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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 4 Preview

Week 4 Preview

Week four is always a good week. There have been upsets (Ole Miss and Hugh Freeze will never be forgiven), we’ve had surprises, and some preseason powerhouses have shown their Achilles’ heels. Week four is when we find out where a team is headed. It’s the last of the tune-up games as teams get ready for October.

(9) UCLA vs. (16) Arizona– Definitely not a tune-up game but a season definer. The Bruins of Southern California are bringing their undefeated055 record, Freshman Phenom quarterback and PAC-12 title hopes into the low humidity of Tucson, Arizona, where they face the undefeated University of Arizona Wildcats. ESPN Game Day will even be broadcasting from there. UCLA has been in big games before, it’s been a while, but they’ve been there. Arizona has rarely been in the national spotlight. UCLA’s QB “Chosen” Rosen had a fantastic game against Virginia, he was declared one of the top QB’s in the nation and the yellow brick road to OZ was laid out before him. Since that time he struggled against UNLV and BYU. He has thrown four interceptions and is ranked 10th in completion ratio and 9th in passer rating. Against the Cougars, he struggled so much in the first half that the Bruins reverted to the running game. Maybe it was asking too much of a true freshman to deal with all that pressure. Relying on RB’s Perkins and Starks, who ran for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, might have been a blessing in disguise. Now UCLA knows they have a balanced attack, which can only help their confidence. Facing the Wildcats’ defense might not look as daunting as it did at the start of the season. All-American Linebacker with the cool name, Scooby 362Wright, has been out since the 1st quarter of the 1st game of the season. Against UTSA they allowed 525 yards, and in the first half against Nevada they allowed 200 yards. He may be back;- the Bruins are flirting with the idea. Now they have to settle Rosen down and get their primary offense back on track against a PAC-12 South team. Arizona’s offense has been on a roll. They rank fifth in the nation, averaging 9.0 yards per play. Against Northern Arizona they piled up 77 points and set a school record for total yards in a game. Before saying that the Lumberjackets are a smaller school, remember Jacksonville State, who took Auburn to overtime before falling. QB Solomon has been the focal point of the Wildcat attack. He has no interceptions and 10 TDs for the season. Last year he did not have a good game against UCLA, completing 18 passes for 175 yards with one TD and one INT. He was unsettled in that game and a freshman. Now he’s a grizzled veteran. With a high octane offense, it’s likely that the team will put up points, but the Bruin defense has been a barrier that UofA hasn’t gotten over. Coach RichRod is 0-3, and in those losses, his Wildcats didn’t even come close to their usual output. Is it a mental block, or does Coach Mora knows how to gum up the works for the Arizona offense? Not sure. Arizona has never played in the Rose Bowl, they’ve never won the PAC-12, or PAC-10, conference. There are signs they can win the South and play for the title, but they need their defense to step up. When is Scooby Wright going to get back? UCLA has a greenhorn QB, Zona has a veteran. It’s tempting to take UA, but defense is where champions are built and UCLA has the better defense. Bruins win, but it’ll be a high scoring game.

081Tennessee vs. Florida– In the not-too-distant past this was a huge game. Florida had Steve Spurrier coaching098 against Phil Fulmer and there were two things that could always be counted on: 1) Coach Spurrier would say something that would get under Coach Fulmer’s, and every UT fan’s, skin. 2) It would be a hard-hitting, thrilling game to watch, with Florida usually winning. Now both teams are rebuilding and both coaches give nothing but praise for the other. UT enters the swamp to start their SEC conference play. The Vols are 2-1 needing a win against a quality opponent to get the wind back in their sails. They played Oklahoma tough for a half but couldn’t keep up the pace and let the game slip away. They beat Western Carolina but they are stuck in the doldrums, no wind, not even a breeze. Florida, in Gainesville, presents a golden opportunity to get on track. UT can move the ball, but they have to be able to keep it going. No let-downs, no 3 and outs, the longer they keep moving the ball, the better. According to Coach McElwain, this Gator defense reminds him of the 2009 Alabama defense. WHOA! I’m not going to go that far, but they have looked good. They allowed 245 yards against Kentucky, nine points, and sacked the QB six times. They made plays when they needed to. If Tennessee wants to show that they can move the ball, score points, and keep the momentum going, to redeem themselves, this is the time and place to do it. It ain’t gonna be easy. Quality wins never are. Florida has new energy, no doubt about it, Coach Mc has infused this team with a new outlook, new confidence, and the players have responded with desire, drive, and a will to win. They beat New Mexico St, East Carolina, and Kentucky. Last year they would have lost at least one of those games. Now they host the Vols. A starting QB has yet to be named even though Grier played the entire game against UK. And did I read that Harris had been suspended? Something about alcohol. More than likely, Grier will be the starter. The Gators need to find an identity on offense so now maybe they will. Against an improved UK team, they scored 14 points, but that ain’t much. Granted, they’re learning a new offense, but against UT they can’t be be confused. The Vols defensive line is thin and young. They play like Hellcats for the first quarter, but as the game wears on, so do they. Florida needs to run the ball, run the ball, and run the ball. Keep that defensive front from catching their breath, keep them out on the field as long as possible. Rely on the Gator defense to get 3 and outs and play field position. Tennessee will play a good game, but Florida will win for the home crowd.

