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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Preview of Week 9

Are all your heads still spinning? The last couple of weeks have given us upsets of epic proportions, arguments over officiating, chiefly one call AGAINST Notre Dame, which has never happened in a ND game before (sarcasm), beat downs, missed game-winning field goals, special team plays, and Hail Marys that actually worked! This is World Series week. How do they think they can complete with everything that is happening in the realm of college football? It’s a head scratcher.

Florida State has this weekend off, and, so far, no word of any bonehead moves by Jameis Winston. Football commentators are finally calling Coach Jimbo Fisher, “The Great Enabler”, and, rightly so. The bad part is that FSU’s next opponent, Louisville, has this week off, also. Should make for a great Thursday night game. But that’s on next week’s agenda.

460The highlight game of the ACC should be North Carolina vs. Virginia. The Tarheels are either coming into their own, and trying to become bowl eligible by the skin of their teeth, OR, they need to be admitted into Duke medical center for mental instability. Not sure if Duke medical center does mental analyses but UNC seems to be a prime candidate. This is a team that has lost every significant game on their schedule and then, for some reason, they beat Georgia Tech. Did one of the players wake up that morning and say, “Hey, Y’all know what would be fun today? To beat Georgia Tech,” and all the others said, “Yeah, why not?” Now they face a Virginia team that is looking to save Coach London’s job and doing a fine job of it. The Cavaliers play hard all game long. They haven’t gotten blown out and they have stood toe to toe with tough teams and even won a few. CSF is going to pick the “WaHoos”, but, seriously, we have no idea what to expect from North Carolina. Nor do we know what effect this NCAA brouhaha is going to have on these student athletes.

Georgia Tech takes on Pitt’s running game. Pitt is excellent at running the ball;- they aren’t so excellent in throwing it. Don’t believe me? Hummph….Well, did you know that Pitt’s passing game ranks 118th out of 120 schools in the Division 1A? On the ground, they rank 20th. That is a huge difference! BUT don’t think it’s going to spotlight them against the Yellow Jackets. GT ranks 117th in passing and 5th in rushing. The Infantry is going to love this game because it’s going to be a grinding, pounding, hardcore, brutal ground game! Pitt is the pick because they have an arguably better defense.

Boston College should beat Wake Forest and Clemson should triumph over Syracuse, but it could be a close contest.

Big 12, that only has ten teams.
One of the problems with only having ten teams in a conference is scheduling. Take this weekend for example, the Big 12,that only has ten teams, has three games. That’s it. Six teams in action, four taking breathers, one would think that could have been scheduled….I don’t know….Better.


351Texas, at 3-4, faces the leader of the Big 12 minus two, K-State! The Wildcats are the only team within the conference that holds a series le160ad over the Longhorns, at 8-6. Should the Purple team win Saturday, it will be the program’s 500th all-time victory. Over a third of those victories have been under the tutelage of Bill Snyder,-183. That’s impressive. When Charlie Strong first became a head coach at Louisville, he contacted Bill Snyder because he wanted to emulate the K-State program. Now Coach Strong is trying to replicate Snyder’s program with the Longhorns. We wish all the best to Charlie Strong, but the Wildcat defense is just too strong and the offense is playing great! Wildcats get their 500th victory and extend their Big 12 (-2) lead.

West “By Golly” Virginia, slayers of the Baylor Bears, travel to Oklahoma State, who need a recovery game after falling to TCU. The Pokes have been winning with freshman and sophomores, and, until last week, it looked like this was brilliant strategy. Never thought a game against the Mountaineers would constitute a turning point for the Cowboys, but here we are. OSU has to beat WVU because they need some momentum going into the back part of their schedule, which is,…well, tough. West “By Golly” Virginia was not supposed to be here, no way, no how. How can a team that can’t, or won’t, run, and has a facade of a defense, be in this adventageous position? I don’t know! But I don’t feel too bad about that because neither does Baylor. OSU has much more balance on offense and there’s no question that their defense is better, going to go with the Cowboys.

In the battle of Northern Texas, it’s TCU against Texas Tech. The Horn Frogs are squirting blood from their eyes. Texas Tech was glad they got to play Kansas last week and stop their own bleeding. Tech has too many questions and TCU has too many answers. Horn Frogs win.

The Great White North
I’m not sure there is a way to save Coach Hoke at Michigan, but he’s got to want this game so at least he can say he beat Michigan State. Once. 131231It’s been five years since the Wolverines were able to down the Spartans. Last year, when the Maize and Blue lost by 29-6, they had a total of -48 yards rushing. That’s because every time the QB dropped back to pass, he was being knocked on his back, violently! Offensive Coordinator Doug Nussmeier was brought up from Alabama to improve the Wolverine attack and it hasn’t helped. Has anyone ever thought it might be the personnel Hoke’s determined to stick with? Anyone besides me, I mean? Michigan State just might be the most powerful team in the nation. They have a brutal defense and the offense can do whatever it wants whenever it wants. The only weakness they have is that in the second half they have a tendency to coast. Last week Coach Dantonio challenged his entire team to play all out all game long. Indiana never saw it coming. If Michigan is to upset the Spartans, it’s going to take Divine intervention, like, maybe a plague of frogs in East Lansing, MI, or flies, yeah, flies, I hate flies, that could work. Nah! Bye, bye, Brady.

