rssBlog EntriesComments


Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 3 Preview

Last weekend my football picks were as poor as the Great White North Conference teams’ performances, 0-3! I should have known better than to pick teams from the BIG 10, GWN. Oregon came out of the gates quickly and built a lead. Then the Spartans toughened up and assumed control the game, as it should be – to Sparty’s way of thinking (and mine). Halftime, and MSU assumed they were still in control, but Oregon 131didn’t, and before you knew it the Quack Attack was running and passing like it should be – to Oregon fans. Then Notre Dame beat Michigan like a red-headed step child, 31-0. To Nothing! Michigan hadn’t been shut out since 1984 and they chose the last game ever (or, until certain athletic directors come to their senses) between these two schools to end that record? Lordy, the next thing the college football world needs is for an Athletic Director to run down onto the field and complain to the officials about the calls they are making during a game. Oh, wait, that’s already happened! Pat Haden, the AD of USC and a member of the selection committee, came down from the press box and yelled at the officials about their calls against his Trojans. Anybody else see this as unacceptable behavior? CigarSmokinFootball does. After that bone-headed move, Stanford threw a touchdown pass that would have given them the lead, but there was a flag for a chop block. After the replay the TV announcers were reporting that it was a bad call. Wonder if Pat Haden’s “Tommy Trojan” bone-headed move had anything to do with that call? Just asking, but if I were David Shaw or Bernard Muir, I’ll be durned if I wouldn’t protest the game to at least the NCAA. Oh, that’s right, the NCAA has no guts, right, Penn State? But, I digress. So USC beats Stanford, 13-10. The rest of the GWN teams didn’t do much better. Ohio State lost to VA Tech in Columbus and the Hokies weren’t even ranked in the top 25. Nebraska needed a miracle play by Abdullah to avoid being upset by powerhouse McNeese State;- Division 1-AA, powerhouse that is. Illinois slipped by Western Kentucky. Northwestern lost to N. Illinois, 23-15, and Iowa needed everything they could muster in the fourth quarter to get past Ball State. CSF has learned a hard lesson, don’t pick teams from the GWN.
Season Record: 0-3 (@$#%&^* Big 10 teams)
Powderpuff football enters its last weekend. There are some good games on tap worth watching. Ok, sure…..all college football games are worth watching, but these are the best for the weekend.
First up, an SEC rivalry battle, Georgia vs. South Carolina. Georgia has a lot of rivals, USC-South, Clemson, Auburn, Georgia Tech, and Florida, 071to name a few. They don’t like Tennessee very much, either. The Bulldogs don’t play well with the other kids. The Gamecocks have the perfect opportunity to salvage their season. After getting embarrassed by Texas A&M, a victory over UGA will vault them back into the SEC-East race. However, Georgia is coming off an impressive win against Clemson, beating the Tigers 45-21. How did this happen? Simple, the Georgia offense wore down the Tiger defense and then they unleashed Todd Gurley in the second half. He ran for 198 yards, four touchdowns, including one on a kickoff return. Why do anything different against USC-South? The Dawgs won’t! It was a trick question. Georgia is going to throw the ball to begin with, and that might be enough. The Gamecocks gave up 832 passing yards in two games, allowing the Pirates of East Carolina 321 yards through the air. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out Georgia’s game plan. Throw the ball, get the USC-South defense on their heels, and then unleash Gurley and watch him run. Ask Clemson how this works.
South Carolina loses this one and it’s bye-bye SEC Championship, Les Adieux, playoff chances. Ok, maybe the SEC Championship is not totally out of the picture but it would take another mass-casualty exercise from the Georgia team, like last year, which just can’t happen again. (can it?). The pressure is on the Ole Ball Coach. Gamecock running back Mike Davis had a career day, rushing for 149 yards in last year’s match-up. So far in 2014, he’s rushed for 116 yards. When he tried to run against the Aggies, he amassed a total of 15 yards. South Carolina was exposed in their very first game of the season. They have trouble passing the ball. They haven’t run well. USC-South defense is in trouble, too. They don’t stop the medium passes over the middle. After halftime of the A&M game, everyone watching knew what the Aggies were going to do, just throw over the middle 8 to 15 yards down the field and the Gamecocks can’t stop it. East Carolina was no different, they just didn’t have the horses to keep up with the SEC school. It could be another long game.
Georgia’s defense is for real. Todd Gurley will not be stopped, UGA is too much for USC-South- CSF Pick- Georgia.

