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FLAG BEARERS

As the CFBHC season rolls near, it's the Michigan Wolverines led by Head Coach jmjacobs who grab the top spot in the preseason AP poll. Will they remain at the top? Or fall to an unlikely upset?

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

Patriots QB Darren Werner gave us a little blast from the past when he threw for 475 yards and 5 touchdowns against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in preseason week 2.

IT'S CROOTIN SEASON

Along with the CFBHC season comes CROOTIN! Time to think, and think and think, and maybe overthink your strategies and then get beat out by Penn State on all of your favorite croots.

ALL HAIL MCQUEEN?

Detroit Lions rookie CB Kevin McQueen has made some noise early in the preseason, recording an interception in both games so far. Have the Lions finally found Keyshawn Thompson a running mate?

HOCKEY COME BACK, WE CAN MAKE IT UP TO YOU

NHLHC fans take to the stands during the NFLHC preseason to beg for an end on the NHLHC Lockout and a return to the ice.
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    ImposterCauster

    [2019] Episode 1 (Fri)

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    Welcome to Sportscenter everyone! This is your host ImposterCauster joined by npklemm and Quasar, and boy don't we have an exciting weekend coming up. Huge conference matchups in the Big Twelve and SEC and a few nasty rivalries make for some must-see action this weekend! Let's preview a few of these games, shall we?
     
    IU (5-0) (0-1) @ Purdue (5-0) (1-0) 
    Why is it Important: Indiana isn't God Awful and is looking to ruin someone's season. Who better than hated rival Purdue? For Purdue, they're trying to keep pace in the crowded West Division that has 4 undefeated teams. IU hasn't had good success in this game in the past, so they're looking to unload some aggression. Also, the Old Oaken Bucket is up for grabs and IU would love to take that away from Purdue in their own house. 
     
    Players to Watch: 
    IU - QB Adrian Rupp and RB Timothy Cano. They are the clear strength of the team and how they go, so goes the team. Their performance will determine what happens in this game. Rupp and Cano play off of each so well and have a way of motivating each other with their individual performances. 
    Purdue - QB Matt Jones and RB CJ Sheffield. Huh, another QB/RB duo. But these two teams boast good combos at those positions. Jones has shown he can be elite and just tear teams apart. Sheffield might be the best RB no one is talking about. Stopping this Purdue offense is tough because of these guys. 
     
    Keys to the Game:
    1. IU has to get off to a fast start. 

    2. Purdue's Front-7 has to keep Rupp in the Pocket. 
    3. IU must convert 3rd Downs and keep their offense on the field. 
     
    Prediction: Purdue 42 IU 31 
    Purdue is a better team, plain and simple. I think IU hangs in for 3 Quarters, before losing it in the 4th. Purdue is too good and deep for IU right now.

    Sounds good, klemm. A fun rivalry in the Big Ten indeed. But let's turn our attention to what I feel is going to be the marquee matchup down south.
     
    LSU (5-0) (2-0) @ Auburn (4-2) (3-0) 
     
    Why is it important: This is a battle for supremacy in the SEC West! This tiger tussle down in the jungle features two teams at the top of the division, with the winner taking full control. LSU's monster defense takes on an Auburn offense that has been revitalized with the recent change from Jacory Kessler to Marcus Black at quarterback. While the loser has to hope for the winner to lose twice (both still play Mississippi State and Auburn has Bama), the winner simply has to take care of business for a chance at an SEC title game berth. For LSU more so than Auburn, this also includes a shot at the playoffs.

    Players to Watch:

    LSU - RB Jayden Huff and TE Corey Gavin. If there was ever a game for Huff to break out and exceed all expectations, this would be that game. This is an Auburn team that is very weak on the outside, and if Huff, with the benefit of Gavin's blocking, can get out to the edges, he could be picking up 5-6 yards a carry throughout the game.
    Auburn - QB Marcus Black and RB Jermaine Lockett. LSU's defense is good, but there's just enough lacking in the front seven for Black and Lockett to take a dip and try to expose it. While Black isn't quite known for his leg work yet, he himself could join Lockett in getting out to the edges and taking advantage of a rather young few players in the front seven. Black also has to be precise; any mistakes and LSU's grueling secondary will make him pay big time.

