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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 11 Preview

Week 11 Preview

The first weekend in November brings a sense of urgency in college football. Teams that are in the running for a spot in the Playoff know that every single game, every down, every action taken on the field is going to be noticed, analyzed and talked about. Of course, every single one of those things will affect the game and it’s win now or settle for a bowl. This instills hope for some teams, dread for others. Who is going to be able to deliver and who’s going to fold? Or, after Tuesday’s elections, who’s going to be the Republicans (Winners) and who’s going to be the Democrats (Losers)? Other teams are just hanging on to get a winning season, or, at least, have a good season. Hardcore football fans will love every minute of it, will watch all the games, and “Loving it!”

Since we are going to cover games that have national title implications, writing about the ACC is going to be a short section.


The only game that has any sort of weight to it is Louisville vs. Boston College. Neither team is ranked but they are both sitting at 6-3. LouisvilleLouisville is coming off the heartbreaking loss to Florida State. The Cardinals should have beaten FSU, dad-gum, they should have beaten the criminals from Florida, but Louisville has had trouble playing against top tier schools. They handled Miami well enough to start the season, but then fell to both Clemson and Virginia (UVA is a top tier school, you ask? We’re talking ACC here, give me some slack) So what do all three of these schools, Florida State, Clemson, and UVA, have in common? They didn’t quit, they kept the pressure on Louisville the entire game. In all their wins, the Cardinals were able to break the spirit of the other team and then pile on some points in the second half. But, in their losses, they surrendered the lead in the second half. That does not bode well for Louisville going in to play Boston College. The Eagles have three losses as well, but, if there is one thing we’ve learned about BC it’s that they don’t give up. They just don’t have any quit in them. Both Louisville and Boston College have a signature win, but both have lost to Clemson and someone else they weren’t supposed to lose to. Boston College won’t quit, but it won’t be enough, Louisville wins.

As for the rest of the ACC, not much is going on. Duke should beat Syracuse, Georgia Tech should down NC State, and Florida State will beat Virginia, – unless, of course, the Football gods have a sense of humor and give UVA the strength of Hercules, the speed of Hermes, and the battle wisdom of Athena that allows the Cavaliers to upset the Seminoles! Oh, wouldn’t that be great! Doubt it will happen, but it would be nice.

Big 12 that only has ten teams

In the small man’s conference there are two games where ranked teams play each other, Baylor vs. Oklahoma and K-State vs. TCU.
Baylor BearsSince I have a cousin who is crazy about Baylor and has threatened to show up at my front door singing the Bears’ fight song continually at three in the morning if I don’t mention them more,….here are the Baylor Bears! BU is coming off a win over Kansas, and, after the game, Bryce Petty was asked what he thought of the Bears’ performance and he said, “Just ready for OU”. They better be, Baylor has never beaten the Sooners in Norman. The Bears were riding high until they got shot down by West “By Golly” Virginia. They used the Kansas game as a rebound, we’ve all had rebound relationships, they never end well. They held KU to just ten yard rushing. Could this be the start of a Bear Defense? I kid myself, of course not. Baylor is still going to rely on Petty to throw the ball better than Trevor Knight does. But the Bears need this game if they’re to have any chance of winning the Big 12 that only has ten teams. Win this OU game and get some help from TCU, more on that later. Oklahoma leads this series 21-2, with the last two losses coming within the last three years. The best news for OU is that Sterling Shepard will be back in ball catching form. Trevor Knight appears to have another receiver who he trusts, none other than former QB rival Blake Bell, who caught two TD’s last weekend. Bell is a big target. This will be the last real test for the Sooners, they are already out of playoff contention so the best they can do is to play spoiler. Baylor is on the outside looking in, they want to make it, it’s still possible, it involves one great big mathematical equation that I couldn’t do on my best day, but, yeah…sure, it’s possible. Baylor wins, only because they want to see me attempt this equation.

TCU vs. Kansas State! Yes! This game has been shaping up as the marquee game of the Big 12, that only has ten teams, since the start of the season. TCU is in its third year of league play, and since the first two didn’t go very well, Coach Patterson changed the offense this year. So far, 362it’s worked out pretty well. They have scored at will, 82 points a few weeks ago, and they have managed to keep up in the pass happy league. The Frog are 5-0 at home this year and, truth be told. Ft. Worth has always been a bad place for visiting teams. The worst thing that could happen to the Horn Frogs is for them to have a repeat performance of their WVU game. If they even falter in their execution, they will lose, and lose badly, to the Wildcats. K-State has been running through the Big 12, minus two league. Last week Jake Waters threw for 223 yards and ran the offense like a fine-tuned machine. It’s going to be a tall order for the TCU defense to put a lid on Waters. But that might not be their greatest worry that might be Tyler Lockett, who has piled up 2,877 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns making him second in the record books at K-State. You know who is first? His dad, Kevin Lockett, who had 3,032 yards and 26 touchdowns. It’ll be a fun Thanksgiving dinner for Tyler if he’s able to beat his Dad’s record. K-State hasn’t changed anything about its approach to the game. TCU has traded its stalwart defense for a high octane attack. CSF is not sure TCU is going to be able to stop the Wildcats, not like anyone has been able to stop TCU, but K-State’s defense will put a lot of pressure on Boykin. We’re just not sure he’s up to picking himself off the turf that often. Go Wildcats!