431USC vs. Arizona State– Back out in the West, back in the Arizona desert to be exact, the Trojans of USC meet the Sun Devils of Arizona State. Not sure how they will top the entertaining game they played last year. Remember? ASU scored three touchdowns in the last four minutes to steal the victory. QB Bercovici had the game of his life that day, right down to the Hail Mary victory pass. He threw for 510 yards and five scores. He’s back. Last week the USC-West601 defense was shredded by Stanford’s Kevin Hogan. The secondary had no answer for the passing attack and they sustained their first loss of the season. Where was Tommy Trojan when they needed him? Is he still on The Committee? Who would have guessed that the Cardinal would have a passing attack of any kind after the Northwestern debacle, but seemingly out of nowhere, there they were throwing the ball around like they were kids playing playground football. USC-W needs to borrow a page out of the Texas A&M’s defensive playbook. The Aggies sacked the ASU QB nine times, and the Sun Devil offense was never able to get anything going. Since the A&M game the Sun Devils have notched two lopsided victories. Can they recover from that SEC loss? It’s bound to have hurt their PAC-12 pride. ASU ‘s starting running back makes a return, he’s missed the first three games due to an illness. That should help, because they need a more balance attack instead of relying solely on the passing game. USC scored over 50 points each in their first two games, against Arkansas State and Idaho, but they only scored 31 points against Stanford, as the Cardinal pretty much did whatever they wanted. Troy fell from 6th in the nation to 19th. Against Stanford, USC blitzed a lot, making their secondary rely on man-to-man coverage. They can’t repeat that Saturday night. If the front four can’t get to the QB, then they need to drop everyone back to defend against the pass. ASU defense since the A&M game has gotten better, Maybe Texas A&M is way better than anyone thought they could be, or maybe the gap between the SEC and the PAC-12 is wider than the pundits think. I believe the latter, but this point, right now, is moot. It may, and probably shall, resurface. This will be a great test for the ASU defense. They had problems against the passing game and going up against a high caliber quarterback with some weapons will show if they’ve improved. On the plus side, Pat Hayden didn’t go down on the field to yell at the officials, I’m still wondering, “How is Hayden still on the selection committee?” Anyone got an answer? Anyone? QB Cody Kessler is looking for his first victory over ASU, this will make his third attempt. The best way to sum up the USC offense is that against two smaller schools they were able to wear their opponents down. When they started their PAC-12 schedule they got hit right in the face with a rejuvenated Stanford. Now they have to show what type of team they’re going to be. Either they pick themselves up and fight like the devil, or they rely on Pat Hayden to get them into the playoffs. Daddy say, “Humph!”. ASU wins.

247Utah vs. Oregon– Staying out west, just moving up to the cooler, greener, wetter Oregon venue, Utah goes into Autzen Stadium in hopes of breaking their four game losing streak there. Both teams have played a Great White North opponent from Michigan, and both teams have only faced non-conference foes. Utah beat Michigan while Oregon lost to Michigan State. Utah has been more of a defensive team, while Oregon believes in offense and nothing but offense. The home team Ducks played back up QB Jeff Lockie against Georgia State, allowing Adams’ broken finger some time to heal. Can a broken finger heal in one week? I’m not sure, but there you go. Lockie did run the offense well Saturday and threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns. So if a week actually isn’t the healing time of a broken bone, the Ducks are confident they can rely on their back up – who was to be their starter until Adams transferred. The Ducks have taken it on the chin on defense. For some reason, they just haven’t gotten it together. They have teams amass way too many yards and points. Last week the Georgia State Panthers gained 431 yards, with 318 coming through the air. The Duck defense did play pretty well against Michigan State The Utes trailed Oregon 27-20 last year when the fourth quarter started. 15 minutes and 24 points later, the game ended in a Duck victory. A lot of things went wrong in that quarter, from turnovers, to miscues, to just flat out everything. Utah believes they now have the team to win. They can not repeat last year’s fourth quarter. Stay consistent, and keep the offense going. The Ducks will give up yards and field position. If the Utes can strike quickly, it might cause the Ducks’ defense to waver in their self-confidence.   The defensive front four needs some work putting pressure on the QB, while the secondary has more interceptions than a year ago at this point. Look for the Utes to blitz and bring as much pressure as they can. It’s either get the QB big-time, go big or go home.

Short Smokes-

Michigan State is simply too much for Central Michigan

LSU visits upstate New York to play undefeated Syracuse

Georgia Tech and Duke should be a very interesting game. My Dad says the slide rules will prevail, but I say, “What’s a slide rule?”

BYU goes to the big house to play Michigan

Bowling Green shouldn’t have many problems against Purdue

South Carolina needs to beware against Central Florida

Can Southern Miss finally beat Nebraska?…..yes!

Baylor takes on Rice a team with a winning record, so far.

Maryland vs West Virginia could be a great game, who’d a’ thunk it?

Ohio State looks to bury another school with a losing record in Western Michigan

Oklahoma State challenges an improving Texas team

Alabama better come back strong and defeat Louisiana-Monroe! The last time they played, Bama lost. At home.

TCU is on upset alert against Texas Tech

Cal against Washington will be a close game

Texas A&M gets the opportunity to kick Arkansas while they’re down. Wonder what inappropriate thing Coach Bielema is going to say about A&M? He’s on a roll.

Auburn replaces preseason Mr. Everything Jeremy Johnson as the Tigers show just how desperate they are by starting a RS freshman against Mississippi State.

Fresno State faces their arch nemesis, San Jose State. Batman versus the Joker.

8th ranked North Alabama will host Florida Tech as the Lions look to extend their winning streak. Roar Lions!


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