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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Conference Championship Cigar Butts

Conference Championship Cigar Butts

Alabama 35 Georgia 28 – We’ll start with the best and work our way down to covering the rest later. WOW! What a game! For anyone who did not watch this contest, Shame on you, SHAME!!! It looked like the quarterbacks were going to duel to determine the outcome of this contest, and Georgia QB Jake Fromm accepted this challenge willingly. It took a couple of series to get warmed up, but, once he did, he was almost unstoppable! Almost. For at least the first half of the game, he was the star of the show. Fromm was playing so well that the vaunted Bama defense was not merely looking mortal, they were confused, out of position, and getting pushed around the field. At halftime, the Dawgs led 21 -14, but, make no mistake about it, Georgia was in control. Heisman candidate, All- star Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa chose tonight to have his worst performance of the year, and it more than likely cost him the Heisman. He was making bad throws, poor decisions, and threw for two interceptions. But, in fairness, it was not all his fault. His receivers were dropping passes that hit them right in the hands, and these kinds of miscues led to Tua trying to do too much with every snap of the ball. There were two memorable plays in the first half when if the receivers would have just hung onto the ball that was laid right in their mitts, the Crimson Tide would have owned the first half. To start the second half, after Bama stumbles around for three plays, Georgia scores for the fourth time and puts the Tide down by two touchdowns, 28-14. Things were looking bleak for the number one team in the nation. For rabid Bama fans like me, it was bleak, I tell you, bleak. Then, someone turned on the light switch for Alabama’s Crimson Tide. RB Josh Jacobs began busting out runs. Tua connected on a 50 yard touchdown pass to Jalyen Waddle. Now it was 28-21. Though the roof was closed at the Mercedes Center, I’m sure the sun broke through whatever clouds there may have been. Fourth quarter…mayhem. Georgia drives down the field, but has to settle for a field goal attempt. “Hotrod”, as the sure fire kicker is called, misses it wide left. Bama takes over. Tua drops back to pass and is stepped on by his own lineman, ankle is injured, off the field he goes in a friendly-fire incident. I have always maintained that any fire directed my way was not friendly, but I may have to change my tune. Even though Bama fans see their undefeated season slipping away, Jalen Hurts, the former starting QB, who did not transfer after Tua took away his starting role, enters the game and takes command. He leads the Tide on a drive down the field and completes it with a sterling touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy to tie the game. Georgia fans are getting a terrible feeling of Deja-vu. Georgia takes the ball and moves it to midfield, where they have fourth and 11. The Dawgs line up in punt formation, Bama doubts their sincerity, and lines up in their standard defensive front. UGA snaps the ball directly to one of the short men, back up QB Justin Fields, who looks to throw the ball. His receiver is covered, – or is he? Some skeptics, like my editor, think he suddenly decided to run the ball to immortal glory (sarcasm intended), so he tucks the ball and gains two yards. That was nine yards short and Bama now has the ball. Hurts has all the composure he manifested when he was the starting Alabama QB for two years. He guides the offense down to the 15 yard line, 1:04 remaining. He drops back to pass, which by the way, he has been throwing the ball like he’s never done before in his college career, he tucks the ball in a designed running play, and sprints 15 yards for the go-ahead score. First time in the entire game Alabama has had the lead. Georgia drives down the field close enough for a Hail Mary pass to end the game, but 23 Bama defenders knock the ball away from 17 Georgia receivers. It may have just SEEMED there were that many players in the end zone, but there were a lot. Bama wins, I’m able to breathe again, Alabama celebrates being the SEC Champions, and Georgia is left asking, “My gosh, what do we have to do to beat these guys? Their Dawg hearts are cruelly broken….again. Roll Tide. Let’s not ever do this again, ok? Not ever, OK? OK.

Oklahoma 39 Texas 27 – In the Red River Rivalry Repeat, the Sooners came out on top. It looked like the Longhorns had come to play, they were slowing down the OU offense and they moved the ball themselves, but, come on now, everyone moves the ball against the Sooner defense. In their first meeting, Texas was able to stop the Sooners as soon as they reached the redzone. This time, not so much. But that doesn’t mean the Horns laid downed and died, either. They started making marches of their own, but the Horns were their own worst enemy. They made menial mental errors and committed uncalled-for penalties that aided the Sooner “D” in stopping them. At the end of the first half, it was 20 to 14, OU. Okahoma came out and scored first, making it look rather easy, not good for Texas. But QB Sam Ehlinger was not deterred and he led his Burnt Orange team on two touchdown drives in the third period. Now it’s 27-27. However, the fourth quarter was all OU. The Sooners added a field goal, but the game was still within the Longhorns’ reach. Then Sam Ehlinger was dropped in the end zone for a safety, and, even though it was only two points, it broke the spirit of the Horns. For all intents and purposes, the game was over at that moment. Oklahoma added another touchdown with two minutes remaining, but it was mainly to pad the score and run up the numbers of Kyler Murray for the Heisman, nothing more, the game had been decided. Big 12 that only has ten teams championship goes to the Sooners for the fourth straight year.

