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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Championship Weekend

Oregon vs Washington- Pac-12 Championship game – Allegiant Stadium, NV
In a rematch of week 6, with a twist, the Ducks look to avenge their lone loss against Washington. The twist is that this contest will take place at a neutral site instead of the rabid dog pound up in Seattle. The Huskies are 12-0, ranked #3 in the nation, and the Ducks are ticked off because they think U-Dub is where they should be. In their game back on Oct 14th, Oregon outgained the Huskies, had better team stats, but came up three points short at the final whistle. Since that time the Quack-attack has been taking their frustration out on all that have crossed their path. They have scored over 35 points in every game since. The defense hasn’t shut anyone down, but they have limited opponent scoring too many points. The most they’ve given up since that loss was to USC, where the Trojans scored 27 points, but 14 of those points came in the 4th quarter when the Oregon defense took their foot off the gas because they were ahead, 36-14. Now the Ducks have made it to the Championship game and have exactly the set up they wanted. Washington, for their part, has done everything that has been asked of them. They are undefeated, ranked in the top four, and all they have to do is win just one more game and they are in the playoffs for the first time. Since that Oregon game in Oct, these Huskies haven’t exactly set the world on fire. They were only up by two points on Stanford until late in the final minutes, they got through the “defense is optional” game against USC, they squeaked by Oregon State by two, and they needed a last second field goal to get by their rival Washington State. But, what was it that the late owner of the Raiders, Al Davis, used to say? “Just win baby,” and that’s what the Huskies have done. They may not have had the style and the flare as some others, but they have won 12 out of 12. Now the big question is, can they beat the Ducks away from home? Entering into this game, the odds-on favorite is Oregon, not Washington. The QB that has everyone’s attention is Bo Nix of Oregon, not Penix of Washington, and the defense that is receiving praise is the Ducks. But be ye not deceived. The Huskies have had to struggle in every single game, they refuse to surrender, and they refuse to lose, no matter what. That type of mentality is tough to beat. U-Dub is battle hardened and determined. The Huskies have to keep this game close, whether it’s a shoot-out, trading touchdowns, or slowing down the Quack-Attack, no matter how they have to do it, keep the game close. Oregon wants to set Washington back on their heels, give them reason to doubt, and the best way to do that is to hit the ground running, go full throttle from the get-go. QB Nix will need to be laser-focused and mistake-free. If Oregon is able to get a two touchdown lead early and keep that spread (something no one has been able to do this year), they’ll cause UW to start slipping up, and the lead will grow. Oregon is the pick to win, they’re playing better, they’re more focused, and they want revenge.

Oklahoma State vs Texas- Big 12 Championship Game- Arlington TX –

This may not be the best matchup for the Pokes. Cowpoke running Back Ollie Gordon is a force to be reckoned with, no doubt, and the Cowboy’s offensive line has been able to open up plenty of holes for him to scat through. Yet, against Longhorns, it’s going to be a tough haul, since the UT interior line has been down-right dynamic in stopping the run without having to load up the box. Plus, the speed of the Texas linebacking corps has caused opposing teams fits. Most of the season OSU has utilized the rushing attack to cause defenses to cheat up on the line of scrimmage and worry about the interior. Then they hit them with the pass. In this game they’ll have to do the opposite, and they may not be able to exploit the Horns the way K-State did. Texas, on the other hand, has an elite wide receiver corps who can stretch the field deep and burn defensives with big explosive plays. Where the Horns are weak is within the red zone;- they are one of the worst teams in the nation at finishing drives with touchdowns. They’ve had 50 drives inside opposing 20-yard lines but have only come away with 22 touchdowns. If the Oklahoma State defense can keep everything in front of them, and make UT earn every yard they get, they’ll keep the game close. The other weakness that the Horns have is they struggle with up-tempo offensives that have mobile Quarterbacks. This is not Oklahoma State’s style of play, but, maybe, if they’re able to mix it up a bit by going up-tempo some of the time, they’ll keep that UT defense on the field longer than they’re used to. Texas approaches this game with all the confidence in the world, but they have to win and they have to win big if they have any chance of getting into the playoffs. The Cowboys don’t have that much pressure on them, which could work to their advantage. More than likely, the Longhorns are going to win, but they won’t pull away until late in the game.

