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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Preview of Week 9


Week 9

The game known as “The Third Saturday of October” takes place this Saturday in Tuscaloosa, with the University of Tennessee taking on the Number One team in college, Alabama. It’s already University of TennesseeFriday, I have received several emails and comments on facebook from my Tennessee friends. Yes, I have UT friends, although I really don’t claim them this time of year. This is one of the all time great rivalries in college football;- it doesn’t compare with Army/Navy or Alabama/Auburn, but it’s still a great one. One of the great rewards for winning this affair is that the winning team members celebrate their victory by smoking cigars! Sensible choice.  For the last six years, Alabama has beaten the Vols, so this year UT is motivated to pull off an upset. After all, they beat No. 11 South Carolina last week and the game before that they came a fumble away from beating Georgia. So Tennessee is no longer content to be the doormat of the SEC East. The Vols have had two road games this season and QB Worley has struggled in both of them, throwing two TD’s and two INTs. They lost both games, one to Florida, 31-17, and the other a dismal showing in Oregon, 59-14. UT is essentially a one-dimensional team, they run, and they average 201.7 ypg. They don’t do quite as well when they pass, averaging 166.3 ypg. Against Alabama, that’s not good. Their ground attack relies upon misdirection and reverses to move the ball. In the last two games, this concept has worked well. Of course, there is something about Neyland Stadium that causes star players for the other team to go down with injuries. Relying on the chance of people getting hurt is not a good plan. The offensive line is going to have to perform against Bama, and they’re going to have to perform well. The big uglies will have to play the most disciplined game of their season, no missed blocks, no missed assignments. On defense, Tennessee has improved the most. They still rank 66th in the nation, allowing an average of 27 points per game. Their main challenge this weekend will be to stop the run, and they haven’t done well in meeting this challenge, ranking toward the bottom of the SEC, allowing an average of 181.7 yards per game, 456 yards in the last two games. On paper the Vols are out-matched, but this is a rivalry game. Stats go out the window and nothing would please Rocky Top more than to spoil Alabama’s perfect season. The first Championship year for Saint Nick at Alabama, the Tide had to block two field goal attempts to squeak by the Vols.

Alabama has been on a tear these last four games. Technically they’ve been on a tear since the start of the season, but it’s been the last five games where they’ve excelled. Since the A&M game, the Tide has seemed to be playing with a chip on their shoulder. They’ve scored 201 points, and crimson_tidethe Red Elephant defense has held the opposition to 16 total points. No matter how it’s viewed, that is lopsided. Now they meet the hated UT Vols. What’s gonna’ be the game plan for the Crimson Tide? The same as it is against everyone else. Run the ball down their throats, with some well timed passes to keep the opposing defense honest. St. Nick doesn’t change what they do, he just expects, no, demands, that they do it perfectly. The Process, do the Process. Don’t believe me? Watch how he and the rest of the coaches get on to players when they miss an assignment, no matter how far ahead the Tide is. It’s “The Process” in action. If they call a run, it’s to work perfectly;- if they call for a pass, it’s to work perfectly. No excuses, just execute each play the way it’s designed and the results will follow. It doesn’t hurt to have Darth Yeldon and Darth Drake in the backfield. Yeldon runs right into the teeth of the defense, daring them to tackle him. Drake sprints by defensive lineman at Warp speed. AJ McCarron, who, in this writer’s opinion, doesn’t get near enough credit for what he’s done, reads a defense better than most anyone in college football. He’s able to determine what they’re doing and can check-off  a play at the line of scrimmage. The big uglies for Bama pound you all game long. They’ve gotten into that mindset where they can wear anyone down as the game progresses. In the second half, it’s usually obvious the opponent’s defensive line is plumb tuckered out. That’s when the yards pile up. Defensively, Alabama is led by CJ Mosely, possibly a first round pick in the NFL  Draft next year. He could have come out last year but he wanted to return as leader of this defensive unit and he has performed brilliantly. Right now, this unit ranks #1 in the nation and nobody is saying Bama doesn’t know how to play defense anymore. UT has a terrible time stopping the run, Alabama’s strength. Tennessee has a terrible time running the ball, this make the defensive players for Bama drool. But remember, this is a rivalry game.  Weird things happen in these games. Bama has won six in a row, but that doesn’t mean anything. This series has always been one of streaks. CSF says the streak for Bama goes at least one more year.

