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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 16

Week 16

Hello Championship Weekend! We are way deep into December and we’re just now getting to determine who the champs of each conference are gonna’ be. This will leave little lead time as to where teams will be traveling for bowls. But, travel they will. Time to separate the men from the boys! Let’s Get It ON!!!

PAC-12 Championship Game.

Oregon vs USC – in the first of the Conference games, we already have the first shake up. It was supposed to be Washington vs USC, but, due to the fact that the Huskies didn’t meet the standards of how many scholarship players would be available, the PAC-12 replaced them with the second ranked team. Sucks for Washington, what a break for the Ducks! If this was some other conference, like, say, the Big Ten, they would just change the rules to allow Ohio State to play. After all, what are rules for? The Trojans come in undefeated in conference play, (5-0). In three of those games, they had to come back from behind. They’ve had their struggles, but to the Men of Troy’s defense didn’t quit, they kept tackling, and covering receivers, and enough broke their way that they find themselves vying for the title when few, including me, thought they’d be here at the end of the season. Oregon is scheduled to play USC Friday night for the title, and then play Colorado on Saturday. I doubt both those games will happen. The Ducks began the season very well, beating Stanford and Washington State. Oregon won against UCLA, but it was close. Then, Oregon State and Cal put the Ducks on a two game losing streak. The Ducks aren’t bad, they just seem to be missing that knock-out power ingredient that they’ve had in the past. Fully expect this game to be close until the fourth quarter, then USC is going to pull away and add another notch to their belt.

Big Ten Championship

Northwestern vs Ohio State – I don’t feel comfortable calling this the Championship game, considering the conference broke their own rule about six wins, but the GWN Conference couldn’t stand to see OSU excluded. The questionably deserving Buckeyes have an undefeated record, but they’ve only played one team that was a contender, and that would be Indiana, and if the Hoosiers had gotten over their stage freight just a bit quicker, it’s possible they would have pulled out the “W”. What? Do you mean that each team has a chance to win every time a game is played? Ohio State has talent, no question, they are well-coached, no question, but their defense is porous and they haven’t closed the gap from where they were at the start of the year. That’s only been five games, not even half a regular season, bless their hearts.  It’s hard to believe they’ll be able to completely stop Northwestern’ s attack. What they have to avoid is for the Wildcats to slow down the Buckeye offense just enough to make the game close. The Cats bring in a legitimate record of 6-1, every game they’ve had, accept Maryland, the scoreboard says, was close. But looks can be deceiving. Against Wisconsin, where Northwestern won by ten points, the Cats literally beat the Badgers all over the field. The same can be said about the Illinois and Purdue games. NW is not flashy, and they’re not dynamic, but they are very methodical, and they pound the opposing team into submission. This evenly-balanced attack may very well work this weekend, but they can’t make mistakes, none, if they want to snag the title away from Ohio State. It’s our belief that EVERYONE in the nation, outside Ohio, is pulling for them. It’s gonna’ be tough, but it can be done. Each team in a football game has a chance to win, contrary to the beliefs of the Great White North Conference.

Big 12, that only has ten teams, Championship Game

Oklahoma vs Iowa State – This is a rematch of a great game earlier in the year where these two teams went back and forth, ending only when ISU intercepted OU Rattler’s pass in the endzone to seal the victory. Since then, the Sooners have been on a tear, winning six straight games, which is still more games than Ohio State has played, and not a one of them has been close. OK, Baylor was only beaten by 13, but the others have been blow outs. Rattler, at the start of the season, did not measure up to all the hype that he had been given. Since losing to K-State and Iowa State, the kid has turned the corner and become a different QB, and not the kind the rest of the conference was hoping for. Now he, and the Oklahoma team, has a chance for revenge. Of course they’ll all say the right words, like, “it’s just another game”, “we’re treating this like we would any other”, and “we only look at one game at a time”, and to all that we say, “Bullcrap!” The Sooners want revenge, they want it so badly they’re going to have trouble sleeping at nights. They want to blow the Cyclones out of the stadium, and they’re capable of doing just that. Never in my lifetime, did I think Iowa State would play for a Conference Championship, and since they haven’t won a conference title since sharing the 1912 Missouri Valley Conference Title with Nebraska, it was a valid thought. Now here we are 108 years later, and these pesky Cyclones are ready to take on OU for the title. The Sooners may be playing for revenge, but ISU is playing to make their mark in history. The job that HC Campbell has done cannot be over stated. This team is tough on defense and they are very well balanced on offense. They have a fantastic RB in Breece Hall, who is hard to stop. The defense has been the major key to their success, they are rarely out of position, and there is seldom just one player around the ball when the tackle is made. Most people are picking Oklahoma, but, not here. No, these Iowa State boys are going to write their names into history and take the title.

