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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Big 12 Preview

While being stuck in the middle of the hot record days of August, the one redeeming virtue is that football season is almost here. The temperature is going to start drifting downward, hopefully, and September 3rd will arrive, and all will be well with the world, at least as far as I’m concerned.
When the Big 12 that only has ten teams (this is actually one name, so there are no commas required) had their annual meeting they received a report from a law firm they had hired to research whether or not they should expand to 12 (or more) teams. This law firm took full advantage of this monetary windfall and billed the conference for all they could. Who could blame them? What a stupid study to pay for. First off, they call themselves the Big 12 but ONLY have ten teams! That should have been their first clue that expansion would be a good idea. Second they have fallen way behind the other conferences in terms of pay outs to the schools. How’s that feel to Big 12 schools to know that Purdue, who has produced six wins in the last three seasons, makes more money off their football program then they, the Big 12 schools, do? After hearing the report, which basically said, “DUH! Of Course you need to expand”, the so-called erudite minds decided to table that issue, BUT they are going to have a Championship game. When the Big 12 that only has ten teams falls off the cliff and smashes into oblivion there will be no doubt as to why. Hold it! Just days ago the Big 12 said they are going to expand! Until they do, I’m not going to believe them.
IMG_77611) Oklahoma- Is there any doubt as to which team in the conference is the number one pick? No, there is not. Baylor might have landed in this spot, but instead they’ve got unresolved sexual issues and have fallen apart. OU is the most complete team in the conference, and most of its starters return for another chance at glory. Last year they overlooked Texas and it cost them, but they regrouped and made it to the playoffs. At halftime they were ahead of Clemson by one point, but then the Tigers got it together and came storming back and the Sooners could not answer. Now OU starts the season with a chip on their shoulder. Good! They’re going to need that attitude right out of the gate as they take on Houston, in Houston. They lose that game and they can kiss the playoffs good-bye. QB Baker Mayfield is looking to turn in a Heisman candidate season, along with both returning running backs, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. This gives OU the best proven backfield in the nation. The defense appears to be very solid with its only weakness at Linebacker, where they have only one returning starter, Jordan Evans. IF Oklahoma can avoid being upset by the Cougars, they better not relax, because two weeks after that they have Ohio State paying a visit to Norman. Should they start the season 3-0 they will be hard to stop. No one in the Big 12 that only has ten teams has the firepower to stop the Boomer-Sooners..

2) Oklahoma State- The Cowboys made a run of 10 and 0 and had climbed to the top ten of the College Football Rankings in 2015. But there was IMG_7790something about the Pokes that just didn’t seem right, they struggled against weaker teams but then they took someone like TCU behind the woodshed and laid the wood on them. Maybe they were for real, but, nope, their last three games ended in disasters. They got blown out by Baylor, OU and Ole Miss (Sugar Bowl). What happened? Well, most of their schedule was weak and when it came time to put up or shut up against the big boys, they couldn’t put up. So why are they ranked 2nd in my conference standings this year? Good question! Because Baylor is continuing its slide into the pit of despair. OSU’s offense is predicated on having a QB that can make quick decisions and deliver the ball to the open receiver. Everything is based on speed. Returning QB Rudolph has recovered from foot surgery and is ready to improve on his 2015 performance. He should be able to do just that, and if Oklahoma State takes its defense even halfway seriously, they will be a much better football team. They have to replace more than half the defensive unit. In the third game of the season they meet the Pittsburgh Panthers, which will be a more rugged test than most people realize. The Pokes won some very close games last year, and if they’re not concentrating, they could lose those games this year.

1603) Texas- This is where the rest of the conference gets tricky. No one gives me comfort. Take the Longhorns for example. They have a lot of talent, they have recruited well, and even gotten some top defectors from Baylor, but over the last two years they’ve been a team in turmoil instead of showing signs of cohesion. Most of that can to be attributed to what Coach Mack Brown left behind, because whether the fans want to admit it or not, he left this program is disarray. The biggest question mark has been at QB, where Tyrone Swoopes has been the place holder. He has not performed well. Now the Horns have a gunslinger making his way to town in the form of freshman Shane Gilbert. If he’s half as good as they say he is, it will be a huge upgrade for the burnt orange. They’ve got running backs and they have an offensive line, along with some pretty good receivers. The missing link has been the Quarterback. Defense has got to improve. Last year they gave up 452 yards per game! As a Southerner, that is a disgrace. The Big 12 that only has ten teams is a shootout conference, but, come on, 452 yards per game! DeShaun Watson only gained a little more than that against Alabama! That must improve, or Coach Strong is going to be out of a job. UT starts off the season with Notre Dame in Austin. The best way for them to make 2016 a signature season would be to knock off the Irish to get the ball rolling.

