM, ABC
My Pick:  Michigan State
If there is going to be a team this season that can knock Ohio State off the top perch of the Big Ten, it is the Spartans. But, revenge will be on their minds Saturday night.  In the primetime spotlight, they look to avenge last year’s 46-27 loss to the Ducks in Eugene.  It may all rely on a couple of players.  For Michigan State, it is quarterback Connor Cook.  The third-year starter got off to a slow start last week, but ended up throwing for 256 yards and two touchdowns. 
For Oregon, it is running back Royce Freeman.  While quarterback Vernon Adams was knocked out of the game, Ducks turned to Freeman.  He ran for a career-high 180 yards and three touchdowns. Adams is expected to play this week, despite the hard blow to the head during the game. 
This game will be important.  While losing it won’t push someone out of the playoff picture entirely, it will put them behind the line that forms for the last spot.  Both teams look pretty equal on offense and it will come down to defense.  Oregon last week gave up 438 yards to Eastern Washington.  Ducks had to score plenty of points to stay up front.  But, it won’t be that easy for them this time around.  Expect Michigan State winning and gaining revenge this Saturday.

So now, we turn to the NFL.  And, in honor of the latest scandal to hit the NFL during the offseason, here are the DEFLATED previews for each game.  Tom Brady approved.
Steelers @ Patriots ….. Thursday Night
My Pick:  Patriots
Tom Brady will start, Le’veon Bell will not; Should be an easy win for New England.
Packers @ Bears ….. Sunday, 12 PM
My Pick:  Bears
Aaron Rodgers might be missing Jordy Nelson and Jay Cutler always plays good in Week 1.
Chiefs @ Texans ….. Sunday, 12 PM
My Pick:  Chiefs
Do the Texans have a quarterback?  Jamaal Charles should be able to run past J.J. Watt.
Browns @ Jets ….. Sunday, 12 PM
My Pick:  Jets
Will there truly be a winner here?  I flipped a coin and came up with the Jets.
Colts @ Bills ….. Sunday, 12 PM
My Pick:  Colts
Should be an easy win for Andrew Luck and the Colts, too good of a passing attack.
Dolphins @ Redskins ….. Sunday, 12 PM
My Pick:  Dolphins
Washington still trying to figure out who should throw the ball; Miami feels like they can compete in AFC East.
Panthers @ Jaguars ….. Sunday, 12 PM
My Pick:  Panthers
Cam Newton looks to kickoff season against a below-average Jaguars defense.
Seahawks @ Rams ….. Sunday, 12 PM
My Pick:  Seahawks
Russell Wilson and “Beast Mode” may struggle at the beginning, but will prevail in the end.
Saints @ Cardinals ….. Sunday, 3:05 PM
My Pick:  Saints
The X Factor for the Saints this season will be Bradin Cooks.  Drew Brees will start off great here.
Lions @ Chargers …. Sunday, 3:05 PM
My Pick:  Chargers
Possibly last season in San Diego.  Should be fun to watch Stafford vs. Rivers.
Titans @ Buccaneers ….. Sunday, 3:25 PM
My Pick:  Buccaneers
It’s Marcus vs. Jameis.  Better receivers are on Tampa Bay.
Bengals @ Raiders ….. Sunday, 3:25 PM
My Pick:  Bengals
Will the Bengals put together a decent playoff run this season?  Should be an easy win in Oakland.
Ravens @ Broncos ….. Sunday, 3:25 PM
My Pick:  Broncos
How healthy is Peyton?  Guess we will find out soon enough against Ravens D.
Giants @ Cowboys ….. Sunday, 7:30 PM
My Pick:  Cowboys
Cowboys on the way up in the division, Giants are on the way down.
Eagles @ Falcons ….. Monday, 6 PM
My Pick:  Eagles
It will be more like how many points can Philadelphia score each week?  They will run all over the place.
Vikings @ 49ers ….. Monday, 9:30 PM
My Pick:  Vikings
49ers had a horrible offseason, don’t know what team will look like here; Peterson returns for Vikings.
There you go.  Hope everyone enjoyed this week’s All About Football.  Can we finally get this heat turned down once and for all?  Let’s get into fall really soon.  Have fun.    

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