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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 6

There are a lot of great games lined up for Saturday. So much so, that it is almost certain that the TV shows will come up with a nickname or two for them. Something like, “Matchup Saturday”, or, “Separation Day”, which, let’s be honest, have been used ad nauseam. It’s time to step up, and either go big or go home. So I submit that this Saturday should have the nicknames of, “Rumble Saturday”, or, better yet,…..“Welcome to Thunderdome!”  Then, of course, that will be followed with a loud evil laugh. Lots of match ups that will have a big impact on the rest of the season are on tap. So, strap in, and get ready for a rootin, tootin, two-gun shootin’, heck of a ride!

Florida vs Texas A&M – This is the first top twenty five match up of the day. Florida is going into Kyle Field and the Gators have to be feeling confident. The A&M secondary has been far from good. They allowed Alabama’s “Mac Attack” to throw for 435 yards and hit big play after big play. So, the Gator’s Kyle Trask is naturally drooling about his chances in this game. In the past two games, Trask has completed 73% of his throws, for 684 yards, 10 touchdowns, and just one INT. Needless to say, the passing game is the bread and butter of Florida’s offense and they plan to unleash as many passes as they can. Trask is going to throw so many times his shoulder might be cramping in the fourth quarter. There is one thing that the Aggies defense needs to do and that’s put pressure on the QB. They need to collapse the pocket on every drop-back by the Gator QB. The UF offense has yet to be forced to improvise, so the Aggie Wrecking Crew needs to create so much chaos that Maxwell Smart will be called in to investigate. On the flip side of this, the Florida defense has not been stellar, either. They’ve allowed plenty of big plays and permitted teams like South Carolina to mount long, time consuming drives. USC-South would have scored more points in their game, but, well, it’s the Gamecocks, so they didn’t. Last week, against Alabama, Kellen Mond was not the Heisman candidate that Jimbo Fisher seems to think he is, but he did do well with the short passing game, dinking and dunking with five to eight yard passes. Look for A&M to try the same thing in this game. it would be to their advantage if they could do something, anything, to stretch the field. Even if they don’t complete the long passes, at least try one or two, so the Florida defenders have to at least consider that option. To date, A&M’s done nothing to worry about downfield. Fully expect Florida to win, but the Aggies will score, probably just not enough. Good thing the National Championship plaque Fisher was given by A&M when he first went there didn’t have a date on it, cause, well, it’s going to be awhile. Maybe it’s best the Daughter will not be watching this game.

Virginia Tech vs North Carolina – Next on the card are the Hokies vs the Tar Heels! Both are ranked and both are undefeated. Last year, in Blacksburg, the game went into six overtimes, with VA Tech getting the victory, 43-41. This year, Tech is relying heavily on the run game. Last week, against Duke, Khalil Herbert tallied 358 all-purpose yards, with 212 in the rushing game. This guy is a full-blown wrecking ball. Hard to believe he’s a transfer from Kansas, but, he is. In their first two games, the Hokies have utilized the rushing game to crush the will of their opponent, throwing just enough to keep the defense honest. The defense of the Turkeys has, been, well, not great, but in the defense’s defense, they’ve been 20 players short because of the Wuhan virus, and most of those guys are on defense. They are expected to get most of those guys back this week, and they’re going to be needed. Now, here is where it gets fun. The strength of the UNC team is their defense, where they are ranked number one in the nation. Last week they allowed Boston College to accumulate 40 yards on the ground for the entire game. But, wait, didn’t BC score 22 points? Why, yes, they did, which tells us that the secondary of the Heels is porous. Not sure VA Tech has the passing game needed to exploit this weakness. UNC likes to run the ball as well, and RB Michael Carter gained 121 yard rushing last week. But he’s not the star of the offense. That would be QB Sam Howell, who is not a big bright shiny star, but he is a very steady, smart, QB who makes good decisions and seems to be the rudder of this balanced attack that Old Man Mac has installed. The focus of the game will be seeing if UNC can stop the VA Tech rushing game. Should be a knock-down, drag out, cold blooded fight, and, let’s be honest, we all love a good brawl!

Texas vs Oklahoma – Not a ranked match-up but this is the Red River Rivalry and that’s enough. Oklahoma was supposed to be the darling of the Big 12 that only has ten teams, but they aren ’t. They took a serious gut-shot loss from Kansas State, and, last week, Iowa State threw a haymaker that connected right on the Sooners’ jaw, and that knocked them to their knees. Now it is up to OU to pick themselves up or lay down on the mat and call, “No Mas”. Texas is entering the RRR sporting a big black eye they received last week from TCU. The Horned Frogs have a habit of doing that to the Horns. They aren’t staggering like Oklahoma, but Texas is hurting.  The Longhorns have two advantages in this game: 1) Sam Ehlinger is a veteran of the RRR and he’s led the UT offense to average 51 points per game so far this season. 2) OU has a young team, and QB Spencer Rattler has not necessarily lived up to all the hype surrounding his coming. The OU Defense is not dependable, they couldn’t stop K-State or Iowa State when it was imperative that they did. Maybe they can’t stop schools with ‘State’ in their name. Not saying the UT defense is that much better, they’ve allowed a bunch of points, it’s just that the offense was able to bail them out, – except against the Horn Frogs. Fully expect this game to involve a lot of points, should be a good ole western-style shootout. Whoever scores last might wear the golden Stetson home.

