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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 8 Preview

Week 8 Preview

This is the halfway point, and it doesn’t seem fair. The season is FLYING by, after the off-season slimed by at a snail’s pace. Let’s be thankful for what we have, and not borrow loneliness from another off-season. It’s really getting interesting, we still don’t know which four teams are locks for the CFB Playoff. Who’d ‘a thunk two SEC teams would be in the first two places nationally, and one of them wasn’t Goergia? It’s like looking at the second piece of a Reese’s realizing that it’s the last half, but it must be eaten. You also know, without a doubt, that it’s gonna be good!

Tennessee vs Alabama – Last week the Vols did the unthinkable, they actually beat a Division I team! Now poor old Mississippi State has to carry that burden for at least the next year. Our hearts goes out to them, subject to recall. We won’t feel too badly until after Bama has tied the Bulldog scalp to their flagpole. At this point, going into the Bryant-Denny stadium, the biggest question for the Volunteers is, who is going to be their quarterback? Against MSU, QB Brian Maurer took a hit where he bashed his head on the turf, rattling his brain around a little bit, giving him a concussion, and turning the QB duties over to the previous starter, Jarrett Guarantano. Guarantano didn’t mess up enough to spoil the victory. Maurer is a superior passer, and if they have any hope of pulling off another miracle, they’re going to need that passing attack. As an aside, do you think Pruitt is actually considering that high school philosophy of never punting – a good idea, given Bama’s defensive woes – and doing only onside kicks? Heck, if you recover 50% 0f the, you’re way ahead of the game. Which brings me to say that Alabama should not try another kick for an extra point this year. Go for two. If you make half of them, you’re equal to a team that never misses an extra point kick. This is so obvious it hurts. According to UT Coach Jeremy Pruitt, and everyone else, the Alabama offense starts with Tua and his corps of receivers. Pruitt says, “there are very few NFL teams that could rival that part of their football teams.” The Tennessee secondary will face their toughest test. The Defense will be playing with a deficit as their linebacker, Henry To’o, received a targeting penalty in the second half against Mississippi State, and will have to sit out the first half of this game. Alabama will also be playing one player sitting out the first half, one of their four horsemen of the Apocalypse, receiver DeVonta Smith. He got an unsportsmanship penalty in College Station when he lashed out at the Aggie who had roughed him up, not once, but twice, or three times. You know how it is, the guy who retaliates get busted. Bama’s offense lives and breathes with the passing game. So far this season, Tua has only thrown one interception, but he’s thrown 27 touchdowns. He now holds the Alabama record for the most games with four passing touchdowns. Tua’s problem in the Heisman race is that what is truly supernatural for the world is commonplace with Alabama’s Quarterback. He’ll have to fly to seem extraordinary – except to the pro scouts. They know, they see, even if the parochial Heisman voters don’t. The best defense Tennessee can field is to keep their offense out on it. Coach Pruitt, possibly joking, maybe not, said he’s tempted to follow the high school strategy of Pulaski Academy that never punts and pulls onside kicks whenever possible. Might not be a bad idea. Remember what I said, maybe Pruitt is going to do it. I would if I were playing against Bama. Alabama is surely the better team, they have the talent, the speed, and the power needed to make this the 13th straight victory over the Vols, but all it would take is for the Crimson Tide to read and listen to the “rat poison”, to let down their guard, disregard their opponent, like, say….Georgia did against South Carolina. Then there’d be only one SEC team in the Top Two.

Michigan vs Penn State – James Franklin and the Nittany Lions should be worried. PSU is undefeated and they’ve moved up to 7th in the nation, but they haven’t distinguished themselves – other than by being undefeated, of course. Their offense is kind-of, well, sort-of, boring. They are very balanced. They run the ball rather well, not flashy, but well. In the passing department, they rely on short passes, and dink and dunk along their merry way. Defense wise, they have stopped people, but, against Iowa last week, it seemed like they relied more on Hawkeye mistakes then anything else. This is akin to relying on hope, and we all know that hope is not an effective strategy. Michigan is Michigan, coached by Jim Harbaugh, who is Jim Harbaugh. To be frankly honest, the Wolverines haven’t shined all year. They weren’t able to pull away against Illinois until the fourth quarter, and that was against the (sarcasm) vaunted Illini. Now Michigan travels to Happy Valley where their strategy seems to be hope, and we just said that hope is not a good strategy. The Wolverines, like the Nittany Lions, haven’t set the world on fire, but their offense seems to have established a pulse. The Maize and Blue’s glaring weakness is their defense, as they can’t stop anyone. They do a great impression of a speed bump, cute, but it also doesn’t stop anyone. Penn State should also take their cue from Pulaski Academy, go for it on fourth down, do everything possible to keep the offense on the field, not because they fear the Big Blue attack, but because the Michigan defense has no hope of lasting the entire game. If Penn State dominates possession time, they’ll win. If not, the Lion defense is subject to caving in the late frames.

