College Saturday 6 Pack & Top 5 College Coaches
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IT'S HALLOWEEN WEEKEND: NOW WHAT (IF ANY) HIGHLY-RANKED COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAMS ARE GONNA MEET THE "GRIM REAPER"?
CATCH OUR SATURDAY SIX-PACK PREVIEWS PLUS WE RATE THE TOP 5 COACHING JOBS OF THE YEAR (SO FAR!)
By Jim Hurley:
It's a weekend full of haunted houses and witches-on-brooms - but what awaits the super-powers of the College Football World at this Halloween time?
Well, you could make the argument that the BCS' top two teams - that's #1 Auburn and #2 Oregon - should be in "upset alert" mode while playing at Ole Miss and USC, respectively and might this be a case where #5 Michigan State (at 6 ½-point favorite Iowa) or perhaps #6 Missouri (at 7 ½-point fav Nebraska) wins as a road dog and zooms right to the top of the BCS charts?
As they say on TV, stay tuned.
Lots going on this weekend that could scare the bejeezus out of many highly-ranked squads and we'll get to our Jim Sez Saturday Six-Pack in just a moment plus a special bonus as we rank the top 5 coaching jobs done so far in the 2010 season. Enjoy!
First, this key reminder: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you the NFL, College Football and all the World Series Winners starting Wednesday 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. Remember, the NBA season is underway, and you can get the entire NBA & NCAA basketball seasons at an early bird price right now. Click here to start winning in hoops.
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COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S SATURDAY SIX-PACK
#1 AUBURN (8-0, 5-0 SEC) at OLE MISS (3-4, 1-3 SEC) - 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
Wonder how the kids at Auburn are feeling about everyone - and we mean everyone - referring to their team as a "one-man gang" these days. Okay, so do-it-all QB Cam Newton (13 passing TDs and 14 rushing scores) - who jetted to the top of our Heisman Trophy Report list this past week - has been a holy terror all season long and here he could well inflict major damage on an Ole Miss defense that's already surrendered 35-or-more points on four different occasions in 2010 but count us among the folks that believe the Auburn defense is the real key to this Southeastern Conference clash in Oxford.
Last Saturday junior DT Nick Fairley was a monster with 2 ½ sacks and lots of spirited play in the 24-17 win against LSU and here Ole Miss QB Jeremiah Masoli may have to run for his life for much of this game - see, Auburn's no one-man gang after all!
Spread Notes -- Auburn is 2-10 against the spread (ATS) away since the start of the 2008 season but the Tigers do own a 5-3 spread log so far this 2010 campaign. Ole Miss, on the other hand, is 18-12 against the odds overall in the Houston Nutt Era and that includes a dead-even but vig-losing 10-10 spread mark inside SEC play.
#2 OREGON (7-0, 4-0 Pac-10) at USC (5-2, 2-2 Pac-10) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC regional of Game Plan 790
Do you want to hear something really cool about this year's Oregon Ducks? The gang from Eugene has won every one of their games by twin-figure margins and the 2010 version of the "Quack Attack" has won their seven games by a per-game margin of 39.3 points a game... yowee!
Let's just be confident here in saying that if Chip Kelly's club wins this game by 39 or 40 points - no matter what Auburn does at Ole Miss - than the Ducks will be sitting pretty on top of the BCS Standings come Sunday night but maybe this is all just silly talk.
What's not so silly is the fact that Oregon just about jumps on every foe right after the national anthem is played and then keeps 'em down as evidenced by last Thursday's 60-13 slaughterhouse win against UCLA. The Ducks finished that game with 582 offensive yards as RB LaMichael James - our #2 man in the latest Jim Sez Heisman Trophy Report - scooted free for 123 yards rushing despite missing a batch of snaps with ankle woes.
James and Company will keep the heat on USC's defense here but can Men of Troy slinger Matt Barkley (1,869 yards passing with 20 TDs and 4 INTs) just overpower an underrated Oregon defense? Heck, SC may need to score in the 60s just to win this Pac-10 bash.
