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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Preview Week 13

The weekend before Thanksgiving is always an interesting time. Schools are flooding students with tests before the break, which is never fun. It’s the last free weekend families get before they have to spend time with their own version of Cousin Eddie, or drunk Uncle Joe. Everyone is getting set up for the Christmas s Season, which just happens to coincide with College Football Bowl Season! No wonder it’s called the most wonderful time of the year! But this is Set-Up Saturday, so let’s see how the teams are setting up.


Everyone and their drunk Uncle Joe knows that Florida State is going to win the Atlantic division and be in Charlotte, NC, for the ACC 202championship game, even if they lose their last two regular season games. Though remote, this possibility, believe it or not, just might happen. The Seminoles finish their ACC schedule this weekend with Boston College, who is currently at 6-4. Eagle losses were at the hands of Colorado State, Pitt, Clemson and Louisville, teams that FSU has beaten, or, more than likely, would beat. But here’s the catch. Remember all the way back to Sept 13th? BC played USC in Boston, at night, and the Trojans were ranked 9th in the nation. Tommy Trojan was patrolling the sidelines, (what is the review process of committee members for next year? Anybody know?) and football buffs generally thought this was going to be a laugher of a game. It was, only it was the Eagles doing the laughing. Can they slay another top ten team? Yes, they can. Boston College relies on a ground game, clock-controlling, grinding out the yards, offense. Should they get ahead, like nearly every other team has against Florida State, it’s going to be difficult for the Seminoles to mount a comeback when they can’t get the ball. FSU is not the best at stopping the run, either. On talent alone, FSU should win, but this might be their toughest test thus far.

LouisvilleLouisville plays semi-ACC member Notre Dame. Both teams are 7-3, both have held the lead against Florida State, and both lost. The Cardinals can’t make up their minds at the moment, win, then lose, win, lose, it’s maddening. Notre Dame is in a self-inflicted free fall, plunging toward the earth at break neck speed and can’t seem to find their Golden Parachute. This situation brings great pleasure to some people I know, and I won’t mention my editor. By name. Now. UL will be relying on freshman QB Reggie Bonnafon, replacing Will Gardner after the sophomore injured his knee and is out for the season. This will not be the first time Bonnafon has started, he was the starter earlier in the season. Against ND Coach Petrino wants him to make smart decisions. Easier said than done, in the heat of battle. No Mistakes, no heroics, just smart decision-making. The best news for the Cards is that they expect to get four or five defensive starters back from injuries. Notre Dame has been scoring points and knows how to move the ball, they just can’t hold on to the ball once they get it. Everett Golson is the best player the opposing team could possibly have. He throws interceptions and every now and then he’ll fumble the ball away. The Irish have turned the ball over 23 times this season, 19 of those have been attributed to Golson in the last seven games. With this type of play, the opportunistic Cardinals are going to beat the Irish, IF, … remember that smart decision-making statement?

Virginia has to win its last two games to make it to a bowl game and save Coach London’s job. Gonna be kind of tough against Miami, but the Cavaliers have shown they can pull an upset. Clemson takes on Georgia State before their season ending game against South Carolina. Pitt gets Syracuse and Virginia Tech faces Wake Forest. Duke and North Carolina play on Thursday night. If Duke wins their last two games they win the Coastal Division. They drop one and Georgia Tech wins it. The Yellow Jackets have this weekend off as they get ready for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Big 12

The Napoleon complex conference, the Big 12 that only has ten teams, has spread its schedule out so that all teams end their season on the first weekend of December. You know, when everyone else is playing a conference championship game, they’ll be playing a regular game. So, this weekend doesn’t set up much, Baylor needs to win out, TCU needs to win out and hope Baylor losses, K-State, yes, the Wildcats are still in the hunt, need to win out, which would include a win over Baylor, and then hope TCU drops one. K-State plays West Virginia, also on Thursday night, so they will either be on the road to higher planes or have already bowed out.

What might be the most intriguing game of the Big 12, that only has ten teams, Kansas vs. Oklahoma. Ok, ok, I hear you snickering, I get it. OklahomaWhen I first had this thought I snickered as well, but let’s take a closer look. The forelorn Jayhawks have been playing like they believe they can win, and they darn near pulled it off against #4 TCU. Sure, you can say they got lucky, the ball bounced their way, that catch was one in a million. All that is true, but last year Auburn rode that kind of luck all the way to the BSC Championship game and came within seconds of winning it all. What was it that golfer Lee Trevino said? “The more I practice the luckier I get.” Which seems to apply here to KU. They are a different team under Clint Bowen. OU hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, either. They swamped Iowa State but everyone else they’ve played has given them some sort of a game. Should KU get the luck they’ve practiced for, and OU stays in their rut, we’re looking at a huge upset. What will that do for Coach Bowen’s chances of a permanent hire?

