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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

Week 8 Preview


028Tennessee vs Alabama – The moment that Alabama and Tennessee finished their respective games last week, “Hate Tennessee/Alabama Week”  began. This year’s meeting will mark081 the 100th game between the two rivals. Their first game was played in 1901, in Birmingham, AL, and it ended in a 6-6 tie. When the game was called due to darkness, fans rushed the field in disgust of the call. It wasn’t until 1928 that the game was scheduled on its traditional date, and in 1939 it was given the name, “The Third Saturday in October”. Over the years this rivalry has mostly been defined by streaks. First Alabama would win a bunch in a row, and then Tennessee would return the favor. As it now stands, Alabama leads the series, 54-38-7. Tennessee is the only team in the NCAA that has ever held a seven game win streak against the Tide. Since the hiring of St. Saban in 2007 the Tide has not lost to the Vols. During Saban’s tenure, Tennessee has held the lead for a total of 11 minutes and 46 seconds out of the 600 minutes played. That comes to about 1.91%. To say this rivalry, from the Tennessee standpoint, is at its lowest point would be somewhat of an understatement. The kids enrolling at either university were either 6 or 7 the last time Tennessee won. And, except for 2009 when Alabama won, 12-10, and “Mount Cody” had to block two successive field goal attempts by the Vols, the games have not even been close. The students at Alabama know that the game is on the Third Saturday of October, and they don’t like Tennessee, but they don’t have hate in their hearts like they should. On the flip side, the students in Knoxville do hate Alabama. Even if hope is never a course of action, it’s hard to keep hoping when ten straight contests result in losses. To change this trend, Tennessee’s football team needs to upset the Number 1 team in the country this Saturday. Upsets are possible. There is such a thing as hope, but, … Butch Jones is still employed as the UT Head Coach today, but check back tomorrow. The Volunteers have not looked sharp in any of their games this year. Their defense has been struggling, and, as the game goes into the second half, they seem winded and their legs are tired. It’s obvious that the offense does not give them enough rest time, and, bless their hearts, they’re just plum worn out in the 4th quarter. Alabama, on the other hand, has been brutal against opponents. The Tide’s offensive line has been down right bullies in the running game, grinding the other team into the ground. This gives the Alabama defense plenty of time to recover, so that when they return to the field, they are mobile, agile, and hostile. And fast, the Tide’s defensive players are fast. There is no reason to pick against Alabama in this game. Roll Tide Roll!

131Michigan vs Penn State – These two storied teams did not play each other until 1993, which seems hard to believe. Since that time, they have played 19 times and Michigan has 386won 12 of them. This is going to one of the primetime game of the week with ESPN College Gameday (my dream job, if I can ever get it) making it’s 16th appearance in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions will be coming off a bye week, their last game was against Northwestern, which they won, 31-7. The Wildcats were able to score a touchdown late in that game and avoid being shut out. So far this season, the Lions have had only had one close game and that was against Iowa. Final score there was 21-19. Other than that, it’s been pretty smooth sailing. Michigan, on the other hand, has had two tough games in a row. They were ranked 7th when they lost to Michigan State, resulting in a tumble to number 17. Then Indiana took the Wolverines to overtime before losing, but Michigan still dropped two more slots, to number 19. These rankings are all nonsense at this point in the season, but things are not well in Ann Arbor. This will be UM’s second road trip in a row, and they don’t like to play away from the Big House. To make matters worse, Penn State has designated this game as a full stadium “White Out”. This makes the fifth time that PSU has made this game a Complete “White Out”, the most of any other school. They may have only met 19 times, but this is a rivalry game for sure. Penn State has three weapons: 1) McSorley, who is one of the nation’s best quarterbacks, 2) RB Saquon Barkely, who leads the nation with 217 all-purpose yards per game. The Heisman Trophy is pretty much his to lose at this point, 3) A strong defense. The “D” has only allowed 117 rushing ypg and 167 passing ypg. They have been strong and steady, but this will be their sternest test yet. Michigan, on the other hand, believes in a strong defense as well, and, let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for the defense UM would not even be in the discussion. It should be a great match-up as the Wolverines pride themselves on stopping the run and limiting the pass. For Michigan to stay in the game, they must stop, or at least slow down Barkely while still pressuring QB McSorley. Beaver Stadium will be rocking, Penn State has not been ranked in the top 5 for a long time, and these fans want Wolverine pelts. Penn State has too many weapons and too much desire to stumble now. Once they beat Michigan, they can get ready for Ohio State, but, first, they have to take care of this business, and this business is Michigan.

