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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 10

Week 10

We have the initial rankings from the College Football Playoff committee, and, of course the Dawgs of Georgia are Number One, and they should be. Alabama is second. As a hard core, die-hard Alabama fan, even I not sure of that ranking. Bama’s secondary is not up the task and the state of the defense is pitiful. It’s not up to the normal standards, that of the Roman legions marching across Gaul, you know, The Standard. Don’t get me wrong, I like Bama being voted high, but, let’s be realistic. Cincinnati has got to be banging their heads against the wall screaming what is it going to take! In the AP poll they are number 2, undefeated with the signature win over Notre Dame on the Irish’s field and yet the committee puts them at number 6. Come on! Give the Bearcats their due. Michigan State, Oregon and Ohio State round out the rest of the top five. Of course, the next five weeks will straighten all this out with Bama- LSU, Bama-Auburn, and (probably) Bama-Georgia tilts. Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, will also be navigating minefields, so don’t get too excited about the rankings just yet – except for poor Cincinnati. Get upset about Cincinnati.

Army vs Air Force – This contest will take place for only the fourth time on a neutral site. It will be played in Arlington, TX. There are two teams in all of college footballdom that run the ball at least 87% of the time, and that would be Army and the Army Air Corps, known recently as the Air Force. So, as a betting person, it would not be wise to place money on either team’s passing attack. Air Force averages just 8 passes per game and they are averaging 318 yards per game on the ground. When they played San Diego State last week, the Falcons were held under 200 yards at 192. This led to them getting beaten because they didn’t have a passing game. AF’s defense has also been shining this season as they are holding opponents to under 17 points per game. This ranks them seventh in the nation. I wonder who their defensive coordinator is, and if he’d be interested in a job at Alabama? Anyway, that being said, one must remember that these Air Force Cadets have only faced west coast and mountain west teams, besides Navy, whom they sank with no problem. Against the Black Knights  of the Hudson, they will face the number one rushing team in the nation.

Army – does not believe in the pass, almost entirely forsaking the aerial game. But, this doesn’t mean that their offense is boring or slow, not at all. Against Wake Forest, who’s undefeated, and the number one team in the ACC, they got into an inadvertent shoot-out and scored 56 points. But, they gave up 70, and lost the game, but that’s not the point. Army offense runs the ball and they are extremely good at it. They average 312 rushing yards per game, and last week they ran for 416 yards. The Demon Deacon Defense is nothing to sneeze at. Now the odds makers, whoever they are, have the Army Air Corps as a three point favorite, they seem to have bought into the flash of the west coast. The Black Knights also have a defense that is allowing on average 92 rushing yards per game, and they did this against Wake. It’s just WF had that dreaded passing attack to fall back on. Neither team In this game is going to throw the ball…much.

What to expect –  Army is going to run the ball the most and they’re going to control the clock keeping Air Force grounded. That is, if the Black Knight’s QB Jabari Laws can hold on to the ball and doesn’t get that “I’m the star of the team” light flashing in his eyes. If he can be a team player, look for the Cadets to have a great game. Air Force, of course, has the same idea, they’re going to try and do the exact same thing, and it just so happens that their QB has the same problem. So, what it’s going to come down to, is who makes the fewer mistakes. Which, of course, according to my editor, the West Point Graduate, that means Army wins! Side note, if Air Force wins this game, they win the Commander and Chief Trophy for 2021.

Mississippi State vs Arkansas –  One of the books that was required reading while I growing up was Charles Dicken’s “Tale of Two Cities”. Can’t help but think of that when looking at these two teams. Each one is 5-3, yet one is ranked in the top 25 and the other one isn’t. And Cincinnati isn’t ranked in the top four. Yet, at the start of the season, the standings were reversed, Arkansas was the darling, and MSU was cast aside. My, how things have changed. MSU Head Coach Mike Leach’s offense has to have a reliable QB that can throw the ball 800 times a game, and be accurate on 750 of them. QB Will Rogers was not up to that task at the start of the season. Now, however, he has grown into his role and it all appeared to kick in against Kentucky when they upset the Wildcats. The Bulldogs, not the Georgia ones, have won three of their last four games and the only loss was against Alabama. This team has come on strong these past couple of weeks, they’re not playing confused, they know their assignments, and it shows on the field. Which is why they are ranked 17th. Miss State should win out, which is possible, and they’ll be going to a New Year’s Day Bowl.

