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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Preview of Week 8

Week 8 Preview
042Texas A&M (6-0) vs Alabama (7-0) There may be other good games this weekend, but, lets’ be honest, there’s only one Big Marquee Matchup. It’s in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in case you’re wondering, and if you’re planning on tailgating before the contest, you’d better have shown up on Monday the 17th to claim a spot. This is one of those games that will cause acquaintances to alienate one another, relatives to stop speaking, and Daughters to talk smack to their Dads. Yes, The Daughter has been telling me, every chance she gets, that the Aggies are going to pull the upset propel themselves to an undefeated season and the National Championship. She has her mind set, and, in truth, she could be right! A&M is catching Alabama at the perfect time. The Crimson Tide has had seven games in a row in this, the toughest part of their schedule. A&M is coming off their bye week, the banged up, nicked up, and just plain tired players got an extra week to heal up, get stitched up and to sleep up. Now they’re raring to go! The Aggies have also been playing their best ball lately. They beat number 9 Tennessee in overtime and were the first team to break that Voodoo/Black Magic Spell the Vols had been living on all year. It may not seem like much to the fans, players put a lot of stock in fortuitous events like this. A&M thinks they’re the “chosen ones.” QB Trevor Knight has beaten Alabama on the big stage before so he is anxious to take another shot. He had the game of his life that night in New Orleans when he played for the Sooners, but this could be the game that brings out the best in him. Texas A&M has been running the ball. Running the ball, as in rushing, and they’ve started to be good at it. But Alabama is a Tide of a Crimson color, not orange, or blue, or green. Is this the moment of truth, contend or pretend?

Two weeks ago they said Bama was going to lose at least one of their next three games. Arkansas fell in Fayetteville, and St. Saban was ticked at the017 team’s performance. They traveled to Knoxville and delivered the worst beating Tennessee has suffered in this 100 years old rivalry. Now these same sportscasters are starting to wonder out loud, “what if this Alabama team continues to get better?” The Defense, the star of the team, is number one in any category you care to name. This is the scariest defense in all of college football and half the NFL! – ok, all the NFL! We’ll see if A&M can do what no one else has, so far, run the ball against the Tide. The defense has been getting to the QB while rushing only four. This makes a defensive backs jobs SO much easier cause they knows that pass is coming quickly. 1 second, 2 seconds, turn, look for the ball. Easy. Whereas Bama is strong on defense, the offense needs a little help. Last Saturday was the first time all season I’ve felt good about the running game. The offensive line did a tremendous job run blocking. WhooHoo! Passing game needs help in two BIG ways. 1- the offensive line had one serious pass rusher to block at UT and he still made it through. That’s not good, for A&M has probably the two best defensive ends in the NCAA. 2- QB Jalen Hurts, for all the success he had running last week, he showed just the opposite in his passing skills. He consistently threw the ball where the receiver wasn’t. That has to be fixed. The Crimson Tide has been Number One by being balanced, not one dimensional. If the passing game can’t be fixed, and fast, the Tide can (possibly) be stopped. Maybe Hurts isn’t used to all this in his freshman year. To that I say, “Suck it up, Buttercup!” This is the big league, you wanted it, you got it. Now get on with it and fix this problem.” I really, honestly, truly, don’t want to have to listen to The Daughter bragging all year. I’m a much better winner than she is, and I don’t rub it in all that much. She Will! SO, come on Alabama, don’t let me down! ROLL TIDE!!
North Texas vs Army– North Texas is tied for the lead in their conference, they have a very good running back and a quarterback who is coming into his own. The Mean Green with an Eagle Mascot faces Army with plenty of physical mismatches, but according to the Army coach, this is nothing new for the Cadets. They need two victories to become bowl eligible. The Army goes rolling along! But, it’s going to be close.

LouisvilleNC State (4-2) vs Louisville (5-1)- I’m not sure if the Cardinals were watching the NC State v Clemson game last Saturday but I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts they’ve seen plenty of the game film. The Wolfpack can win this game. The advantages may be with Louisville, they have a QB that loves to run the ball, he’s not much threat to pass, especially in the red zone, cause Jackson reserves the glory of scoring for himself (he’s not a Heisman passer, not even close). The ‘Ville has been explosive on offense and they’ve chalked up a ton of yards. The defense relies on confusion, they line up in different ways, all in an effort to confuse the offensive lineman on blocking assignments. They are not a big bad defense, but they can stop a team. They don’t lead the nation in any stats, but they’ve been effective.
No one is giving NC State much of a chance to win. Football mathematicians ( is there really such a thing as a “Football Mathematician”? I mean, threally?) give the Wolfpack only a 9% chance of victory. I like that word, wolfpack. I like the concept of a whole pack of wolves. Remember, lions and tigers may be bigger and more ferocious than wolves, but wolves don’t perform in the circus! The Pack has been inconsistent, though. They lost to East Carolina in an ugly game. They came within a “wide right” field goal attempt of beating top ranked Clemson, in South Carolina! Ask former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden about wide right field goals. But, forget all that, now they have to plant Louisville QB Lamar Jackson in the ground, every play. The Pack is good at stopping the run, if they contain Jackson and make him throw the ball, the Wolves will win! It won’t be easy, nothing worth doing ever is, but State can do it! They want a signature win, here it is, theirs for the taking, and we’re pulling for them to get it.

