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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Championship Weekend

Championship Weekend
There are plenty of whiner-babies out there complaining that there should be eight teams, or even more, in the playoff instead of four. Obviously, they don’t understand that this weekend is the first round of the playoffs. Any team that is left out of the playoffs will only have themselves to blame, except Western Michigan, they have a leg to stand on, as long as that leg is not strength of schedule. Winning the Conference Championship is the first step to making the selection committee happy. So to all the precious little snowflakes melting over the format of the playoff, suck it up, Buttercup! Alabama is in, surely, so the format is correct. It’s Championship Weekend and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

PAC-12 Championship
277Colorado vs Washington– No one was happier that the Buffaloes beat Utah than the boys up in Seattle. They know Colorado will be a worthy opponent, but they really didn’t want to face USC again. The Huskies were impressive last week against Washington State. No other way to put it. Their offense was stunning. QB Jake Browning is the best in the nation. He has complete command of the field and his passes are pinpoint. Wow, is he good! “U-Dub” runs the ball very well, too. Those big ugly lineman pushed defenders out of the way all game long. This may have been their best playing of the year, and this is the time to be peaking.. Huskies have everything on the line;- beat Colorado, and they’ll enter the promised land of the playoffs. Look for these Huskies to throw everything they’ve got, including all their trick plays. They’re going to do their best to keep Colorado’s defense off balance, they can’t let the Buffs get comfortable cause Colorado defense is a very tough defense.
Colorado has their work cut for them, too. They’ve won close games this year, turning it on in a whole new gear in the fourth quarter459 This tactic may not work against the Huskies. Washington’s Jake Browning is just too good, so a change of strategy may be in order. They can’t let this guy stand in the pocket and pick them apart. He needs to be under continuous, unrelenting pressure. No exceptions. Second, open up the Buffalo playbook, long passes to get the secondary loosened up to help the running game. And cut out all those Quarterback runs to the left side of the line. They’ve worn out their welcome. My dog even knows when that play’s coming. CU is the underdog, like they have been in all their games. They need to play mistake-free football to win. It can be done, seldom is, but it only takes this once against Washington. Should be a great game to watch, but picking Washington.

Big 12 that only has ten teams Championship
IMG_7790Oklahoma State vs Oklahoma– Ok, there isn’t a real championship game, adding two more teams was more than they could bear. These are the two teams that could win the conference title. Oklahoma State has been on a campaign for everyone to ignore their loss to Central Michigan, and that was a tough one. But, taking the Harbaugh approach to losing (does anyone really enjoy listening to whining?) does not help. They can’t wish away that loss, it happened, get over it. The loss to Baylor doesn’t help their cause, either. For the Pokes to gain the respectability they desire, they’re going to have to stomp Oklahoma into the ground. Not just winning by a point or two, we’re talking at least a two score spread. As it stands, OU is a two score favorite. OSU has the horses to do this, they have a quick strike passing game, a good running game and the defense has shown, at times, but not all the time,IMG_7761 that they can bow their necks and slow down teams. The Cowboy offense is going to score, no doubt about that, so the question is, can they match the OU offense? Doubtful, is the word that comes to mind. Should they beat OU and win the conference title, it’ll be only the second one in the last 40 years. Trump had never won a Presidency before, but he did.
Oklahoma shouldn’t be where they are. They should torn the Big 12 up, and they have, sorta, but no one thinks they can’t be beaten. They are haunted by their loss to Houston, who just lost to Memphis, and the beat down by Ohio State, has given them PTSD. They have the better QB running their game and the defense should be up to stopping the Cowboys. One small problem, they are known for stumbling against the Pokes when it is least expected, like now. Oklahoma will probably come out juking, jiving, and joking, but I see an upset in the making. I have no facts to base this prediction on, but there’s a strong feeling in the Force, Cowboys win.

SEC Championship
098Alabama vs Florida– There is really no other way to say this, so we’ll just be straightforward and honest, Florida could be in trouble. Watching them play against Florida State was disheartening. They have a fantastic running back in Jordan Scarlett, but slamming into the line where the holes haven’t been opened is hazardous to his health. Hard to run through a sea of defenders. Their pass blocking was no better. The poor Florida QB, whichever one they had in at the time, had to run for his life, forget about getting set. If the offensive line had that much trouble with Florida State’s defensive line, how are they supposed to keep Alabama’s defensive line in check? The best weapon the Gators have is RB Scarlett, he’s fast, quick and smart. If they want to have any chance of beating Bama, two things have to happen, maybe three; 1) they have to do what no one else could do, run the ball against Alabama. If they can do that it, will open up the passing game. If they, like all others, fail, all is lost. 2) Alabama shows up and beats themselves by not playing well, like the first half against Chattanooga, and Auburn, turning the ball over, and tackling like, well,017 girlie girls. . 3) The Rapture occurs and the end of the age is upon us. Granted, I wouldn’t sell my truck waiting for this event, but I am Eternally prepared. Still, …the third option is a least likely scenario.
Alabama, to win another SEC title, needs to do two very simple things, 1) RUN THE BALL! Lane Kiffin are you listening? Run the freaking ball! QB Jalen Hurts is not the QB you are use to working with, he cannot make throws like the USC QB’s of your past, and the two previous QBs at Alabama could. So instead, play to your dead-gum strength! You have three fantastic running backs and if you use all three of them, by the third quarter the Florida defense will be so battered, bruised, and plum tuckered out they won’t be able to stop anyone. Then may you call a few pass plays. By the end of the game, Bama’s running backs should be having leg cramps because they’ve run the ball so much. 2) The defense needs to do what they’ve done all season. Stop everything, smother the running game, create turnovers and discourage the Gators. Oh, one more thing….Kiffin, RUN THE FREAKIN BALL!!!!! Alabama wins, Roll Tide!

