BCS and the Pointspreads - Heisman Watch - NFL Second Half Push
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EXTRA, EXTRA: OUR JIM SEZ MID-WEEK REPORT TAKES DEAD AIM AT WHAT THE OPENING BCS STANDINGS ARE DOING TO THIS WEEK'S LAS VEGAS POINTSPREADS ...THURSDAY PAC-10 PREVIEW
***THE HEISMAN TROPHY REPORT: FOR A THIRD STRAIGHT WEEK
WE HAVE A NEW (QB) LEADER ...
NFL NEWS & NOTES: WHO IS READY TO MAKE A MID-SEASON PUSH?
By Jim Hurley:
Want to know one of the things wrong with the here-and-now version of the BCS?
It compels - more than ever before - the upper-crust teams to run up the score and thus keep the pollsters/computers satisfied but that happens to have a flip side to it too.
Go ahead and take a look at this week's Las Vegas price tags and you'll see that some of the top teams really have work to do to cash in as betting favorites:
- #2 Oregon is a bloated 24-point favorite for its Thursday Night game against the visiting UCLA Bruins - yes, that's a tad out of whack, if you ask us;
- #4 Auburn is a 6-point betting favorite for its SEC showdown game against #6 LSU this Saturday - may not seem out of whack but sure appears larger than the norm here with the thought being that Auburn not only needs to win to stay inside the BCS Top 5 but needs to win by a "margin" too;
- And #5 TCU is an 18 ½-point favorite at this very moment against a solid Air Force team that nearly beat Oklahoma a few weeks back. No doubt the TCU Horned Frogs are a grade-A team these days but ask us what this price tag should be - and discount the BCS factor - and we'd tell you Texas Christian University should a 12- or 13-point favorite at best.
What does it all mean?
Well, it doesn't take a scientist to know that some of the BCS' top 5, 6 or 7 teams are gonna fail to cover numbers either this weekend or in the very near future simply because they are laying more than they should have to be laying - and you better believe that a bunch of pollsters "punish" the top BCS teams when they fail to cover the almighty pointspread.
So, follow the bouncing ball here:
The Vegas spreads become larger than they should be because BCS powerhouses need to show they can flex their muscles and prove they belong in the upper echelon and - when they don't (and some of 'em won't this weekend, to be sure) -- they get penalized for falling short even if, let's say, TCU beats Air Force by 14 points this weekend.
And now you want to know why so many coaches will be playing their stars late when leading in blowout games? Take it from us: One of the folks involved in the whole BCS process claimed - off the record, of course - that margin of victory is indeed a large part of determining who rises and falls in the weekly BCS Standings even though the College Football big-wigs insist it's not a factor.
Just like you may want to be careful going against a BCS top-flight team that has reason to win by 28 or 30 points - you also have reason to go against 'em when the spread swings wildly the other way. Of course, the betting public moves the price one way or the other but - let's be serious here - it rarely sways way off the opening line and somebody (with the BCS Standings very much in mind) has to set that pointspread in the first place. More than ever before, it's a case of "tread carefully" in any of the games involving the top 5 or 6 teams in the BCS Standings - the number you get involved with might not be entirely legit one way or the other.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you the College & NFL Winners and all Major-League Baseball Playoff Winners when you either call us at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else when you simply log online right here online. Here's an important note: We've got college action Thursday, Friday and Saturday, he MLB Playoffs go all week, plus the NBA Season tips off Tuesday night, and we'll have all the action - go ahead and win a bunch of greenbacks with America's #1 Handicapper!
THURSDAY'S TV PREVIEW
UCLA (3-3, 1-2 Pac-10) at #2 OREGON (6-0, 3-0 Pac-10) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
The BCS Standings didn't quite agree with the Associated Press and Coaches Poll - both of them have the Oregon Ducks at #1 this week -- but it's the BCS stuff that counts from here on in and they say Oregon's #2.
Does that mean Chip Kelly's club will have a chip on their shoulder pads here?
No doubt that last week's bye was multi-beneficial to Oregon as the gang from Eugene climbed the polls while it drew a bye and now word is QB Darron Thomas is close to 100 percent healthy following a fall on his right (throwing) shoulder a couple of weeks back in a 43-23 win at Washington State. Thomas (1,231 yards passing with 14 TDs and 5 INTs plus 221 yards rushing with a 6.0 ypc average) has given this 2010 Oregon team a major jolt at a position that was a bit hazy in the off-season following the scholarship release of bad boy Jeremiah Masoli.