     
    Keys to the Game:
    1. Marcus Black has to keep his cool in the big time. 

    2. Get Jayden Huff to take the ball upfield from the outside. 
    3. Take advantage of any turnovers in what should be a stout defensive matchup.

    Prediction: LSU 19 Auburn 10 

    Black's youth and inexperience is going to show in this game against one of, if not the best defense in the conference. Mistakes will be made from the young gun, and LSU's too talented not to take advantage of it. Close defensive game, but the team with the better defense will come out on top.
     
    How about an absolute thriller in the Big Twelve? The OU-KU rivalry is huge, and it doesn't get any better than a primetime matchup with Gameday coming to town.
     
    Oklahoma (6-0) (2-0) @ Kansas (4-2) (3-1) 
    Why is it important: This is a huge division rivalry between two (normally) perennial contenders in the Big Twelve. Oklahoma has rebounded tremendously from their tumultuous 4-8 campaign of 2018, following it up with a current undefeated record at the halfway point of the season. Kansas has taken its fair share of lumps in losses to Iowa State and East Carolina, but if there's one thing these Jayhawks know how to do, it's how to beat Oklahoma. KU owns the all-time series 4-1, including a win in Lawrence over eventual national champion and top-ranked Oklahoma in 2015. Eric Jennings continues on his record-setting pace in his final season, but all of that would be moot if he can't take one more win off the Sooners. 
     
    Players to Watch: 
    OU - QB Graham Burnett and RB Maurice White. Burnett is the heart and soul of this Sooner offense, looking strong in each of OU's first six wins this season. In order to make it a seventh, Burnett will have to be careful with the ball. He should be given more than enough time to throw, but against this talented secondary, he'll have to have pinpoint precision. For White, he'll get the benefit of being overlooked thanks to his Heisman-worthy compatriot in the backfield. With all eyes off the true freshman, White will have to perform at a high level against a front seven that has had mixed results this season. 
    KU - WR Malcom Davis and DE Amir Ransom. As much hype as Jennings gets around campus, he wouldn't be half the quarterback he is this year without the 6-6 senior at receiver. Davis has a favorable matchup over 5-10 CB Richard Brown, and it will be up to him to use that size to favor Jennings. Amir Ransom has to get pressure on Graham Burnett; the Sooner slinger is way too talented to be given all the time in the world to throw, regardless of the talent of the secondary. If Ransom can get into the backfield, he can interrupt Burnett's rhythm and make their offense sputter.

    Keys to the Game: 

    1. Kansas has to pressure Burnett. 
    2. Oklahoma cannot afford to give the ball away. 
    3. Good Eric Jennings has to show up, not turnover-prone Eric Jennings.
     
    Prediction: Kansas 30 Oklahoma 21 
    The Jayhawks have the favorable matchup both in their passing game and with their secondary. Assuming Jennings can keep the ball with his receivers, Kansas should find this game to be a bit more comfortable.
     
    I'm personally very excited for the matchup in Lawrence. Will Oklahoma be able to play spoiler in a game they're actually favored in? Only time will tell.
     
    Elsewhere in the world of sports, a few European leagues have reached their midway point plus some, and Quasar here decided to give us an in-depth look into how the leagues should finish. 
     
    NCL

    With 6 out of 10 matches played in this league, Innsbruck, Dortmund, Ajax, and 1860 are all close together. However, 1860 has a shaky foundation, with losses against most of the top clubs and 3 of their 8 points versus bottom-feeder Zurich. The good news is that they seem to have Ajax’s number with a win and a draw against them. Ajax has only lost 1 match in league play, but they also have only drawn at Zurich and Bayern which is quite worrisome as well as the above home loss to 1860. It’s definitely a tossup between Innsbruck and Dortmund for the NCL title, but my vote is for Dortmund. Though they lost away to Innsbruck and home to Ajax in 2-3 and 0-1 results, they have easier matches ahead than Innsbruck. Even with Innsbruck currently holding a 2 point lead over Dortmund, the schedule for Innsbruck includes home matches against Ajax and 1860 and an away match against Zurich, which I would put for about 6 or 7 points, whereas Dortmund has home matches against 1860 and Bayern and an away match at Ajax which I would put at 7 or 9 points. One of these clubs will be possibly knocked out of the race this week when Dortmund and Innsbruck play at Dortmund, and with Innsbruck only barely winning the matchup at home with a goal in the waning moments of the match, I’m looking at Dortmund to win and stay ahead of the pack for the NCL title.