ACC Championship
265Clemson vs Virginia Tech– This is the game that will have the selection committee sitting on the edge of their seats. Clemson has not been the most dominant or consistent team. They only lost one game, but they could have easily have lost two to three more. And, what’s worse, those games were against teams that they shouldn’t have struggled with. They even had a hard time with Wake Forest, and Auburn! I mean, come on! But, on the flip side, this is a team that I don’t want my Crimson Tide to play in the Championship game. When they are hitting on all cylinders, Tigers have a quarterback that can do whatever he wants to, whenever he wants to. It’s just a matter of which Clemson shows up. If its good Clemson, good luck in beating them;- if its bad Clemson, they’ll lose and their season will be for naught. Some might say they are known to “Clemsonize”, but Coach Swinney says not to use that term anymore. I say, if you don’t want us to say that, don’t do it!
Virginia Tech confuses me. Maybe VA Tech coach Justin Fuente can explain it to us, cause I’m thinking I’m not the only one IMG_7808confused. The Hokies have three losses, one to Tennessee (Vanderbilt beat UT, so, you know), then to Syracuse. They didn’t just lose to the Orange, the ‘Cuse kicked the Hokies around like a rented mule. They lost to Georgia Tech, and that one makes more sense, cause the Yellow Jackets are actually pretty good. They’re not in the Championship game, but, still, the Yellow jackets have a sting. Then VaTech has games where they walk all over their opponents, like beating UNC, 34-3. We’re not talking about beating Northwest Arizona School of Lumberjacks (which, in actuality, sounds like they’d be a rough team), but real legitimate teams. So can this team beat Clemson? Absolutely! Without a doubt they can pull the upset. Will they? Doubtful. If Clemson plays like they’re capable of playing, then, no. But if the Tigers, South Carolina variety, slip up in anyway this Hokie team can and will pounce on them like a Turkey that survived Thanksgiving! Oh, and if VA Tech wins, can you imagine the grief that will cause the selection committee? I’d love to be in that board room….well, actually, I really would like to be in that board room, and, while we’re on the subject, I should be in that board room and on the committee, they need a southern representative.


Great White North (Big Ten) Championship game
386Wisconsin vs Penn State– This should be a “win and you’re in” scenario, but it’s not. The committee has already gotten way too much pressure from the press to put Ohio State in the playoffs, even though they couldn’t make it to the Championship game. I say, too bad, Buckeyes, you didn’t meet the standard. But, I’m not in the room, remember? Wisconsin met that standard. They lost two conference games, but both were to teams in the other division. They gave both Ohio State and Michigan all they could handle, and darn near came up with the win against OSU. Michigan, by all accounts, got lucky. Other than that, the Badgers didn’t have too much trouble with anyone else. They enter this game as the favorite, and they should be. They’ve got QB Alex Hornibrook, who is expected to make this game. He’s young, and has made a few mistakes, but he’s gotten so much better. Just like the entire team has. The offensive line is more like walking trees right out of the JRR Tolkin book, “Tale of Two Towers.” They go where they want to and smack everyone out of the way. This allows the running game to shine. The defense attacks the fight like a Fury. They’re not that big, but you know, “it ain’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”. Gotta like a defensive unit like that!
Penn State is like they should be, nothing flashy, just a basic football team that executes and moves the ball down the field. Plain, simple, but very effective. RB Saquon Barkley is a 1,000 yard rusher and is the work horse of the offense. He’ll need to be at the top of his game Saturday. The defense for the Nittany Lions hasn’t been the stingiest, they give up yardage and points. They’ll need to toughen up and starch their line better if they want that Great White North title. At QB, Trace McSorley has better stats than Hornibrook, he’s thrown for 21 touchdowns with only five interceptions. He’s good, solid and, like the team he plays for, nothing flashy. Wisconsin should win this game. All signs, smoke signals, and Greek Oracles are giving every indication of a Badger Victory…..but, they’ve all been wrong before, too.

North Alabama will be hosting North Greenville in the quarterfinals of the Division II playoffs. They met back on Oct 22nd with UNA rolling all over the Crusaders, 52-21. Greenville, North or otherwise, will be hoping for a different result this time around. Lions will prove too tough to stop. Lions QB Jacob Tucker has been nominated for the 2016 Harlon Hill Trophy (the Division II version of the Heisman Trophy) and he’s not going to link that with a loss to North Greenville. Roar Lions!


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