ACC Championship Game

Notre Dame vs Climpson – here we have another rematch for the conference crown. When these two teams met before, the Irish prevailed in a double-overtime game, where the long-haired hippie, want-to-be QB Lawrence was absent. Lawrence does make a difference, as does this game being played at a neutral site instead of South Bend. But when these teams played before, it was not the quarterback play that kept the Tigers from victory. D.J. Uiagalelei threw for 439 yards and 2 TDs. However, all-time great RB Travis Etienne was held to just 28 yards on 18 carries. What the Irish accomplished was they made Clemson a one-dimensional team, and it worked. The game was close, no argument, but the results speak for themselves. The other problem was with the Tiger Defense, which could not stop the Irish. Brent Venables could not come up with a scheme to prevent ND from moving the ball and scoring. This game will be different, but mostly the same.  Notre Dame’s Defensive Coordinator Lea, who was just named the new Head Coach at Vanderbilt, will try and do the same thing he did last time, make Climpson a one trick pony, even though that one trick pony is a very, very good pony. Climpson has to do something different to stop the Irish march. Maybe they’ve learned more and grown better, although they have not been outstanding this year at stopping teams with a strong running game. For the past five years Climpson has had a strangle hold on the ACC title, no one has even come close to loosening their grip. Heck, even the ACC Championship game has become a running joke, it’s been so lopsided. For the first time in a long time, the orange and purple Tigers will be challenged for the crown. The odds are that Climpson retains their crown. Many so called sports writers are drooling over the prospect of Notre Dame winning, as they like nothing better than to slobber over the Irish. If ND gets blown out, they’ll lose any chance they had at the playoffs. The same goes for a two-loss Climpson squad. if it’s close, there is real chance the Irish still get in. Here, we are torn. The Editor cannot, and will not, pick, pull or even want Notre Dame to win. The writer (me) cannot, and will not, pull for Climpson to win. Last time I committed a cardinal sin and pulled for Notre Dame to win. I have to admit I’m going to be a repeat sinner, although the pick is that Climpson wins.

SEC Championship Game

Alabama vs Florida – This game took on a whole new meaning when LSU upset Florida last week. The Gators fell out of the top five, but not the top ten, not sure how that happens, but, it did. When Alabama finally played the Bayou Bengals a couple of weeks ago, they showed no mercy at all. The Tide pounded LSU into the field, and then proceeded to beat them some more. Florida couldn’t shake these same Tigers no matter how hard they tried. It’s not like the Gatos were missing a key player or two, cause the weren’t. QB Trask, the Heisman Darling, threw for 474 yards, 2 TDs. No the truth is LSU came into this game believing they could win and they did. Florida’s defense was most corporative in this endeavor, which was a big help, but still 4-5 LSU won the game and they did it with a freshman QB in Max Johnson and a first-time shoe-thrower. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, as this is typical of Dan Mullen’s teams. He loves to pour all his resources into the offense and then leave the defense with a hope and a prayer. This is exactly what he did while at Miss St, and it’s what he’s doing at Florida.  They are in the SEC Championship game, true enough, but is this an abberation? Alabama is the first team ever, as in EVER, to go 10-0 on a pure SEC schedule. Last week, against Arkansas, Bama could have scored 100 had they wanted to. There was literally nothing stopping them, but the dogs were called off. Everyone that is anyone knows about Bama’s offensive and the three Heisman contenders it possesses, QB Jones, RB Harris, WR Smith. The true story has been the defense, however. At the beginning of the year, Alabama’s defense was horrible, at least by Alabama standards. Seriously, it was painful watching them, but lately they have become what we all hoped they would be. They are pressuring the QB with just the front four, the secondary has improved greatly since that Ole Miss debacle, and the linebackers are flying to the ball carrier with bad attitudes. Florida will rely on the passing game, because, well, that’s all they have. Except for when they had Tebow, but they don’t have Tebow anymore. Alabama must put pressure on Trask, and they will. Look for Bama’s running game to have a fantastic day. UF has trouble with the curve and against the rush. Have you seen the size of Bama’s offensive linemen? Those guys are monsters, and they don’t like anyone. Alabama wins! Roll Tide!!

Short Smokes

Texas A&M gets to beat up on Tennessee, and, why not? That’s always a good thing to do.

Florida State, while improving will not win against Wake Forest

Washington State thinks they can win against Utah, but they’ve been wrong before

Army after shutting out Navy, takes on Air Force for the Commander in Chief Trophy, and the Black Knights will win.

Coastal Carolina takes on Louisiana in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game. Why would we go against the Chanticleers now?

Normally, Missouri wouldn’t have any trouble with Mississippi State, but, for reason, there’s a funny feeling that the Bulldogs get the upset

Ole Miss gets their chance to humiliate LSU, but after last week, this might be more difficult than first thought

Wisconsin has been getting pushed around like a rented mule, Minnesota may not be able to push them around that much, but the Gophers still win.

San Jose State is undefeated, anyone else know that? They take on Boise State at home, so they’ll more than likely win. How did San Jose State go undefeated, seriously, and nobody noticed?….and they’re not even ranked!

Illinois is looking for a new head coach, this will not help them against Penn State. The Illini need to look harder,

Maryland, who has taken a sabbatical, is now back, and will face Michigan State. If the Terps are back up to form, they should win.

Cincinnati is undefeated, too, and they’re ranked 8th. They will meet Tulsa for the AAC Championship Game. Gotta’ go with the Bearcats

UCLA is better than they’ve been in a very long time, they’re going to chop down the Stanford trees.

Oregon State plays Arizona State, the gut says the Beavers win.  But, are you listening, Big 10, either team has a chance to win.

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