Ohio State has had enough tune-up games. The only game where they were challenged they lost and that was to Virginia Tech of the weak ACC. 386J.T. Barrett started his first game at QB then, but he’s come on strong since. He has had plenty of time to get comfortable and learn the position, now let’s see how he does against a more traditional power, Penn State. Not that the Nittany Lions have done themselves any favors the last two games. Losing to Northwestern could be forgiven, a slip-up for new coach James Franklin, nothing more. But following that by losing to Michigan? That’s a symptom of deeper issues. The Buckeyes are riding a huge wave of momentum, PSU needs a win. What better way to stop the bleeding than by beating OSU? Because of the sheer fact that Penn State needs this game more than Ohio State, CSF is picking the Lions.
Maryland would probably earn a gold star by beating Wisconsin, a big gold star, but it’s doubtful we’ll ever know.
Minnesota is going to run all over Illinois.

Rutgers is going to have their hands full with Nebraska, who is somehow avoiding the “Curse of the Hat” (just a reminder, the “Curse of the Hat” is because Coach Bo Pelini wears his hat like a dunce cap and CSF is convinced it’s the reason for them losing four games a year). Not sure what kind of black magic is being used but we shall investigate this phenomenon further.


In the Land of Giants, there are some good match ups! Thank Goodness for the SEC network, for we might not get to see them all otherwise.
First, South Carolina at Auburn. The War Eagles are coming off a bye week after suffering a loss to Mississippi State. How they perform will be a good indicator of the character of this team. The biggest question is can they cope with the injuries plaguing their offensive line? Only the center and left tackle have started every game so far, players at every other position have spent time in the med center. Up until they met the Bulldogs, the Tigers, Alabama variety, were rolling over everyone. Can they recover? South Carolina is out of Playoff contention, they are out of SEC Championship consideration, and they are out of the SEC East race, but that doesn’t mean they are finished. If there is one thing that Coach Steve Spurrier loves to be is a thorn in somebody’s, anybody’s, side, and he excels at this. Beating Auburn seems to be a problem for the Gamecocks. The last time USC-S won was in 1933. Since that time the two teams have met 11 times and the record of 1-9-1. Since joining the SEC in 1991, the Gamecocks have lost every time. USC-S’ main strength is running the ball. They are not running the same offense as MSU, but Auburn showed they have a wee bit of trouble stopping a strong running game. With Auburn’s injuries on the offensive line, USC-South is in the position of playing Spurrier’s spoiler role, which loads this game up with interesting possibilities. If the Gamecocks pull off the upset, then Auburn will have to win out, including, but not limited to, beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa to hope for even a January 1st Bowl Game.

519Two SEC special rivalry games are on the docket. Ole Miss goes to the Louisiana State University, or LSU. The Tigers, Louisiana variety, have lost to all the SEC West teams they have faced, Mississippi State and Auburn. The defensive line has proven to be porous and needs to buck up if they are going to have a chance at beating the Rebels. LSU wants to run the ball, it’s their bread and butter. They might want to rethink this plan against Ole Miss. Moving to a pure passing attack is risky, based upon either, or both, their QB’s performance so far, but running against the Land Shark defense has proven difficult for Mississippi opponents. In the last 15 meetings LSU has been the favorite, two years ago this game came down to the wire with the Tigers winning. Last year, Louisiana State gave up a last minute winning field goal. If LSU is going to win this time, their lineman on both sides of the ball have got to play the best game of their lives. Ole Miss enters Death Valley as the number 3 team in the nation, and, in the opinion of CSF, they should ranked number 1. Why? Because my brother graduated from Ole Miss! Ok in football terms they should be number one by the simple rule of “Defense wins championships”. The Rebel defense has been playing head and shoulders above anyone else. The defense has allowed 6 touchdowns so far, and they have scored 4. With the Land Sharks playing like that, all the offense has to do is not mess up. That’s what Bo Wallace said, and is why Coach Freeze has changed the style of attack from a hurry-up, fast tempo offense, to one where they take their time, huddle, and play methodically. All the boys from Mississippi have to do is play mistake-free football. If they keep playing like they have been they should enjoy this trip to Baton Rouge. Hotty Toddy! Gosh Almighty! Will be heard in LSU stadium, a lot. Where did this moniker, “Land Sharks”, come from? What does it mean? We shall investigate this phenomenon further.