If Thomas can move the chains with his arm and legs here - and if Heisman Trophy candidate RB LaMichael James can find those creases in the UCLA front seven -- than the 24-point favorite Ducks could rock-n-roll to a big TV win here and #1 in the next BCS could be a reality.
Let's see what the UCLA Bruins, meanwhile, get from oft-injured QB Kevin Prince (right knee) who is expected to start here but could be relieved early by soph slinger Richard Brehaut. Strange but true that Prince has completed less than 45 percent of his passes this year while tossing 5 INTs (and only 3 TDs).
I'll have the winner for you for just $15.
Hey, Rick Neuheisel's squad won at 16-point fav Texas last month - could they now shock the Pac-10's best team?
Spread Notes - Oregon is a nifty 27-18 against the odds overall since the start of the 2007 season but the Ducks are just a dead-even but vig-losing 5-5 spreadwise as twin-figure betting favorites since early '08. On the flip side, UCLA has failed to cover eight of its last dozen spread verdicts when placed in the underdog role. Note that road teams have covered six of the last nine head-to-head battles in this series.
PAC-10 THURSDAY NIGHT KNOCKOUT PLAY
THE HEISMAN TROPHY REPORT
Here's our Jim Sez Weekly look at this year's top Heisman Trophy candidates with our top five listed in order (and subject to change each/every week, of course). Note that our leaders the past two weeks - first it was Michigan QB Denard Robinson and then Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor - both have been ousted (for now) from our Top 5 list:
#1 - KELLEN MOORE, QB, BOISE STATE: Hard to say anything bad about this dart-thrower (he completed 14-of-16 passes for 231 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs in last Saturday's 48-0 win at San Jose State) as the up-to-date numbers are fabulous with 1,567 yards passing to go along with 16 TDs and 1 INT and don't blame this junior lefthander for not having even more inflated stats 'cause his club just keeps on bashing opponents. The 6-and-oh Broncos got royally screwed in the first edition of this year's BCS Standings as they came up #3 behind Oklahoma and Oregon and so it's quite possible that Moore will begin to stay in there longer and pad his stats in more lopsided games against overmatched WAC foes - we've got him at the top of the Heisman heap for now but it's a razor-thin advantage over his current runner-up.
#2 - CAM NEWTON, QB, AUBURN: Most of the Heisman Trophy leader boards out list this junior as the new man in charge of this race and we'll be glad to give him "props" but a quickie reminder that a pair of 7-0 Auburn's wins have come against Arkansas State and UL-Monroe ... and so if Boise State's Moore is gonna be subjected to criticism regarding his team's schedule let's be clear about this that Newton hasn't played a complete "who's who" list in college football. No doubt that last Saturday's wild 65-43 win against 3 ½-point underdog Arkansas really pushed the 6-foot-6 do-it-all signal-caller into the national spotlight (he only threw for 140 yards but rushed it 25 times for 188 yards) and his up-to-the-moment stats include 1,278 yards passing with 13 TDs and 5 INTs plus 860 yards rushing (a dazzling 6.7 yards-per-carry average) with 12 TDs.
#3 - LaMICHAEL JAMES, RB, OREGON: We popped him onto our Top 5 Heisman list last week (at #4) after going with an all-quarterback cast two weeks back in our Heisman Trophy Report debut column and this 5-foot-9 sophomore could well creep up the charts again with a big prime-time showing against multi-TD underdog UCLA (Thursday on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET). James has been the speedball behind the Ducks' high-octane offense that is averaging a haughty 54.3 points a game and check out these dizzying numbers: He's rushed for 848 yards (a 7.4 ypc clip) with 9 TDs and don't forget that 84-yard catch-and-run touchdown score in the 43-23 non-cover win at Washington State two weeks ago (Oregon drew a bye last Saturday).
