College Football Weekend Report
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND REPORT - THERE'S PREVIEWS OF THREE SATURDAY MONSTER MATCHUPS INCLUDING BCS #1 OKLAHOMA AT MIZZOU ...THE MID-SEASON'S BIGGEST STORY THAT STILL IS NOT GETTING ENOUGH "PUB" (PAGING SPARTY!)
By Jim Hurley:
So, the BCS Standings didn't put Boise State on top of the pack - and didn't even give 'em second place, for that matter!
As Broncos' boss-man Chris Petersen bluntly told media folks soon after the initial BCS Standings were released earlier this week, talk to me in December.
Yet while Boise State didn't land up in either of the first two slots to start it's a pair of other non-BCS conference teams we worry about here:
Both #5 TCU and #9 Utah are unbeaten these days - note that they are 7-0 and 6-0 SU (straightup), respectively as we speak - while heading into this weekend's action and they are set to square off in a head-to-head battle royal in Salt Lake City on Nov. 6th and the $64,000 question we have is can the winner of that game - providing they're unbeaten at year's end - really believe they'll get a shot for all the marbles?
All we have to say to the BCS big-wigs is they should not be afraid of a potential Boise State vs. Utah (for example) tilt in the BCS Championship Game and if a one-loss major-conference team (like #10 Ohio State, for example) leapfrogs either/both of these teams that could be 12-and-oh than shame, shame on the whole dang system.
The fact of the matter is there are still 10 FBS unbeatens now - that's Auburn, Boise State, LSU, Michigan State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, TCU and Utah following Oregon's 60-13 runaway win against UCLA last night and everyone will be lobbying for a better place in the BCS Standings in the days and weeks ahead (even if lobbying rarely has a positive effect!).
Let's face it: If Oklahoma and Oregon runs the table and smashes a few opponents along the way the whole thing's a moot point - it'll be Sooners vs. Ducks in a title game that would be a dandy but something's telling us even if Boise State or TCU or Utah are picture-perfect the rest of the way the sport's honchos will make sure to keep them on the outside looking in at the BCS Championship Game.
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 Friday and Saturday, the NFL Sunday and Monday, and possibly a couple of game sevens in the League Championship Series, 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!
COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S SATURDAY KEY PREVIEWS
COLLEGE GIFT GAME OF THE MONTH
On Saturday, it's ...
#1 OKLAHOMA (6-0, 2-0 Big 12) at #11 MISSOURI (6-0, 2-0 Big 12) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC regional
Please don't get us started here regarding the fact that Oklahoma was the first BCS #1 team this year ... has everyone out there forgotten how much the Sooners struggled just to get past five-TD underdog Utah State, 16 ½-point pup Air Force or 13 ½-point dog Cincinnati in the first four weeks of this current campaign?
Bob Stoops' crew has survived all of its games the first half of this 2010 season but it's not as if the gang from Norman has been bulletproof as a bounce here or there in all of the above games could have put Oklahoma's foes into the winner's circle - and now the question is whether or not the road favorites will allow a rock-solid Missouri Tigers team to still be hanging around in the game's final couple of minutes.
The Sooners were dealt a blow earlier this week when top-flight pass-catcher Dejuan Miller tore up his right knee in a Tuesday practice but there's still plenty of targets for red-hot QB Landry Jones who comes off an electric 30-of-34, 334-yard, 3-TD showing in that 52-0 triumph over Iowa State last Saturday night. Wide-out Ryan Broyles (61 catches for 700 yards with 5 TDs) can burn you from anywhere on the field.
Keep in mind that Mizzou ranks second among FBS teams in points allowed (13.3 ppg) and this Tigers' pass rush has been supreme so far with 20 quarterbacks sacks including an eye-popping seven of 'em in last Saturday's 30-9 stunner win at 4 ½-point favorite Texas A&M and now sophomore DE Aldon Smith is expected back here after missing the last three games with a broken bone in his leg - all Smith did last year as a frosh was collect 11 ½ sacks.
If Tigers QB Blaine Gabbert (1,591 yards passing with 10 TDs and 3 INTs) can get heated up here, than another #1 team could bite the dust for a third straight week.
Spread Notes - Oklahoma has split its first six pointspread results this season but the Sooners still are just 2-7-1 versus the vig in their last 10 away games dating back to that 24-14 BCS Championship Game loss to 5-point favorite Florida in 2008. Missouri, meanwhile, comes into this conference clash riding a three-game spread wining streak and yet the Tigers are only 13-18 against the Las Vegas prices since the start of the '08 campaign.
