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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Championship Weekend

USC vs Utah – The Utes were the only team to handle USC this year. They had the Trojans on the Utah home field, it was cold, and even with all that, Utah trailed the entire game and needed a touchdown with 48 seconds left in the game to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. So, can Utah do it again? USC owns a 13-8 series advantage but the Utes have actually won the last two times they’ve played. UU has a top 25 defense, this is what they hang their hat on, and on paper they appear to have done a stellar job, but, remember, and don’t forget, stats lie. There are lies, damn lies, and statistics. When beating Stanford and Colorado by 35 points or more looks great, and shutting down these weaklings’ offense although no great feat, pads the numbers. However, when Utah has stepped up in competition, they’ve struggled. They fell to Florida, UCLA and Oregon, – granted it they kept it close against Oregon, – and Florida but UCLA plumb got away from them. A high powered offense matches quite well against the Utes, and USC is nothing if they are not a high powered offense. QB Celeb Williams has become the leading contender for the Heisman Trophy, but if he can’t lead the Trojans to victory in this game, he can forget about getting any hardware. USC is also one step away from making the playoffs for the first time, so there is a lot on the line. This is usually when a Lincoln Riley team folds. He does not have a good record when so much is on the line. But this is a different team, different location, different league, and maybe all that will lead to a different outcome. USC is the favorite to win the Kale and Champaign conference, they have the revenge factor and they have the higher motivation. Of course, Utah has that chip on the shoulder about already beating these guys once this year. It’s a small chip, just a chiplet, but it’s there – or, it should be there. I’m never sure about the white wine and cheese players – oh, yeah, the Mormons don’t endorse wine drinking, do they? All this doesn’t mean USC will win, because, if we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that anything can and usually does happen. It’s tough to beat someone twice in one year, but Utah could pull off the upset.

Kansas State vs TCU – Horned Frog QB Max Duggan is going to be one of the finalists for the Heisman trophy, and he has a resume good enough for him to win. This year TCU’s squad is a solid team and they seem to never give up. No matter what happens, they don’t seem to care, it’s all about the team and the fact that they seriously and honestly believe that they are going to win, no matter what. The offense led by QB Duggan finds a way to make the plays needed when they are needed, they grind out every yard they get, and when things look bleak, the Froggies pull it out. It’s almost like they are a team of destiny. Americans love the underdog, and want to see that underdog team not only make it to the CFB playoffs, but actually win it! TCU, if they win, are going to the playoffs, no if’s, and’s, or but’s. Win and they are in. Lose and there is a good chance they get left at the station. Even though they are part of the Big 12 that only ten teams, they are not Oklahoma or Texas, so they are never going to be given the benefit of the doubt, so, in a sense, their backs are against the wall, its them against the world, and, get this, the Horn Frogs like it that way. Saturday they will be facing K-State. They beat the Wildcats in the regular season, but it was not easy, and the Cats were starting QB Will Howard for the first time. This time around QB Howard has a lot more experience. Even though the Horn Frogs are so far undefeated, the game is a tossup. K-State running back Deuce Vaughn presents a unique challenge to the Frogs. In the last game he ran for 83 yards on 12 carries. If the Cats’ offense is able to improve their passing game, it might be enough to put that Big Purple Frog defense on their heels. This game is going to be very close, doubtful any team will run away with it. TCU has to win to get into the playoffs, K-State is more than likely not in any playoff. Win or lose, Kansas State is headed to the Sugar Bowl where they will take on an SEC team, where it just means more.

