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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Big Ten- East


We now turn our gaze to the Big 10 conference, yet another league that refuses to change their name despite the fact that they now have 14 teams instead of 10. This just reeks of snobbery, (the exact opposite of the Little Man Syndrome League the Big 12). So here at we refuse to call them the Big 10, they are The Great White North Conference. Because they are all northern (yankee) teams that play in the cold frozen north. Lets give credit where credit is due, they did get rid of the ridiculous division names of the Legends and Leaders and they are now divided into East and West, logic at it’s best. The Eastern part of the division is up first. Ohio State, has championship fever, they think their ready to win it all! Michigan State doesn’t share OSU’s vision and thinks they have arrived to the elite ranks. Michigan is trying to gain back its glory, Penn State wants to ruin everybody’s season, Indiana wants its boys to play a football style of defense as opposed to the basketball defense mentality its had. Maryland and Rutgers enter the GWN conference and even they’re not real sure what to expect.


1. First up, the Michigan State Spartans! Sparty won the GWN conference last year and until someone is man enough to knock them off, its going to be MSU again this year. Last season everyone was picking Ohio State, not CSF, we called for Michigan State to upset and they delivered. Now 231they have to learn how to handle success. Coach Mark Dantonio is about as level headed as they come and he seems to have a handle all this success thing. He’s a blue collar kind-of a guy and there’s no reason to think that’s going to change. The Spartans took the field in every game except against Notre Dame, not sure what caused that loss maybe they were all suffering from food poison or something.  Then once QB Connor Cook took over the offense came together. Cook will be back again this year only now he and the rest of the squad have experience and they have experience at winning! The so called skilled players are all back, the running backs, the receivers, tight ends, all of them. The hogs of the offense, have five players with starting experience returning to the line. Last year the O-Line allowed 17 sacks, although that’s not great, it still ranked the 3rd lowest in the GWN. Needless to say the offense should be in sync, it should have no problem moving the ball and scoring.
Now we come to the heart and soul of the team, Defense. The Defense was the main reason Sparty was so tough last year, they had experience and a ton of talent. They start off this year losing 6 starters, now I’m no mathematician but that’s more than half. Its time to see if this will be a reloading year, or a rebuilding year. Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who turned down head coaching jobs at other schools to stay in East Lansing, says, “We’ve got players.” He might be right, him sticking around is a good sign that he believes what he’s preaching. The Defensive ends are set with Shilique Calhoun and Marcus Rush, this duo might be the most fearsome duo in all of college football. The Line appears to have a good mixture of underclassmen and seniors, the secondary is relatively settled, but the biggest question mark will be the linebackers, the lone returning backer, Taiwan Jones is switching from outside linebacker to middle, (I’m willing to bet he didn’t ask for this switch) and two underclassmen will fill out the corps. D-Coordinator will need to get his defense nasty and quick in a great big hurry because they will be tested in the second game of the season against Oregon.
Toughest Games:
Oct 6th– Oregon- MSU invades the Northwest, if they come out of the hostile confines of Autzen with a win, then they might just make it to the final four.
Nov 8th– Ohio State- OSU is going to be tough this year, but the Spartans have them at home.
Nov 29th– Penn State- The Nittany Lions are going to be tougher than expected

2.  Ohio State enters the season with the world expecting them to continue their unbelievable run of victories. The only problem is most of the ohio state logosports writers wanna forget that they lost their last two games. How can Alabama lose it’s last two games and everyone calls it a bad year, yet OSU loses its last two games and everyone expects them to  win it all this year? That just doesn’t make sense. Urban Meyer can coach and he’s doing a fantastic job in Columbus, no argument there. Braxton Miller returns and that’s what’s got everyone in a roar about the Buckeyes. He’s got talent, he’s got speed, he’s got no support staff. Miller is capable of putting up Heisman type numbers that cause press jockeys to fawn over him. What he doesn’t have is a returning offensive line, well one offensive line is coming back but even he’s switching over to the other tackle spot. Kind-of hard for Miller to put up big numbers if the line can’t hold off the pressure. On top of that Carlos Hyde the battering ram of a running back is gone and he’s going to be hard to replace. Then the top receiver for OSU departed and at this time Miller doesn’t know who his go to guy is going to be. Now all of this doesn’t mean they are going to have a bad season, come on now this is O-H-I-O State, they have no problem when it comes to recruiting. There are plenty of Yankees…ad-humm….Northerners that are dying to wear the Scarlett and Grey. Its just all these replacements on offensive are unproven and will need to gel. OSU’s schedule is on the light side until the end of October so they’ll have plenty of time to get things worked out. But they still won’t be as effective as last year’s unit. Defense Buck’s are solid, the entire defensive line returns, one linebacker needs to be replaced and the secondary appears to be ready. So if Defense wins championships, OSU is off to a good start. That doesn’t mean that the “D” is infallible, last year they got tested and at the end of the year they were found wanting. This unit will be relied upon to carry the team until the offense comes together.
Toughest Games:
Oct. 25th– Penn State- Ohio State has a lot of time to get the offense going
Nov.  8th– Michigan State- The Buckeyes will want revenge against the Spartans
Nov. 29th – Michigan is rival game, anything can happen, just ask Auburn