Baylor has this thing with Oklahoma State, they just can’t seem to beat the Cowboys. Since 1996, when they started playing each other every year, the Bears have beaten the Cowboys twice, once in 2005 and again in 2012. That is not a good record. The Bears are favored by 27 points come Saturday, and if I was a betting man, I’d take that bet in a heartbeat. OSU has been playing youngsters all season long, because, well, that’s all they have, but they’ve gained enormous experience. The Pokes are one win away from becoming bowl eligible. Lest we forget, this was also the team that took Florida State to the brink of an upset in the first week of the season. Wonder if the committee remembers this? I doubt it. Baylor has to win out to claim the Big 12, minus 2, trophy. They’ve already tarnished their resume by losing to unranked West Virginia. If they lose another one, we might wonder if Art Briles will pick up the phone call from Florida?

Texas Tech will battle Iowa State for the last spot in the conference. Watch this game turn into a huge barn-burner, because nobody wants to be last.

Great White North

For the Frozen Snowball Trophy, which, after all the snow and cold weather the nation has received in the past week, seems rather appropriate for the Great White North, Ohio State is in firm control of the East. They have Indiana and Michigan left and we’re going to go out on a limb here and say they’ll be favored in both. But here at CigarSmokinFootball, we are risk takers. In the West, things are little bit more interesting. Wisconsin has an edge, but they still have to play Minnesota, who is playing Nebraska this weekend. So the Gophers hold the keys to the West’s future. Ski-U-Mah! (that’s a Minnesota cheer). Nebraska has graciously decided to host this game, which means it MIGHT not be as cold as it would be in Minnesota, but that’s a might. The Cornhuskers have been licking their wounds all week after getting embarrassed by Wisconsin. I hope they’ve worked on their run defense because Minnesota runs the ball, maybe not as effective as Wisconsin did, but they’re still pretty good at it. Minnesota’s worse lost was against TCU. Even Ohio State couldn’t completely put them away. Ski-U-Mah does not give up, they play tough all game long. Besides, Nebraska still has to deal with the Curse Of The Hat and it’s going to cost them again Saturday. I don’t see how the team that has a coach that eats ice cream bars on the sidelines, during a blizzard (Minnesota) loses to the COTH.

386Penn State, who will be going to a bowl this year, takes on Illinois, who, more than likely, will be looking for another head coach at season’s end. At least, that’s the rumor. Northwestern, the only team to upset Wisconsin within the conference, will take on Purdue. Rutgers would love nothing better than to beat Michigan State. They’re going to still be hoping for that next year. Hope is never a course of action. Sparty wins. The running Badgers encounter Iowa, who, surprisingly, is doing pretty well. No one is really talking about them, but the Hawkeyes are at 7-3 and not doing too badly. If Northwestern can upset “W”, why can’t Iowa? Wisconsin is coming off a huge win, they might be a bit overconfident and overlooking this game. If they are, they’ll lose, but CSF is still picking the Badgers. Then Michigan, who needs this game, hosts Maryland, if the Wolverines don’t win this one, it’s doubtful they’ll make it to a bowl.




This is the weekend that all the SEC haters love. They love to point to these games and say, “See! They play weak schedules.” What they fail to realize, or choose not to remember, is that their schools were doing the same thing, just at the start of the season. The SEC is notorious for playing soft the second-to-last weekend. This way, they’re mostly healed up for the final push and championship game. Florida plays Eastern Kentucky, Georgia vs. Charleston Southern, South Carolina vs. South Alabama, Alabama vs. Western Carolina, and Auburn vs. Samford. The SEC should win all of those. If they don’t, I’m blaming Florida.

Ole Miss plays Arkansas, who just won their first SEC game under yankee Coach Bielema. Can they pull the upset against the Rebels? Mississippi had the week off and needed it. Two of their star players, Treadwell and Nkemdiche, are out for the season, but tackle Tunsil and535 safety Prewitt are going to be back in action. UM still has a chance of winning the SEC West for the first time. They need to beat the Razorbacks and then Mississippi State and hope Auburn beats Alabama. Hope is never a course of action. If this does happen, they will go to Atlanta! I will be most upset because that will mean my Tide will have lost to the Tigers, Alabama variety, two years in a row! But we’re talking Ole Miss/Arkansas. The Hogs run the ball, everything they do is predicated on how well the running game is operating. If they can’t get the run game going, they’re sunk. Ole Miss doesn’t have a running game. I sure hope Coach Freeze recruits a power running back. They rely on the arm of Bo Wallace. How Bo goes, they go. When Bo is on target they are a very good team, when he’s not, maybe the defense is good enough to save them. Should be an interesting game. LSU had a power running game and wore down the Rebels. Arkansas will be looking to do the same thing. However, the Hogs are not good at defending the pass and the Rebs are pretty darn good at passing. Of course I’m picking the Rebels, and not just because of family ties. Ole Miss is a better team and they have a reason to play for.