Arkansas – caught everyone’s attention by beating up Texas, and Texas A&M, but since then they’ve lost a lot of wind out of their sails. The main villain was Georgia,  and they’ve been villains to several teams this year. The Razorbacks were exposed as a not real top ten team. Since then, they have fallen to Ole Miss, by one point, and Auburn, with only Arkansas- Pine Bluff there to stop the skidding. So what happened? The Hogs were playing great, and, then, BAM! they’ve lost three straight. The one to Georgia was a given, against Ole Miss, they played very, very well, and could have just as easily won that game. Against Auburn, it wasn’t that the Tigers, Alabama variety, were that much better, it was that the Hogs were suffering from two big let downs, they actually thought they could hang with the Georgia Dawgs, and that didn’t work out, then they did hang with the Rebels and fell short, they simply hadn’t recovered from those losses so they dropped the third game. This team is much better than their record. They control the ball, run the ball, their defense needs a bit of work. If they can just get everything going at the same time, they might be a contender in the West.

What to Expect  – Arkansas is going to take a page out of the Army handbook and run the ball as much as possible. They’re going to do everything possible to keep the MSU offense off the field. The more they control the ball the better. MSU, of course, is going to throw the ball. HC Leach doesn’t change for anyone. If they keep the same rhythm they’ve had over the past few games, they’re going to be tough to stop. Even though the Hogs will control the ball, and keep it for most of the game, they’re not going to be able to stop the Bulldogs, their secondary is not up to the task. The Bulldogs win. Wonder if HC Leach was kidding when he said someday he was going to play a game with nothing but runs, and then play the next with nothing but passes. He’s just wild enough to do just that.

LSU vs Alabama – Two years ago, LSU beat Alabama on the Tide’s home field. This propelled the Bayou Tigers to going undefeated and winning the National Championship. Good for them. For the Bengals to beat Bama at Bama wasn’t the problem, that’s happened before, but what happened after the game was novel.  Head Coach Ed Orgeron, full of piss and vinegar, went on a tirade about how from now on they owned Alabama, that they were better than the Crimson Tide. That didn’t sit well, and the Crimson Tide took it out on the Tigers last year. Some might say the score is settled….hmmmm, NO, IT IS NOT! LSU comes into this game with nothing to lose, NOTHING. They’re not making the playoffs, may not make a major bowl, and, at the end of the season, Cocky Cajun Ed Orgeron is out of a job. (He reminds me of Spanky, of the Little Rascals) So why not leave it out all on the gridiron, and they’re going to. The Tigers are going to pull every trick, misdirection play they can think of.

Alabama –  Coach St. Saban says that there is no place for revenge, that this is not a payback game….if you believe that, I have some beach front property in Arizona that I’d like to sell you. Give you good discount rate. It may be two years removed from that fateful night, but don’t think for a minute it’s not a payback game. There is no way anyone wants the Spanky to leave on a win. No, instead it would be far, far better for him to be reminded just how Alabama dominates LSU. However, Bama has a festering sore, the exact same sore they’ve had all year. That would be the defense, and, more specifically, the defensive secondary. Looking back at some of their earlier games, like, say, A&M, one will see the secondary lined up wrong, not executing their assignments, and looking down-right confused. These problems point to the Defensive Coordinator. This is week 10 and NONE, not one, of these mental error should be happening, but….they are.

What to Expect – LSU is going to play like a fresh and rejuvenated team. They’re going to open up the entire playbook and throw everything, including the kitchen sink, out onto the field, and they’re going to hang with Bama for at least the first half, maybe a little longer. But they’re going to have offensive hiati (that’s the Latin plural of hiatus). It’s what they do, and every time they have one of those hiati, Alabama is going to get the ball and score, and they’re going to keep scoring, and then slowly the point gap is going to grow larger and larger, to where it will be completely out of reach by mid fourth quarter. It won’t be because of Alabama’s defense, no, it’ll be more of the fact of LSU offensive mistakes, and the fact that LSU defense is not going to stop The Tide’s offense.

Short Smokes

Missouri, it’ll be fun for awhile, but Georgia is going to win and win big.

Ohio State has found whatever it was they lost at the start of the season and they’re going run all over Nebraska.

Wake Forest is not going to do to North Carolina what they did to Army, score a lot of points, but the Deacons will score enough to win.

Ole Miss will not extend Southern hospitality to Coach Hugh Freeze, on his return to Oxford, nor to the Liberty Flames.

Minnesota has quietly become good again, and Illinois is going to find that out the hard way

Pitt, what in the devil happened to the Panthers last week? Don’t know, but it shouldn’t affect them against Duke.

There was a time when Kansas would always beat K-State, but that ship has sailed. (In Kansas? No shores, no beaches, no piers, but the ship sailed?)

SMU will stampede the Tigers of Memphis, maybe. Probably. Almost assuredly.

Miami might beat Georgia Tech, then again, they might fall all over themselves and flub the whole thing.

Arizona is still looking for that first win, and they might get it against California, but, then again, this is Arizona

Michigan State better be very careful against Purdue, the Boilmakers upset Iowa when the Hawkeyes were ranked #2 and they’d love to do that again.

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