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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Preview to Week 7

This past week I was asked why spends so much time talking about SEC schools. The answer is simple;- 1) I’m Southern, 2) That’s where the action is! Other conferences may not like it, people in the North don’t understand it, (by the way, all you northerners, stay up there, we’ve got enough of y’all down here!) and, 3) it enrages other sports reporters, but, the truth is the truth is the truth. Case in point, this weekend there are three games where top 25 teams square off against each other. Two of those games are SEC, the other is from the Great White North.
Alabama vs Tennessee– At the beginning of the season, the Vols’ fan base was fit to be tied. They believed their team was poised for greatness, 081Rocky Top was going to be echoing across the country as opponents fell left and right before the Orange and White. After the first game, that sense of greatest took a major hit. So they reformed the assessment of the team and marketed them as “the Team of Destiny”. They were able to overcome any adversity, they may get down but they’ll fight back and win! Then came Texas A&M, and the Aggies proved to be made of sterner stuff than Ohio University, etc. The Vols have suffered their first loss and it drained them, body soul, and mind. Tennessee was thrilled when they finally beat Florida after losing to them for 11 years. It’s been nine years since they beat Alabama. UT has a major problem in that they can’t hold on to the ball. They have fumbled more times than believed possible, in all their games. The biggest difference last week was that they didn’t recover their own fumbles, A&M did. Now they meet the number one scoring defense is the nation. Alabama’s defense has scored in every game this season, in some, multiple times. This is not the week for 017Tennessee to turn the ball over. They didn’t drop much in the polls, even with their loss to the Aggies. Voters were impressed that they were able to force overtime and have a chance to win, and it was impressive. Last year UT took Bama down to the wire before fading. So the talk is that the Vols have closed the gap, they are now one of the elite teams of the SEC. A good team, yes. Elite? That remains to be seen. Maybe the best in the SEC-East, but, well, it’s the East, you know.
Last week against Arkansas, Alabama did not look very motivated. They won, 49-30, and they jumped all over Arkansas in the first half. QB Jalen Hurts made some great throws and the Bama offense rolled. The defense was dominant as well, for a half. Then they coasted, took it easy, and started lolligagging on the field. Arkansas came back to make a game out of it. Nearly caused St. Saban to have a heart attack at the end of the game. He was so furious with his players he could barely talk to the sideline reporter without it sounding like he was chewing her out. This week they can’t do that! The defense has got to put pressure on QB Josh Hobbs all game long, the front four have to get to him every time he drops back to pass. Even if he gets the pass off, they need to be in a position to knock him to the ground. The Tide has to be able to run the ball, run the ball, run the ball. Grind the Volunteer defense into the ground. UT doesn’t have a lot of depth and the more their defenders are on the field, the better for Bama’s offense. Kiffin! Are you listening? Run the ball! Tennessee wants nothing more than to upset Alabama and end another losing streak. They’re going to be up for this game, they’re looking to recover from meeting another SEC-West team, A&M. Alabama cannot, must not, take this game lightly. I imagine that Alabama players have been getting their butts chewed out all week over what they did against Arkansas. They would do well to listen. Alabama wins. (Since A&M has the week off, The Daughter will pulling for Alabama with all her heart)

ohio state logoOhio State vs Wisconsin– The Buckeyes are heavy favorites for this game. They have rolled up everyone in their way, including Oklahoma. BUT, let’s be honest, it’s not like they had big obstacles to overcome. Bowling Green, Tulsa, Rutgers, Indiana, and, yes, even OU have not been real challengers. So they’ve had five glorified scrimmages. Now they face a top ten opponent. QB JT Barrett has been the star of the Buckeye offense. He runs the ball, (he loves to run the ball), and he kind-of, sorta, passes the ball. At running, he is good. He can read the defensive end and determine whether he should keep it or pitch it and it’s paid off in spades this season. They are talking about him as a Heisman candidate become of his numbers. Passing, not such a strong suite for him. Against Indiana, he was 9-21 for 93 yards, one TD and one INT. Not exactly Heisman-like numbers. Playing Wisconsin, that ain’t gonna hack it. If he can’t at least have the threat of passing, the Badgers will play man on man in the backfield and stack the line of scrimmage. Being one dimensional has worked against the bottom-dwelling teams of the GWN conference and one middle of the pack team in the Big 12 that only has ten teams. The Bucks have had one big quarter in all their games, usually the second. They break out and score 21 points or so in that one quarter and then they have a huge let-down. It’s not because the starters have been pulled, like Alabama, it’s because they start coasting. It’s doubtful that the Badgers are going to follow this script. OSU has loads of talent at every positin, but they haven’t been tested yet. Iron sharpens Iron and they have yet to be sharpened.
Wisconsin has had a interesting year so far. They broke out with that upset win over LSU. Two weeks ago they lost to Michigan, at Michigan, Wisconsin14-7.Tthey held the Wolverines right up to the point of allowing the winning TD. It was a good game, they showed the nation that they’re for real. They hustle. They know their assignments and they execute them. LSU couldn’t run the ball, Michigan State couldn’t run the ball, and Michigan couldn’t do it either. The Badgers’ mind set to make Ohio State pass, cause they don’t think the Buckeyes can beat them passing they just might be dead on. The Wisconsin offense has been the most balanced in years, decades, really. The Scripted “W’s” used to eschew throwing the football, they did it, but they darn sure didn’t recruit any fantastic passing quarterbacks, nor did they develop any. Now they swear by passing;- don’t get me wrong, they’re not becoming Washington State, or Texas Tech, but they do pass. They’re not setting the world on fire in either aspect, running or passing, but they’re trying to be varied. Why do I think they have a chance to pull off the upset? Because Iron sharpens Iron! The Badgers have played three top ten ranked opponents;- won twice, lost once. Now it’s root hog or die time. Ohio State is the clear favorite, Lee Corso will don the Buckeye headgear Saturday morning on ESPN Gameday, BUT they’re all going to be wrong. Wisconsin pulls the upset!