459Colorado (5-2) vs Stanford (4-2)- Seriously, the Buffaloes are tied for first place in the southern division of the PAC-12, with Utah. Utah has been here before, but fell apart when they played the traditional powers for the conference. Now, Colorado gets a shot. Even though Stanford ain’t having their best year, and McCaffrey isn’t going to win the Heisman, the Cardinal still has the image of being a major player within the PAC-12. They have the name, and it’s a winning name. Colorado’s name is associated with losing, and losing badly. The way to get rid of this stigma is to beat the guys that are winners, and we’re not talking about doing it once a season, but beating several of them in a season. This is the best chance the Buffs have of doing just that. They’ve beaten Oregon and Arizona State, two teams with recognition. They lost to Michigan and let USC slip by them. They have to beat Stanford. It’s a great opportunity for the Buffalos. Get this win and get on with it.
Stanford looks confused. Without McCaffery, and even with him, they have not looked like a good team. They have a winning record, but when310 matched against good teams, like the two from the state of Washington, they have gotten embarrassed. They are coming off a come from behind victory against Notre Dame, for that we are grateful and very pleased, but they just don’t have that something, that undefined ingredient that spells “watch out”. The Tree defense is good, not outstanding, the offense lacks firepower, things we’ve gotten used to with Stanford. Now they have a chance to start a new streak of victories. Defense has got to mind the gaps! (like London Tube trains). If they do, great! If they forget the fundamentals they’re going to crumble. Is Stanford one of those smart schools where they turn out “Football Mathematicians?”

Short Smokes

South Carolina, at 2-4, gets a victory over 1-AA Massachusetts, at 1-6. Coach Boom will finally be able to send me an email explaining his greatness as a Head Coach

Wisconsin, coming off that heart-breaking loss to the Buckeyes, gets back on track by beating Iowa

Oklahoma State will lengthen Kansas’s streak of futility in conference games

Texas vs K-State just might be the best Big 12, that only has ten teams, game all weekend

Minnesota gets a glorified scrimmage against Rutgers

Syracuse, can they win again against Boston College? We like streaks here, so, YES!

North Carolina better not sleep on Virginia, the record doesn’t show it, but something is brewing down at UVA. The Cavaliers have a Bronco.

Memphis gets its chance to sink Navy, but won’t. it’s in Crabtown.

Illinois is the GWN’s sacrificial lamb to Michigan this week. The Wolverines are ranked #3 and they’re only going to play two ranked teams all season. Illinois isn’t one of them.

Nebraska will continue undefeated against Purdue

TCU might be able to make a shootout with West “By Golly” Virginia ;- otherwise they’re going to lose. Still not on the WVU train yet, need more quality wins

Utah gets a crack at UCLA and they might win this year. But Rosen is the Chosen.

Arkansas needs a victory against Auburn, and I like watching Auburn lose

Oregon State is not going to do well at Washington, not well at all. Beavers can’t handle Huskies.

Maryland is having a better year than Michigan State, believe it or not, and the Terps would love for this to continue. It might. Might not.

Mississippi State is going to fall at Kentucky. I can’t believe I wrote that.

Ohio State, if they enter this game cocky, will struggle against Penn State

Ole Miss vs LSU is always a great game, doesn’t matter their records, Hotty Toddy! Go Rebels!

Washington State is going to bring the heat against Arizona State

Oklahoma shouldn’t have much trouble with Texas Tech. Of course, OU’s pass defense is a joke, TT’s entire defense is a joke, shouldn’t end 7-6.

#3 North Alabama Lions host the North Greenville Crusaders, future Gulf South Conference member. This could be a tough non-conference test for the Lions as the Crusaders are a very physical team that likes to run the ball. The Purple Swarm Defense needs to match their toughness. Now is not the time to let up, Lions! Go Forth and Conquer! Roar Lions!

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