Clemson 42 Pitt 10 – On the very first offensive play of the game, RB Travis Etienne broke a 75 yard touchdown run, and it looked easy for him to do. That pretty much sums up the entire game right there. Pitt, the scrappers, fought as hard as they could, but they were overmatched and overwhelmed and inundated. The Panthers clawed and scrambled but the closest they came to making it a game was when they scored a touchdown to make the score 14-10. However, all that did was tick off the Tigers, and they poured it on, seemingly scoring at will. Nothing against the Panthers, but everyone knew Clemson was going to win, it was just a matter of how much. The ACC championship goes to the Tigers, again.

Ohio State 45 Northwestern 24 – At times during this Conference Championship game, OSU looked great! Other times, they didn’t, and that’s the gripe about the Buckeyes all year. Both teams suffered multiple turnovers, and made a plethora of mistakes. The Buckeyes amassed over 600 yards in offense, but their defense gave up 418 yards to counter this total. OSU had the game in control before either team came out of the tunnel. The Wildcats are from the weaker division of the Great White North, and they simply didn’t match up well with the bullies from the west. The Wildcats tried, and they tried very hard, but they were out-matched and couldn’t keep up. QB Dwayne Haskins had a good game, and padded his numbers, but, honestly, compared to the other teams in Championship games, like Clemson, Georgia, Alabama, they did not look all that impressive. Coach Meyer said they played the toughest schedule, in the toughest division, in the toughest conference in the land, but you have to make allowances for Coach Meyer. He doesn’t get to watch a lot of SEC football, where it just means more.

Washington 10 Utah 3 – Where did teams from the PAC-12 learn to play defense? This wasn’t supposed to be a low scoring game, much less be decided by a pick-6 , but that’s what happened. Neither team’s offense could drive down the field and score. Utah was using their third QB of the year, and that just wasn’t fair, but he did alright. Washington, who was supposed to have the better offense and a better QB, didn’t fare much better. Defense is what took the day, and who would’a thunk it?

Fresno State 19 Boise State 16 – The Bulldogs from the left coast finally figured out a way to beat the Broncos on the blue turf;- play the game in the snow. With the fluffy white stuff covering the field, it must have neutralized the hex of the smurf turf. Granted, Fresno State had to go into overtime, but they won! Mountain West Champions!

UCF 56 Memphis 41 – at halftime, Memphis led, 38-21. The Tigers were looking good. Then they played the second half. The Knights, with back up QB Darriel Mack Jr., came storming back and buried dreams of a Tiger upset. Their defense shut down the Memphis offense, no more 65 and 80 yard touchdown runs. They weakened a tiny bit as the Tigers kicked a field goal. The high scoring UCF offense added 35 points in the second half and won the American Athletic Championship two years in a row, extending the nation’s longest winning streak. Do the Knights deserve a shot at the CFP? You bet your sweet bippy, they do.

I’m not on the selection committee, but, I should be:
Each and every year I wait for the phone call to inform me that The Committee would like me to join them, but, for some reason, I’ve not received word from them a single time. I’m not sure why, perhaps I should reach out to them next year. But, until they come to their senses and ask me to join, I shall provide you with my picks for the top four teams in the nation.

1) Alabama – They have been the top team in the nation all year long, they have answered every challenge and for those that were wondering if this team could win a close game, question answered. No doubt about it, the Crimson Tide is in. Besides, can they have the CFP without Bama?

2) Clemson – They are good, no doubt about it, they are well coached, have several tons of talent, and that’s just in their starting line, and they play extremely well. They have become the Florida State of the ACC, there is simply no one in the league that can even come close to matching them. The only time they were challenged all year was when they played Texas A&M in the second game of the season and it took an official’s bad call for the game to go to the Tigers. The Daughter still hasn’t forgiven the officials, and if the grudge she carries for John Parker Wilson is any indication, those officials are on the naughty list for life.

3) Oklahoma – The Sooners only had one slip up all year and yesterday they avenged that black mark. They do not have a great defense, so they rely on an explosive offense. That game against Army, where they had to go into overtime to win, does not look good, but the Sooners did win.

4) Central Florida – The Knights have been undefeated for two years. They have not only won, but they have won in impressive fashion. They were challenged in their Championship game, and they rose to the occasion. They deserve their shot. They want Bama, I think their wish should be granted.

The teams that didn’t make the cut

Ohio State – That butt kicking they got from Purdue is just too bad to overlook;- besides, they have not been impressive all year.

Georgia – If they had only one loss, the SEC Championship game, and didn’t have that extra loss to LSU stinking up their resume, they would be in the CFP. Two losses just isn’t going to cut it this year.

Notre Dame – 1) they did not have to play in a championship game 2) They have not been so consistently good all season where the non-conference championship can be overlooked. 3) they played a ridiculously weak schedule. When their schedule was made, they had some big names on it, like Florida State- worst season in recent memory, didn’t make a bowl game for the first time in a generation, or two;- USC – losing season, really bad;- Stanford – didn’t amount to much;- Michigan – Paper Tiger. There is not one win on their schedule that looks as impressive as Georgia’s loss to Bama.

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