Georgia vs Alabama – SEC Championship Game- Atlanta GA

The SEC Championship Game;- where it just means more! The Bulldogs are, of course, the favorite to win, and why shouldn’t they be? They’re the defending two-time national champs, they haven’t lost a game in forever, and they’re loaded with talent. In every game for the past two years they’ve been the favorite, and they expect to win. That’s not all;- their opponents have expected them to win, as well. Alabama is not the Alabama we’ve gotten used to for the past ten years. They’ve got talent, to be sure, but they have not been that dominant juggernaut that scares the pants off of everybody. Heck, this Bama team isn’t even the same team that started the season! They had a lot of growing up to do, and, to their credit, they’ve done it. Since that loss to Texas in the second game of the season, which is still not forgiven, this team has faced every challenge with fortitude and determination. That’s not to say they have played mistake-free football, far from it, they haven’t, but they’ve overcome and that’s bound to pay off. Georgia, for their part, hasn’t faced a real challenge in years. They’ve had no let downs and they play in the SEC East, which is FAR weaker than the SEC West. Alabama’s passing game has grown into one of the most explosive passing games in the country, and the Dawgs haven’t dealt with any offense like this one. UGA hasn’t faced a defense that is even comparable to the Crimson Tide’s. Most of the defenses they’ve faced have not been sorry and had to scratch and claw their way up. Bama’s has, and they’re not going to be intimidated. Georgia is loaded on offense and that big TE Brock Bower is a monster catching passing in the middle. The Dawgs are going to cause trouble for the Tide, and they’re going to score. Alabama is convinced that they can win this game. Everyone else that has faced Georgia was playing from behind before the game kicked off. Alabama is going to need to have their best game of the season, no mistakes, no turnovers, no mental errors. Take all they can and give nothing back! Georgia is the odds-on favorite, but don’t rule out this Crimson Tide team. It’s going to be close, every close, and that plays into Alabama’s wheelhouse more than it does the Bulldogs. Alabama is going to win. Do you hear me, Alabama? You’re going to win. (Please let them win, please, oh, please, oh, please, let them win.)

Michigan vs Iowa- Big Ten Championship Game – Indianapolis IN

This is a rematch of the 2021 B1G Championship game when these two teams meet, and the Wolverines ran away with that game, 42-3. The Hawkeyes are looking to redeem themselves, which is going to be a tall order. Michigan might be overrated, and they are, but the Hawkeyes aren’t exactly a team that causes anyone to quake in their boots. Their offense, bless their hearts, tries, and they try very hard, but they don’t put up a lot of points. Where the Hawks are strong are on defense and special teams. This will be the second time they’ve faced an offense that is ranked in the top 50, the first one was Penn State, and the Nittany Lions unloaded on the Black and Gold, winning, 31-0. Iowa is coming into this game shorthanded as they’ll be missing some of their top players. QB Cade McNamara, DB and punt returner Cooper DeJean, to name two biggies. Filling in for the injured QB McNamara is QB Deacon Hill. At the moment his passing ranks 12th in the conference, having thrown five TD’s and 6 INT’s. That’s not good. Michigan, for its part, has done rather well without their head coach on the sidelines for most of the year, as loud mouth Harbaugh has been suspended for seven games this season. That’s seven out of 12. Most teams, most schools, most Universities with any integrity would have reacted by now, like, firing the Head Coach, but not Mighty Michigan, the BIG Howevermany, and the school administration. No, no, they’ve hunkered down and told the world to , … well, it’s profane, but you get the picture! The 2d ranked national defense Wolverine team’s defense is going to overwhelm Iowa. With Iowa’s inept offensive, and facing this defense, it’s like the nerd at the school dance asking the Homecoming Queen for a dance. It’s doubtful that either team will score much. Iowa’s defense is legit, and in the first half they’re going to be a force. However, mid-way through the second quarter they’re going to be winded from being on the field so much. Look for the second half to become ugly. Michigan rolls the Hawkeyes yet again.

Louisville vs Florida State – ACC Championship Game – Charlotte, NC

At this writing, Florida State is in the top four, although there is plenty of talk about them not making the final four playoffs. Louisville did not help the Seminoles, or themselves, by losing to Kentucky in their regular season finale. FSU has to win this game, and they have to win big, to keep their playoff hopes alive. QB Tate Rodemaker is carrying the weight of the moment on his shoulders. If starting Seminole QB Jordan Travis hadn’t gotten injured, there would be no reason to doubt this team. If a frog had wings, he wouldn’t, … you know, the big “IF”. As it is, the talking heads are not convinced that FSU deserves a spot in the final four. Even though QB Rodemaker did just fine when they played Florida in their last game, it was the Seminole defense that stole the show, as it held the Gators to just 86 yards passing. Just because Louisville comes into this game as the underdog, don’t rule them out. They lost to UK, fair enough, but in that game they outgained the Wildcats 403-289. What hurt them was they turned the ball over three times and gave UK a short field. The toothy Cardinals will be coming into this game looking for a bounce-back performance. If they can win, not only will they be playing spoiler for Florida State, but they’ll be in a New Year’s Six bowl. Most people are looking at QB Rodemaker as the ‘make it or break it’, but he doesn’t need a 400 yard, or even a 300 yard passing game. It would be nice, but it’s not needed. All he has to do is be a game manager, make few mistakes and take what the defense gives him. His team can take care of the rest. The key will be the Seminole defense containing Louisville’s Jack Plummer and the rest of the Card offense. In eight of their last games, the Noles have allowed 20 points or fewer. If they are able to shut down this Card offense, the Noles will win, and that’s all they have to do, just win, Baby! They go undefeated and it will be very hard for the committee to leave them out, no matter how much chatter there is.

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