The Cigar Game, Alabama vs. Tennessee! It is the custom of the winning team to smoke cigars after the game. CSF couldn’t agree more with 190that type of thinking. Alabama is coming off its most dominant performance of the year, crushing A&M. Before the game St. Nick spoke to the lineman, offensive and defensive, and challenged them, saying that the nation was disrespecting the team because of their performance. They didn’t like that and the result was a destruction of the Aggies. Can that fire continue to burn against UT? As an Alabama fan I expect, I sincerely hope for, I wish for this type of performance in every game from now on. When the line plays that well, the running game is virtually unstoppable. UT is coming off a bruising defeat at the hands of the Land Sharks of Ole Miss. They produced zero rushing yards and only 195 yards in passing plus three interceptions. The Vols have proven that they are weak at running the ball and in stopping the run, not good in the SEC West. Tennessee’s offensive line has two freshmen starting and they have given up the second most sacks (30) in the nation;- only SMU has given up more (34). If UT hopes to light up after the game, they need misfortune to come down upon Alabama, like, having their starting QB unable to play,… oh, wait, that might be the best thing that could happen for Bama! The Crimson Tide Rolls! It won’t be a tsunami, but the Tide will still roll. If, I almost forgot, “BAMA, STOP TURNING THE BALL OVER!”

Arkansas hosts UAB and they should win this one, it’s not an SEC game. Mississippi St. goes to Kentucky and shouldn’t have much of a problem. Vanderbilt visits the Tigers, Missouri variety, and Mizzou should, that’s should, win, but they might not. Remember Indiana. And Georgia.

USC vs. Utah. Last week we picked USC to be upset by Colorado, that didn’t pan out very well as the Trojans passed their way to a 56-28 victory. QB Kessler had the passing game of his life as he threw for 318 yards. If he keeps that up the Trojans will be difficult to stop. Not impossible, but difficult. USC-West has depended heavily on the running game this season and Sarkisian needs Keesler’s passing to take some of the pressure off RB Allen. Allen has been the workhorse, he has six games where he’s rushed for 100 yards or more. Either the passing game continues it’s success or everyone will load up the box with 9 players and stop the run. Allen spends a lot of time in the whirlpool after every game, as it is. Utah matches up very well against USC-West, on paper. The Utes boast the second best rush defense, allowing 114 yards per game. They have allowed only three rushing TD’s this year. Ah, you may surmise, we’ll just pass the ball and the Utes will go down. “Not so Fast, my friend”, in the words of Lee Corso. Utah’s pass defense leads the nation with 33 sacks and seven INT’s this year. USC – W is going to have a tough time moving the ball against the Utes of the Beehive State. Offensively Utah is in a bit of a flux. They run the ball very well but they just don’t have a QB that has stepped up and taken control. Coach Whittingham has been going back and forth between QB Thompson and QB Wilson. Wilson started the first five games but wasn’t able to distinguish himself, so Thompson stepped in last week and pretty much did the same thing. Undistinguished. Whoever it is that plays against USC must occasionally throw the ball, because being one-dimensional will lead to defeat. CSF would like to pick the Utes, but we learned a lesson last week and we’re picking USC. We learn a lot of lessons.

601ASU vs. Washington. Last year the Sun Devils crushed the Huskies in the desert, 53-24. QB Kelly threw for 271 yards and absolutely torched the secondary. Now ASU goes up to soggy Washington without Kelly. Oh, Wait! What’s this? Kelly is reporting back into action this weekend. Well, that changes things a bit. Arizona State sits in the lead of the PAC-12 South, but it’s an unstable seat. Another loss would allow USC to take over the lead. The Devils of the Desert are not keen to run the ball, they believe in passing and passing a lot. Against Stanford they had to protect the QB from the bruising defense. Against Washington they’ll need to do the same thing. Protect the QB at all cost. If Kelly is able to produce at the level he did before he hurt his foot, ASU will be in good hands. Washington has two PAC-12 losses, to Stanford and Oregon. The Huskies have the one of the nation’s best pass rushes and they model themselves after Stanford’s defense. They want to be the most physical defense in the conference. They’re not there yet, but they’re on the right track. ASU beat the Cardinal’s defense, now they face the little brother. Washington’s offense is still be looking for an identity. They haven’t established a dominant passing attack, as they rank 106th in the nation, and they’re 54th in rushing, so they aren’t all that good at either thing. They’re missing something, what, I’m not sure. The offensive line needs to improve, they need a QB that reacts instead of having to think everything through. It’ll be difficult to overcome the Sun Devils.

Oregon State would love nothing better than to pile on Stanford’s misery. CSF doubts they will, but they’d love it, and Maryland wants that big gold star. “A man’s reach should always exceed his grasp.” Someone said that first. It wasn’t me.

Arizona takes on Washington State, and, if they are not careful, or underestimate the Cougars, then the Cougars will beat the Wildcats. Where’s a Tiger, or a Lion, when you need him? My favorite is the caracal, but I know of no team that has adopted him as a mascot. Pity.

UCLA meets Colorado, and the Bruins should win. Still pulling for the Buffs to upset someone, but not going to call for it. Remember that lesson I learned?


The University of North Alabama Lions have now moved up to number 3 in the nation in Division II. They’ll be at home Saturday after two tough road tests. They will be hosting Gulf South Conference division foe West Georgia. UNA has a punishing rushing attack and the Purple Swarm Defense has returned to its days of glory. Roar Lions! (I knew they were around someplace.)


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