rssBlog EntriesComments


Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 6 Preview

Week 6

October has arrived! This is the month where teams step into the national spotlight. Some teams, who no one thought would contend, show up and surprise us all;- others, that were picked to win it, or, at least, play for it all fall out, and this is the weekend where it all breaks!
The eyes of the college football world will be focused on the SEC West. ESPN Gameday makes its first trip to Ole Miss and the Grove. If one has never experienced tailgating in the Grove of Ole Miss, it needs to be added to the bucket list. Alabama goes to Oxford to take on the Rebels. Now, in our household, this is a bit of a problem, as my brother graduated from Ole Miss, and I, of course, pull for Alabama. We did go dove hunting last weekend so neither one of us is going to come to any harm over this game. Ole Miss has lost to Bama ten times in a row. The last 500time they won, Eli Manning was their Quarterback and Alabama’s record that year was 4-7. Both teams enter the contest undefeated, but someone’s going to lose.
Ole Miss has been shining during the month of September. They have scored a lot of points and the defense has not allowed anyone to score into the 20’s. The offense has relied mostly on the passing game, which, with Bo Wallace, it’s either sink or swim. He can, and does, have great games where he makes great throws, and then, for some reason, he’ll throw it to the wrong colored jersey. Not sure why, but he does. It’s maddening to watch at times. Boise State, in game one, was able to put pressure on him in the first half and it produced three int’s. Memphis, last week, held the Rebel attack in check for three quarters by getting to Wallace. He can be the strength of this offense or he can be the weak link, he’s thrown for 11 TD’s and 6 Ints. With Wallace it’s never one or the other, it’s always both, TD’s and Ints. Against a team like Alabama, turnovers are the last thing that one should want to commit.
The Ole Miss Defense has been fantastic. Last week against Memphis they gave up a total of 104 yards. UCLA didn’t come close to matching that effort against the Tigers. If Ole Miss is to win this game, the stars are going to come from the defense. Robert Nkemdiche and Tony Connor are from the superstar recruiting class of two years ago. Now they are sophomores and its time to live up to the hype.
Of course, talking about stopping Alabama is far easier than actually doing it and this year it gets a bit more complicated. In years past Alabama didn’t do anything to cause confusion. They didn’t have to, they just did everything better than anybody else. They were called a vanilla team, 175which worked out great, count ‘em, three national championships, vanilla worked. Now the Crimson Tide has mucked everything up. They’ve changed their offense and actually use deception as part of their arsenal! What’s up with that? So far, it’s worked, and it’s worked well. In days past they had the personnel to do what they wanted whenever they wanted. They still have great personnel, but the QB position has been a bit weak. Thus, a change in offense was warranted. It’s taken some time for QB Sims and the Bama nation, to adjust to this offense, but if the game against Florida was any indication of what’s to come, we’re all in. Except, the turnovers. Here’s an idea, “Stop turning the ball over!” The spread over the Gators would have been much greater had the Tide just held on to the ball. There is some question has to the availability of Sims come Saturday, he is nursing a hurt shoulder and has yet to throw a pass in practice. Coker suit up! This might be your shot to shine! Oh, and a word of advice….”Don’t turn the ball over!”
The Alabama ground game has always been the Tide’s strength. Should there ever be an Alabama coach who wants to change this, CSF is pretty sure they will disappear in the middle of the night and never be heard from again. The Darth Lords of the Sith have performed very well so far, except for turning the ball over! When these dark lords are running well it opens everything else for the offense. The RB’s are just too good to try and not scheme around them. To stop Alabama one must stop the run and in the past 6 or 7 years, that has been darn near impossible. Except when they turn the ball over! Alabama stops Alabama better than anyone else.
Defense was a question mark for 2014. We got used to a smothering Bama defense, one that caused opposing offensive coaches and players to wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats. It wasn’t until the Florida game that the Empire’s defense showed up. Yep, the Gators scored 21 points, but all of those were results of turnovers and working with a very short field, or no field at all in one scoop ‘n score. When it was mano a mano, the Crimson Tide crushed them. Against Ole Miss they will need to be that smothering, nightmare defense. They have to stop every run attempt and force the game into Bo Wallace’s hands. Then, they need to rush him, hit him, and make him hear footprints whenever he touches the ball. Big footprints. Hostile footprints, with malice aforethought. If the Tide can do that, they’ll get the turnovers they want. If they don’t, and allow Wallace time to pass, he’ll pick apart the weak Bama secondary. Let’s face it, the Ole Miss receivers as better than the Alabama secondary defenders. So the trick is to put Wallace on the ground, make him want to get rid of the ball before he’s ready.
My brother is the best brother in the world, and I never pick against him,… except when it’s Alabama vs. Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide is hitting its stride under new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffen and it’s paying off big time. Alabama wins.

