Opening Week College Previews - Thursday Preseason Wrapup

IT-S A COLLEGE FOOTBALL OPENING WEEKEND BONANZA - AND WE-VE GOT OUR FIRST SATURDAY SIX-PACK OF THE YEAR PLUS A LOOK BACK AT THURSDAY NITE-S HIGHLIGHTS!

By Jim Hurley:

So, the 2010 College Football Season is here and the Opening-Nite newsmakers included a debut win for USC-s Lane Kiffin, a Heisman Trophy-like start for Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and just another season-opening win for South Carolina boss-man Steve Spurrier.

Here-s the bullet points:

  • USC scored a 49-36 non-cover win at Hawaii last night in a game that lasted nearly four hours - and we don-t think the Trojans- new head coach flashed one single smile. Hey, he had to be happy with QB Matt Barkley who aired five touchdown passes but that SC defense (coached by his daddy Monte) was awful with the secondary blistered and burned for a slew of big Hawaii pass plays;
  • Meanwhile, Ohio State-s walk-in-the-park 45-7 win against 28-point underdog Marshall was a case of fun-and-games for the aforementioned Pryor as he threw for 247 yards and three scores and showed some really deft touch with a batch of aerials. It might be a tad early to talk Heisman but Pryor has the early edge over injured incumbent Alabama RB Mark Ingram;
  • Then there-s the Ole Ball Coach - a/k/a Mr. Spurrier.
    South Carolina-s stunningly easy 41-13 triumph over two-TD pup Southern Miss marked another Week One win for Spurrier who is now 19-1 lifetime in his opening games this -10 opener might have sent a real loud message to the rest of the SEC. The Gamecocks played stifling defense and QB Stephen Garcia threw for an efficient 193 yards and scored the game-s first touchdown on a bone-rattling rush where he clocked a couple of USM defenders.
  • Throw in the year-s first overtime game - Utah-s heart-stopping 27-24 win over Pittsburgh - and here we have to ask can head coaches finally stop calling those time outs just before a guy is ready to kick a field goal (Utah-s Kyle Whittingham was burned at the end of regulation)!

It-s onwards and upwards to more College Football action this holiday weekend and we-ll get to our Saturday Six-Pack in one moment but first this important message:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the NCAA Football and NFL Winners plus Major-League Baseball too when check in every day: Just call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else get your picks here online and we'll bang out a parade of winners!
Sign up today and get the discounted price for the whole Football Season!

Extra, extra: The check-in times are after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday afternoon Baseball Games; anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the NFL, NCAA and MLB weeknight games; and then anytime after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. And keep that last piece of news in mind 'cause there are Two (2) College Football Games slated for Labor Day Monday as Maryland tangles with next-door neighbor Navy while #3 Boise State bucks heads with #10 Virginia Tech in a monster matchup right out of the starting gate.

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SATURDAY SIX-PACK

SAN JOSE STATE at #1 ALABAMA - 7 p.m. ET
Gotta get the season-s first "Six-Pack" started with last year-s national champs who - as everyone knows by now - will be without Heisman Trophy-winning RB Mark Ingram here following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee earlier in the week but something tell us the Southeastern Conference crew won-t sweat this opener (note that Alabama is a 37 ½-point betting favorite at press time).

The Tide-s not gonna change a thing in terms of game plans with sophomore Trent Richardson getting the start in place of the sidelined Ingram but one thing you might want to check out here is how Alabama-s reshaped defense (just two starters back from that 14-0 squad) handles the "Pistol" offense that San Jose State is expected to run - the Spartans- quarterbacks will take lots of snaps somewhere between directly under center and the shotgun formation but look for Alabama head coach Nick Saban to put seven (or eight) defenders at the line of scrimmage to force the issue.