#6 LSU (7-0, 4-0 SEC) at #4 AUBURN (7-0, 4-0 SEC) - 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
It does seem funny to look at the SEC West standings and see Alabama tucked away beneath both of these teams but that's life in this league where every big game is a major sword fight - now the visiting LSU Tigers can only hope their swashbuckling ways will be enough to stay perfect and it all begins and ends with how the Bayou boys handle Auburn QB Cam Newton (1,278 yards passing and 860 yards rushing with a combined 25 TDs).
Let the TV folks ramble on and on about how this do-it-all quarterback has been the single-biggest star in the sport this year - yes, they're right - but don't discount the fact that this LSU defense has held five opponents to 14 points or less this season and is quite capable of "flipping the field" with a timely fumble recovery and/or interception.
Gut feeling is that if Newton turns the ball over two-or-more times here, it'll wind up costing Auburn a shot at perfection - while something else tells us LSU kicker Josh Jasper (13-of-16 made FGs this year) better stay perfect or close to it if Les Miles' guys want to win another high-profile road game.
Spread Notes - Auburn has split its last 10 pointspread verdicts against LSU dating back to the 2000 season but did you know "War Eagle" has covered just eight of its last 20 games when in the favorite's role? Meanwhile, LSU is a decent 18-12-1 against the odds whenever taking points since '00 but the Bayou Bengals are a money-burning 14-26-6 ATS in conference games the past five-plus seasons.
#13 WISCONSIN (6-1, 2-1 Big 10) at #15 IOWA (5-1, 2-0 Big 10) - 3:30 p.m. ET
Hey, it's marquee matchup Big 10 game without Ohio State or Michigan or Michigan State as part of the mix! No doubt that the Iowa Hawkeyes have responded neatly from their lone loss this year - the 34-27 setback at Arizona on Sept. 18th - and some folks believe that Kirk Ferentz's team is playing its best ball in years with wins against Penn State and Michigan the past two weeks.
Quarterback Ricky Stanzi (1,474 yards passing with 13 TDs and 2 INTs) has really spread the wealth around lately with WR Darrell Johnson-Koulianos (25 catches and 7 TDs) the latest favorite target.
If Wisky is gonna walk into Kinnick Stadium and steal this one - the Badgers are a 5 ½-point pup at press time - than not only does that ground-and-pound rushing attack have to win time of possession in a big way but RB John Clay (796 yards rushing) and Company must stress ball security against an Iowa defense that loves to make the strip-tackle play.
Spread Notes -- Iowa's covered seven of its last eight head-to-head matchups against Wisconsin dating back to the 2002 season. Note that the Wisky Badgers are a money-torching 6-14 ATS away the past three-plus seasons.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S MID-SEASON UPDATE: THE MOST UNDERRATED STORIES
Believe it or not, the 2010 College Football Season is at its halfway point and yet some great stories just ain't getting the attention they need to receive. No question that the revolving door at the #1 spot in the polls - Alabama, then Ohio State and now Oklahoma in the BCS Standings - has been a major focal part of this season thus far but there's been a whole lot more that merits your attention and let's get to our pick as the most underrated storyline of the year thus far:
MICHIGAN STATE (7-0, 3-0 Big 10) - Okay, so by now everyone knows the Spartans are 7-0 for the first time since 1966 (three cheers for the Duffy Daugherty Days) but how mind-bending has this whole deal been with the health of head coach Mark Dantonio a week-to-week thing until recently and with offensive coordinator (and Dantonio's best buddy) Don Treadwell seamlessly running the show.
Okay, so critics are quick to point out that Saturday's game at Northwestern will be Michigan State's first game outside the great state of Michigan but how many major-college teams could successfully dance around all the Dantonio stuff for weeks and stay perfect all the while beating the likes of Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Michigan?
Note that Michigan State hasn't won the Big 10 since 1990 - gotta admit we didn't at first realize it was 20 years ago - and Sparty does not have Ohio State on this year's schedule.
P.S., bettors will be quick to praise this Michigan State team since the Spartans have covered their last four games in a row (5-2 ATS overall) and all we're saying is this should be hailed as a great story - let's see if a win at N'western jump-starts the mainstream media here.
THE NFL WEEK 7 REPORT - BRETT'S BACK IN GREEN BAY AS VIKES FACE ANOTHER MUST-WIN GAME PLUS IS IT TIME FOR "LAST RITES"FOR THESE 2010 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS? ...
