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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 15 Championship Weekend

Welcome to the weekend of Championships. It’s time to decide who lifts the big trophies and who doesn’t, who gets a shot at the title and who gets to play for pride. Head-to-head combat, eyeball to eyeball until someone blinks. There will be no ties, no national media praising Ohio State or Notre Dame, unless they win. It’s the first time in the playoff era where Alabama is absent from the line-up. Yes, us Bama fans are upset about that. No doubt, the earth’s axis tilted somewhat, and rightfully it should, but eras must give way to other eras, and Bama has to sing the woeful lament of the losers;- wait ‘til next year! It is what it is, so let’s see what’s on tap this weekend.

Utah vs Oregon – If the PAC 12 has any hope of putting a team in the playoffs, they need to pull for Utah. Should the Utes lose to the Dodgin’ Ducks, there would be no way a two-loss West Coast team gets the nod. Utah needs to show up with their batteries charged, and lately they have been doing just that. They dropped that game against a mediocre USC team, and that evokes some serious doubts. Oregon, however, is in a much worse position. They lost to Auburn to open the season but since then they played like possessed Ducks until they made that trip to Tempe to play Arizona State, and they left their famed Quack Attack back in Eugene. Now they don’t have a chance of getting into the playoffs, but they do get to play spoiler and go to the Rose Bowl, which is where they’ll probably go to even if they lose to Utah, who still has a chance to go to the playoffs. If the Ducks play like they are capable of playing, anywhere but in Arizona, they’ll more than likely win the game. Utah has a history of not showing up for big games. Will this be the year they get over that hump?, they’ll more than likely choke again. Sorry, PAC-12, no team in the playoffs again this year.

Baylor vs Oklahoma – The first time these two teams met, the Bears jumped on the Sooners like, well, a Bear. Then halftime happened, and in the second half OU mounted the biggest comeback in school history. This begs the question of what will happen in this game? BU, along with the Cousin Carol-Robin, wants revenge, and not just a little, they want serious, hard-core, payback and the Bears are capable of pulling it off. Believe it or not, there is a good chance that the Bears of the Brazos can make the playoffs, provided that, one, they win this game. The only loss they have is to the ranked OU Sooners, so if they get their revenge, it is entirely possible the selection committee will look favorably upon them. And, two, they get some help from Wisconsin, and/or Georgia. Oklahoma however cannot lose, they have a terrible loss to Kansas State on their resume, and terrible might be understating it, as they were manhandled by the unranked Wildcats. So, if they have any hope of making the Final Four, they have to win this game and they have to win big, no falling far behind, because let’s be honest what are the chances they can pull off two big comebacks in the same year? Highly doubtful. BUT if the Jaylen Hurts led team gets the lead, it is also highly doubtful that the Bears can mount a comeback. Despite the fact that I like for my cousin to be happy, there is feeling that Oklahoma is going to win. I’ve said before that Baylor was afraid to beat the Sooners (I said they were afraid to beat Texas, too, and they made me out a liar), so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Georgia vs LSU – Alright, now it’s the SEC Championship game, the epitome of Conference Championships. This is serious College Football. The Bayou Bengals have mauled each of their opponents to shreds. With an actual offense, they appear to be unstoppable. They are going to score in this game and they’re going to score a lot, because, the Bulldog defense is not exactly dependable. South Carolina proved that. UGA’s offense has not set the world on fire either, but they are methodical. A bit boring? Yes. Slightly predictable? Sure. But they are very good, and, when they are playing like they can, they are a force to be reckoned with. The Tigers’, Louisiana variety, defense has their own problems, as in, they let other teams score plenty of points as well. LSU wins by scoring more. Should the Bengals win, they are in the playoffs, no question. If they lose, there is still a possibility that they make it, but it has to be a close loss. If Georgia wins, they’re in the show, should they lose, that earlier USC-South loss will be too much to overcome. LSU is more than likely the best team in the nation, they’ll be the favorite to win, but it’s going to be a tough row to hoe. I’m picking UGA to win. Why? Because we like chaos, and, now that Alabama is out, we might as well go all the way. Let’s go Dawgs!

Ohio State vs Wisconsin – Earlier in the year the Badgers had a chance, all be it a slight one, to upset the apple cart. They failed, and they failed miserably, on the big stage. OSU whipped up on them all game long. It wasn’t even close. Now the two teams meet again. Wisconsin has one chance, and one chance only, to make this repeat performance into a game, a running game. If, and it’s a big freakin if, the Badgers can get that rushing technique going, and mount long, clock-eating drives that end in touchdowns, keep the Buckeyes’ offense off the field, Wisconsin can win. Should they not mount a credible attack it’s going to be a repeat of their earlier meeting. Ohio State will make the playoffs whether they lose or win. We’d like it if Wisconsin wins, no, check that, we’d love it for Wisconsin to win, there’s just not a lot reason to think it’ll happen.

Virginia vs Clemson – In the sure-fire win this weekend, the Tigers, South Carolina variety, are going to beat the Cavaliers. UVA is outmatched, outmanned, and in WAY over their heads. It would be great, from a chaotic platform, for UVA to win, and turn the whole playoff situation on it’s head, but that’s not going to happen. Coach Dabo can scream and yell about how Clemson is not getting the respect they deserve, and he probably has a point, for the Tigers are the defending National Champs, and they’ve shown no weaknesses against inferior competition, and all their competition has been against inferior teams. The truth of the matter is, they are a big cat playing in a pen with kittens. They nearly lost to North Carolina, but nearly isn’t the same as losing. I’m not blaming Dabo, or Clemson, for this. The fault lies with the rest of the ACC conference, but Clemson’s out of conference schedule is weak, too. Clemson will win, get into the playoffs, and possibly  waltz off with the big ice cream cone again.

Short Smokes

Memphis vs Cincinnati – there is a lot of talk about the Tigers, Tennessee variety. Win this repeat engagement – the same teams met last week – and Memphis will get picked for a New Year’s Day bowl. If the Tigers win again, they’ll more than likely get to play on New Year’s Day, but there’s no guarantee. They’ve played a Clemson-like schedule, except for losing at Temple. Don’t get me wrong, we’re pulling for Memphis, and hoping they win, but we’re not betting the farm.

Louisiana vs Appalachian State – The Ragin’ Cajuns are having a banner year, but, seriously, folks, are we really going to pick them to beat the Mountaineers in Boone, North Carolina? No, no we’re not.  

Hawai’i vs Boise State – The Broncos have the same hope as Memphis and they’re hosting the sun-loving, beach-dwelling, Rainbow Warriors in the Idaho cold, on the blue field. Highly doubtful that any of these surfboard Warriors have ever imagined the type cold they could be playing in, much less experienced it. BSU wins, it’s just a matter of by how much.

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