Spread Notes - Alabama registered a 9-4 ATS (against the spread) record last year en route to its latest national championship but did you know the Crimson Tide-s covered seven of its last 10 non-league games? Overall, 'Bama is just 8-9 versus the vig as double-digit betting favorites in the Saban Era (2007-present). On the flip side, San Jose State last year bumbled its way to a 1-9-1 spread season and the Spartans are a collective 3-11-1 ATS as underdogs since the start of the 2008 campaign.
 
    
#5 TEXAS vs. RICE (at Reliant Stadium) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Last year-s runner-up in the national championship game has a new feel to it this year even if the Texas Longhorns do bring back some 13 starters from that 37-21 loss to Alabama in the BCS title tilt - QB Colt McCoy is gone after throwing for 3,512 yards with 27 TDs in 2009 and ditto for WR Jordan Shipley and first-round draftee DB Earl Thomas but shed no tears for Mack Brown-s bunch.

Garrett Gilbert steps into the fray as the team-s new numero uno signal-caller and word is he looked very comfy in spring ball and in recent practices - the 'Horns have outscored Rice 448-139 in the past 10 meetings (a 45-14 type per-game average) but the Owls are hoping to hang tough after losing 10 games a year ago with the youngest team (matched by Louisiana Tech) in the land. The Owls hope transfer RB Sam McGuffie (Michigan) can make a splash but do you keep sending him into the line if you-re down three or four TDs? Stay tuned.

Spread Notes - Texas has covered each of its last three head-to-head battles with Rice despite the fact the Longhorns were favored by 32, 38 and 29 points (see 2006-through--08). Still, Texas is just 23-24-2 versus the vig as the chalk side the past four seasons. Rice, meanwhile, is 4-14 against the Las Vegas price tags in non-league games the past five years and the Owls went just 2-5-1 as twin-figure pups a year ago.

COLLEGE SHOCKER OF THE YEAR
WINS SATURDAY!

Last year the Jim Hurley Network shocked bookmakers when we posted an astonishing 32-8-1 record on college dogs this year. Thanks to our comprehensive handicapping, where we draw on an array of sources from around the country, we're convinced that success can duplicated in 2010, and we intend to prove it on Saturday! It's the best time of the year to find a shocker, when linesmakers are still sorting everything out, and our months of preparation are ready to deliver a financial payoff. It's our College Shocker of the Year, ready to set the world afire right out of the gate! Plus a bonus game! Don't miss this chance to get an early score and bankroll the rest of September! Click here to sign up today! $50

    
PURDUE at NOTRE DAME - 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
The likes of one-time head coaches Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis haven-t gotten the job done - the ND Fighting Irish has not won a national championship since 1988 and the natives are just more than a little restless.

Okay, so this just in: Notre Dame won-t win a national title this year either but don-t dare put it past new boss-man Brian Kelly to secure at least one championship within the next couple of seasons. Kelly is one of the sport-s top five coaches - no ands, ifs or buts about it - and he has been a master program-maker in recent stops at Central Michigan and Cincinnati and now he hits the ground running with his debut game one of the most anticipated tilts in recent Notre Dame history.

The problem here for Kelly and Company is that so much is expected so soon - and yet there-s still so many question marks surrounding this here-and-now team such as can junior Dayne Crist (coming off a torn ACL last fall) master the club-s fast-paced, no-huddle offense and can the Irish defense - one that ranked a lowly 86th nationally in total defense (398 yards a game) - slow down Purdue WR Keith Smith who last year led the Big 10 in receptions (91).

Hey, don-t take a long bathroom break during TV timeouts 'cause Notre Dame has asked NBC - and it will comply - with shortened commercial breaks so as not to interrupt the flow/pace of its games.

Spread Notes - Notre Dame-s sported a losing spread mark in three of the last four years en route to a cumulative 20-29-1 ATS mark. The Fighting Irish last year failed to cover all three of its games against Big 10 opponents (Michigan, Michigan State and this Purdue team) and note ND is just 3-6 spreadwise in its last nine season-opening games. Note that Purdue is a solid 5-2-1 ATS as pups the past year-plus and did you realize the Boilermakers have covered their on-the-board opener each of the past three years?

