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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 3

I can just imagine what Drill Sgt. Ressler would be saying about this weekend, “Listen up! These past two weeks have been nothing but a warm up. No more puff! No more weak Saturdays! This Saturday your life is shifting into the next gear whether you like it or not! So, I suggest you get your act together, step up the plate and GET WITH THE PROGRAM!” I, of course, left out all the profanity that would have inevitably been there. But, he would be right about this weekend. The SEC is joining the party and all their games are SEC vs SEC, none of this Clemson taking on the Citadel to pad the record. That’s right! I said it, Clemson pads their record.  Just remember, in the SEC, it just means more, and when one sees these SEC foes on the schedule, one’s heart is excused if it skips a beat or two.

HOWEVER, before we get to the SEC games, there are a few others that need to be mentioned. First up, Kansas State vs Oklahoma. The Wildcats did not fare well in their opener as they lost, at home, to Arkansas State. To tell the truth, I was expecting more from K-State. They were dealing with limited personnel as they were down 40 players because of the Wuhan virus procedures when they took the field. This week 12 of those guys have been cleared to return. Not sure if the Editor is going to allow this reasoning as he has this rule that injuries cannot be used as an excuse, but it’s not clear if the Covid-19 falls under that injury rule. (It does. All personnel and all teams are equally exposed and no excuses may be offered.) If there is one thing that K-State likes better than anything else, it is to be the underdog. For some reason, they hate being the favorite, it affects how they play.  When not much is expected of them, they rise up and exceed expectations. Last year these Cats were a huge underdog against the Sooners. What happened? K-State raced to a 48-23 lead with QB Skylar Thompson rushing for four TDs. Then they were able to hold on and fend off the OU comeback, winning the game, 48-41. It was the only loss OU experienced in the regular season. This Saturday KSU is  again expected to be beaten, and beaten badly. Don’t bet your last set of spurs on it. The Wildcats may lose, but it may be an unexpected outcome. Oklahoma has yet another new quarterback, and he seems to be following the same script as the last three. We can’t really say that yet, since he has only played against Missouri State, where OU won, 48-0. Spencer Rattler threw 17 passes, completing 14, for 290 yards and four touchdowns. Impressive. He is a much better thrower than Hurts was last year. What Rattler and the team needs right now is for one of their receivers to become that go-to sure handed ball catcher. They are leaning heavily on Jeremiah Hall as the H-Back, who comes out of the backfield to catch. That works great when playing 1-AA schools, but that’ll be difficult to do against more evenly matched teams. The other strength they possess is that both their defensive and offensive lines return with plenty of depth. A bit of advice, do not underestimate the Wildcats. OU cannot start slow and build up speed, KSU is going to be up for this game, they want to prove themselves and this is the best chance they’ll have all season.

Pitt vs Louisville – This may, on the surface, look like a puff game, but, hang in there, it’s not. Louisville is ranked 24th with Pitt at 21st. The Cardinals dropped a winnable game against Miami, they gave up big plays and made bonehead mistakes on offense. Even with that, they lost 47-34. The Cards’ offense cannot make so many mistakes this Saturday, not that they need to cut back on their mistakes;- no, they CANNOT make ANY! None, nadda, zip! If they do, they’ll get crushed. Pitt returns just about everyone on defense and in their first two games this year, they are playing lights out on “D”. Last week against Syracuse, the Panthers held the Orange to 170 yards in total offense. They rank third in terms of yards allowed, at 154 per game. That’s good. Fully expect them to continue this type of play on Saturday. Little food for thought;- when the Michigan State HC spot suddenly came open, everyone thought Pat Narduzzi would go back where he made a name for himself. He didn’t, because he knew what he had in this team. This should be a very good game as it’ll be strength against strength, the UL offensive vs Pitt defense. Always go with the defensive team.

Army vs Cincinnati – All those that thought they’d see this game as a battle between two top 25 teams please speak up. LIARS! ALL LIARS!!! Nobody foresaw this even in 2020. Now it’s before us, it’s completely believable, but not predictable. The Cadets stomped MTSU and ULM, they then had last week off because BYU was leery of meeting the Covid-19 requirements. Yeah, right, the Cougars were leery of tackling a Service Academy team that had played a real game, or two. Cincy has only played against Austin Peay, where they cruised to a 55-20 victory, but Austin Peay s a Division 1-AA team. The Bearcats are favored, which goes to prove that these sportswriters have not been watching the Black Knights. Army wins, and achieves a 3-0 start. GO ARMY! (No editorial changes indicated)

Alright, roll up your sleeves, and let’s, get, busy!