Texas TechTexas Tech is 7-0 with new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who has proven to be a Quarterback Whisperer as his true freshmen Davis Webb is literally lighting up the score board. Let’s see here, new head coach, true freshmen as QB, and TT coming off a losing (?) year. Anybody see this one coming? If you said yes, you’re either a dyed-in-the wool Red Raider fan, or, you’re Lying! The Raiders take on an Oklahoma team that was riding high until they met Texas. Is it time for OU to fall to another Texas team? Maybe. QB Webb did not begin the season as the starter, Freshmen Bake Mayfield did, and he was doing great, with 5 victories and then against Kansas his knee made a bad popping sound and he went down and out. In comes Webb, the offense hasn’t missed a beat, not one. This kid has passed for at least 400 yards in each of his first two starts. Huh? 400 yards per game? Makes you scratch your head in amazement, it doesn’t seem right, but it is. Tech’s game plan will be to throw the ball, they might run, they might not. Running is not high on their Bucket List. To illustrate, Texas Tech ranks 2nd in passing, averaging 416 ypg, 98th in rushing, averaging 131.7 ypg. That’s a HUGE difference. On top of that, they love to score. In only one game have they scored as few as 20, two games they scored in the 30’s, the rest above 40. When they scored 20, it was against TCU, who pride themselves on defense. Now they face another team who likes to play defense. Usually a team like Texas Tech doesn’t bother playing much defense, they just outscore you to win. However, Tech ranks 16th in the nation,  allowing 18.7 points per game. That doesn’t conform with the norm. That’s not to say they shut teams down, because they don’t. Against Iowa State they gave up 35 points, West Virginia, 27. But it sure is nice to know they can stop someone, sometime. Not too often, maybe, but some. Against OU, they’re going to be tested, or, maybe OU will forget to play offense, like they did against Texas. It’s a coin flip.

OU was doing great. Hey, beat up on few minor teams, and then whipped up on Notre Dame, made my Dad so happy, beat TCU and then the wheels fell off against Texas. They played terribly! What in the world happened? CSF says if Coach Stoops sat down and had an entire Toro style OklahomaBolivar Madura cigar to explain what happened to his team that game, he couldn’t do it. They beat Kansas, but who doesn’t. Now they face the Red Raiders who know some “D”. This should be a game. The Bell-dozer is still at Quarterback and before the Texas game he was playing great. Ok, maybe not great, since they rank 97th in passing, but he was playing pretty good. OU likes running the ball, as Clay and Williams are averaging over 4 yards per carry. Let’s hope they spent lots of time in the whirlpool this week getting loose, because they are going to be key for the Sooners. Oklahoma is going to rely on their running game, to grind out the yards on nice long, time-consuming drives. Keep the ball on the ground, get your 4 yards per carry and drive the field for scores. This will be the best defense against Texas Tech, keep the Red Raiders high octane offense off the field. Make them sit on the sidelines for lllloooonnnnggggg periods of time, getting cold and bored. Defensively, OU knows how to play good, solid, smothering D. Will they? Don’t know. If they play like they did against the Longhorns, it’s going to be a bad day. They play like they did against everyone else and they can cause the Raiders fits! They have to put pressure on freshmen QB Webb every time he drops back to pass. Make him move his feet, like in, running for his life, beating feet. Don’t let that kid set up to pass, he’s too darn good. Of course, blitzing has a down side, it makes the D-Backs cover speedy receiver one on one. They won’t be able to do that consistently. The front four of OU needs to get mad and play with De-term-i-na-tion. This is one of those games where Texas Tech wants this game, OU needs this game, and every other game they play the rest of the way. Stanford needed their game against UCLA, and got it. Will OU do the same? CSF says…Don’t know. We’ll have to watch the game and find out.

