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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 12

Week 12

The College Football world saw some fantastic games last Saturday! Experiencing the Grove Phenomenon at Oxford, MS, before the Ole Miss vs Texas A&M game was worth the drive out there and back. The Daughter was shocked at the way all those Rebel fans tailgated! The results didn’t turn out in our favor, but we had a great time and it was wonderful to be in the stands again.
Ole Miss beating A&M did do Alabama a favor, pretty much securing the Tide’s hold on the SEC West title, but I’m still pretty sure they have to beat Arkansas this weekend to guarantee their trip to Atlanta. Georgia, who is already in the SEC Championship game, let Tennessee fans believe they were witnessing a miracle for the 1st quarter when the VOLS led, 10-7. Then them Dawgs crushed those Volunteer hopes, and they weren’t gentle about it.  Some of the knuckle-headed TV commentators have voiced their approval over the way Alabama played against New Mexico State. Oh, according to them, the defense has been fixed and the running game as returned, all is just hunky-dory in Tuscaloosa, AL. If Alabama didn’t look dominant against NMSU, that would be a story, not that they looked good. My gosh, for all the troubles the Tide has had and these TV talking heads want to say, “All is well”. No, it is not! The Crimson Tide has to play this way against Arkansas, and Auburn, and Georgia, and everyone else. No offense to the Aggies of the Land of Enchantment, but they didn’t provide a real test on the road to the Natty. Which brings us to Week 12. This, the week before Thanksgiving, Rival Weekend, which means some teams have cupcakes scheduled and others don’t. Some teams are already in their conference championship games and others are still jockeying for positions.  

Michigan State vs Ohio State – How is it that every important game that the Buckeyes play is played on their home field, at the Horseshoe? Seriously, anyone want to answer this cause it bugs me? Anyway, the big round robin of the Great White North takes off this weekend. Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan all sit at 9-1 overall, Michigan State has already beaten Michigan, so all they have to do is beat Ohio State and Penn State and they’re in the Championship game. The way they beat Michigan was with their heavy running game, and they need to do it again. The Spartans need to rush the ball all the time, they can act like they’re going to throw the ball, but switch it up and run it. The old Bait and Switch. The Ohio State defense has not really been tested since they lost to Oregon, who, by the way, ran the ball all over the Buckeyes. Against Purdue, the Ohio State defense gave up 477 yards and 31 points. Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker needs to be fed a big meal the night before, get plenty of rest, and then run his legs off during the contest. This has a dual purpose, as it keeps the OSU offense off the field, and the Spartans amass yards and, hopefully, points. MSU’s secondary is not that good, and they’re known to give up way too many big plays. Sparty has a good pass rush, and they should be able to frustrate QB CJ Stroud plenty, but they can’t let him stand back there, take his time, and throw the ball to the amazing bevy of Buckeye receivers.

Ohio State– OSU hasn’t lost since they went down to Oregon, at home, don’t forget, another example of critical games always on the Ohio State home turf, in the second week of this season. The talking heads are screaming that the Bucks are Back, Baby! Back? What do they mean, ‘Back’? For crying out loud, they played for the National Championship earlier this year! They beat Penn State, barely, and they beat Purdue, but they darn near tripped up on Nebraska, and, let’s be brutally honest, Penn State has been overrated all season. I like the Nittany Lions, but the truth is the truth. Now the Buckeyes face a real test. Their defense has not performed well against the rush and even late in the season there are times that the defense looks confused before the snap. OSU has very good receivers and Stroud has improved on getting them the ball. Not elite yet, but he has improved.

What to expect– It all depends on when the MSU running game gets in gear. If the Spartans are able to run the ball from the start, it’ll put OSU on their heels and they don’t perform well when they’re behind. The pressure gets to Stroud and he holds the ball too long allowing the pass rush to frustrate him more. IF the Michigan State rushing attack isn’t a representation of their mascot, Spartan, then look for the game to be closer, allowing the Buckeyes to pull it out late in the fourth quarter.

Oregon vs Utah –  The Ducks have a problem, and, for the past few years they haven’t been able to find the solution. The Problem is, “losing in November”. These Quackers will look like they are going to make it to the playoffs, and then that cold November Rain hits them, and they fall like a, well, like a downed duck, and with them goes the hope of the PAC-12 having a team in the Playoff. Oregon got all the left coast hopes up by beating Ohio State, which was good, then, two weeks later, they fall to a substandard, even sorry, Stanford squad. Since that time, Oregon’s won five straight and, if they can just win the next two, all could be well. This, of course, is where the floor falls out from under them. The Duck waddling (ground) game has caught fire, as they’ve run for over 200 yards in each of the last five games. They’re going to need to do this again on Saturday, because when Utah allows a team to rush for 200 yards, the Utes lose.

