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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 7

Oregon vs Washington – In the heavyweight bout of the weekend, the Ducks fly up to Seattle to take on the Huskies. A Top Ten matchup with both quarterbacks in the Heisman race – and both transfers from previous major college teams.. Both teams love to throw haymakers, and both score a lot. They have each been blowing out their opponents and each squad has had one game where they struggled. The Ducks didn’t do very well at Texas Tech, winning 38-30, their lowest scoring game, back in week 2. Washington is coming off their worst game where they struggled against Arizona, but won, 31-24. Each team has had a week off, each knows what is on the line. Washington QB Michael Penix, according to the gangsters (odds makers), in Vegas have him sitting on the top of the heap as the betting favorite to win the Heisman. The Huskies rely on the passing game, they throw it about 50 times a game, and have a completion percentage of 74%. This offense expects to score and score often. On the other side of the ball, the defense expects teams to score on them and to score often. Just prevent your opponent from scoring as much as your offense, seems to be their mantra. In their last two games, which, let’s be honest, haven’t been stress testers, Washington allowed California to score 32 points, and permitted Arizona to score 24. Zona did take USC to three overtimes, and scored WAY more points against the Trojans than they did against Washington, so maybe the Wildcats are a bit or a test after all. Anyway, the Husky defense does not have the stops or shutdown capability that works in the SEC, where it just means more. Oregon is a different story. Last year they brought in Dan Lanning, considered a defensive mastermind when he was at Georgia, but in his first year, the Ducks “D” was same old, same old. This year is a completely different version. So far the Ducks “D” ranks fourth nationally in points allowed per game. In 2022, they allowed 27.4 ppg, in 2023 they are allowing 11.8 ppg. That’s a huge difference and includes their biggest test so far, where they shut out Colorado and his Prime Time offense! The Quack attack offense is just as high scoring as ever, they run the ball, they pass the ball, and are extremely well balanced. Are they becoming the Georgia of the West? Interesting question….maybe. The odds makers are giving Washington the homefield advantage edge, but don’t be fooled, the Quackers are for real, and it shouldn’t matter where they play. This should be a fun game to watch, lots of action, each team will have their moments, but, as the game goes one, the much improved Oregon defense will begin to put more and more pressure on QB Penix, and once that happens, the Ducks will squeeze the life out of the Huskies. Can “Dub-W” score enough points early to where it won’t matter? Oregon is the pick to win, but won’t pull this game out until mid-fourth quarter.

Miami vs North Carolina – In another top 25 match up, the Hurricanes blow up the coast to North Carolina and take on the Tar Heels. UNC is flirting with the top 10, and at the moment sits at #12. The reason for this is because the sports writers’ egos will not allow them to drop a one loss Texas team out of the top 10, even though it didn’t stop them for doing that to Alabama. The Tar Heels came out of the gate in week 1 and made a statement by beating South Carolina soundly. Since then, they’ve played well, but not against what might be called tough competition, – except for Appalachian State. Drake Maye might be the best QB in the country right now, but the problem is, he’s put up great numbers but hasn’t been tested. Miami has been tested at least once, when they played Texas A&M and prevailed, 48-33. The Canes played well in that game, their defense created the stops they needed when they needed them. The offense clicked right along and it wasn’t until last week that they tripped up and fell on their face when they lost to Georgia Tech. That loss probably belongs to Head Coach Mario Cristobal, who called for a running play when all the offense had to do was take a knee and the game would have been over. Instead, they fumbled the ball, Tech scores a TD, and down go the Canes. Now they face the leader in the ACC and they’ve got a Spectre on their shoulder, whether one of defeat or not, time will tell. The worst thing that HC Cristobal can do is try and over-correct for his mind-numbing, senseless decision, which means that’s probably what he’s going to do. UNC HC Mack Brown knows what he’s got at Chapel Hill, and with a few minor adjustments, this North Carolina football team just might be making national headline news very soon. If there is anything to be said about HC Brown, it’s that he is very consistent, slow, and methodical, and when something is working, he sees no reason to interfere. Right now, the Tar Heels are working.

