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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 5

Kentucky vs Ole Miss – The Wildcats and the Rebels came galloping into the season scoring points and making statements, seemingly determined to attract attention. UK got everyone’s attention by making the #12 Florida Gators look a bit pedestrian, in the Swamp, no less. Ole Miss has yet to accumulate a statement win this year, but they have pretty much run roughshod over their opponents. Last week both teams kind-of sleep-walked through their games, neither one had that excitement that was their trademark in their earlier games, it was more of a la-ti-da attitude and they both had to escape by the skin of their teeth. The general consensus was that they were looking forward to this week’s meeting. In the last two head-to-head clashes, Mississippi won but it was just by the thinnest of margins, so close that a missed PAT by the Wildcats was what gave the Rebs a victory last time. The Cats are determined to get revenge. QB Will Levis has thrown for 1,185 yards with 10 TDs and only four INTs. This puts him on a record- setting path up in Lexington. The offense that has been moving the ball at will does have a weakness in their juggernaut, and that is that the O-Line has allowed WAY too many sacks, 16 in four games. That amounts to 4 per game, and they haven’t been playing Alabama or Georgia type defensives. Easy to believe that this chink in their armor represents an opportunity for enemy defensive coordinators. The Rebels’ Land Shark defense has registered 13 sacks this year and forced 7 takeaways. Big advantage for the Rebels. On the flip side, Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart doesn’t have near the stats of Levis. Dart’s thrown for 697 yards, five TDs and two INTs, not a record breaking path. The past couple of years the Rebels lived off the pass, they had Matt Corral, and it worked. This year they’ve had to rely on the rushing attack and – GASP- their defense! Not that they have a stout defense but in all honesty it has gotten better. They will be tested come Saturday, because UK has RB Chris Rodriguez returning and he just might be the spark that the Cats need. It also gives Kentucky a much more balanced attack which could cause the Ole Miss defense to struggle, well…struggle more than they usually do. The Cats defense has only allowed one passing TD so far, and that was when they were on snooze control against NIU last week. Both teams run similar offenses and both of them have considered defense to be a passing thought. However, UK’s stoppers look to be in far better shape than Ole Miss’s. With the Cats having a return to the running game, they won’t be so one dimensional, which should help that Kentucky O-line. Ole Miss’s offense has done well but relatively untested. HC Lane Kiffin will find a way to move the ball, and the Rebs will score, so expect this game to be close, but the Kentucky Wildcats are going to win.

NC State vs Clemson – Last year the Wolfpack broke its eight year losing streak to the Tigers in a thrilling two overtime game. This year the Wolfpack was picked as one of the dark horses to not only win the ACC but to make it into the playoffs. If State wants to live up to this hype, they have got to start here. The biggest factor in this game will be hurricane Ian. By Saturday it may be smack-dab above Clemson, and if the game goes on it will be wet, wild, and windy. In the military this happens because “God loves the Infantry!” Here it might be the same thing;- whichever team has the most success running the ball will be the victor. In last year’s win the Pack dominated the time of possession, 41:18 to 18:12. This would be a great time to repeat that feat. Clemson’s QB Uiagalelei, who is far more worried about his appearance then his actual playing, performed well last week against Wake Forrest. He was able to keep drives alive by making necessary completions on third downs. He wasn’t brilliant, nor outstanding, but he did play well. In a wet and windy game where he’ll get rushed, sacked, get his uniform dirty and mess up his hair, it is doubtful that he’ll have the same type of success. One of the big factors in last year’s victory for the Wolves, was that they put a lot of pressure on Uiagalelei and he did not like that. It would nonsense not to expect a similar game plan from NC State. Clemson’s O-line, which is suspect, has been allowing a good pass rush to get through. NC State is going to do what they do best, short passes across the middle with a solid ground game. HC Dave Doeren has been building this team for this point. They had a bit of a rough first game where things weren’t all together but those problems seem to have been ironed out. It’s put up or shut up time. Death Valley is a tough place to play but if the Pack wants to be the best this a dragon they need to slay. Interesting note, Clemson beat Notre Dame when Hurricane Joaquin was a factor and NC State beat Notre dame when Hurricane Matthew as a factor. It’ll be interesting to see who performs the best with Hurricane Ian.