519Ole Miss vs Arkansas– Last year, the Rebels, after losing to Memphis and Florida, could have still kept Alabama out of the SEC championship game. The Rebs simply had to beat Arkansas, and, if it wasn’t for a 25 yard backward lateral flung on a wing and prayer, on a fourth and forever play, that somehow turned into a first down, they would have. Ole Miss could have made the trip to Atlanta for the first time, but they were thwarted yet again. Do you think they don’t remember that game, or that play? Do you think for one second that they don’t have retribution on their minds? If you do, you’re brain dead, and you get an “F” in psychology 101! Hello McFly! Have you not been paying attention? Ole Miss could have won the SEC West! The Rebels want to punish the Hogs for past sins. They want to go up into Fayetteville, AR, and set things a-right! Mississippi has had a week off and they are rested and ready to call down the thunder. Chad Kelly has had an amazing year so far. He is an incredible QB. He can place the ball exactly where it needs to be for his receiver to be the one that makes the grab. If he had a running game to back him up, and if he could stay out of trouble off the field, Ole Miss would be undefeated right now and he’d have his name mentioned as the front- runner for the Heisman. But he plays for Ole Miss, which means he has the mark of Cain on him. UM has lost two, but only one SEC game (Alabama). Unless the Tide drops two SEC games, and they could, in the next two weeks, the Rebs will have to be happy with second, or third, in the SEC. The Arkansas offensive line is banged up as they’ve given up a bunch of sacks and allowed their QB to get knocked around in their last two games. If they can rattle QB Brian Allen and make him hear footsteps, even when there aren’t any, they could shut the Razorback offense down.
Arkansas has dropped two straight games, A&M and Alabama. They’ve fallen to number 22 in the top 25, and, unless they put a stop to their skid054 this week, they’re going to slide right out of the rankings. Since knocking off TCU, the season has shown, and everyone has seen, what TCU is really like. It’s become more of a “big whoopie do”. Wasn’t that the story when Kenny Hill was quarterbacking A&M a couple of years ago? They’ve also defeated Texas State, and Alcorn, and LA Tech, not a top 25 resume, unless you’re Ohio State. Then it’s an amazing resume! When UA has gone against tough teams with real defenses, their offensive line didn’t do well. They staged a come-back, some-what, against Bama but that was more a case of Alabama playing soft than the Razorbacks fighting back. They seem to have had Ole Miss’s number for a while and for some reason they elevate their level of play. Last year was an aberration, no doubt about it, but they do this to Ole Miss time and time again. In a game where they shouldn’t be able to keep up, they’re going to. They’re going to match the Rebels for a while, it’ll be a evenly played game. The fourth quarter will decide who’s going to gut it out. All signs point to an Ole Miss victory, and, in this case, they’re right. Rebels win, but it won’t be as easy as it should be.

Short Smokes

Army crushes Lafayette

Georgia Beats Vanderbilt

NC State is going to give Clemson a much harder time than most folks expect

Minnesota and Maryland should be a very interesting game

Iowa stops Purdue’s locomotive. But, it’s a cute locomotive.

Kansas State just might ruin Oklahoma’s day. Don’t underestimate Bill Synder-led teams. How does he do it?

There will be a shootout in the Panhandle between West “By Golly” Virginia and Texas Tech

Pitt will win against UVA, but it won’t be a convincing victory. Still, a win is a win.


Wake Forest will be playing Florida State and the Deacs have a better record than FSU! When was the last time that happened? FSU wins though, don’t be lulled into a delusion

Kansas will lose big to Baylor. Baylor will win big against Kansas.

USC might not have the easiest time at Arizona, they’ll still win, but something in the air says the Trojans will struggle

Nebraska will also struggle, might even fall, against Indiana

North Carolina is not favored against Miami but they’ll still win

Northwestern has its best chance in a lifetime to top Michigan State, but won’t

Virginia Tech should see some of the sights in Upper State New York while they’re there for the game against Syracuse. Enjoy the fall colors. Oh, yeah, and play a game against Syracuse. Actually, the colors around Blacksburg are probably better than in central New York.

Missouri is going to get chomped by Florida. Chomp, chomp, chomp.

Utah will beat Oregon State, but they’re going to earn it

Texas better beat Iowa State, if they know what’s good for Charlie Strong

LSU is picked heavy to win against Southern Miss, but I miss the good ole days when the Golden Eagles could be counted on to upset at least one SEC school per year. But not the Bengals, so close to Mike’s demise.

Stanford vs Notre Dame, the game of the over-ranked and underperforming. Cardinal wins

Arizona State is not the favorite against Colorado, that’s a story in itself

UCLA goes up to Washington State. The Bruins return with Cougar marks all over them. (Ed. Note: Hmmmm. I don’t think so. Chosen Rosen is gonna shine)

# 3 North Alabama’s game against Florida Tech was CX’d due to Hurricane Matthew. Now they face the Shorter Hawks for Homecoming. Shorter has yet to win a game this year and the Lions of North Alabama have been on a roll. They won’t take it lightly, Roar Lions!


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