Texas A&MThe second battle of the state of Mississippi is the invasion of the Texas A&M Aggies into Starkville to take on Mississippi State. Both of these teams are undefeated, too, and both are in the SEC West, as well. A&M has already downed two SEC teams, South Carolina and Arkansas, and the Hogs are far better than they were last year. Miss St has one SEC win and that was against LSU, in Death Valley, at night. This is not supposed to happen, but it did! Still, the advantage goes to the Aggies. South Carolina and Arkansas are better teams than LSU, even though the Editor disagrees, and he does, but he also doesn’t believe the planet Krypton existed, either. The Aggies haven’t started a season 5-0 since 2001 and haven’t been 6-0 since 1994 then they were part of a different conference. That was back when the Big 12 had twelve teams. Everything is coming up roses for A&M, QB Kenny Hill is playing far better than expected, and his receivers play like their fingers are made of stick’em, the passing game is top notch. Running the ball is a work in progress and it’s been that way ever since Head Coach Sumlin took over. Texas A&M is going to move the ball and they are going to score, it’s just a matter of how much they are going to score. The biggest question-mark for A&M has been their defense. They did great against USC-South, but since that game they have allowed other teams to run on them. Arkansas ran the ball like there was no tomorrow. The Hogs simply ran out gas after four quarters. If there was any game that can exploit the weakness of the A&M defense, it’s this one. Under no circumstances can the Aggies allow the Bulldogs to run the ball.
Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen was the offensive coordinator that coached Heisman winner Tim Tebow. Since he’s taken over at Mississippi StateMSU, he has been looking for a player like Tebow. It appears he has one in Dak Prescott. This redshirt Junior has 11 TD’s by passing, 3 TD’s by rushing and he’s had three games where he rushed for over a 100 yards. This kid is good. I’m not saying he is of the same caliber as Tebow but he might be getting close. Against LSU Prescott was the deciding factor. The Tigers could not stop him. Saturday he’ll need all his moxie to get past the Aggie invaders. The Bulldogs are not a one-trick pony, they have Josh Robinson for their leading rusher, plus receivers Jameon Lewis, avg 14.9 yards per catch and De’Runnya Wilson, avg. 17.5 yards per catch. MSU has plenty of offensive weapons, which is why they will cause confusion on who to stop. The Maroons must establish the run, their entire offense is predicated on this. The Bulldog defense should benefit the most from having the week off to study the A&M offense. Let’s not fool ourselves, Miss State is not going to pitch a shutout, but they have to try. If Arkansas can slow the Aggies, why can’t the Bulldogs? They must think like the ancient Spartans, “Hold the Line!” Let none pass, let none get through, Hold the Line at all cost! That’s what it’s going to take to win this one.
This game kicks off at 12:00 noon (EDT) and it’ll be one of the best games of the day. CSF is picking A&M and, yes, it’s because my daughter is an A&M fan. Otherwise, I’d pick Mississippi State.

