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What’s more fun than us giving you a chance to mock us every single week? In our new feature, Blowin’ Smoke presented by Weston Tobacco, we will do that each and every Thursday. Gabe DeArmond and Mitchell Forde will make five predictions almost sure to go wrong every week in this space. These will range from big games to big picture predictions with a bit of the comedic and absurd mixed in most weeks as well.
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1) How many SEC teams make the NCAA Tournament?
Mitchell: Let’s look at it this way. There are really only two teams that I would say based on what they did in non-conference play look like safe picks to make the tournament: Tennessee and Missouri. On the other end, we know Auburn isn’t going to the postseason this year. I also feel pretty good saying Vanderbilt and Texas A&M won’t make it. That leaves nine “bubble” teams, which is about right for the SEC. There are always a lot of middling teams that can and will beat up on each other. Out of those nine, I feel pretty good predicting Arkansas, Florida and LSU all make it. Probably one to two of the group that contains Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Alabama will get there as well. That’s a long way of saying six to seven teams from the league will make the Big Dance. I’ll go with six.
Gabe: We don’t really know how many teams are going to be in the tournament overall, but for purposes of answering this question, we’ll assume it’s a normal field. I agree with the five you said are going to get in. And someone else probably finds enough wins along the way to make it, especially because there will be games canceled along the way across the country. I initially was going to go with five, but six is probably right.
2) Will Mizzou football be bowling after the 2021 season?
Gabe: Yeah, I think so. Really, getting to a bowl game means winning three non-conference games and then three out of Vandy, South Carolina, Kentucky and Arkansas. That’s not that high a bar. I think the fanbase’s expectations are going to be a little inflated for next season and I’m not sure Missouri will meet those, but I do think they get to at least six wins.
Mitchell: Even though I think it’s possible that next season represents a lateral step, if not a small step back, that should certainly be the goal. Mizzou should under no circumstances lose to SEMO, Central Michigan or North Texas. Then you only have to find three wins out of eight matchups with SEC opponents (four of which the Tigers beat this year) and Boston College. That should be very doable. I will make a way-too-early prediction of 7-5 and a bowl berth for 2021.
3) Pick the national semifinals
Mitchell: Alabama (-20) vs Notre Dame: I actually thought Notre Dame deserved to get into the Playoff. But given what happened the last time we saw them take the field and their history in the CFP, there’s no way I can pick this to be a close game. Alabama wins by three to four touchdowns.
Clemson (-7.5) vs Ohio State: My hot take is that I think there’s a chance this game is actually more lopsided than Alabama-Notre Dame (in part because I could see Alabama getting up by 35 and letting Notre Dame score two late touchdowns, but still). Ohio State has the talent to compete with Clemson, but I have been thoroughly unimpressed with what I’ve seen of the Buckeyes so far this season. Give me Clemson to roll.
Gabe: Alabama (-20) vs Notre Dame: I think Alabama is far better. In fact, I think Alabama is far better than everyone else. And I admit to making this pick with my heart more than my head. I just want to see good games. Give me the Irish.
Clemson (-7.5) vs Ohio State: One of the better points I’ve heard is that Ohio State actually had the equivalent of about five bye weeks during the season. The Buckeyes should be healthier and more rested. I’m not convinced Ohio State won’t win outright. But I’ll take them to cover.
4) Other bowl picks
Mitchell: Cincinnati (+7) vs Georgia: We’ve seen Georgia lack motivation for these type of games before, so that’s definitely a risk, but they have looked too good with JT Daniels at QB for me to pick against them here.
Auburn (+3.5) vs Northwestern: Northwestern will want to be there far more than Auburn. I think the Wildcat defense flusters Bo Nix and they win an ugly game.
Ole Miss (+7.5) vs Indiana: This could be a shootout. I don’t know if the Hoosiers can keep up without Michael Penix. Ole Miss.
Texas A&M (-7.5) vs North Carolina: This really hinges on one factor for me: Will A&M be pissed they got left out of the Playoff and try to send a statement to prove the committee wrong, or did that disappointment lead the team to check out? If it’s the latter, I give North Carolina a shot. But A&M is more talented and more consistent, so I’ll pick the Aggies.
Gabe: Cincinnati (+7) vs Georgia: I’m banking on Georgia not caring about anything that isn’t the playoff. Give me Cincinnati and fuel to the fire that the playoff system sucks.
Auburn (+3.5) vs Northwestern: Auburn isn’t exactly in a show up and dominate a bowl game spot right now. Cats win 12-10.
Ole Miss (+7.5) vs Indiana: First defense to get a stop wins. Matt Corral throws for 450 and Ole Miss wins straight up.
Texas A&M (-7.5) vs North Carolina: I agree with the analysis. I think Texas A&M is just salty it didn’t get in and the Heels are good enough to make them pay. Mack Brown sticks it to the Aggies again.
5) NFL picks
Gabe: Steelers (+7) vs Browns: I checked this line to make sure I read it right three times. I don’t understand why the Browns are favored by a touchdown. Pittsburgh and probably straight up.
Dolphins (+2.5) vs Bills: Bills easy. Especially if the Dolphins wait to play their best quarterback until the second half again.
Cardinals (+5) vs Rams: I saw a tweet about who the Rams are playing at QB. I don’t know who he is. Blake Bortles is the backup. If he’s not even good enough to be the starter give me Arizona straight up.
Washington (-1.5) vs Eagles: This game ends in a tie and we get a 6-9-1 NFC East champ in the playoffs. So Eagles cover I guess.
Mitchell: Steelers (+7) vs Browns: The poor Browns may have choked away their season in the most Browns way imaginable last week. But It turns out the Steelers are sitting Big Ben and probably other starters, as well. I’ll say the Browns make it interesting but win a close one and make the playoffs.
Dolphins (+2.5) vs Bills: The Bills are playing really well right now. Think they roll here.
Cardinals (+5) vs Rams: The Rams are starting someone I’ve never heard of at QB. The Cardinals might also. So that makes this game hard to pick. But the Rams are not playing well right now, so I’ll take Arizona and the points.
Washington (-1.5) vs Eagles: It would be cool if Alex Smith won this game to give the Redskins a playoff berth, even if they don’t really deserve it. I’ll pick that and root for it.
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