Next up is UCLA vs. Texas. UCLA entered the season as a trendy pick to win the PAC-12 and make it to the first College playoff. Too much hype seems to go to their heads, for now the Bruins are 2-0 but they have not played well. Virginia did everything they could to hand the game to UCLA. UVA turned the ball over every other time they got on offense. UCLA scored three touchdowns on pick 6’s and a scoop ‘n score. The 160Bruins offense scored once. The defense had its hands full last week against the mighty Memphis Tigers. I jest, U. of Memphis is not mighty but one would have thought that against the UCLA team. So what in the world is going on? According to Coach Jim Mora, “ We have to fix things now. Older guys like us, we understand how fast life goes, and I don’t think these guys always understand it, so it’s a matter of making them understand it’s important right now.” Does that create confidence? CSF is not sure anyone on the coaching staff knows what the problem is, but mental mistakes have got to be fixed and this is the perfect game to do just that. UCLA needs Running Back Paul Perkins to come to life. Texas has shown that they cannot stop the run, two years in a row now. If UCLA can move the ball on the ground, it allows QB Brett Hundley to look like the Heisman candidate he is supposed to be. He’s a dual threat QB but if he tries to be the #1 rusher, Texas is going to stack him up. He’s got to show patience and allow Perkins to wear down the Longhorns. Defensively, not sure what to say. The Bruins had trouble stopping Memphis, not to take anything away from the Tigers, but they weren’t picked to win their conference, and UCLA, who was picked to win the PAC-12, had a rough time stopping the Tigers. In the last minute of the fourth quarter, Memphis was driving, and, were it not for poor clock management, the visitors from Tennessee could have won that game. UCLA needs to get tougher, they’ve got to make this a statement game where no matter what else happens, their fault, UT’s fault, nobody’s fault, they prove they are tougher and meaner than Texas. 
Texas, on the other hand, is going through growing pains. New Coach Charlie Strong is changing everything about this team. He is changing the way they think, the way they approach a game, and how they conduct themselves. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen overnight. After getting hammered by the BYU rushing attack last year, the Longhorns should have expected another ground attack, but they seemed completely surprised by the Cougars’ rushing game. The week before the game, Coach Strong posted signs reminding Texas of their 2013 loss to BYU all over the locker room. Not a single player did anything about it, nothing. Strong said, “Anywhere else I’ve been, some player would have run through there and tore all that down and burned them in the locker room.” This team did nothing. They didn’t get upset about the reminders. To CSF that just doesn’t make sense. Now they have to face the Bruins with backup QB Swoopes because starting QB Ash went down with a concussion. Swoopes went 20-31 for 176 yards against the Cougars of BYU, not a bad start, but it wasn’t a good one either. Texas is staggering and they don’t show any signs of catching their balance. Remember last year, though;- Texas was stumbling along, Oklahoma was flying, and the Horns beat the stuffings out of the Sooners. This ain’t OU that Texas is playing, and CSF suspects they haven’t hit bottom yet. Once that happens, Strong will build them back up. But, for Saturday, CSF picks UCLA.