4) Texas Christian – The Horned Frogs came out of the gates in a hurry, racing to an 8-0 start and looking the Big 12 Conference trophy right inIMG_7801 the eye. Which is when it all fell apart. They lost to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, ending all their chances of a title run. At the Alamo Bowl against Oregon, everything looked bleak, like stone cold dead bleak. Two days before the game QB Boykin got bounced out of a San Antonio bar and Coach Patterson then bounced him back to Ft. Worth. At halftime the Frogs were down 31-0 to Oregon. When they came out of the tunnel for the second half, Coach Patterson had changed his shirt and TCU scored on every possession they had to win the game and make one of the most exciting comebacks in the history of college football! Can they build on that? With reports coming out that Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill will the starting QB, it does not look to me like they will. Hill lost his job at A&M after being crowned the follow up to Johnny Football when his ego got the best of him. The entire offensive line has to be replaced except for center. A Patterson coached team is usually solid on defense, but last year that defense became suspect so they’re going to have to prove themselves this year. Meeting Arkansas in the second game will be a great indicator of how they measure up. The rest of the schedule is packed with games they could lose and plenty of games they could win.

5715) Baylor- the Bears’ slide into oblivion should stop here. Should. After last year’s injuries it appeared the Bears were going to claim the top spot and finally make it into the College Playoffs, the world was theirs for the taking. Now they are in such a mess from off the field sexual assault and rape issues it’s a wonder that some of these dads haven’t shot half the team members. This is Texas, after all. Head coach Art Briles has been shown the door, several of the star players have elected to transfer, and it’s up to the rest of the team to pick up the pieces. Can they do it? Don’t know. They still have plenty of talent, and most of their coaching staff, but with stuff spinning out of control it’s difficult to say how their mind set is and how motived they really are. If they wind up in fifth place at the end of the season, they should be happy.

6) Texas Tech – The Red Raiders have an offense that can move the ball and score on just about anyone. They have very speedy receivers, good557 running backs and a returning QB who is capable of putting up some ridiculous numbers. This team likes to score and usually lights up the scoreboard. The problem is that the Raiders don’t keep opponents from lighting up the scoreboard, too. Tech beats mid tier teams, they just run into a brick wall when they have to stop someone. Should the defense improve and actually do what a defense should do, they could break through to the next level. The next level. Just what is the next level? Talk about a moving goal line, … .

5417) West Virginia- The Mountaineers have the same disease that Texas Tech has. All they want to do is play offense. Offense now, offense later, offense all the time. The problem is, football doesn’t work that way. WVU actually played some defense last year and showed signs of improvement. They would be picked higher than Texas Tech if that defense was returning, but, alas, they are not. Of that unit they have only four remaining, and this is not Alabama where losing that many on defense is no big deal. This is West “By Golly” Virginia where it takes a while to get the new guys up to speed. WVU will return to its roots and rely on its offense in shootouts.

8) Kansas State- CigarSmokinFootball, hates to put the Wildcats down this far, it really does pain us, but after last year’s disappointing season, and468 the fact that they have to replace their entire offense line except for the center, it makes it hard to place the Cats higher. Both their QBs are coming off of season ending injuries, and the defense ranked second to last in the Big 12 that has only ten teams. This could be Coach Snyder’s most unbalanced pre-season team he’s had in years. Can he pull something out of his magic hat and prove us all wrong? Yes, yes he can. He’s done it before and we’re seriously hoping that he’ll be able to do it again. But, it doesn’t look promising for the fellers from the Little Apple.

5169) Iowa State- biggest weapon is running back Mike Warren who had a fantastic freshman year. The offensive line will be replacing four starters and the defense has its star safety returning. Yet, despite all that, the Cyclones are up and excited this year. Everyone is looking for new Head Coach Matt Campbell to do what he did with the Toledo team, make them into winners. More than likely, it ain’t gonna happen in his first year.



10) Kansas- Country Singer Terri Clark years ago released a song called, “Poor, poor Pitiful Me” in which she laments about the pitfalls in her life.491 Turned out to be a big hit for Terri Clark. The Jayhawks could sing this song. Last year KU failed to produce one single win. Of course, they didn’t play Wagner, either. Fixing Kansas is not about making the proper adjustments, or a tweak here and there. The newcomers have to step up RIGHT NOW! Everyone on the team has to be better than they were last year. Everything needs to change. The only game where they have a chance of a victory will be against Rhode Island, division 1AA, and they went 1-10 last year. Was their win against Wagner? After Rhode Island, the schedule gets tougher. It is hard to picture KU favored in any of their games.

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