UCLA vs Oregon State – this is akin to a chess match. Oregon State’s defense is tough against the run, but gives up way too many yards per game in pass defense. They stiffen up and keep teams out of the end zone when they have to – mostly. When they played Washington State, the Cougars’ passing game just killed them, and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that OSU scored three TDs to make the final score respectable. Then they hosted #10 Utah, and completely shut the Utes down. Was this because Utah didn’t have their starting QB, and their passing attack was less than optimal? Maybe, maybe not. UCLA is using a true freshman at QB and, bless his heart, he tries but his youth and inexperience has shown through. The Bruins lost to Utah, but then they beat Washington State. So, each team has a loss, and the other team beat the team that beat them. Got it? Good! Both teams rely heavily on their rushing attack, and both teams’ defensive strength is in stopping the run. OSU’s starting, QB Uigalelei, another of those transfers, this time from Clemson, rarely attempts a pass longer than 10 yards down the field. Over 80% of his passing attempts fall into this category. When he has thrown it down field, he is only completing 51% of his passes. HC Jonathan Smith seems to have doubts about Uigalelei because he has been rotating AB Aidan Chiles in the games more and more, and giving him entire drives, instead of just a few plays. Both coaches need to figure out how to make their passing games a threat, or at least some-what of a threat, so the other team can’t put everyone in the box and dare them to run. UCLA’s QB Moore has done well against less competition, and the Bruins defense has been on a tear of late, they’ve allowed less than two yards per carry against rushing plays, not quite so well against passing plays. UCLA has a stat which says they score 40% of their red zone possessions, but looking at who they’ve played makes that stat deceptive. Oregon State’s defense ranks 89th in the nation against the pass, which should mean a good QB will have a field day, but QB Moore for the Bruins is still a freshman and still makes mistakes, some big ones. Neither I nor the Beaver coaching staff has a lot of faith in OSU’s Uigalelei, but if he can keep making those less than ten yards a pass and not try and push the ball down field, then that should be enough to allow the Beavers’ running game to take over. OSU is a very hostile place to play, just ask Utah this year, and the Ducks from last year, and with freshman Moore making freshman mistakes, its gonna be hard to believe that this is the game where he pulls it all together. Beavers should win.

Short Smokes:

Michigan continues its steamrolling against under .500 teams as they take on Indiana

Ohio State, not to be outdone by Michigan, takes on hard-luck Purdue (although the Boilermakers have been known to give the Buckeyes fits)

Florida State will scalp Syracuse

Arkansas falls again, this time to Alabama

Michigan State needs something good, anything good, but they won’t get it against Rutgers

Iowa State might be making a comeback against Cincinnati

Utah needs Rising back at QB and that might happen against California

Penn State scrimmages against Massachusetts

Texas A&M can redeem themselves (in my opinion)(not that redemption is needed, I was for Bama) by beating Tennessee

Kansas might run all over Oklahoma State

Army breaches the walls of Troy in victory

Maryland needs to recover and should against Illinois

Florida and South Carolina, the hard luck SEC east teams, square off, and the Gamecocks win it cause they’re at home

Wake Forest vs VA Tech…toss up

BYU gigs TCU

Iowa keeps the score down but falls to Wisconsin

Louisville, the new terror of the ACC, continues to dominate Pitt

Something is happening at Arizona, they’re playing much better, and they continue to do so against Washington State

Auburn vs LSU….going to go with the Tigers because it’s a home game, but they could easily lose. Got it? I’m going with the Tigers, can’t lose.

Kansas State is better than their record shows, and they prove it against Texas Tech

USC thinks they’re going to win at Notre Dame, and they should, but for some reason, things get creepy in South Bend and strange things happen. There be ghosts in South Bend, and it is (almost) Halloween

Kentucky and Missouri are battling it out for second place in the SEC East, gotta go with Ken-tuck-y

Duke is going to beat NC State

Boise State will show no mercy on Colorado State in the late game

And the Night Owl game features San Diego State against Hawai’i. Except for the football game, visits to the Islands are pure pleasure.

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