#20 Missouri finds itself in the lead of the SEC East for the second year in a row. All they have to do is beat Tennessee and Arkansas and they’re in. No problem right? Both the Vols and the Razorbacks are at the bottom of their divisions and no one expects much from them. In the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend!” Since Joshua Dobbs has taken over for UT at quarterback, the Vols have been a different team. He has been on fire. They’ve beaten USC-South and Ken-Tuck-Y. Not bad. Back when I was on a football team that was struggling, my dad taught me a quote attributed to Napoleon, “One man, in the course of a battle, can rise up and change the course of the War.” I’m not sure if that’s exactly how it goes, but it’s what I remember. Dobbs is a perfect example of this man. He rose up and the entire team has upped its standard of play. The defense is playing much better, the offensive line is actually blocking If they continue, they just might beat the Tigers, Missouri variety. Mizzou has been the silent team in the East. Everyone has been talking about Georgia, and if the Bulldogs could play every game like they did against Auburn we’d be talking about nothing but the Dawgs. South Carolina and then Florida flashed, only to fall back into the abyss of mediocrity. Missouri, meanwhile, has gone about winning the East. They did lose to UGA pretty badly, like, shutout, and then there’s that Indiana game. How did that happen? Still trying to wrap my head around that one. The Tigers, Missouri variety, have not dominated in one category or another, they just play and don’t stop. The defense doesn’t shut down anyone, but they’ve done enough to win, Their offense isn’t a master of the run or the pass, but here they are at the top of the SEC East. Look for this game to be a nail biter for both teams, but the Tigers, Missouri variety, win.


Mississippi State looks to avenge its loss to Bama by taking it out on Vanderbilt.




Oregon will win the Northern part of the PAC-12, Duh. They’re the only school with a winning record in conference play in that division. So, they could lose their next two games and still be the top dog of the north. Of course they will be in the playoffs. The Ducks should do just fine against Colorado Saturday. Stanford and Cal resume their hatred toward one another, both are at 5-5, but the Bears are playing better. Oregon State travels further north to take on Washington where the Huskies are pretty good in Seattle. In the south, things are a bit different. USC has the lead, but only because they’ve played one more conference game. They take on UCLA, more on that later. Arizona State, who tripped all over themselves against Oregon State, gets to take on another Northern school in Washington State, but since it’s in the desert, we’re going with the Sun Devils. All they had to do was win and the Southern title was theirs. now it a huge mess. Four schools have two losses in the conference.
Arizona takes on Utah. The Wildcats still have a chance to win the title. But first, they’ll have to defeat the Utes who are surprisingly resilient. UA will continue to run their hyper speed offense in hopes of putting mega points on the board, but the problem with that plan is that the main strength of Utah is their defense. If the Wildcats don’t Bear Down and dominate from the start of the game, it’s not a good idea to rely on late game heroics two weeks in a row. Utah, who is not very good on offense, bless their hearts, has been able to pull out the plays when they need them. They have played in three overtime games this season and won two of them. I doubt this one will go into overtime, but it’s being played in Utah, and, let’s be honest, desert teams don’t play well in the cold.

055USC plays cross-town rival UCLA. I hope they both wear their home jerseys for this game. Both teams are pretty much out of the playoffs but that will not deter Tommy Trojan from storming the field should he feel fit to do so. How is Pat Hayden still on that darn Committee? USC’s Sarkisian, when he coached up in Washington, lost two of the three matchups against the Bruins. Does that mean anything for this game? You bet it does! He, of course, is doing his best to downplay this, but the truth is that Coach Jim Mora has his number. UCLA quarterback Hundley has had to go through some serious growing pains this season. At the start of the season his teammates were reported as not being fans of his. Even the coaches had problems with him and his attitude, which may explain why the Bruins played the way they did. Since losing to Utah and Oregon things have improved. They’re not dominating, but they are playing better, and winning. Against the Trojans they need to run the ball effectively. If Hundley wants to be the hero of the game and take it all upon his shoulders, he’ll cost them the game. Let’s see how much he’s grown up. USC, meanwhile, has been living with the pass. QB Kessler is tied with Oregons’ Mariota with 29 touchdowns. Last year in this game, he didn’t play very well and was knocked on his butt a lot, but the offensive line has vowed to protect him better this time around. If they want to win, they’d better, because their running game isn’t up to the challenge.

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