WASHINGTON at BYU - 7 p.m. ET, CSBC
Now here-s a legitimate question: Has all the recent talk about BYU and its future status (now we know the Cougars will be an Independent after announcing they would be leaving the Mountain West Conference) affected the preparation of players/coaches for this high-profile game in Provo?

It could be the case and that would be dangerous considering the UW Huskies zip into town with a legit Heisman Trophy candidate in QB Jake Locker who last season threw for 2,800 yards with 21 TDs and 11 INTs. If BYU-s veteran secondary can swipe a pass or two from Locker early on, it could get Washington into a more conservative mode here.

Spread Notes - BYU is an ugly 3-8-1 against the odds at home the past two years but the Cougars are a profitable 8-2 vig-wise in on-the-board openers the past 10 years. One last nugget on the Coogs: They-re an unhealthy 7-11-1 ATS as betting favorites the past two seasons. Washington, on the other hand, has failed to cover eight of its last 10 away games (the Huskies were 0-5 spreadwise away in 2008) and this Pac-10 team is a dead-even but vig-losing 5-5 against the odds in its last 10 on-the-board openers.


#18 NORTH CAROLINA vs. #21 LSU (at Atlanta) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC
The biggest question is who will be left to play for the UNC Tar Heels?

The NCAA has been imposing "rolling suspensions" on Butch Davis team and so that-s why you-ve seen the Las Vegas pointspread shoot from a pick 'em affair just two or three days ago to LSU minus a full TD at press time.

Davis - on his own accord - suspended star DT Marvin Austin and word is the list of Carolina players suspended for this national TV tilt could hit 17 or 18 by kickoff although there was an ESPN report floating around that said the NCAA might "stagger" the suspensions and thus make Carolina only sit out 7 or 8 playsre here. Stay tuned to this always-fluid situation.

Spread Notes - Believe it or not, LSU has bungled its way to back-to-back-to-back losing spread seasons these last three years for a collective pointspread mark of 13-22-4 (a .371 winning rate). The Bayou Bengals also have failed to cover six of their last nine non-league affairs including last year-s opener against Washington (a 31-23 non-cover win as 18-point road favorites). North Carolina is just 8-9-1 ATS away in the Davis Era that started back in 2007 and the Tar Heels are 7-10-1 spreadwise against BCS conference teams the past year-plus.


CONNECTICUT at MICHIGAN - 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC regional
Are these two proverbial ships passing in the night? No doubt the Michigan gridiron program has hit its nadir in the two-plus year reign of head coach Rich Rodriguez - an 8-16 SU (straightup) has maize-and-blue fans sick to their stomachs - while perhaps you caught ABC/ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit the other night picking the unranked UConn Huskies to win the Big East Conference this year.

Not #15 Pittsburgh. Not #24 West Virginia … nope "Herby" says it will be UConn and with 17 starters back from a team that lost its five games by a composite total of 15 points it appears a sky-s-the-limit season for 12th-year head coach Randy Edsall - but note Edsall-s never beaten former WVU boss Rodriguez head-to-head and the last time they collided Rodriguez-s West Virginia team hung 66 balloons on the Huskies (see 2007 season).

The Wolverines must handle UConn star RB Jordan Todman (1,188 yards rushing and 14 TDs) as he-s popped up on some preseason Heisman Trophy lists and the Big 10 guys must win the all-important turnover battle here - note Michigan was a -12 last year in turnover margin (ranked 115th nationally).

Spread Notes - Connecticut-s fresh off a scintillating 9-2-1 spread season a year ago and the Huskies marched off with a perfect 7-and-oh spread log whenever placed in the underdog role. Note that UConn has covered 11 of its last 14 away games since the start of the 2008 season. Meanwhile, Michigan is a deadly 6-16-1 against the odds in the Rodriguez Era and that includes a shabby 2-9 ATS mark as betting favorites.