     

    SCL

    With 6 out of 10 matches played in this league, AS Roma, Real Madrid, and Juventus are at the top of the table. This league is much easier for me to make a decision, and I’ve gotta give to Juve. Roma and Madrid are a point above Juve, but they each have their own issues. Roma has 2 home draws (Juventus and PSG) and half of their points are from wins versus PSG and tire fire club South China, which doesn’t bode well for the future. Madrid also hasn’t proven themselves much at all, with half of their points coming from home wins versus Napoli and South China. Juventus, however, has had great success in the preseason cups. In addition, in league play they only have 1 loss, a 0-2 fluky game at PSG in which their right-back d’Angelo was sent off in the 54th minute for a double yellow and the subsequent penalty and later goal allowed PSG to beat the weakened Juventus squad. As long as Juve keeps their play clean and efficient, they should have a good chance at winning the SCL title with their star-powered team.

    MLS - East

    With 7 out of 12 matches played in this conference, all clubs are within 3 points of the top, barring garbage heap Atlanta FC. Though Philadelphia and Orlando are at 13 and 12 points, I’m definitely choosing Harrisburg City. Philadelphia definitely has had some good results, drawing away at Orlando and winning the home rematch by 2 goals. Orlando seems to have had trouble pushing their team to victory, with 3 draws out of 7 matches against some poorer clubs not showing a good look for the team. Though Harrisburg did lose in a rare poor match versus a DC United squad that lacks talent, Harrisburg can definitely make it to the top of the division if they can work out how to get that last bit of effort from their star studded squad. With 4 players of at least 70 ranking and none in the 50s in the starting eleven, this squad can dominate if the right tactics are used, and I’m confident this will happen. Harrisburg had better win the MLS East with their lineup, or people may begin to question the managing of the club.

    MLS – West

    With 7 out of 12 matches played in this conference, LA Galaxy has a 3 point lead ahead of CD Guadalajara and 4 over Houston Dynamo, and I’m backing them for a comfortable MLS West title. There’s not really much to worry about for LA, as they continue to roll with no losses in league play. In addition, they performed decently well in preseason, even though they were still working out efficient tactics. Finally, Channing Banks, LA’s forward, has done very well in not just MLS play but also in the World Cup where he scored 3 goals for the US team before they lost to the eventual winner, France, in the semifinals. LA without a doubt and it shouldn’t be that close.

     

    BIL

    With 6 out of 14 matches played in this league, Tottenham leads with 13 points while Arsenal and Crystal Palace are a point behind. All 3 of these clubs definitely have something going for them. Each club has a player tied at the top of the goal list with 4 goals. Tottenham only has 1 loss, a 0-2 result away at Crystal Palace. Arsenal has a preseason trophy after beating Juventus, who I earlier predicted to win the SCL, as well as the best player of the 3 clubs in midfielder Will Ashbridge. Finally, Crystal Palace seems to be getting the most out of their 65 rated forward, Miyagawa Yoritomo, who also scored a goal in the World Cup against Egypt despite being on a lackluster Japan team, as well as seemingly having Arsenal’s number at every step with a 2-1 home result in league play and besting the Gunners in the FA cup with a 6-5 result on aggregate. With all this said, I’m going to (cautiously) give Arsenal the nod for the BIL title. Arsenal has shown they can compete with the top clubs in the International Champions Cup and they have a number of capable scorers with the most goals scored in BIL play. If they can stay together on defense and prevent goals, they should be able to win the BIL in a close race.

     

    I personally feel that you're marking out Liverpool much to soon, but that's a different topic for a different day. We're all out of time for this episode, but enjoy this thrilling weekend of football, and we will see you next time!

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