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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 6

Week 6

Texas vs Oklahoma – Meeting for the final time as members of the Big 12 Conference, Texas and Oklahoma look to settle the annual dispute about who’s the best in the Red River Rivalry. (If the SEC schedule makers have any sense at all, there will still be an annual Red River Rivalry game. And an Iron Bowl. And the Battle for the Boot, and on and on, but that’s for another article). Oklahoma, who is undefeated, but has played a schedule only slightly more difficult than Michigan’s this year, finally has a chance to show if they are for real or just a paper tiger, … or paper Sooner. Both teams are ranked within the top 25 for the first time since 2009, both defenses are ranked in the top 12 nationally in points allowed per game, and both are ranked in the top 30 in total defense. Both offenses have 27 touchdowns with only three interceptions and both starting QBs are expected to play. Last year Sooner signal caller Dillon Gabriel did not play due to an injury. OU received a drumming subsequently at the hands of the Longhorns, 49-0. Now, in the second year of OU HC Brent Venables sojourn in OK, fortune seems to be smiling upon the Sooner Schooner as he has put his emphasis upon defense. This has all the markings of a big game. It features coaches who are experts on opposite sides of the game. Venables is a defensive mastermind, while Longhorn HC Steve Sarkisian is a guru on offense. The Sooners will be looking to slow down the Texas ground game while giving Longhorn QB Ewers plenty of haphazard looks and schemes to confuse him. UT, however, has a wealth of tools at their disposal, and “Sark” has proven that his game time adjustments are key in pushing the Longhorns to victory. Texas already has one notable victory as they topped Alabama, at Tuscaloosa in the second game of the season (which cannot be forgiven. Texas earned it, they played much better than Alabama, but it still can’t be forgiven). Oklahoma has padded their numbers against weaker opponents, but still figure to be physical against the despised Longhorns. If the Sooners can produce the same, or better, defensive effort against Texas that they have in their other games, the Rivalry for 2023 could turn out to be a slobberknocker of a game. The Longhorns’ keys to victory rest mainly on QB Ewers performance. If he is able to read the defense and make the proper decisions, the Horns will be hard to stop. This has all the makings of a fantastic game, at least on paper. UT has the most momentum while OU is looking for that signature win. The game should go back and forth, but Texas is expected by most to come out on top. After all, they beat Alabama this season. It would be poetic justice for the Tide faithful if Oklahoma knocked Texas off because they beat Alabama this season, and that is the unpardonable sin – in parts of Alabama and Massachusetts.  

Alabama vs Texas A&M – This is the game for bragging rights within our household. Me being Alabama and the Daughter being A&M, whoever wins can, and does, rub it in for the rest of the year. Alabama’s defense, since they lost to Texas, has started to play like they are taking the game seriously. Since that unspeakable loss, the Bama defense has been akin to a rock. They highlighted this against Ole Miss, who made LSU’s defense look like a sieve a week later, by allowing the Rebels only 10 points. Then, against Mississippi State, the Tide defenders allowed the Bulldogs to gain only 270 yards total. The Aggies have yet to deal with this type of defense. They’ve been matched up against Auburn, who’s defense is a joke, Miami’s defense isn’t dominant and Arkansas’s….yeah, no. The biggest improvement for the Tide has been their pass rush as they’ve put pressure on opposing QB’s without blitzing and the secondary has been locking down. It is doubtful that the Aggies have a rushing attack that’s going to be able to crack the Crimson Tide’s wall. However, what the Aggies DO have, that Alabama does not, is a QB who can do a pre-snap read of the opposing defense. Bama’s QB Jalen Milroe has proven that he is lacking in this department. He holds the ball WAY too long trying to locate the open receiver, which results in him getting sacked. Alabama’s run game will face another test as the Aggies’ defense sits on top of the SEC. The wrecking crew is number one in forcing three and outs, and they’ve emphasized stopping the run. The A&M offense lost their starting QB, but backup, and LSU transfer, Johnson has stepped up to the plate and has been knocking it out of the park. Not only that, but he can read a defense;- advantage A&M. Last year Milroe led the Tide to victory when he came in when QB Young was injured, but Milroe didn’t beat the Aggies with his arm. In this year’s version, he’s going to have to attempt more than 12 passes. In the computer models run by the experts, whoever they may be, the game comes up 50/50, but most are leaning toward a Tide victory. Expect QB Milroe to throw at least two INT’s, forcing the Bama defense to fight harder and longer. The game is being played at Kyle field, and them Aggie fans are going to make it raucous, count on it . A&M is probably going to have a better first half, which begs the question, can they keep it up? Alabama has to win, they have no room for error, and I can’t have The Daughter rubbing it in for a whole year. So, come on, Alabama, you’ve got to win this one!