NebraskaNebraska has its toughest test yet at Michigan State. Nebraska enters the game at 5-0. They’ve had a dominant ground attack. They’re ranked 3rd in the nation at running the ball with 354.8 yards per game. The only game they’ve been held under 40 points was against McNeese State, where they needed a miracle play at the end of the game to win. Since that game they have piled on the points against Fresno State, Miami and Illinois. But the Cornhuskers have an identity crisis, even though they are ranked #19th in the nation, and are undefeated, they are not being taken seriously. Some will point to the McNeese State game, where they should have walked all over the Cowboys, but didn’t. Those that read CSF know the real reason, It’s the Curse Of The Hat! That’s right, Head Coach Bo Pelini doesn’t have the slightest clue how to wear his hat! And it’s going to cost them. Nebraska does not have a good record playing against ranked opponents, and they have this affinity for losing four games every year. What’s it going to take for them to be taken seriously? Beating Michigan State would be a good start. No one is sure if the Big Red team is actually that good or if they’re a house of cards about to collapse. The guys with “N” on their helmets want to be known as a power running team. Power running games move the ball against the toughest defenses. Michigan State is such a defense. Saturday, Nebraska will get their chance.
Michigan State is 3-1, with their only loss coming against Oregon. In that game the Spartans had the lead going into halftime and then just didn’t show up, or keep up, in the second half. Since then MSU has played with a mission, and they should, because if they want to make it to Michigan Statethe Playoff they have to run the table and they need to do it in convincing fashion. Pat Hayden is on the committee that selects the four teams for the Playoff, isn’t he? Still? No one is ever going to mistake the Spartan strength;- it’s defense, Defense, DEFENSE. Last week they gave up 14 points and the entire team considers that to be an insult. Against the Bug Eaters they are going to need everybody to execute their assignments perfectly. They are capable of doing it. The offense in the past years has been a steady dose of run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, until Connor Cook arrived and showed the world that MSU can have a passing game. Look for Cook to have a career night Saturday. The Spartans are going to try and pass against Nebraska. The more successful they are, the more success they’ll have on the ground. Cook needs to be on his game, as he goes, so goes the Spartans’ offense. If they have to rely solely on the running game, which isn’t bad at all, it’s gonna be tough. Nebraska can the run from time to time, but they haven’t figured out stopping the pass.
CSF thinks the Curse Of The Hat is going to show up and end Nebraska’s undefeated run. The Spartans’ defense will stop the Cornhuskers rushing game, and Nebraska doesn’t have a passing game to fall back on.
LSULSU meets Auburn on the plains of Alabama. The Bayou Bengals enters this game as wounded animals. They got burned by Mississippi State, and it hurt them to the core. LSU cannot start their stretch of SEC games at 0-2, if they drop this game, they kiss the season good-bye and Les Miles will be free to leave for Michigan in the offseason. The Cajun Tigers started the season off with a great comeback win against Wisconsin, but against Miss St they got beat up. In the last three minutes, it looked like they would have the most improbable comeback of the season, but the clock ran out. Freshman QB Brandon Harris will be taking over the helm. He’s been productive this season, all seven drives that he’s been a part of led to touchdowns. Coach Miles has stated that “Harris has some ad-lib to his game which is very positive.” In other words, this offense needs a spark, something to wake everyone up and get them excited about playing again. This has not been the LSU that the Cajuns like to brag about. Oh, don’t get me wrong, them Cajuns will brag about LSU no matter what. The defense has been…shall we say….a bit soft in its execution. They’ve allowed runs, and big plays. and all those things they shouldn’t. To try and change this, in practice it’s been first team offense against first team defense. The glaring weakness is the D-line, they are young, and inexperienced, and it’s showing. Last year the Bayou Tigers were the only team to upset the Plains Tigers in the regular season. If they want to duplicate that performance the Defensive line has got to play better than what they have. If they can’t get into the Tiger, Alabama-variety, on every play, these Tigers, Louisiana-variety, are in for a long day, night, afternoon, maybe all the above.