Spread Notes - Oregon's covered five of its first seven games this year and the Ducks are a rollicking 12-6 ATS overall since the early part of the 2009 season. Meanwhile, USC has covered three of its first four Pac-10 tilts this year but trace back to the start of 2006 and you'll discover that the Trojans are just 15-24-1 ATS in conference action.
#5 MICHIGAN STATE (8-0, 4-0 Big 10) at #18 IOWA (5-2, 2-1 Big 10) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC or ESPN
Go ahead and say it - it's good to be green these days! The Michigan State Spartans - who continue to re-write the school's gridiron history books on a week-by-week basis this year - aim for their biggest win of the year here in Iowa City against a team that cost "Sparty" a bigger/better bowl game a year ago with a famous last-minute TD pass play from QB Ricky Stanzi-to-WR Marvin McNutt. In case you had forgotten, that 15-13 Iowa win allowed the Hawkeyes to go 8-0 SU (straightup) at the time while it halted State's winning streak at three in a row.
Well, the Stanzi-to-McNutt combo remains a major focal point here (26 hookups for this duo including 3 TDs) - and don't forget new favorite target WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (30 catches at 16.6 yards-per-clip and 8 TDs) - and so one top priority for the Spartans is keeping Iowa's big pass plays to a minimum and so the more carries for State RBs Edwin Baker and Le'Veon Bell the better. Note that Baker (779 yards rushing) and Bell (574 yards rushing) have combined for 15 ground scores but the telltale sign in the end might be whether they get 30-plus carries here.
Spread Notes -- Iowa's covered seven of its last eight head-to-head showdowns against Michigan State and note the Hawkeyes are 12-6-1 ATS in Big 10 play the past two-plus seasons. Michigan State rides a five-game spread winning streak into this monster clash and the Spartans are 2-0 ATS as dogs this year after going a rotten 1-7 ATS as pups the prior two combined campaigns.
#6 MISSOURI (7-0, 3-0 Big 12) at #14 NEBRASKA (6-1, 2-1 Big 12) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC or ESPN
Good thing this Big 12 showdowns isn't in Columbia 'cause we're not sure the Mizzou students ever did return that goal post allegedly whisked away to a local tavern following last Saturday night's monstrous 36-27 win against then-#1 Oklahoma. To be sure, Missouri started off that game in a flurry as Gahn McGaffie raced 88 yards with the opening kickoff for a touchdown and Gary Pinkel's team never did allow the Boomer Sooners to ever get comfortable on either side of the ball but now the Tigers must tangle with a Nebraska team that's truly underachieved at home this year (see our Spread Notes below).
If the 'Huskers can't contain Mizzou's return specialists or Tigers' QB Blaine Gabbert (three games of 300-plus yards passing this year) than Bo Pelini's crew could be giving up another bundle of points - Big Red allowed 41 points last week in a 10-point win against Oklahoma State.
Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez (1,046 yards passing and 870 yards passing and 20 combined TDs) has been a bit Jekyl-and-Hyde the past two games - let's see which one shows for this matinee clash in noisy Lincoln.
Spread Notes - Missouri has covered its last four consecutive games this year and the Tigers are 3-0 ATS inside Big 12 play so far after going a combined 5-12 ATS against fellow league foes the past two seasons. Nebraska actually enters this game with a losing spread season thus far at 3-4 ATS and Big Red's failed to cover all four of its home games this year (versus Western Kentucky, Idaho, South Dakota State and Texas).
#8 UTAH (7-0, 4-0 MWC) at AIR FORCE (5-3, 3-2 MWC) - 7:30 p.m., CBSC
The Mountain West Conference doesn't deserve this "little brother" treatment from the BCS folks: Not only is TCU is a legit contender for this year's national championship but here comes a Utah Utes team that hasn't lost since last November (see BYU 26, Utah 23) and Kyle Whittingham's club has beaten a pair of power conference teams along the way with the season-opening overtime triumph over Pittsburgh and earlier this month there was a resounding 68-27 win against Iowa State... so there!