 

GET 'EM WHILE THEY'RE HOT -- MORE HOLIDAY WEEKEND NCAA FOOTBALL PREVIEWS STRAIGHT AHEAD AS WE CHECK OUT THE SUNDAY & MONDAY AFTERNOON CARDS PLUS OUR NFL NEWS & NOTES PILES UP THE PERTINENT POINTSPREAD STATS

By Jim Hurley:

When it comes to this opening week of the 2010 College Football Season, it's clearly a case of "saving the best for last".

And so that means hold tight till we get to Monday night's showdown between #3 Boise State and #10 Virginia Tech.

Yes, folks, it will be even better than the hype that surrounds this game and - just so you know - we'll give it a splashy preview in our next edition of Jim Sez while also giving you all the weekend re-cap news and notes.

In case you need something about Boise State-Virginia Tech right here and right now, than note that the B-State Broncos have covered 11 of their last 15 games overall dating back to late in the 2008 season while the V-Tech Hokies ended last season on a sizzling four-game spread winning streak plus the Techsters are a nifty 12-4 against the Las Vegas prices when placed in the underdog role the past six years - and that should quench your thirst (for now) regarding this big-time game.

Hey, that doesn't mean you should kick back, crank up the barbecue and forget all about the college kids in the games leading up to Monday's prime-timer - there's Three (3) games being played between early Sunday through late Monday afternoon that will keep you plenty entertained and we'll have those previews in just a moment but first this important reminder:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the NCAA Football and NFL Winners plus Major-League Baseball too when check in every day: Just call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else get your picks here online and we'll bang out a parade of winners! Sign up today and get the discounted price for the whole Football Season!

Extra, extra: The check-in times are after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday afternoon Baseball Games; anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the NFL, NCAA and MLB weeknight games; and then anytime after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. And keep that last piece of news in mind 'cause there are Two (2) College Football Games slated for Labor Day Monday as Maryland tangles with next-door neighbor Navy while #3 Boise State bucks heads with #10 Virginia Tech in a monster matchup right out of the starting gate.

Now, here's the College Football Games for Sunday/Monday afternoons ...

On Sunday, it's ...

TULSA at EAST CAROLINA - 2 p.m. ET, espn2
The winds of change have blown through Greenville and so the Skip Holtz Era (2005-09) is history but they were glory days, indeed, for the ECU Pirates.

Tally it up and East Carolina went to four consecutive post-season bowl games the past four years - including that Hawaii Bowl last-second win against Boise State back in 2007 - and the Buccos won 18 games the past two years and swiped last season's Conference USA crown too.

It will be interesting to see how the new sheriff - that's former Texas Tech defensive coordinator (and interim head coach) Ruffin McNeill -- fares with a Pirates team that lost 16 of 22 starters from last year's team that made it to the Liberty Bowl against Arkansas. McNeill is an East Carolina grad and most folks believe he'll get a prolonged "honeymoon period" but right away his club has a raging quarterback controversy as former Boston College product Dominique Davis is battling sophomore walk-on Brad Wornick for minutes. Odds are both will play here but the hotter hand stays in come the fourth quarter - trust us.

Meanwhile, Tulsa comes into this Conference USA clash as a TD-type betting favorite even though the Golden Hurricane went 5-7 SU (straightup) last season and didn't get to a bowl game for the first time since 2004. There's no question that fourth-year head coach Todd Graham is feeling the heat but if veteran quarterback G.J. Kinne (2,732 yards passing with 22 TDs and 10 INTs) can get into a real working rhythm here than Tulsa could strike it rich (and note the game totals price right now is a whopping 60 points!)

Spread Notes - East Carolina was well-known for cashing plays as an underdog side in the Holtz Era as the Pirates banged out a 23-8-1 spread log between 2005-09 (that's a .742 winning percentage). The Buccos also cranked out a solid 16-10-1 ATS (against the spread) mark as hosts the past five years and so those two positive pointspread stats will be put to the test here in this Conference USA clash in Greenville. Note that Tulsa has notched spread wins in its opening game the past three years in a row but the Golden Hurricane is just 9-16-1 spreadwise in league action the past three years.