Florida vs Ole Miss – Is this the year that Florida actually challenges Georgia for the Eastern crown? Possibly, but first they need to start off strong. Last year they found their QB, how be it by injury. Kyle Trask came in when Feleipe Franks went down, and, let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for that injury putting Trask into the game, the Gators would not have finished on a high like they did. Now the pressure’s on them and everyone is watching. The weakest part of the team is the offensive line. That might have scant impact on the outcome of this game, cause, let’s face it, Ole Miss’s defense is bad, like, ‘oh my gosh it’s a dumpster fire!’ bad. Florida’s defense, however, is right on target. The Gators have the skill players, what they lack are the big ugilies in the trenches and that has been one of Dan Mullen’s biggest problems over the years. He loves to get skill players, like receivers, running backs, and QB’s, but he is always lacking in roping the highly sought lineman on both sides of the ball. He just doesn’t seem to put much stock in them and it shows. The Gators win most of their games, but when it’s root hog or die time, they lose. The Rebels enter this season with an aura of mystery surrounding them. No one knows what new head coach Lane Kiffin is going to do, or what he can do, with the players that he inherited. They have two talented QB’s, Matt Corral, who can actually throw the ball, but is terrible if he has to run or think on his feet, and John Plumlee, who does not throw the ball, at least, not to anyone on his team. But Plumlee is very fast and quick running the ball. Why he is listed as a quarterback instead of a running back, no idea. Needless to say, Kiffin is going to have an offense that loves to pass the ball, it’s what he loves to do, it’s what he’s always done wherever he’s been. So, offensive mystery solved. No need to thank me. The defense, last year, was more like a sieve, they never stopped anyone, but they at least got in the way sometimes, as the other teams marched down the field and scored, ………….and then scored again……….., and then scored some more.  New Head coach Kiffin has never been at a place where he literally has nothing in the cupboard on the defensive side. Not only that, but no one has ever accused the New Coach of having a defensive mind. The Rebels, if they’re still called that, will score some points, every now and again. Florida will more than likely not punt the ball once;- they won’t have to.

  Kentucky vs Auburn– The last time the Wildcats played down in Auburn, it was 2009 and UK defeated the Tigers, 21-14. Coach Mark Stoops was not with the team then, but he’d darn sure like to repeat that victory. UK will have senior Terry Wilson back after he suffered a season ending injury last year against Eastern Michigan. He’s pretty good, not that flashy, but seems to make the right throws when it’s needed. Last year the Bluegrass Cats were a run first offense;- that just doesn’t seem right, but it was, and it will be again this year. Auburn, oh, how they have high, high hopes for Bo Nix. They believe he’s the next great Auburn QB. The kid is good, that is, when he is playing with his head securely squared away on his shoulders. Then, he’ll suddenly turn into Mr Hyde and make some of the dumbest moves one has ever seen. Often times he will switch from one to the other within the span of a single game. That’s not the biggest problem for the Plainsmen, no, that would be that they are trying to build a defense with no returning starters. Ok, maybe they have three….maybe. Right now, Kentucky is the more stable program and that’s going to come in handy this weekend. UK is going to leave UCLA (Ugly Corner Lower Alabama) with a victory, Auburn, including HC Gus Malzahn and QB Bo Nix, is just too much of a leaky bucket to put much faith in.

Alabama vs Missouri – The Crimson Tide has played up at Columbia twice, and both times it resulted in a brutal loss for the hometown Tigers. Last time Mizzou brought in country singer Sara Evans, who is from Missouri, to sing the National Anthem and hopefully give the team some luck. It didn’t work, they forgot that she had married Jay Barker who was the QB for Alabama when they won the National Championship in 1992 by defeating Miami. What everyone is thinking, needs to be said, this game is not going to test Alabama. Everyone is going to watch it because Mac Jones has been named the starter, and we all want to see how he does. The Tide offense is stacked across the board, offensive line returning, receivers Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith, who are very fast and catch the ball, then there is Najee Harris back at running back and there are plenty of horses to use when he needs a break. The defense has everyone back that got injured last year and the freshmen that were thrown into starting roles got valuable playing time. This defense is loaded for bear, and all us Bama fans are chomping at the bit to see if it’s going to be back up to Bama standards, what we are used to. Like, the number one defense in America. It haunts opponents imagining it might happen. Bama’s om a MISSION! They were denied the playoffs last year and that JUST AIN”T RIGHT!…Come on! It’s not like we’re asking for much! The Natty or bust!

Short Smokes

Vanderbilt vs Texas A&M – ever see a team that seems to have everything in place but for some reason the coach is completely and utterly sold on the QB, who ends up costing them games instead of winning them? That’s A&M, they’ll win this one, the Daughter will be happy and mad; happy they won, mad at QB Mond for being a bonehead.

Florida State vs Miami – Is it just people 50 and over that remember when this was one of the premier games of the year? Yes, it is, but, maybe, just maybe, this year, …

Tennessee vs South Carolina – As hard as it is to believe, the Vols are going to beat USC-South.

Kansas vs Baylor – not even sure this game is going to take place, Baylor likes to cancel games at the last minute, which was so unforgivable to do to Houston. If they do play, the Bears win.

UCF vs East Carolina – The Golden Knights will continue in their quest of yet another self-proclaimed National Title.

Georgia Tech vs Syracuse – The Orange, not playing well. GA Tech, playing better than expected

Iowa State vs TCU – The Cyclones have got to bounce back after losing to Louisiana Lafayette. The Horned Toads ain’t who you want to bounce back against.

Mississippi State vs LSU – Fully expecting the Tigers to win, but won’t it be interesting to see what Mike Leach will do with MSU?

Texas vs Texas Tech – hmmmm…not sure who to pick, could go either way

West Virginia vs Oklahoma State – Usually, OSU is very difficult to beat at home, but they’re lacking this year. Go with West “By Golly” Virginia!

Georgia vs Arkansas – might not be the best game for a new Arkansas coach to start off with, but, then again, this is the SEC and it just means more. Learn it, live it, love it!

Duke vs Virginia – have the Cavaliers played yet? No. still picking them over the Blue Devils.

 NC State vs Virginia Tech – Gotta howl and go with the Wolves.

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