Presto’s College Football Picks: Bye-bye, Bandit

WASHINGTON — College football lost a friend this week when actor Burt Reynolds died at the age of 82. Years before tearing up interstate highways as the Bandit, Reynolds was turning defenders inside-out as a running back at Florida State. The recruit from West Palm Beach made his entrance with a 33-yard reception against Georgia (the Bulldogs played away nonconference games then? How ABOUT that!) and as a freshman and would score touchdowns against Louisville and Stetson (OK, so the Seminoles’ schedule wasn’t necessarily the toughest in the 1950s).

Injuries prevented “Buddy,” as he was called, from being any more than a flash in the pan on the gridiron, so he found a different stage — literally — for his talents. Reynolds found a sweet spot from the mid-1970s to the early ’80s during which most everything he touched on the cinematic gridiron went for a touchdown. And perhaps a little bit of Burt rubbed off on his roommate at Florida State — explaining Lee Corso’s entertaining presence on ESPN’s College Gameday.

Your Burt Reynolds playbook:

First Down — “Smokey and the Bandit” (1977)

Reynolds helped turn what was basically a beer run into 96 minutes of pure cinematic fun. If you have to audible out of that film. check out “The Cannonball Run” (1981). More cars, more characters, more fun.

Second Down — “The Longest Yard” (1974)

Prisoners vs. guards, as nature intended — no offense to the Adam Sandler remake. Audible into  “Semi-Tough” (1977). Reynolds shares the field with Kris Kristofferson in the adaptation of Hall of Fame sports writer Dan Jenkins’ novel.

Third Down — “Deliverance” (1972)

When you want to move the chains, you go with critical big plays. “Deliverance” proved that Reynolds was more than just the guy from “Gunsmoke,” and it’s not for the faint of heart. You can audible out of some grisly scenes, but you can’t avoid death in “Boogie Nights” (1997), which garnered Reynolds his only Oscar nomination.

Fourth Down — If the first three plays don’t get it done for you, I’m going to punt with Norm MacDonald’s parody/portrayal/homage/imitation of Reynolds on “Saturday Night Live.” From auditioning for “Star Wars” to wearing a funny hat as Turd Ferguson on “Celebrity Jeopardy,” MacDonald turned Reynolds’ cool ’70s persona inside-out.

Saturday games

#12 Virginia Tech (1-0) vs. William & Mary (1-0), 2 p.m. (ACC Network)

So, my doubts regarding a Hokies defense that was replacing eight starters may have been unfounded. They came out of Tallahassee with an ACC win, but head coach Justin Fuente’s team has to battle the dreaded five-day turnaround. They also need to find better offensive consistency, as they were held under 20 yards on six of their seven possessions in the second half.

William & Mary began its final season under Jimmye Laycock with a victory at Bucknell, but will be hard-pressed to repeat that feat in Blacksburg.

Presto’s Pick: Hokies make it happen, 41-16

Navy (0-1) vs. Memphis (1-0), 3:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

The Midshipmen’s flight back from Hawaii was made longer by their 59-41 loss to the Rainbow Warriors. The option offense is built for many things, but rallying from 28 points down is definitely not one of them. While the offense appears to be in midseason form with Malcolm Perry and Zach Abey, the defense looks like it’s going to go through some growing pains minus last year’s top tackler, Micah Thomas.

Things don’t get any easier this week, as Navy attempts to contain a Tigers team that tacked 66 points on the board in their opener. Memphis replaced starting quarterback Brady White after the junior threw five touchdown passes with freshman Brady McBride. I think they both get a discount at Vineyard Vines.

Presto’s Pick: Midshipmen fall 37-31

Maryland (1-0) at Bowling Green (0-1), 6 p.m. (ESPN+)

Not that Dave Preston.

The Terps try to follow up their upset of Texas by winning on the road against a Falcons team that actually led Oregon 10-0 behind quarterback Jared Doege. While Maryland’s offense provided quite a bit of sizzle in Week 1 with Jeshaun Jones scoring on touchdown runs and receptions while throwing for a score, the steak is a defense that turned the Longhorns over three times in the fourth quarter. They’ll need another superior effort to get out of Mid-American Conference country with a victory.

Fun fact: The second-leading rusher in Bowling Green history is Dave Preston, who led the MAC in rushing as a sophomore before playing six years with the Denver Broncos in the NFL. Sadly, I’m not him.

Presto’s Pick: Terrapins triumph, 30-20

Virginia (1-0) at Indiana (1-0), 7:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

The Cavaliers of 2017 won on the arm of Kurt Benkert, tried to run to keep foes honest, and employed a defense that hung on for dear life. If Week 1 was any indication (and we know that Week 1 wins against FCS schools carry a caveat), this year’s success is going to arrive thanks to a punishing running game and stingy defense. I wouldn’t expect UVa to air it out 66 times against the Hoosiers like they did last September. Peyton Ramsey led IU to victory in Charlottesville last year as redshirt freshman; expect plenty of short stuff in the passing game (in nine career games, Ramsey averages under 10 yards per completed pass).

Kippy & Buffy aren’t messing around with any short stuff at their tailgate. Conundrum White 2015 “lures you with scents of apricot, pear and honeysuckle.” There’s also a “hint of oak” that I think is more of a strong suggestion. I suggest a pairing with Brie and crostini.

Presto’s Pick: Cavaliers come up short, 31-28

Georgetown beats Campbell, Howard slips at Kent State, James Madison beats Norfolk State, Richmond handles Fordham, Towson tumbles at Wake Forest.

Last Week: 5-4 | Season: 5-4

Ed. Note: With legal sports gambling coming soon to a state near you, we’re including two more picks this year. Chris Cichon’s “The Big Chee’s” will pick a Top 25 game each week, while Noah Frank’s “Frankie’s Flyer” will pick an underdog of at least 7 points to cover and possibly spring an outright upset.

The Big Chee’s: Georgia (-10.5) at South Carolina

Last Week: Winner | Season: 1-0

Frankie’s Flyer: Pittsburgh (+9) vs. Penn State

Last Week: Winner vs. spread, Winner outright | Season: 1-0 vs. spread, 1-0 outright

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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