Alabama vs Ole Miss – In 20 tries so far, no former assistant has been able to beat St. Saban. Don’t be fooled by all the right words Lane Kiffin is saying about this game. He could lose all the rest of the games on Mississippi’s schedule, and he’d still consider the season a success if he was the first assistant to beat the master. He wants this so badly he’s foaming at the mouth. Maybe that’s just from brushing his teeth, but Lane really, Really, REALLY, wants to beat the Tide and Nick Saban. Kiffin is actually a very good offensive-minded coach, no doubt about it. It did not escape him that A&M was able to complete short passes against Alabama, so I fully expect him to try and exploit this at every turn. So far, the Rebels, have had little problems scoring. Against Florida, they scored 51 points, and, against Kentucky, 42. It makes me very nervous that the Bama defense is probably not going to shut down the Ole Miss air attack, as in, VERY nervous. The ideal scenario for Alabama would be for Alabama to be Alabama, and to do what Alabama is known for, “Run Da Bawl!!” Big, long, ground-pounding, soul-sucking, spirit-crushing drives is what they need to do. The Ole Miss defense is leaky, at best, they can be exploited for big plays. The problem lies that it puts the Rebels’ offense back on the field. We don’t want that. We want to keep Mississippi’s offensive squad on the sidelines so long that they get bored and start texting their girlfriends. Then, when the Bama defense is on the field, the front seven have to hit the QB every time he drops back to pass. Even if he gets the throw off, hit him. Nothing illegal, ok, maybe skirt the edges a bit, but nothing bad. Corral needs to pick himself off the ground every play. QB’s don’t like to get hit and it’s a sure-fire bet Corral doesn’t either. While doing this, Bama needs to be alert for Plumlee to suddenly appear taking the snap, even if it’s for only one or two plays. Controlled, but violent pass rushing by the Tide. This is not going to be an easy game, but the weather report is calling for heavy rains, which, if it happens, just proves that God loves the Infantry and the ground game of Alabama! Roll Tide!  

Short Smokes

Miami vs Clemson – The Hurricanes are ranked 7th in the nation and if they want to bring back the culture of winning they have to slay the king of the ACC. Good luck storming that castle.

Missouri vs LSU- This game has been moved to Columbia, MO, because of Hurricane Delta. Don’t expect the Tigers, Louisiana variety, to get stage fright.

Coastal Carolina vs Louisiana – A match-up of two undefeated teams, Ragin’ Cajuns will do just fine – pending Hurricane Delta not cancelling the whole affair.. 

UL Monroe vs Liberty – Them darn Flames are doing very well, and, UL, that used to be the Indians, are not.

NC State vs Virginia – The Wolfpack pulled a huge upset last week beating Pitt, so here’s to them winning two weeks in a row.

South Carolina vs Vanderbilt – someone has to win, right?

Duke vs Syracuse – Two teams that expected to be better this year, Duke gets their first win of the season

The Citadel vs Army – Nope, Nada, not going to happen, Army is not going to lose this one.

Tennessee vs Georgia – Oh, this game is going to be good! Fully expect the Vols to give the Bulldogs a run for their money. It’s going to be a tight game, but UT will lose, because, they’re UT….duh.

UTSA vs BYU – Anyone else notice that the Cougars are 3-0? No, well, they are, and they’ll 4-0 after this game.

Texas Tech vs Iowa State – The Cyclones can’t afford to have a let-down after beating Oklahoma, but they might do just that.

Arkansas vs Auburn – The Hogs beat Mississippi State last week in Starkville. Let’s see if they can do it again against Auburn. FYI, if they do, I will be laughing, won’t feel bad about it either.

Pitt vs Boston College – Not sure what got into the Panthers last week, maybe a little over confidence, that shouldn’t be the problem now.

Kansas State vs TCU –   Each one of these teams thinks they’re the dark horse of the Big 12 that only has ten teams. Wildcats have the more legitimate claim.

Temple vs Navy- Thing are not well in Annapolis (as if they ever were-Editorial comment). This will be the Owls’ first game of the season and they’re favored. Ouch.

Florida State vs Notre Dame – For a while there, the Seminoles couldn’t handle Jacksonville State, so how are they supposed to handle over-ranked Notre Dame?

Mississippi State vs Kentucky – The Leach-led Bulldogs need to restore some faith back into their fans. Beating Kentucky would be a good way to do just that.  

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