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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 4

Week 4

Duke vs Kansas – My, my, my, the times they are a’changing. Here we are talking about Duke vs Kansas in college football, not basketball, but it’s because what they are doing on the gridiron instead of the hardwood is truly remarkable! The Blue Devils come into Lawrence, KS, with a 3-0 record. That’s right, 3-0, just like in basketball, three wins, no losses! The irreverent Dukies destroyed the Temple, didn’t have to go to Ireland, but still beat Northwestern, and NC A&T. Head Coach Mike Elko is enjoying a fabulous honeymoon with the Blue Devils. Last year the game against KU was one of only very few highlights that the Durham-based team had, but 52-33 wins can be legitimate highlites. In 2021, the Jayhawks, were one of the worst teams in the country, at 2-10. They were last in scoring, and their defense was, at best, porous. This year, so far, KU has flipped a switch and become an offensive powerhouse, both in the air and on the ground. Can you believe this? The Jaybirds are averaging 453 yards in total game offense tallying 53 points per game, and their defense has been consistently stopping other teams.  What the heck is going on here? Duke is going to have their hands full against the Jayhawks, as this will be the Blue Devils’ toughest outing to date. KU is playing tough, and their offensive line, all returning starters, have allowed only one sack on QB Jalon Daniels. The outcome is going to hinge on whether Duke can break through that tough offensive line, and make QB Daniels make quick decisions, instead of leisurely taking all day and finding the open receiver. If Duke can manage to upset the timing and rhythm of the KU offense, they’ll upset the Jaybird nest and win the game. The powers-that-be, whoever they are, are giving J-Hawks the advantage and the odds-on favorite to win, and it’s tempting to go along with the crowd. However, Duke is my pick, mainly because Duke having success in football has happened before and it wasn’t that long ago. Kansas, however, hasn’t been good since….well, a long time.

Arkansas vs Texas A&M – I know a particular person who is more than just a wee-bit worried about this game. That’s right, it’s The Daughter. Her Aggies have not been playing up to expectations this season. A&M is coming off their win over Miami, after losing to App State the previous outing, both home games. Hence the hope in Aggieland. But, looking at that Miami game a bit closer, one can see that it wasn’t the Aggie QB change, or the running game suddenly stepping up, or the defense becoming dominant. Nay, nay, it was principally due to the fact that Miami receivers could not catch the ball, even when it hit them right in the hands. There were more dropped pass here than at a high school prom. A&M QB Johnson was a step up against Miami, not a real big, Texas-like step, but a teeny little baby step, the rushing attack has good running backs but they look like they’re running in muskeg (look it up if you don’t know what muskeg is). The A&M offense does not appear to be together, they allow sacks, they’re not opening up rushing lanes, and they look anemic. Which is not good because the Razorback Defense leads the nation in sacks, and it’s seventh in the country against the run. The principal weakness these Hogs have right now is that their secondary is a bit sub-par, but does anyone believe that Aggie QB Johnson is the one to exploit this weakness?  The Arkansas offensive has a very balanced attack relying mostly on the run, but QB KJ Jefferson is a proven leader and is completing 70% of his passes, unlike Miami. If A&M is going to barbeque the Hogs, they have got to stop the Arkansas run. Not only that, but the Aggies have to do something they haven’t done all year, control the clock, maintain possession of the ball. A&M is one of the worst teams this year at holding on to the ball for any extended period of time.  In this series Arkansas holds the overall lead, but A&M has been the dominant team in the past ten years. A&M has been given the slight advantage, not sure why, but they have. It is going to take a very impressive performance for the Aggies to win it. With all the talent that they have Head Coach Fisher has yet to be able to take advantage of it. Arkansas is going to win, and it might not be pretty. Have you ever been in a hog stampede?