In other action, West “By Golly” Virginia will be going to Texas, and Charley Strong’s minions could surprise the Mountaineers. Iowa State should win against Kansas.

Great White North

Last week we said this conference gave us a snoozer of a weekend, and they did. This weekend they have one game that will have national implications, one. That would be Ohio State vs Michigan State. Other than this matchup, Penn State beats up Indiana, Wisconsin defeats Purdue, Michigan (I can’t believe I’m picking Michigan) will win against Northwestern. Iowa against Minnesota could be a good game. But one could go and make a Dagwood sandwich and not miss anything.

Ohio State was the darling of the frozen north. Urban Myer had the Buckeyes eating nails and spitting bullets, no one dared stand in their way. For two years they went undefeated in the regular season. Then these Spartans showed up at the GWN championship game and introduced 231OSU to what a real defense is like. The Buckeyes fell. This year they were supposed to be the darling again, the conference is weak, they weren’t going to have any real heavy games until Nov. 8th. Then Virginia Tech showed up in the second game of the season. Since Ohio State lost to the unranked Hokies, they haven’t recovered in the eyes of the nation. Even though they’ve won every game since then, they just can’t get back the love they had before. Kind-of like that significant other that just can’t accept the fact the relationship is over. No matter what they do, we don’t want them back. BUT this weekend just might be the ticket for OSU to gain national notoriety; – all they have to do is beat Michigan State. Easy pickings. The Buckeyes rely on a hard nosed running game. JT Barrett has improved and shown he can play FAR better than he did against Virginia Tech, but he’s just not up to being an elite QB yet. They will try to run the ball and keep as much pressure off of Barrett as possible. There is one thing they cannot, under any circumstances, do and that’s to fall behind and rely on Barrett to pass them to victory. Michigan State still has this defensive mentality. They believe that all they have to do is stop the other team from doing…anything. They want to hit the ball carrier so hard that he goes to the huddle and tells everyone he doesn’t want the ball anymore. The Spartan offense also relies on a punishing ground game, but they aren’t one- dimensional. Cook can throw the ball to some very talented receivers. Whoever wins this game will be the sole GWN team without a league lost. Game note: this will be the first November night game ever in Spartan Stadium. Wonder if it’s going to be cold? Ohio State has been playing well but they don’t have the defense MSU does. Offense wins games, defense wins championships. In November, it’s about winning Championships. Spartans win, again! (I hope)


Arizona State should look at this game as a “redemption game”. Redemption for losing to ND last year when they were the far better team and redemption for losing to UCLA earlier this season. The Sun Devils knew they were going to have a good offense at the start of the season, they were not sure about their defense. It cost ‘em against UCLA. Since that let down game the defense has played so well that that ASU has relied on them for three straight wins. The Sun Devils have a terrifying offense that keeps defensive coordinators up at night. Their defense has proven it577 can handle itself, so why isn’t everyone piling on ASU’s bandwagon? The Sun Devils have a problem, they seem to scare easily. They’re fine against most teams, but when they play a school that is/was a historical powerhouse, they get the jitters and worry if they are good enough to be on the same field. Last year was a fine example, they were awed by playing ND at JerryWorld stadium in Dallas. They just didn’t believe they were good enough to pull it off and they didn’t. They could have, they had everything they needed, except confidence. Maybe they gained some confidence by beating USC. Maybe. Notre Dame has an offense, but they have an inexperienced defense. At least, it was inexperienced at the beginning of the season. Is their offense good enough to keep up with ASU? No. If the Sun Devils play like they should, they will score plenty of points. The Irish just don’t have the skill players they need to strike quickly and often. But they do have a running game, certain fans are screaming that ND has a fabulous ground game, they are ranked 61st in the nation. Not what one would call dominant. They will need that running game to produce and keep the Sun Devil offense off the field. In the last four games Notre has found itself in a slugfest in the second half. They had the lead against Navy and before they could drink some Gatorade, they were behind and had to scramble for the win. Against FSU they gave up the lead and lost the fourth quarter. Oh, My Gosh, Coach Kelly! Yes, there was that infraction committed by the Irish that would have given y’all the win, but it was called, correctly. Get over it. Against North Carolina they had to score 15 points in the fourth quarter to win, and against Stanford they needed a touchdown with 61 seconds left to win. (Has anyone looked to see if the Irish ran that illegal pick play against Stanford?) The Irish cannot allow the Sun Devils to gain the lead, they need to match them point for point and keep it close. If they do, ASU will begin to doubt themselves and stumble.. CSF is picking the Sun Devils, ever mindful of the “luck of the Irish”.