Out west, (you’re already reading Oregon, aren’t you?) No. 15 Fresno State, 6-0, is taking on San Fresno StateDiego State, 3-3.  Quarterback Derek Carr is one of the best QB’s in the nation and he’s proving it this year. He doesn’t get the coverage of other QB’s, but he doesn’t seem to care. He’s currently second in the nation, with 23 TD’s, and sixth in total yardage at 2, 276. That’s a pretty darn good. The Bulldogs have been rolling all year, and they have their sights set on being the BCS buster. For this, they need to win out, to get the mind set according to Carr;- “Our mind-set is, if anyone is going to play us, we treat it like they are disrespecting us.” So they’ve got a chip on their shoulder. At the moment, they’re 4th in the nation in passing, 64th in rushing. So the chip on the shoulder rests solely on Derek Carr’s shoulder. They also score points by the bushel, their lowest total was 38 against UNLV. In all the rest, it was the 40’s, 50’s and on to 60. Defensively, they have the 16th worst passing defense, giving up 278 yards per game. They’re not much better at rushing defense with an 89th ranking. So, here’s FSU-west game plan. Throw the ball, score a ton of points, and maybe the defense will stop SDSU once or twice. It’s an offensive philosophy, and that’s no pun.

San Diego State started off the season at 0-3, two of those losses were against #3 Ohio State, and then Oregon State (who has gone off on everyone since losing to Eastern Washington). Not too SDSUmany people gave the Aztecs much of a shot in either of those games. They did have one heck of a game with Nevada, winning in OT, 51-44. They haven’t set the world on fire but they are playing better. Head coach Long says, “We’re inconsistent;- at times we look pretty good, other times we don’t look like we even practice.” Going up against FSU-West, they’re going to need to be consistent. Aztec QB Kaehler has thrown for six TD’s and 535 yards in his last two games. No need to explore their rankings, let’s just say they’re not that good. On paper, SDSU doesn’t challenge the Bulldogs, but this is one of those games where things have happened that defy logic. No mathematical formula (as I have been told is the key to explaining the universe, whatever that means) can explain these things. The Aztecs have taken the last four meetings at home against the Bulldogs and lead the over-all series, 27-21. It could wind up being a blow out for FSU-West, or the Halloween spirit of unexplainable events happens and the Aztecs pull the upset. CSF is picking Fresno.

Short Smokes

Florida State beat the daylights out of Clemson, now they take on NC State. TRAP GAME! FSU can’t get high on themselves, they have a history of losing to the Wolfpack. Seminoles win this time.

UCLA travels North to Oregon, ESPN Game Day will be there. UCLA drops another one.

Penn State goes to the Horseshoe to play undefeated Ohio State. OSU has not been impressive, Penn State played great against Michigan. UPSET ALERT! PSU ends the Buckeye winning streak.

South Carolina(5-2) plays Missouri  (7-0) in Columbia. Columbia, MO, that is. The Tigers are in control of the SEC East, it’s theirs to claim. The Gamecocks need a win and they need THIS win. This might be another upset. CSF is picking USC-South, but won’t be surprised if Mizzou wins.

Clemson vs. Maryland. If Clemson loses this one, kiss their season good-bye. Tigers win.

Stanford takes on Oregon State, in the late night game. This could be a game worth staying up for. If Stanford can’t stop OSU-West, how in the world are they going to stop the Ducks? If the Beavers win this game, the Civil War against the Ducks takes on national implications. O-State lost a gimme game at the start of the season, they really, really, really want this one. Beavers win.

Duke-VaTech. If the Turkeys…sorry,… Hokies…which is a Turkey… underestimate the smart, math-working, Blue Devils, they’ll lose. Duke is pretty good. VaTech is becoming very good. VaTech wins.

Oklahoma State beats Iowa State but it’s going to be a close one! Remember a couple of years ago?

Nebraska better not take the Gophers lightly. Minnesota is one of those teams that’s good and getting better. QB Martinez is questionable for the Cornhuskers, but the curse, Pelini not knowing how to wear a hat, factors in and the Gophers win. It all comes down to the Curse of the Hat (COTH).




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