Tennessee is visiting Oklahoma in another Big 12, that only has 10 teams, vs. SEC matchup. UT has not fared well in these type of games, University of Tennesseeactually, the Vols haven’t fared well in most of their games in the last 4 to 5 years. Tennessee has played Arkansas State and Utah State and they’ve done far better than CSF thought they would. We won’t go so far as to say we’re on the Big Orange Band Wagon, but they are doing far better. The question marks are both lines, offensive and defensive. They have one player returning from last year that started three games. He is the veteran, none of the others played a down last year, not one. The truth is, it’s been the defense that has played the better. They have been getting into the backfield and disrupting things. They have made tackles for losses and pressured opposing Quarterbacks. They must be disruptive come Saturday. Against a proven, major conference team, it will be an acid test. The opposing O-line will have bigger players, more experienced. The Vols can’t afford to get pushed back or even have a stalemate, if they do. they’ll be overwhelmed. The offense has done well establishing a balanced attack. QB Worley has completed 64.5% of his passes for 520 yards, and leading rusher J. Hurd has 112 yards, averaging 3.3 yards per carry. Both of them will be needed come Saturday. This is no easy task by any stretch of the imagination. Oklahoma has a defense that has been playing lights out. Yes, it’s been against Tulsa and Louisiana Tech, but they have still played dominating football. The Vols are not one of the dominant teams of the SEC this year, but that hasn’t Oklahomastopped motormouth Coach Stoops from running off his mouth about his dislike for the SEC. So, in his mind, by taking on a bottom-dweller of a conference, he determines how well his team stacks up against that conference. (Of course, he took on the elite of the SEC in this year’s Sugar Bowl, but we’re not here to talk about that today). I don’t think so. Growing up, one of the sayings I learned was, “One that protests too much is often the guilty one.” (Actually, what I learned was, “A bit dog always hollers,” and, “Methinks thou dost protest too much,” but neither seems to fit exactly here.) Applying these sayings to Coach Stoops and it makes one wonder, does he want to join the SEC? Is Oklahoma getting tired of the Big 12 minus 2, and wanting to move? Things that make you say, “Hmmmm.” Trevor Knight has not been playing like he did in this year’s Sugar Bowl. He’s thrown for only 3 TD’s and 552 yards against lesser competition. Is he slipping back into mediocrity? Maybe. But he also hasn’t played much in the fourth quarter. Running has been the OU strength so far, with Keith Ford and Alex Ross both averaging over 7 yards per carry. Heck, with a running game like that, who needs to throw? It was Darrell Royal, the Texas Coach of decades ago, who said, “Only three things can happen when you throw a pass, and two of them are bad.” OU will try to establish their running game. If they are able to crank out the yards on the turf, then that’s all they’ll do, and who’s to blame them? 
Tennessee needs to win this game, it would help out Butch Jones, it would put UT back into national discussion and it would put a cork in Stoops. But, they’re not going to. UT will play them tough but come up short. CSF’s Pick- OU.
319In a bonus game, U. of North Alabama has their first game of the season against Mississippi College in Florence, AL. Why does this matter? Because it’s where I played college football, ’nuff said. UNA returns 33 letterman and seven starters from last year, when they went 10-3 and made it to the semifinals of the Division II playoffs. The Lions enter the season ranked 6th in the nation. They play long time foe, Mississippi College, who has only recently come back to DII football after spending several years at the DIII level. The Choctaws run the triple option attack but lost last week to Bellhaven, 32-14. The Mighty Lions will rely on a power running game and devastating passing attack. The Purple Swarm defense will have to play disciplined football to disrupt the flow of the MC offense. Coach Bobby Wallace, in his second year of his second go-round at UNA, has set the sights high as the Lions were not even supposed to contend for the conference title last year, much less win it. Wallace has a 10-2 opening record at UNA and he’s the coach that led the Lions to three consecutive championships in the ‘90s. Not saying that type of performance is expected again, but we’d better at least be playing for the championship every year. UNA averaged 39.8 points per game in 2013, which is the second best in school history. The strength of Wallace’s championship teams was the defense and it appears he has brought back that mentally. The Purple Swarm should be in fine form and leading the way. I like writing about my Alma Mater, and tend to get carried away doing so. But, that’s what editors are for. CSF Pick- UNA, let’s just go ahead and pick UNA to win them all.
Short Smokes:
VaTech vs. ECU- CSF is putting the Hokies on upset alert. After beating Ohio State, they’d better not let up because the Pirates are better then their record.
Ole Miss vs. University of Louisiana at Lafayette – Hotty Totty all the way.
Army vs. Stanford- Wouldn’t be GREAT if the Black Knights of the Hudson pull off the upset? We’d love it! It could happen, and almost did, last year. (who edits the editor when he waxes eloquent about his Alma Mater?)
Southern Miss vs. Alabama- Roll Tide!
Pitt vs. FIU- The Panthers are playing very well this year. Pitt Panthers that is.
Kansas vs. Duke- Blue Devils crush the Jayhawks
Miami- Ohio vs. Michigan- Could the Wolverines fall? Yes, if they let the Notre Dame game beat them twice
Arkansas vs. Texas Tech- Hard choice but we’re sticking with the SEC, Go Hogs. Best do it now, Miss State, A&M, Mizzou, Ole Miss, LSU, Bama, and Auburn won’t be so easy.
Iowa State vs. Iowa- ISU is a good team and they might pull this one out.
Minnesota vs. TCU- Should be an interesting game, we want to pick the Gophers, but after last week’s GWN showings, nope. TCU
UTSA vs. Oklahoma State- Road Runners gave Arizona all they could handle, but the Cowboys did the same thing with Florida State. Picking the Cowboys.

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Response

Please note: comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.