Kentucky vs Georgia – In another top 20 match-up, the Bluegrass Wildcats take on the Big Hairy Dawgs. For only the fifth time in the past 70 years, Kentucky is 5-0. Yet UK hasn’t beaten UGA since 2009, a 13-game skid. Last week UK beat Florida for the third year in a row. They didn’t just beat the Gators, it was a beat down, 33-14. Georgia, on the other hand, had to rallying from behind and squeeze past Auburn, 27-20, chiefly due to the Heisman lever performance of Georgia tight end, Brock Bower. However, the Dawgs haven’t lost a single game since losing the SEC championship to Alabama in 2021, and they haven’t lost a regular season game since 2020, when they lost to Florida. Needless to say, Georgia has been dominant. In last week’s game, UK running back Ray Davis put up 280 rushing yards with three rushing TD’s and one receiving. Maybe fate is setting him up for an encore, as Georgia’s defense turned in their worst performance in nearly half a decade, allowing Auburn to run for 219 yards, the first team to eclipse 200 rushing yards against them since LSU did it in 2018. RB Davis has at least one touchdown in every game this season making him a true threat. UGA must do everything they can to stop him, which means they’ll load the box with 8, leaving the secondary to play a lot of man-on-man. UK QB Devin Leary will be asked to do far more Saturday night then he’s used to doing. The Georgia secondary is allowing a meager 173 passing yards per game, and they have a nasty habit of getting interceptions. If QB Leary can make the passes, these Wildcats could very well pull off the upset. Georgia is not going to be a pushover. QB Carson Beck ranks second in the SEC is passing yards and he’s completing 72% of his throws. He has a fantastic weapon at his disposal in Jr Tight end Brock Bower. Just ask Auburn. He has been to a headache for all opposing defenses. The lad is 6 ft 4 inches tall, weighing in at 240lbs, and he can run. He is extremely difficult to bring down, to put it mildly.  But UGA is not lacking in the rushing department, either. They have a stable of horses that rotate throughout the game and as the game drags on, they keep getting better and better. UGA’s defense is going to get their first real test of the season, and they must answer the challenge. Expect this game to turn into a shoot-out. UGA is entering this game as a 17 point favorite, but that seems disrespectful to Kentucky. The Wildcats like being under-rated. Georgia will more than likely win, but it’s going to be a test, and it’s going to be close, very close.

Short Smokes

K-State gets an early feeding with Oklahoma State Friday night

Maryland just might, MIGHT, actually give Ohio State a game….maybe. Maybe not.

LSU is reeling from their loss to Ole Miss, and the Bayou Bengals allow the defeat to bother them, Missouri could take advantage and the Tigers beat the Bengals

Boston College falls to the rushing onslaught of Army

Wisconsin will have their hands full, for a while, against Rutgers. But, c’mon, Rutgers beating Wisconsin? Ain’t going to happen

Washington State has a better record than UCLA, but the Bruins will win

Florida State shouldn’t have much trouble with VA Tech. Shouldn’t.

North Carolina better beware of Syracuse

Iowa and Purdue will be a low scoring game, but the Hawkeyes win

Clemson has had trouble with Wake Forest in the past, but that’s in the past

Florida recovers against Vanderbilt

Kansas runs all over UCF

Colorado gets back into the win column against Arizona State

Michigan will face their first team with a pulse against Minnesota

Louisville can beat Notre Dame, but they won’t

Ole Miss has a barbeque with Arkansas

Miami stays undefeated as they pound Georgia Tech

Fresno State is not going to just waltz in and win against Wyoming. The Bulldogs win, but it won’t be easy. Darned Cowboys

Baylor, what’s going on with the Bears? They face Texas Tech and it’s a toss up

TCU is having a down year, but so is Iowa State. Horn Frogs win

In the late game Oregon State should make a statement in their game against California. The Beavers beat the Bears

And in the late late game, USC waltzes over Arizona

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