Alabama vs Arkansas – Alabama gets its second road test of the young season as they take on the Hogs in Fayetteville. In their first road show, things did not go all that well as they barely escaped with a win over Texas in Austin. The Tide beat up on ULM and Vanderbilt, it’ll be interesting to see if some of these, we’ll call them “glitches”, have been fixed. The first glitch that needs to be addressed is that

Bama does not have a break-away receiver. Against Vandy, JaCorey Brooks gave the impression that he might be the guy, but until he proves it in a big game it’s questionable. The second glitch is the offensive line. They have allowed way too much pressure on QB Bryce Young and they haven’t overpowered opponents the way they were expected too. IF these two “glitches” have been remedied, then Alabama should have little trouble with the Arkansas defense. On the D-Side, the “glitch” is that the secondary is more of a pressure pad, they allow receivers to catch the ball and then tackle them, but they don’t stop the reception. Last year Arkansas mounted a comeback by exploiting the secondary, Texas exploited the weak secondary, if Vandy and ULM could have exploited it, they would have. This is a major “glitch” that has be dealt with. Arkansas is coming off a tough heartbreaking loss to Texas A&M. The Hogs should have won that game, should’a, would’a, could’a, … but didn’t. The question is, have the Hogs recovered and gotten ready to give another 100% in this game? Arkansas has the second best rushing attack in the SEC, where it just means more, and going up against the Alabama defense , who just happens to be the number one at stopping the run. Should be a huge contest. QB KJ Jefferson will have success throwing the ball, but if the Hogs become too one dimensional, that Crimson Tide pass rush might become too much, also. The Arkansas running attack has got to make the Tide hesitate before they go after the QB. Alabama should win, they should win by at least two touchdowns, but what they should do and what they’ve been doing are two completely different things. Arkansas is not going to lay down and give up, watch for a tough battle through 3 quarters before the Tide has some breathing room.

Oregon State vs Utah – just in case some of y’all haven’t noticed, and the fact that their games are usually late at night, the Oregon State Beavers are not a push over team anymore. This is the perfect opportunity to watch them as this week’s game is scheduled for 1:00pm central time. They took USC down to the wire last week before the Trojans were able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and that’s with OSU giving the ball away four times! Utah, on the other hand, was supposed to be the savior of the PAC-12 and they gave that mantel up when they lost to Florida in the opening weekend. Sure, they’ve gotten some of that luster back after beating Southern Utah, San Diego State and an Arizona State squad that just fired their head coach. The Utes strength is their running game, they’re kind-of like the Wisconsin team of the West, they can run the ball, and run the ball. Passing is not what they plan to do, and, on top of that, their top receiver, TE Kuithe, is out for the season. Oregon State needs this game to recover from that tough loss to USC. Utah needs this game….and all the others, if they want to get into a four team CFB playoff. The Utes will more than likely win, they have the home field advantage, and they are a good team, but don’t count out the Beavers. If they can just hold on to the ball and stop the turnovers, this could turn out to be a great game. I could talk a lot more about “homefield advantage”, three points,… HA! But that’s for another time and another column.

Short Smokes:

Washington should knock off UCLA in the Bruins empty stadium Friday night. Why are fans not going to Bruin games?

Michigan will mow the field with Iowa

Oklahoma could be in a state of bewilderment as they take on undefeated TCU, another team that wears purple. The Sooners don’t do well against purple teams

Minnesota is on a tear and they’ll continue their winning ways as the take on Purdue

K-State might be back on track as they host Texas Tech

Army will roll over Georgia State, this might not be pretty. Go Army! Beat Navy!

Don’t be shocked if Illinois is the victor over Wisconsin

Air Force shouldn’t have any problems with Navy

Ohio State is a heavy favorite over Rutgers. The Buckeyes will win, but not as much as people think

Things are not going well with Northwestern and they will not improve against Penn State

Wake Forest came so close against Clemson, now they have to recover quickly because Florida State is starting to believe again

Kansas might just get upset against Iowa State…maybe…probably…most likely

Michigan State has got to recover, and Maryland is the place to start. If Sparta can’t beat the Terps, their season is over

North Carolina will take out their Irish frustrations against Virginia Tech

Can Texas A&M continue their close calls and escapes against Mississippi State. Short answer:- no.

California and Washington State will be a good one, picking the Cougars

LSU and Auburn, two Tigers not living up to expectations. I’ll pick the Tigers.

Georgia won’t break a sweat against Missouri

Texas is playing well since that narrowest of losses to Alabama, and a close call at Lubbock. West Virginia is looking for a statement win. Not versus the Horns.

Indiana gets their turn to whip up on Nebraska. Beware the Jabberwocky.

USC will not have any trouble with Arizona State

Stanford and Oregon is the late game this week, it could be worth staying up for

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