DucksOregon vs. Utah. Like the Geico commercials were everyone knows, that 15 minute line, we all know that four weeks ago the Ducks’ chances at the National Playoff took a serious blow. Since then they have battled back and are now ranked 4th by the Committee. They are coming off an impressive win over Stanford where Marcus Mariota was on fire! I mean, you could roast marshmallows and make smore’s, he was so hot. The Ducks offense is totally reliant on Mariota. As he goes, they go. If he plays like he did last week, the Ducks will secure a spot in the PAC-12 championship game. When the Ducks have had trouble it’s because the other team is getting through the line and sacking the QB. They’ve got to prevent that this Saturday. If there is one thing that the Utes have it’s a good defense. They have beaten UCLA, USC, and darn near beat ASU all because of their defense. It sure isn’t the offense. Against Arizona State, Travis Wilson was 12 for 22 for 57 yards passing. 57 Yards passing! That’s not good! So how did the Utes beat other teams and take ASU to the wire? They produce turnovers. Their defense sacks QB’s and they love scoring off any turnover. Oregon lost their fourth offensive tackle last week and the starter Yruretagoyena (I’d love to see how many people struggle with that name) still hasn’t returned. Oregon should, SHOULD, win. But if they allow the Utah defense to penetrate the line, it’s going to be tough to leave Salt Lake City with a win.

Washington State takes on Oregon State, Beavers win. Colorado travels to the southwest desert and Arizona likes to play in the heat, Buffs don’t. UCLA is the favorite against Washington, in Seattle. CSF is calling for the upset, Huskies take down the Bruins.


At the start of the season this weekend looked a bit better more predictable than it is now. A&M, who hasn’t lived up to expectations, goes to Auburn in hopes of repaying the upset the Tigers gave the Aggies last year. We’re not saying it’s not possible that A&M could win this game, we’re just saying it’s highly unlikely.

The biggest game of the weekend is none other than ALABAMA vs. LSU! LSU looked like their season was over after the second SEC West loss 194to Auburn, but they have since won three in a row, including taking down undefeated (at the time) #3 Ole Miss. Now they have their second top five team entering Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night. Alabama has three big obstacles in their way to the SEC West title. Tigers, Bulldogs and Tigers again (LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn) but this is the one that is not in the state of Alabama. LSU has learned what it can do and what it can’t do. What it can do is run the ball. Leonard Fournette, after a less than stellar start, has found his feet and started to run. He has gained 293 yards with three touchdowns in the last three games. Against Ole Miss, the Rebels’ Land Sharks were unable to stop the rushing attack. The Tigers, Louisiana variety, want to run the ball somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 times a game. That is not an embellishment, that’s actually what they do. Passing has become an afterthought, they realized it’s not their strength, so why do it? Alabama has had games where everything they did on offense was unstoppable, and then they’ve had other games where they couldn’t stop tripping over their own two feet. When they have struggled it’s been outside the confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium and a hostile crowd just adds to the Bama confusion. Should the Crimson Tide put together a game on the road like they do at home they will crush LSU. The offense can pass the ball and Sims has proven he can throw it downfield. Alabama has always been able to run the ball, if they weren’t able to run I’d start watching the skies for The Second Coming and waiting to hear Gabriel’s trumpet. This game is going to come down to defense, Surprise Surprise! It’s the SEC! Of course it’s going to come down to defense. LSU has had little trouble stopping the run in the last three games, but those teams didn’t have a running game to begin with. Auburn and Mississippi State both ran the ball all over them. Ole Miss showed that the Tigers, Louisiana variety, have gaps in their pass coverage. For LSU to win they need to play the most physical game of the year. They have to stop the Sith Lords of the Empire, Darth Yeldon and Darth Henry. They cannot allow the Sith Lords any chance of running. Sims is vulnerable away from home and struggles throwing ball on some else’s field. He doesn’t like it. Alabama’s defense has been lights out since losing to Ole Miss and squeezing by Arkansas. They destroyed A&M, that was brutal to watch. They allowed 20 points to Tennessee, but only because they took their foot off the gas. They can’t afford this luxury Saturday. If they play like they did against the Aggies, LSU won’t stay close, no way, no how. If they don’t, LSU has a chance. By LSU and Auburn beating Ole Miss, it opened the door for Bama to win the SEC West outright. First step is beating LSU. In the past this game has supplied us with so many fireworks and heart attacks it’s not funny. We can only hope it’s another great game. Alabama wins! (shocker of a pick for all that know me) provided they do one thing. ALABAMA!! STOP TURNING THE BALL OVER!!!!!!!

Mississippi State gets a breather against UTM, Ole Miss will recover against Presbyterian and Georgia might lose to Ken-Tuck-Y. I said might.


My North Alabama Lions look to redeem themselves against Shorter University. After losing to hated Delta State my Lions better crush the Hawks!


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