Utah – Also likes to run the ball and they have a big nasty offensive line that has been emphasizing this point. Unlike the Ducks, who rely on speed and finesse, these Utes line up and run the ball straight down the opponents’ throat, which, granted, is not very PAC-12 like. If Utah keeps this up they’re going to lose their Kale and Champagne membership. Against Stanford, they ran up 441 yards on the ground, and they hammered UCLA for 290. The Ducks have a good defense but not sure they’re ready for this type of a steamroller. The Utes “D” has been good, and then they’re not. They lost to BYU and San Diego State in consecutive weeks, but that was at the start of the season. Right. Then explain how they lost to Oregon State three weeks ago. The Defense is ranked number one in the PAC-12, which is not the SEC, where it just means more, so maybe they’ll be able to slow down the Quack Attack.

What to expect –  For the last six years Oregon has entered November with a chance to go to the Show, only to blow it every time. So far this month, they haven’t tripped up, two more games to go, and they might be in. Utah has been waiting for a game like this to prove they’re not an afterthought, and to make it to the PAC-12 championship game for the third time in four years, where they’ve lost every time and haven’t made it to the Rose Bowl. This time the game is in Utah, the Ducks need this game, as in THEY NEED THIS GAME! All of which means Utah wins.

Arkansas vs Alabama – Arkansas is perfectly positioned for this game. The Hogs are already bowl eligible, they’re on a three game winning streak, they own solid victories over LSU, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M, there is literally no pressure on them this Saturday, they have nothing to lose. Neither did LSU when they played Bama, and we remember that well. If Arkansas loses to Alabama, everyone says, “Duh, Hogs were supposed to lose, it’s Alabama.” The Razorbacks are effectively playing with house money, and that’s what makes them so scary. Early on this year, the Hogs appeared to be a methodical offensive team, they hung in there with Ole Miss in a shoot-out, but they struggled mightily against LSU. Now they’ve switched and it’s the defense that is playing the best. They don’t make many mistakes, and they’re very good on third downs. All they have to do is play consistent, nothing too fancy, just be consistent.

Alabama – this year is like that ex-girlfriend that keeps coming around. She looks good, talks a good fight, makes you yearn for her, but then turns out to be a flake. The Tide’s can be explosive, they can score from anywhere on the field, BUT, for some reason, they don’t. They have shown signs of greatness in the running game, they’ve been completely dominant, and then they gain only six yards in the game against LSU….SIX YARDS! How do they show their faces? Former Bama players should ridicule this team for the rest of their lives over six yards. Is this Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brian’s fault, or are the troops on the field effecting this dichotomy by themselves? The defensive line sometimes cuts through offensive lines like butter, then, other times they get pushed around like the wimpy kid against the school yard bully. Thankfully they’re at 9-1, and can still win the SEC West, and maybe have a shot at the Playoffs, but this is not a consistent team. Is this Defensive Coordinator Pete Golding’s fault (I think so)  but it is definitively cause for worry.

What to expect –  For us Bama fans, what we can expect is elevated blood pressure and lots of anxiety. Arkansas defense’s greatest strength is their run stopping. If they can shut down the running game like LSU did, Razorbacks can keep this game close well into the fourth quarter. Alabama’s “D” is not going to shut down anyone, much less this Arkansas offense. What Alabama has is a very good passing game, when it works, and they need to score quickly and frequently, put a bunch of points on the board early, make the Hogs lose hope fast, because the longer they let the Hogs hang around, the more confident they’re going to get. And, remember, it’s very easy to take chances with house money. 

Short Smokes

Wake Forest is chomping at the bit to beat, Clemson and they’re going to do it. They were chomping at the  bit to beat North Carolina, and they didn’t do it.

Iowa State could salvage their entire season by pulling the wheels off the Boomer Schooner

Believe it or not, Florida State and Boston College are evenly matched.

Purdue will beat Northwestern on Wrigley Field

Would not be shocked if Rutgers beats Penn State, won’t happen, but it wouldn’t be a shock.

Army rolls all over UMass, will not be pretty. Beat Navy!

Texas  is going to have a terrible time visiting West Virginia, but the Horns should snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Iowa is going to beat Illinois because it’s on the Hawkeye homefield. Which field is Ohio State playing on this week?

Notre Dame vs Georgia Tech….Yawn!

Washington needs redemption, so does Colorado. Huskies win

Cincinnati is going to have their hands full with SMU, but Bearcats can’t afford to lose this one

Maryland, if all the stars are aligned correctly, will beat Michigan, but the eclipse was early Friday morning, not Saturday, heavenly bodies are back in place.

Wisconsin takes down Nebraska and HC Scott Frost get, blistered on the hot seat

Pitt cannot afford a loss to Virginia, it literally cannot happen, no way, no how. Just watch.

Florida got booed against Samford last week, Gators won, but things are not well. Be the perfect time for Missouri’s Tiger to pounce

USC vs UCLA is supposed to take place on rivalry weekend, but leave it to the left coast to mess that up. UCLA wins

Baylor better be very careful against K-State, as in very, VERY careful.

Auburn is favored over South Carolina but don’t be surprised if the Gamecocks pull off the upset. Besides that, Bo’s broken.

VA Tech would have been the pick if they hadn’t fired their coach, but they did, so Miami gets the nod.

Arizona State vs Oregon State is going to be worth staying up late to see. Both teams are improving, ASU is the favorite, but these Beavers are coming up fast!

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