 SUNDAY COLLEGE DOUBLE PLAY

The Jim Hurley Network's Blue Ribbon Club went 47-20 in 2009, and we're aiming at a 2-0 day on this Sunday where Conference USA takes center stage with three teams in action. Tulsa's hoping to contend this season. East Carolina's won the league two straight years, but replaces its coaching staff and most of its defense. SMU is a high-powered offense ready to compete for a crown. But can they match up with a strong major conference program in Texas Tech, in Tommy Tuberville's debut? These are questions, but we went 47-20 because we come up with answers. We've got 'em again on Sunday, so get with us for a 2-0 day! CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP TODAY! $15

 

SMU at TEXAS TECH - 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Folks, there were 23 head coaching changes on College Football's FBS level this past off-season - that's nearly a 20 percent turnover - and so it comes as no great surprise that we're leading off this matinee game preview with more talk of "change".

Hey, but this coaching change in Lubbock was a real doozy as ultra-popular offensive whiz Mike Leach was canned (actually fired prior to his team's Alamo Bowl win against Michigan State late last December) and eventually replaced by the always-controversial Tommy Tuberville who cut his teeth in SEC country with stints at both Ole Miss and Auburn.

No question that Tuberville - who's never missed an opportunity to rub it in when possible (much like the aforementioned Leach) - will be getting to a more back-to-basics approach with this squad that last year ranked #2 nationally in passing offense (387 yards a game) and #115 in rushing offense (84 yards a game). One reason why Tuberville will rein in newly-named starting QB Taylor Potts a bit here is for the kid's own safety as only two starting offensive linemen return to the Red Raiders and that '09 unit had plenty of trouble protecting the quarterback while ranking 89th nationally in sacks allowed.

The other side of the coin here is SMU won't ever be shy about chuckin' it around with third-year Ponies boss June Jones always ready/willing/able to let the pigskins fly 50-plus times a game. Here, stylish soph QB Kyle Padron (1,922 yards passing with 10 TDs and 4 INTs last year) - who went 5-1 after becoming the team's starter in '09 - will test a Texas Tech defense that is switching to a 3-4 look and note that the Raiders lost their top six D-linemen from a year ago.

Take note that Texas Tech opened here as a 10 ½-point betting favorite and it's climbed to as high as 13 ½ or 14 points.

Spread Notes - Texas Tech is a dismal 2-6-1 versus the vig whenever laying a double-digit price tag while dating back to early in the 2008 season. Note that the TT Red Raiders are 3-1-1 ATS in their last handful of head-to-head matchups against SMU while tracing back to the '03 campaign. On the flip side, the Mustangs went 5-2 against the odds away last year with covers at TCU, Tulsa and Marshall but SMU is a shabby 2-7 ATS in its last nine on-the-board openers.

On Monday, it's ...

MARYLAND vs. NAVY (at Baltimore) - 4 p.m. ET, ESPN
It's a cryin' shame that these two teams have met only once in recent years - Maryland survived a 23-20 win against then 12 ½-point home underdog Navy back in 2005 - because this would make for a great next-door neighbor rivalry game on an annual basis.

So, when the Terrapins and Midshipmen square off at M&T Bank Stadium on Labor Day they'll be playing for some "Crab Bowl" trophy and local bragging rights - but note the shoe's really been put on the other foot for both programs since that '05 head-to-head showdown.

Nowadays, it's Navy who expects to go bowling at year's end - note that the service academy already has signed a deal with the Poinsettia Bowl providing Navy has at least six wins against FBS opponents - while it's Maryland in a something-to-prove mode one year after the ACC gang lost 10 games.