Oregon vs Washington – WAY out west and in the upper left hand corner of the map, there is another top 25 match up. This should have been a battle for the top spot on the PAC-12 North, but the Huskies already have two conference losses, one to Cal, and other to Stanford. So, the Ducks will be playing for banner bearing in the PAC 12 North while Washington has a chance to play the spoiler. Every since the Quackers lost to Auburn in the season opener, they have been a tear. None of their games has been close, the Ducks dominated every aspect of the game. The offense has been their strength. Now, however, their defense has shown they can actually compete. Washington should be better than what they have shown. Not entirely sure why they aren’t. QB Jacob Eason is a good QB, but he has demonstrated, at times, poor decision-making and poor passing. Then he turns around and has an outstanding game like he did against Arizona. This goes for the rest of the team as well. They’ll perform brilliantly in a game, then trip all over themselves in the next. Even their wins have moments that are hard to explain. Usually, when they have a bad game, it’s because the offensive line allows Eason to get knocked around. He doesn’t do well throwing the ball from his backside, but no quarterback does. Oregon is not the Warp speed runaway team they had a couple of years ago, but they are capable of striking quickly with their obviously talented but underperforming quarterback. Sometimes the Ducks sustain long, boring drives, something that used to  anathema to Oregon. Expect to see a lot, and I do mean a lot, of the Quack Attack in Seattle. If Washington has designs on victory, they will try and emulate Oregon’s strategy. CSF fully expects the Ducks to win, and it could be by a lot.

Short Smokes:

UCLA will try everything they have in their bag of tricks to beat Stanford Thursday night, but Stanford ain’t Washington State, and the Uclan tricks won’t work.

Pitt and Syracuse  match on Friday, this could be a good hard fought game, going to pick the Panthers

Also on Friday night, Ohio State will murder Northwestern. Yes, it will almost be a felony.

Clemson faces off against Louisville. Are the Tigers going to play anyone of relevance in the regular season? Beware the Jabberwocky (Clemsonizing)!!

West Virginia will do their best against Oklahoma, but, bless their hearts, it won’t come close to being enough.

Wisconsin is going to get another shutout against Illinois

Can South Carolina pull off another miracle against Florida? Doubtful. Possible, but doubtful.

Auburn should not have any problems with Arkansas.

Purdue will wish they’d stayed home after Iowa finishes with the Boilermakers.

Georgia Tech is not having a good year and it won’t get any better against Miami. It’s a challenge to get triple option players to reprogram their abilities to run the spread. Wait three years, then let’s visit Grant Field again.

NC State might be better than people think, Boston College will find out

It’ll be interesting to see if Iowa State can neutralize the passing attack of Texas Tech

The Battle of the Purple, K-State and TCU! CSF isgoing to pick the Wildcats, and Alabama. Always. Without fail. Except against Army.

Oregon State vs Cal yeah, going to go out on a limb and pick the Golden Bears. Oregon State needs to play Rutgers.

There has been some talk that LSU is not deserving of their new number 2 ranking. Hogwash. This game against Mississippi State will not prove anyone right, but an upset by the Bulldogs will prove a lot of folks wrong.

Temple faces their third ranked opponent this season. They beat the other two, but against SMU, the Owls’ streak ends

Another long shot pick here, but Minnesota is going to beat Rutgers. I know, I know, but sometimes one has to go out on a limb.

Old Man Mack will lead his UNC Tarheels to victory over the stumbling, bumbling, fumbling VA Tech Hokies.

Maryland could run away with this game against Indiana. Or, the Hoosiers could win the State Championship, – Oh, that was in Basketball, in high school. Whatever.

Duke and Virginia are two evenly matched teams…hmmm…picking…UVA

Let’s see if Baylor falls to Oklahoma State’s curse

Missouri beats Vanderbilt. Vandy, along with Rutgers and Oregon State, is not having a good year

Georgia better get their heads screwed on right, because more than one team this year has allowed a team, say, South Carolina, to beat them twice. Kentucky would be pleased to extend that favor to the Dawgs.

Arizona State is playing far better than anyone thought they would, but they’re still going to lose to Utah

Texas is in the same boat as Georgia as they take on Kansas, although not quite as vulnerable. On the other hand, Les Miles, Mack Brown, Herm Edwards, retreads all, the Horns better beware their own Jabberwocky.

Washington State is on a slippery slope of losing. It’ll be interesting to see if it stops against Colorado

Army has got to beat Georgia State, otherwise things are going to get real uneasy in household

IF Texas A&M plays like they did against Alabama, they’ll beat Ole Miss, and The Daughter will be happy. I dunno. Two good games in a row for Mond might be asking too much of the Best Quarterback in the SEC. His words, not mine.

Wake Forest is going to beat Florida State. Yes, I said that, and I stand by it.

Don’t see any way Arizona beats USC, unless USC loses all their quarterbacks. That’ll work

Boise State is going to feast on BYU

Air Force flies over the Rainbow (Warriors), Hawai’i. I wonder if the Falcons fly out there on a chartered plane or do they load up in a C-17, or C-5, it’s not like the Air Force can’t spare one for their football team, even if it is illegal. But, if it weren’t, Army could arrive in tanks, Navy would use carriers, and the Marine Corps – ah, the Marine Corps – would arrive in landing craft. Does the Marine Corps have a football team?

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