Utah's lethal offense will ask QB Jordan Wynn (1,283 yards passing with 12 TDs and 5 INTs) to stay razor-sharp after he completed 23-of-29 passes for 321 yards last week in a 59-6 triumph over Colorado State.
Spread Notes - Utah rides a nifty six-game spread winning streak into this game in Colorado Springs and overall the Utes are 17-9 against the odds in all home games the past four-plus seasons. Air Force is 8-2 ATS against Utah since 2000 but note the Fly Boys enter this clash on a five-game spread losing skid this season.
FLORIDA (4-3, 2-3 SEC) vs. GEORGIA (4-4, 3-3 SEC) (at Jacksonville) - 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
The Gators and Dawgs are not ranked at the current time - in truth, they're really not all that great either here in 2010 -- but what would a Jim Sez Saturday Six-Pack be without the former "World's Largest Cocktail Party"?
Georgia zooms into this game having won/covered three in a row and RB Washaun Ealey is sizzling-hot after scoring a school-record five rushing TDs in last week's 44-31 win at Kentucky. On the flip side, Florida staggers into this clash having lost three in a row both SU/ATS and did you realize that the Gators have scored a grand total of 42 points in these setbacks?
Look for more Trey Burton (8 rushing TDs) out of the Wildcat here.
Spread Notes -- Georgia is 3-6-1 against the odds in its last 10 tilts versus Florida while take note the Gators are just 4-9-1 spreadwise in conference play the past year-and-change.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S TOP 5 COACHING JOBS (SO FAR) IN 2010
As you've been reading here in our Jim Sez columns the past five weeks, we've been rating the #1-thru-#5 players in our Heisman Trophy Report and now we offer up a little twist - if the players can be ranked than so too can this year's top coaches.
So, it's our yes-we-know-it's-very-subjective Top 5 Coaching Jobs (so far) for 2010:
#1 -- MARK DANTONIO/DON TREADWELL, MICHIGAN STATE: In a case of two heads being better than one, the top spot for Coaching Jobs goes to this one-two punch from East Lansing as Dantonio's well-documented heart problems forced his good buddy/offensive coordinator Treadwell to take the wheel for this Big 10 team and it was a seamless transition than and a seamless transition back now that Dantonio's back on the State sidelines. Three cheers for "Sparty".
#2 - GENE CHIZIK, AUBURN: Okay, so we know the cynics out there would like to put Tigers' mad scientist offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn into this spot but there's only one boss and this second-year general has pushed all the right buttons so far. Remember that Auburn started off the year at #22 in the Associated Press poll.
#3 - JIMBO FISHER, FLORIDA STATE: Gotta give this man credit as he's stepped into the void left behind by Bobby Bowden and brought the Seminoles back into the big picture despite Thursday's brutal 28-24 loss at N.C. State. Fisher's gotten the Noles to play smarter (again, save for the loss in Raleigh) and he's given this program a real energy boost.
#4 KYLE WHITTINGHAM, UTAH: Year-in and year-out this underrated boss-man of the Utes has his club ultra-competitive and now he's running a real-life super-power team that's beaten its foes by a per-game scoring average of nearly 41 ppg ever since that aforementioned season-opening OT win against Pitt.
#5 -- DOUG MARRONE, SYRACUSE: Talk about reviving a sad-sack program! The 'Cuse were a dead-in-the-water program for the better part of the past decade (see one bowl game since 2001) but the 2010 Orange not only are soon to be bowl-bound with a current 5-2 SU mark but it's possible the upstate New York team could win the Big East - they've already won at South Florida and at West Virginia - and wouldn't that be a kick if the Orange are playing this year in January.
NOTE: Catch our NFL Week 8 Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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