431USC vs Notre Dame – In the third big rivalry game of the weekend, the USC Trojans travel to South Bend, IN, to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This rivalry can be traced back to two wives talking it out. Back in the day, before my time, USC was looking for a national rival, and on Thanksgiving day USC Coach Wilson watched Notre Dame play Nebraska. He presented the idea of the two teams playing each other to Knute Rockne, who rejected the idea flat out because of the travel distance. But, Mrs Wilson was able to convince Mrs. Rockne that traveling to sunny southern California every other year was far better than traveling to snowy, cold Nebraska. Mrs. Rockne then talked to Coach Rockne and Viola! the Rivalry was born on December 4th 1926. Notre Dame enters as the favorite, I’m not sure why, since both teams have one loss and Notre has only played two serious contenders. First was against Georgia, where they lost by one point at home, and I’ve heard sports commentators say this proves how strong ND actually is. I’d like to point out that was at the beginning of the year and freshman QB Fromm had to replace the injured Georgia starter, Eason. I daresay the outcome would be different if they played now. UGA would run the Irish off the field. Nevertheless, the Irish are favored. QB Wimbush has thrown for 783 yards and 6 TD’s against 2 INT’s. Not mind-numbing numbers, while lead rusher Adams has 776 yards and 5 TD’s. This is actually not too bad. USC has QB Darnold, who has thrown for 2063 yards for 15 TDs and 9 INT’s, and we consider him to be struggling this year. But here in lies the difference, not that USC has struggled to a 6-1 record, but against who they have struggled. The Trojans have played quality opponents. Notre Dame has played two teams with winning records. Remember the old saying, “Iron Sharpens Iron”? When a team plays against quality opponents, it causes them to get better because they are challenged. When a team plays against weak teams, it causes them to stagnate and play to the level of the competition. The Sports World is still in love with the Irish and they want them to win no matter what, even though they have not been relevant since 1988. Ok, they made it to the Championship game a few years ago, against Alabama, but that didn’t end well for them at all. In the last ten years,  USC holds a 10-4 edge, but Notre leads the series, 46-36-5. The traveling trophy is the “Jeweled Shilelagh” which is a club with jewels on it. Southern Cal won last year, 45-27, and this Saturday I predict an upset as the University of Southern California wins, and it might not be pretty. I hope it isn’t pretty.

Temple vs Army – Last year the Cadets started their winning run when they beat Temple in the opening game. The Owls will be traveling to Michie Stadium, an idyllic setting overlooking the glorious fall colors of the Hudson Highlands, but they won’t be going for the scenery. Army is well aware of how the Owls feel about them. They had better be aware. The Black Knights of the Hudson will stop the Temple attack just as they prevented the British fleet from traveling the Hudson River (a few years ago. Fascinating story about the chain, Benedict Arnold, Fort Putnam, … but I digress). Army marches on and earns their bowl berth victory. Go Army, beat Navy!

Short Smokes

Memphis looks to continue its climb into the top 25 by overcoming Houston

Wisconsin cannot slack off against Maryland as the Terps are just hard-headed enough to believe they can beat the Badgers.

Oklahoma State will pass its way over Texas.

Louisville is slipping and FSU has found its footing, but the Cardinals still win

Duke beats Pittsburgh. Bless Pitt’s heart, they were hoping to do better this year.

Virginia will gain bowl eligible status by winning against Boston College.

Syracuse might, just might, beat Miami, but don’t bet on it.

North Carolina would love to upset the Hokies of VA Tech, but that ain’t gonna happen.

Michigan State might struggle against Indiana, but Sparty still wins. MSU always struggles

Can Arizona State continue their winning ways against Utah? Nope

Minnesota hosts Illinois. It’s Ski-U-Muh, Gophers!

K-State will not upset Oklahoma, but it would be nice

Kentucky earns a hard-fought victory over Mississippi State, or Mississippi State earns a hard-fought victory over Kentucky. One or the other.

Oregon vs UCLA..heads, Ducks win. Tails, Bruins…Flip

LSU vs Ole Miss – who the hell knows? LSU may regress to the Troy game level, Ole Miss may find their passing game again and light up the scoreboard, but who knows which team will show up? We’ll pick Ole Miss cause the Brother graduated from there.

Auburn has no choice but to beat Arkansas or its season is toast.

It would be nice for Wake Forest to beat GA Tech, but they won’t

TCU scrimmages against Kansas

Baylor’s first win will not be West Virginia. But, it’s at Waco. Perhaps, maybe. Nah!

Arizona is favored against Cal. Who would have thunk it?

Washington State gets back to winning against Colorado if the Cougars play well, and the Buffs don’t, and the sun don’t shine.

North Alabama goes to Central Washington, who is undefeated and ranked in the top 25. No matter, the Lions pull the upset! Hopefully….really hoping they pull the upset. Roar Lions!



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