Holiday Weekend College Previews - NFL Spread Notes

A Big Saratoga Sunday For Hurley!
Hits the trifecta cold in the Spinaway Stakes
R Heat Lightning WON $10.40
Alienation EX $51.50
Valiant Passion TRI $164.00
Then hit the ensuing 11th race with She's A Ketch $7.20 to complete a $39 daily double!

Today it's Closing Day At Saratoga!
Plus Boise State-Virginia Tech in football!
After a 2-0 Saturday for Hurley's Touchdown Club (with Michigan State & Kansas State, passed on Sunday), Network is primed to win tonight!


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.


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.



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)



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.    





Arizona Cardinals



New England Patriots



Chicago Bears



Seattle Seahawks



Philadelphia Eagles



Carolina Panthers



Oakland Raiders



St. Louis Rams


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.


Today’s Hot Plays