#4 - LANDRY JONES, QB, OKLAHOMA - First time we've popped this slinger into our Top 5 ... and why not? Last weekend the 6-foot-4 sophomore completed 30-of-34 aerial attempts good for 334 yards and 3 TDs (with no picks) in that resounding 52-0 home win against 23-point pup Iowa State. Not only did Landry deliver a message to the rest of thee Big 12 but he offered up his first real statement game on a national level after serving as the heir apparent to one-time Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford (who's doing better than OK with the NFL's St. Louis Rams these days). Jones will enter this weekend's high-profile tilt at Missouri with the following numbers: He's thrown for 1,791 yards with 14 TDs and 3 INTs and a win this weekend would give Jones and his fellow Boomer Sooners victories this year against the likes of Florida State, Texas and Mizzou. Not bad! Better believe he belongs "in the conversation".
#5 - KENDALL HUNTER, RB, OKLAHOMA STATE: There's been growing support for his Cowboys teammate WR Justin Blackmon (57 receptions for 955 yards with 12 TDs) to get high up on the Heisman Trophy lists but we'll grab this classy back who has cranked out 830 yards rushing (a 6.1 yards-per-carry average) with 10 TDs for this 6-0 squad. Hunter's latest outing was a 25-carry, 130-yard performance in a 34-17 upset win at 3-point fav Texas Tech last weekend and note that he broke the seal on that game with a 15-yard scoring run in Oklahoma State's 21-0 first quarter. In case you're keeping track, Hunter ranks sixth in the FBS in rushing yards per game at 138.3.
NFL NEWS & NOTES
Perhaps you noticed that when all the dust settled on the NFL Week 6 card this past Monday Night there were more than a few "contenders" that were sitting there with a losing record - the Dallas Cowboys (1-4) may be getting whacked the most by the mainstream media but don't forget about the San Diego Chargers (2-4), the San Francisco 49ers (1-5) and the Minnesota Vikings (2-3).
Can any or all of the above be expected to make a little push now that we're heading into the weeks that signify mid-season?
Gut feeling? No!
You might find a couple of these teams rejuvenated with back-to-back wins somewhere along the line but count us among the folks that believe none of the above will wind up with a playoff berth.
But you want to know who may be dawdling around these days and ready/willing/able to make that mid-season push? Here's a prospect in each of the two conferences:
MIAMI (3-2) - It's been a strange-but-true start to this 2010 season for the Dolphins who've all their three road games (at Buffalo, Minnesota and Green Bay) and yet lost both of their home tilts (divisional duels against the NY Jets and New England) but that sort of stuff can't last forever, right?
A quick glance at Miami's next five games reveals no pushovers - home to Pittsburgh, at Cincinnati and at Baltimore and then home to Tennessee and Chicago - and so how can we believe that a mid-season push may be on the way?
Well, the Dolphins have fixed their once-wobbly special teams - and PK Dan Carpenter (three FGs at Lambeau Field last Sunday including the 44-yarder in overtime in that exciting 23-20 triumph) is quickly becoming one of the most dependable long legs in the league - and Miami has that all-important playmaker on offense in WR Brandon Marshall (10 catches for 127 yards against the Pack) and a stepped-up pass rush starring LB/DE Cameron Wake.
Maybe it'll be time for the Dolphins to win at home in the near future and a split in Cincy/Baltimore then would have this club in the post-season hunt.
NEW ORLEANS (4-2) - Surprise, surprise! Last week the Saints nabbed their first pointspread win since that glowing Super Bowl victory against the Indianapolis Colts last February (yes, N'Orleans was 0-4-1 against the odds prior to that business-like 31-6 win at 5 ½-point underdog Tampa Bay) and now you can fully expect Sean Payton's gang to keep their foot on the pedal the next few weeks.
Note that this NFC South crew only plays on the road once in the next five weeks - a Week 9 game at lowly Carolina - and otherwise it's home games against Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Seattle plus a Week 10 bye that figures to get some of this club's walking wounded back from the doctor's office. Last year the Saints were a comet right from the start with 13 consecutive season-opening wins but the anticipated post-Super Bowl hangover occurred this year and really knocked New Orleans backwards.
If last week's road win was any indication - note the 475 offensive yards and three scoring strikes thrown by QB Drew Brees (his knee is fine, folks!) - than the Saints figure to be marching into that winner's circle a bunch of times the next few weeks.
Look for a real mid-season push by the 2009 champions who - dare we say - might have the best team in the NFC soon when you can start to sort out all the clutter.
Note: Lots more NCAA Football goodies in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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