THE NFL HOT-BUTTON TOPIC WONDERS JUST HOW WILL THE HARD HITS BE CALLED THIS WEEK? ...
OUR NFL WEEK 7 SPREAD TIDBITS
By Jim Hurley:
Here's a strange-but-true factoid about the NFL Week #7 schedule:
The two teams that battled in last year's AFC Championship Game - that's the New York Jets and the Indianapolis Colts - both draw their 2010 byes this weekend while the two teams that slugged it out in last year's NFC Championship Game - the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings - are coming off wins on the very same week for the first time this year. Really!
Go ahead and look it up: The Saints and Vikes had not won on the same day/week until last Sunday when New Orleans crushed Tampa Bay 31-6 while Minny slipped past Dallas 24-21.
And talk about the hand of fate taking some wild swings:
Who thought prior to the start of this 2010 season that a Week #7 game between St. Louis at Tampa Bay would pit a pair of .500-or-better teams up against one another or that the San Francisco at Carolina game would match up teams with a combined won/loss record of 1-10. Egads!
You better believe this has been an odd duck season so far in NFL-land where - we remind you - NFL Betting Favorites are 33-51-5 ATS (against the spread) for a wobbly .393 winning rate (note there's also been one pick 'em game in the league as well).
The chalk sides actually come off a rare winning week - Favorites registered a 7-5-2 ATS log last week - and now the question heading into Week #7 is what clubs really need to be on "upset alert"... or does the whole league really have to take a step back and believe that maybe there's no super team out there at all and some 80-to-85 percent of this league really can be separated by only one or two plays per game.
Lots to say in this weekend edition of Jim Sez but first this important reminder: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you the NFL, College Football and all Major-League Baseball Playoff Championship Series and World Series 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.
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OUR NFL WEEK #7 QUICK-HITTER SUNDAY PREVIEWS
MINNESOTA (2-3) at GREEN BAY (3-3) - 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC
Everyone wants to know: Will all the "distractions"swirling around Vikings QB Brett Favre have a negative effect on his play here against his old team? In a word (or two) ... stay tuned!
One thing for sure is that Favre feasted off the Green Bay defense a year ago when he threw for a combined 515 yards with 7 TDs and 0 INTs in a clean-sweep by the Vikings - Minny won 30-23 at the Metrodome and than four weeks later kayoed the Packers 38-26 in an emotional return by Favre to Lambeau Field - but times have changed this year as Favre's aired seven picks already and his ailing right elbow might not allow him to go deep in this clash against a GB team that is hoping the return of CB Al Harris (left knee) and S Atari Bigby (left ankle) along with key LB Clay Mathews (hamstring) will be an elixir for Mike McCarthy's club.
You might well consider this a "must-win"spot for both of these teams but if the Vikings do lose then getting back over the .500 mark the rest of the way could be a real problem - note Minnesota's at New England in Week #8 and plays at Chicago in Week #10.
Spread Notes - The road teams have covered 13 of the last 20 games between these NFC North rivals but note Minnesota is just 8-11-1 ATS away since late in the 2008 campaign. Green Bay comes into this tilt on a four-game spread losing skid and yet the Packers still are a collective 34-21-2 vig-wise the past three-plus seasons
NEW ENGLAND (4-1) at SAN DIEGO (2-4) - 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Maybe that Super Bowl "window"has closed for the SD Chargers - and maybe it truly gets slam shut in their faces with a loss here.
Hey, Norv Turner's team has built a reputation for slow starts, fast regular-season finishes and then playoff fade-outs in his three-plus years on the job but it could well be that a fast finish to this 2010 regular season won't nearly be enough to save the Bolts' hides.
Last week's 20-17 loss at 8½-point dog St. Louis "featured"QB Philip Rivers getting sacked seven times - if the San Diego O-line can keep him in an upright position for most of this game than maybe the AFC West crew can register a "W"as Rivers does lead the NFL in passing yards (2,008) and is tied for second with his 12 TD passes.
The health report, however, on two of Rivers' favorite targets isn't great: Both All-Pro TE Antonio Gates (ankle) and WR Malcom Floyd (hamstring) are iffy for this clash against a Patriots team that last week had to basically play five quarters of football en route to a 23-20 overtime win against Baltimore. One key here is the production of New England RB Danny Woodhead - a wavier wire steal from the Jets - who last weekend accounted for 115 all-purpose yards and picked up six key first downs.
Spread Notes - New England is 24-13 ATS away the past four-plus seasons while San Diego enters this clash 3-6-1 spreadwise overall in its last 10 games while dating back to late in the 2009 season. Note that the Chargers are 12-18-1 ATS as betting favorites the past two-plus seasons.