3. Michigan enters the season with Head Hoke feeling heat whenever he sits down. The fans in Ann Arbor are not known for having patience. ToMichigan help turn the heat down Hoke went down south and hired Offensive Coordinator Doug Nussmeier from Alabama. Could the Great White North Conference be taking a clue from the South? Maybe. It’ll be interesting to see if OC Nussmeier can turn a Yankee….hu-hum….Northern team into a southern powerhouse. They do have Dave Gardner returning at QB, that may not be a blessing, he has shown that he can play but consistency has been his enemy. He’s going to have to prove he can play an entire game at a high consistent level and he hasn’t done that yet. The rest of the offense will be anchored by underclassmen. The line loses two seniors but Hoke says he’s got talent to replace them. With the seniors this team ranked 102nd in rushing with a misely 3.3 yards per rush. That’s not Michigan Football! Needless to say the Alabama transfer has he’s work cut out for him. The defense did have moments of brilliance throughout the season, but moments will not get them to the Championship game. The “D” suffered from injuries which allowed the underclassmen to gain valuable playing time, this year they’ll need that experience. The Wolverines are not even close to regaining their glory days, but a 7-6 record again will not keep Hoke his dream job.
Toughest Games:
Sept 6th– Notre Dame- Michigan has a bad habit of dropping this game to the Irish
Oct 25th – Michigan State- The Spartans are widening the gap.
Nov. 29th – Ohio State- Michigan’s going to need a miracle.

4. Penn State will be breaking in it’s third coach in what? 60 years, or something like that. Former Vanderbilt coach James Franklin makes his 386debut. Even though the Nittany Lions are still  under sanctions it doesn’t mean they don’t have a good foundation to build upon. Bill O’Brien left behind plenty of talent. Starting with Christian Heckenberg, who took the field last year. He has shown that he has the skills, the talent, and the potential to become a national name. He’ll have a good running game with senior Zach Zwinak returning. That’ll help because the receivers will all be wet behind the ears. The offensive front received a serious blow when senior guard Miles Dieffenbach tore his ACL in the spring. They have one returning tackle and after that it becomes anyone’s guess. I hope Heckenberg is tough, he’ll be tested. The Defense will be a mixture of returning starters and raw talent. Now last year when PSU lost they lost big, the “D” will have cut that margin down. Now for some reason CSF is thinking Penn State is going to be better than 7-5. If Franklin is able to do what he did at Vandy then the fans in Happy Valley will be….Happy!
Toughest Games:
Oct 11th– Michigan- They beat the Wolverines last year, they might just do it agains
Oct 25th– Ohio State- The Lions cannot be blown out again
Nov. 29th– Michigan State- They will be tested.

5.  Indiana is trying to take a page out of the Baylor playbook, offense scores lots of points the hell with play defense. The Hoosiers will have Juniors Nate Sudfeld, the pocket passer, and Tre Roberson, the running QB returning. Both of them used their strengths to put up great numbers. Tevin Coleman will try and improve upon his 958 yards rushing and 12 TD’s. The entire offensive line returns and they have proven they know this system and they can block. The only question mark are the receives, they have Shane Wynn as the lone returning ball catcher. But last year this offense averaged 38.4 points per game, if they can improve upon that type of production they just might make it to a bowl game! There might be a little bit of problem getting to that bowl game, and that would be the defense. This unit gave up 5.4 yards per rush, that’s just a little bit more than half the yards needed to get a first down. Needless to say, that’s not good! The line has three returning starters and the linebackers are all back as well. But they just can’t give up that type of yardage. The secondary has three returning players but they didn’t do much better than the line, allowing QB’s to complete 60% of their passes. If they continue with this type of production the offense is going to need to score many, many, more touchdowns.
Toughest Games:
Sept 20th– Missouri- Taking on the SEC East champion will be a big test!
Oct. 11th – Iowa, Oct 18th – Michigan State, Nov 1st – Michigan, Nov. 8th – Penn State, Nov. 22nd – Ohio State

Maryland III6.  Maryland finished its last year in the ACC going 7-6 but only winning 3 ACC game and losing to Marshall in the Military Bowl. Not the best way to arrive in the Great White North. But the Terps have 9 returning starters on both sides of the ball. That might soften blow that awaits them. C.J. Brown will returns QB which is good news. He threw for over 2,000 yards, he’ll need to do that again in ’14. He’ll have help, most of the receivers return and Brandon Ross will line up as the main running back. The line only lost one starter and they have a Junior College transfer coming in to fill the hole. Defense has lots and lots of experience but its ACC experience and they didn’t make a big splash in that league. If Maryland was still in the ACC they STILL won’t be ranked very high, now they enter the GWN and its going to be step up in competition. They do have a weak non-conference schedule and that is where they need win, then after that they need to do all the can just to hang with the big boys. Oh wait, they should beat Rutgers, WhooHoo!
Toughest Games:
All Great White North conference games.

7.  Where Maryland is taking a step up in conferences, Rutgers is taking one great leap! But hey now the GWN has a TV presence in the New England area. The Scarlet Knights do have 16 starters coming back, how well that will compute to Big Boy Conference play, is yet to be seen. CSF is not thinking its going to measure up. QB Gary Nova will return and he’s got all five lineman returning as well. Running Back Paul James could be a difference maker, which is great because is Nova goes down, well actually if any starter goes down, Rutgers has no one with experience as a back-up. The defense was able to handle the AAC running game pretty well, but how are they going to do with bigger backs? Everyone at Rutgers is all excited about joining the GWN, except the football team, they know they’re the ones that have to take the lumps and there’s going to be lumps…big ones.
Toughest Games:
All of them, except Howard.

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