No doubt Ralph Friedgen's ample seat couldn't get all that much hotter and now his club has to deal with Navy's do-it-all QB Ricky Dobbs who's rushed for at least 100 yards in nine of his 13 career starts and there are some folks actually whispering about a Heisman Trophy in his future.

Hey, not so fast, my friends.

If the underdog Terps are gonna pull the surprise here than they'll have to contain Dobbs on third down plus Maryland must revive its ground game - one that ranked 105th nationally a year ago (106 yards a game). It helps that senior RB Da'Rel Scott is back from a broken wrist that kayoed him for five games in 2009 but the pure-and-simple forecast here is that Maryland must win the time of possession stat ... or else.

Spread Notes - Navy has rung up a .500-or-better spread record in five of the past six seasons but did you know the Midshipmen are just 10-15 ATS as betting favorites the past four years? Meanwhile, Maryland enters this neighborhood knock-out game having failed to cover all three of their non-ACC affairs last year and the Terrapins are a rotten 6-11-1 spreadwise away from College Park since the start of the 2007 campaign.

 

NFL PRESEASON POINTSPREAD NEWS

Just call it our annual summer quest to see who won out over the course of the NFL Preseason - the Favorites or the Underdogs?

Well, following the NFL Preseason #4 results (see below), the final tally is in and it says that NFL Preseason Favorites registered a 30-32-3 spread mark in the 65 exhibition games played (a .484 winning rate for the Favorites and, conversely, a .516 winning rate for Underdogs).

Here were the week-by-week NFL Preseason Pointspread results:

Hall of Fame Game - Favorite 0-1-0
Preseason Week 1 - Favorites 8-8-0
Preseason Week 2 - Favorites 7-9-0
Preseason Week 3 - Favorites 9-7-0
Preseason Week 4 - Favorites 6-7-3

Total: NFL Preseason Favorites 30-32-3 (.484)

 

SUPER BOWL LOSERS - AND THE YEAR AFTER

Now, here's one more NFL Pointspread feature that we've tossed your way in recent years as we ask the question what might be in store spreadwise this 2010 campaign for the Indianapolis Colts - a/k/a the Super Bowl XLIV losers to the New Orleans Saints.    

SEASON

SB LOSER

NEXT YEAR'S ATS RESULTS

2008

Arizona Cardinals

9-8-1

2007

New England Patriots

9-7-0

2006

Chicago Bears

7-9-0

2005

Seattle Seahawks

8-10-0

2004

Philadelphia Eagles

5-11-0

2003

Carolina Panthers

10-6-0

2002

Oakland Raiders

3-12-1

2001

St. Louis Rams

4-12-0

As you can see, Super Bowl losers really struggled spreadwise "The Year After" earlier in the decade with a composite spread mark of 37-60-1 between the 2001 St. Louis Rams and the 2006 Chicago Bears (that's a horrid .381 winning rate) but the past two Super Bowl-losing squads actually have sported winning spread seasons the following year.

Okay, so Arizona's 9-8-1 ATS log and New England's 9-7 ATS record are a bit modest but at least they didn't go in the tank versus the vig.

We'll see which way the Colts are headed soon enough - Indianapolis opens up its defense of the AFC with a Sept. 12th tilt at Houston.
 

One final NFL Pointspread-related topic to tackle here - and, of course - we'll have plenty if NFL News, Notes & Week #1 Previews all next week leading into the Thursday Kickoff Game between the Minnesota Vikings at the New Orleans Saints:

If you happen to "buy into" the theory that teams that end the prior season on spread winning streaks must be watched, then consider the following:

  • The Atlanta Falcons ended the 2009 campaign on a four-game spread winning streak;
  • The Carolina Panthers closed out last year covering their final five games;
  • The Cleveland Browns covered their last seven tilts in a row;
  • And the aforementioned Vikings covered their final three games including the last two in the post-season.

So there!

NOTE: Get the Boise State vs. Virginia Tech Preview plus lots of weekend updates in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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