Auburn is just a bit cocky, as in very. Receiver Quan Bray says, “It’s not going to be hard for us to win the SEC championship. We’re the defending SEC champions.” Hmmm…that might just come back to haunt them. Yes, Auburn is 4-0, and 1-0 in the SEC, but that’s not exactly theAuburn smartest thing to say, because wounded animals are unpredictable. LSU is capable of turning their season around, and beating Auburn would be the way to start it. Even if the Plainsmen win this Saturday, they still have one heck of a schedule in front of them. Miss St., USC-South, Ole Miss, Georgia, and then the Iron Bowl, ALABAMA! That’s six ranked teams, two of them in the Top Ten, and Ole Miss is sitting right there at #11. Spouting off at the mouth that repeating as conference champions is not difficult might be as bad as the Curse Of The Hat. On the other hand, Dizzy Dean said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” Maybe Quan Bray knows something we don’t. They didn’t have any trouble against San Jose State, or Louisiana Tech, or much against Arkansas. They did beat K-State, but, to be honest, the Wildcats gave that win away in the form of turnovers. (Pay attention Alabama-Turnovers cost games- Stop turning the ball over!) But a win is a win no matter how they got it. Running misdirection plays is the bread and butter of the Auburn offense;- passing, eh, not so much. Nick Marshall made some good throws in Manhattan, KS, but for him to lead the team to another championship of any kind he’s going to be forced to rely on his arm and decision-making. Not his strong suites. If he doesn’t improve, and in a hurry, Auburn is going to lose. They may not lose Saturday, but it’s going to cost them. Lucky plays eventually run out.
CSF – is picking Auburn, the game is at home, and, so far, the Plain Tigers have played better. It wouldn’t surprise me, or my editor, if LSU pulls the upset.
Short Smokes:
Florida State vs. Wake Forest- FSU enjoys being in the ACC- Seminoles win
Oklahoma vs. TCU- Right now, the Horn Frogs have the best ranked defense in the nation and they always know how to cause OU fits. Sooners win, but it’s going to be a tough fight.
Baylor vs. Texas- The Bears are just too much for Longhorns, but CSF likes what Head Coach Strong is doing at UT.
Stanford vs. Notre Dame- The Cardinal has no choice but to win. But they won’t, some incredible officiating call out of nowhere will enable the Golden Domers to win.
Arizona State vs. USC- The Sun Devils need redemption after that performance against UCLA. If Tommy Trojan stays up in the press box, they’ll get it. How is Pat Hayden still on the selection committee?
Wisconsin vs. Northwestern- Badgers run to a victory, this will not be pretty for the Wildcats.
Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State- The Cyclones have a history of upsetting the Cowboys, would not be surprised if they do it again.
Ohio State vs. Maryland- Buckeyes will not be nice to the Terps as they introduce them to Great White North conference play.
Florida vs. Tennessee- UT is playing better than expected, Gators are going down.
Ball State vs. Army- Simple, GO ARMY!
Virginia Tech vs. North Carolina- CSF sure thought the Tar Heels were going to be better. The last two games have not helped that belief. VATech wins
Tulsa vs. Colorado State- CSF believes CSU should be asked to join the Big 12 that only has ten teams, Rams beat up on the Golden Hurricanes. Question- has there ever been a hurricane in Oklahoma? How did Tulsa come to be called the Golden Hurricanes? Things that make one think.
NC State vs. Clemson- If the Wolfpack can play like they did against Florida State, they’ll win. They won’t. It Clemson plays as well as they did against FSU, they’ll win. They won’t either. Someone will win, but you got me as to which.
Michigan vs. Rutgers- If the Wolverines lose this game, they might fire Hoke mid season.
Miami vs. Georgia Tech- Yellow Jackets win, that triple option is getting better and better.
Pitt vs. Virginia- This might one of the best games of the day. Kind-of torn on this one, not sure who to pick…we’re going with Pitt….no, wait, UVA…, Pitt, we’re sticking with Pitt….maybe
California vs. Washington St. – Two teams that are playing good ball and each needs this win. WSU gets it.
Bonus Game: #5 North Alabama Lions take on Western Oregon Wolves in Division II play. UNA continues its undefeated season, ROAR LIONS!!


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

Leave a Response

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