PITTSBURGH (4-1) at MIAMI (3-2) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Now that "Big Ben"Roethlisberger is back in the proverbial saddle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, everyone wants to know if this AFC North crew has been elevated to the top of the pack in terms of being a Super Bowl contender.
No question that last week's game - a 28-10 home triumph against the two-TD underdog Cleveland Browns - showed some major rust on Roethlisberger following his league-imposed four-game suspension but WRs Mike Wallace and Hines Ward (only 29 receptions combined so far this season) should be kept busy against a Miami secondary that was exposed at times in last week's 23-20 OT win at Green Bay.
If the Fish are gonna snag a mild upset win here, than RB Ricky Williams (12 carries for only 31 yards in last year's season-ending 30-24 loss to Pittsburgh) must be a factor from the get-go.
Spread Notes - The Steelers are 6-11-1 against the odds as betting favorites since the start of last season. On the flip side, the Dolphins are a sickly 16-42 versus the vig at home since the start of the 2003 campaign.
PHILADELPHIA (4-2) at TENNESSEE (4-2) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Let's face it ... there is more intrigue in this interconference game regarding who won't be on the field here:
Philly WR/return specialist DeSean Jackson (concussion) is out after getting walloped on a helmet-to-helmet hit last weekend while Tennessee QB Vince Young is more than likely out here with a sprained knee and a sprained ankle suffered in a botched-up play in the MNF win at Jacksonville earlier in the week.
Look for Eagles QB Kevin Kolb (326 yards passing and 3 TDs in last week's 31-17 win against Atlanta) to try and lure in the Titans overactive safeties with play-action fakes here and then seek long-ball connections with WR Jeremy Maclin (25 catches for 16.6 yards a play and 6 scores).
Meanwhile, Titans QB Kerry Collins probably won't throw it more than 20 times here - if RB Chris Johnson (596 yards rushing and 7 TDs) doesn't get 30 carries here than everyone will be shocked.
Spread Notes - Tennessee is a rotten 4-7-1 versus the vig in its last dozen home games while Philadelphia marches into Nashville with a resounding 45-21 spread mark when in thee underdog role since the start of the 2000 season (folks, that's a slick .682 winning percentage).
NFL'S HOT-BUTTON TOPIC:
WILL THE WEEK #7 GAMES BE OFFICIATED DIFFERENTLY AFTER LEAGUE LAYS DOWN THE LAW?
It was the front-and-center topic in the world of the National Football League all week long - late hits, helmet-to-helmet hits and tell us how many times who heard the word "launching"used by the various media folks.
Now that the NFL has laid down the law - multiple fines levied the past few days for hits last week by Pittsburgh LB James Harrison, New England DB Brandon Meriweather and Atlanta CB Dunta Robinson all received plenty of play over the airwaves - you can fully expect the zebras to throw their flags on anything that looks head-high and/or suspicious in nature.
Heck, we won't be surprised at all if at least one NFL Week #7 game is determined by a late hit/helmet hit that won't be reviewable on instant replay.
Will it take some of the aggressive play from the league's LB's and DB's?
The answer is probably "yes"but anyone that's a good fundamental tackler won't be affected - and maybe that's what concerns so many defensive players in this league because they never did learn the fine art of tackling.
Gut feeling is if any defensive player lays an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver, etc. he's gonna wind up getting a multi-game suspension from Commish Roger Goodell.
Who's going to be the first to get nabbed?
NFL WEEK #7 POINTSPREAD TIDBITS
Let's go 'round the league and get you our NFL Week #7 Pointspread Tidbits with all figures below against the spread:
- The Atlanta Falcons have covered 12 of their last 18 home games dating back to the start of 2008;
- The Buffalo Bills are 1-4 vig-wise to start off the 2010 season;
- The Chicago Bears are 5-10-1 in non-divisional tilts since late '08;
- The Cincinnati Bengals are 10-3 as underdogs since late in 2008;
- The Denver Broncos are 6-17-1 vs. non-divisional foes;
- The Kansas City Chiefs have covered six of their last seven games since late 2009;
- The San Francisco 49ers have failed to cover five of their last six head-to-head showdowns versus Carolina;
- And the Seattle Seahawks are 1-6 in their last seven spread verdicts when facing Arizona.
NOTE: Get the Monday Night Football Preview - that's the New York Giants at the Dallas Cowboys - plus all the weekend roundups in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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