Florida vs Tennessee – It appears that this rivalry is back. After 8 years of Florida dominance there is more than a good chance that Tennessee can win this game! Shocker! UT has been playing good hard nosed football, and they have confidence. Playing against Ball State and Akron will do that. QB Hendon Hooker has been playing very well, he has yet to throw an INT, and they ran the ball well against Akron and Ball State. But, last week against Pitt, the run didn’t work AS well. Florida, however, has been running the ball extremely well and getting their ball carrier into the secondary has been their bread and butter. Passing has taken a backseat, mainly because after QB Anthony Richardson turned in a very impressive performance against Utah, he seems to have forgotten how he did it. The Gators’ pass game has been widely inconsistent, at best, and border-line disastrous. If the Vols can stop the run and make UF rely on the pass, that will play right into their game plan. Florida has yet another problem;- against South Florida last week, their defense got hammered by the Bulls’ running game. The Gators won but their run stoppage has got to improve. The Vols rushing attack will be a step up from South Florida, and if UF doesn’t do something to stop it, that Gator defense could end up winded late in the game. One other thing to consider and that is that this rivalry has been dominated by Florida recently. If the Gators can jump out to an early lead it might just be enough to mess with UT’s mindset and keep the Vols buffaloed for another season.  Big if;- they’re playing in Knoxville, not wading through the Swamp.

Baylor vs Iowa State –  Baylor was very impressive against Texas State last week, and they needed to be after that double overtime loss to BYU. The Bears of the Brazos play very well at home but seem to be a little out of sync when they are on the road. Baylor is averaging 43.7 points per game with the Cyclones only averaging 31.7 points per game. So offensively, BU has the advantage, but defensively the Cyclones have a big advantage. ISU got over their psychological hump when the beat Iowa or the first time in eight years. Iowa State hasn’t started a season at 3-0 since 2012 and they haven’t started a season at 4-0 since 2000. With all the players that HC Campbell has had to replace and for them to keep on winning shows that they are building a solid program up in Ames. However, Bear Head Coach Dave Aranda is making very good strides in that same direction in only his third year. The last three meetings have been decided by a grand total of 11 points, and Iowa State has won the last two in Ames. Both teams are looking to run the ball into the ground and control the time of possession. Whichever team has the most success on the ground will be the one that ekes out a win. It’s is going to be close and it’s going to come down to the wire. Gotta go with the Cyclones as they have the home field advantage.

Short Smokes:

Georgia will demolish Kent State

Michigan shouldn’t have too much problem with Maryland

Clemson will have problems against Wake Forest and could even lose to the Demon Deacons

Penn State runs the score up on Central Michigan

Auburn and Missouri battle it out to see who is at the bottom of the SEC

Poor UCLA. They’re 3-0 and they can’t get people from LA to come to their games. Maybe they’ll do better playing at Colorado this weekend

Texas takes on Texas Tech and the Horns should stampede the Raiders

North Carolina, if they want to be taken seriously, the Heels have to beat Notre Dame, at Chapel Hill. If they don’t, oh, well, we’ll hear the, “Notre Dame is back!” chorus.

Minnesota has Michigan State right where they want them. The Golden Gophers could be the surprise Great White North team this year

Oregon is going to do all they can to try and stop Washington State, not sure the Ducks are up for it

Ole Miss should not have big problems with Tulsa

Rutgers might, just might, beat Iowa. I’m not saying they will, but there’s a distinct possibility

Alabama is favored against Vanderbilt. So?

Wisconsin could pull the upset of the year against Ohio State if the Badgers would somehow learn to pass the ball

NC State improves to 4-0 against UConn

Kansas State might have been looking forward to this game against OU when they lost to Tulane. Can the Wildcats recover?

Boston College will try and stop Florida State. Doubtful.

USC should not underestimate the Beavers from Oregon State. Something is going on in Corvallis and it’s not being noticed much. Beaver dams are tough to overcome, you know.

Utah beats up on a downtrodden Arizona State team

Stanford is going to have a gloomy visit to Seattle as they take on Washington

North Alabama is going to have their hands full as they host Tarleton State, but the Lions will Roar to victory!!

Go Army! Beat navy!

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