LSU vs Georgia – Not sure there has ever been a bigger meltdown than LSU experienced last weekend. The Bayou Bengals had a truly remarkable season laid out before them on a silver platter, all they had to do was beat a 4 win A&M team. They even had a chance, a chance, mind you, to be the first two-loss team to ever make it into the CFB playoffs. Just beat a struggling Aggie team, and then beat Georgia, and the sports world would embrace them as the Team of the Century. BUT they got manhandled, MANHANDLED, by Texas A&M, who, in case you forgot, lost to App State at Kyle Field. One of the biggest meltdowns ever! The Tigers still have to meet defending National Champion Georgia Bulldogs, who did not take the SEC Championship game seriously last year and got run out of the building. Don’t think for a second that little slip up has not crossed the UGA players, coaches, cheerleaders, fans, field crew, students, and anyone else associated with the Dawgs, minds. Georgia, defending National Champions and Number One team in the USA, when they are on point, are playing at a completely different level than anyone else. True, they’ve had a game or two where they weren’t serious about it and almost let the game get away from them, but they recovered and are once again 12-0 going into the SEC game. It is highly doubtful that the LSU Tigers defense that couldn’t stop a Peacock Jimbo Fisher offense, has the ability to stop Georgia, it’s just not a fair matchup. On top of that, Tiger QB Daniels who just loves to run the ball, mainly because he can’t throw an accurate pass unless the receiver is all alone, with no one near him for at least 15 yards, is not going to be facing a soft defense. Instead, he faces the number one defense in the nation. This could not turn out well for LSU. It doesn’t matter what the Tigers have, it doesn’t matter what their game plan is, UGA is not going to lose two SEC Championship games in a row. More than likely, Georgia is going to jump on top of LSU early, build a big lead, and then get bored, and that will allow LSU to score a little, too, where the final score looks respectable.

Michigan vs Purdue – The Boilermakers weren’t even supposed to be in this game, they haven’t won the conference title since 1929 (that was a long time ago, nearly a CENTURY, if you can believe it) and they shared the conference title as far back as 2000, so for them to even be in this game is impressive. The Engineers like to pass, the history of HC Jeff Brohm, and QB Aidan O’Connell has thrown for over 3,000 yards with 22 TDs. Did I mention that he also has 11 INTs and is prone to making numerous mistakes during a game? They run the ball sometimes, but not all that often. This might not be the best strategy against Michigan. As proven last week, the Wolverines secondary is capable of playing one-on-one and allowing the rest of the defense to pressure the opposing QB. If the Purdue offensive line can’t keep Michigan defenders out of the backfield, it could be a very long day. On the other side of the ball, Purdue’s defense is average, they haven’t shut anyone out, and they haven’t had a game where they’ve been blown away either. For their part, Michigan erased a lot of doubts with their blow-out win over Ohio State, who everyone had over rated, so, of course, now everyone expects U of M to waltz right into the college football Championship. Hold on there, Partner! Yes, Purdue is the underdog, yes, Michigan should win, but these Boilermakers types have a habit of rising up on their hind wheels at least once in a season and engineering a huge upset. If the Wolverines take this game lightly, which they very well might, the Boilermakers could upset the applecart.

Clemson vs North Carolina – The Tigers of South Carolina are looking for their seventh conference title in the last eight years. The North Carolina Tar Heels are looking to win their first ever conference championship game. The last time UNC won the conference was back in 1980 and they didn’t have the championship game then. HC Dabo Swinney is determined to go with QB DJ Uiagalelei not entirely sure why, but he is. Why does Nick Saban stick with Golding and O’Brien? Last week in their loss to South Carolina, which, by the way, I’m still laughing about, DJ turned in a sub-par performance even for him and got pulled. Against Notre Dame this year, he turned in a sub-par performance, too. Whenever he’s played anyone that is tough he turns in a sub-par performance. Why in this critical game, does Dabo believe it will be different, don’t know. They say the definition of “stupid” is someone who does the same thing over and over but expects a different result. The one to watch is actually QB Drake Maye of UNC. He’s a redshirt freshman and he’s actually gotten Heisman talk, his numbers far exceed the other guy’s, but he is a freshman. Do you remember being a College freshman? Strange things happen sometimes. Both teams lost to Notre Dame, and UNC lost their last two games. The one to NC State can be excused as a rivalry game, but that loss to Georgia Tech is not excusable. Maybe these Tar Heels lost their mojo because they were already in the ACC championship game and they took it easy. It’s not a reason but it still may be an excuse. Now they’ve got their backs against the wall, if they lose three in a row, they’re frauds. Win, and they’re climbing back to being legitimate once again. Clemson, for their part believes they are the Golden Haired child of the ACC, all are to fall before them and worship their greatness. The only reason to play the game is to generate revenue for the football program. The Tigers are the only ones that believe this. Their cloak of invincibility has been torn apart. They can be beaten, and, if anything, South Carolina not only beat them but exposed them as the non-championship caliber team they truly are. UNC is going to pull the upset. I’m not sure how they’re going to do it, but Clemson isn’t who they think they are and something just says that North Carolina is going to want this one more.

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