College Saturday 6-Pack Previews (November 5, 2010)
A Huge Weekend Continues Today!
The Breeders Cup At Churchill Downs Saturday!
Plus college football!
Make sure the one network you stay tuned into is Jim Hurley's!
EXTRA, EXTRA: COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S MARQUEE MATCHUP THIS WEEKEND IS A BATTLE OF NON-BCS FOLKS AS TCU-UTAH STEALS THE GRIDIRON SPOTLIGHT IN OUR JIM SEZ SATURDAY SIX-PACK (AND HAWAII AT BOISE STATE GETS SECOND BILLING!)
By Jim Hurley:
You almost could set the mood for this weekend's biggest College Football game with the old soundtrack from Hoosiers.
Okay, so you get the idea:
The "little guy" rises up and gets all the glory just as that fictional 1952 hoops team that played for Gene Hackman.
Here we are in the first weekend of November and it's not Notre Dame or Texas or USC or Florida or Oklahoma getting the "pup" from mainstream America but rather the TCU Horned Frogs at the Utah Utes.
Non-BCS leagues go ahead and take a bow!
College Football's headliner game this weekend has it all - a pair of undefeated teams that can beat you over the head with their stingy and rough/tough defenses or they could chop your defense into small pieces with better-than-you-think attacks.
We'll get to the analysis in just a moment plus we'll check in on that other non-BCS gang (see Boise State) and then deliver four head-to-head matchups between teams that find themselves in the BCS Top 25 right here/right now... but first this important message:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you the NFL, and College Football action 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 has started, and you can get the entire NBA & NCAA basketball seasons at an early bird price right now. Click here to start winning in hoops. COLLEGE COMPUTER CRUSHER Our computer programmers have given us the most sophisticated simulations in the industry and our stat guys work overtime giving them every available piece of data to put in. We've studied them all--from marquee games like TCU-Utah in a battle of unbeatens, to straight-up mismatches like Michigan State-Minnesota to off-the-beaten path games in the SUn Belt, WAC and Conference USA. And we've found one game where after 11,000 simulations the same team covers the spread 98.7% of the time! Last week our computer guys loved Penn State (+3) over Michigan and the Lions came up with a 42-24 win! This is as good as it gets and we're set to give the man another high-tech crushing! Click Here to sign up online. Just $50.
COLLEGE COMPUTER CRUSHER
Our computer programmers have given us the most sophisticated simulations in the industry and our stat guys work overtime giving them every available piece of data to put in. We've studied them all--from marquee games like TCU-Utah in a battle of unbeatens, to straight-up mismatches like Michigan State-Minnesota to off-the-beaten path games in the SUn Belt, WAC and Conference USA. And we've found one game where after 11,000 simulations the same team covers the spread 98.7% of the time! Last week our computer guys loved Penn State (+3) over Michigan and the Lions came up with a 42-24 win! This is as good as it gets and we're set to give the man another high-tech crushing! Click Here to sign up online. Just $50.
#3 TCU (9-0, 5-0 MWC) at #5 UTAH (8-0, 5-0 MWC) - 3:30 p.m. ET, CBSC
The Mountain West barely gets mentioned most College Football seasons. Now, here's the non-BCS league hogging up all the headlines and you get the sense that both of these powers are chomping at the bit after basically being silenced by their respective head coaches last week - Utah boss-man Kyle Whittingham had a real-life "gag order" placed on the Utes right until last week's nail-biter 28-23 non-cover win against Air Force was over and than some chatting followed.
Heck, buttoned-down head coach Gary Patterson didn't let any members of his team get interviewed by the media last week even after the Horned Frogs had pasted host UNLV 48-6.
Okay, so TCU's not won in Salt Lake City in its three prior trips there but Patterson duly noted that the 2008 meeting - a 13-10 Utah win - was on a Thursday night and followed a "short" work week for his team and he claims that's a big difference here.
On the flip side, Utah believes that revenge from last season's 55-28 TCU win in Fort Worth will get the Utes all hot-and-bothered here and cause 'em to play their best game of the year.
Heck, all that juicy stuff is fine for game previews but what's really likely to happen at Rice-Eccles Stadium here?
Well, TCU's defense may rank at or near the top in all the key categories - plus the Froggies have allowed just 57 points in the eight games that followed the 30-21 season-opening win against Oregon State - but the visitors need to score a defensive TD or two here just to put their personal stamp on this one plus veteran QB Andy Dalton (1,887 yards passing with 16 TDs and 5 INTs) can't show any of the big-game nerves that have bothered him in the past.
If Dalton gets the Horned Frogs into the red zone a handful of times, they better score at least three TDs.
Meanwhile, Utah comes into this clash with the sixth-best defense in the land statistically speaking and the Utes will need at least a couple of flip-the-field plays on "D" here in order to snag this upset win. Also, a key number for Utah RBs Eddie Wide (491 yards rushing) and Matt Asiata (488 yards rushing) is to get a minimum 4.0 yards a carry here or else too much will fall on the shoulder pads of QB Jordan Wynn (13 TDs and 6 INTs).
Spread Notes - TCU is just 5-4 ATS (against the spread) this 2010 season but go back to the start of 2005 and you'll find the Horned Frogs are 43-25-2 versus the vig overall (a .632 winning rate) and that includes a 35-22-1 spread log as betting favorites. Meanwhile, Utah enters this high-profile clash sporting a fancy 6-2 spread mark this season and did you realize that the Utes are a collective 38-30-2 ATS under boss-man Whittingham and that includes a 3-7-2 ATS mark in his debut year in 2005?
HAWAII (7-2, 5-0 WAC) at #4 BOISE STATE (7-0, 3-0 WAC) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Here's the $64,000 question for all those folks out there claiming that Boise State never "beats anyone": If the Broncos batter a Hawaii team riding a six-game SU (straightup) and six-game ATS winning streak than does that count for something?
Boise State has had 10 days to digest the fact its normally rugged defense surrendered 394 offensive yards in that 49-20 non-cover win against Louisiana Tech back on Oct. 26th and so you can fully expect the B-State stop unit to be frothing at the mouth here. The goal is to silence the QB Bryant Moniz (25 TDs and 7 INTs)-to-WR Greg Salas (81 catches and 8 TDs) combo here. Simple as that!
Plus, you can bank on the fact that the Broncos will opt for some gadget or gimmick plays here... why?
Well, if Boise State can pull off a triple reverse pass play that works or another successful "Statue of Liberty" play than head coach Chris Petersen knows that will make the ESPN highlight reel and he doesn't want his kids left out in the cold when TCU and Utah are busy grabbing up all the headlines.
Boise State QB Kellen Moore - who's been part of our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy Top 5 list all year long - comes in armed-and-dangerous with 18 TDs and 2 INTs.
Spread Notes - Boise State is 39-20-1 ATS at home since 2000 (that's a .661 winning rate) but the Broncos overall have failed to cover four of their last five clashes with Hawaii. The 50th state team is 8-1 against the prices this year and that includes a current six-game spread winning streak.
#6 ALABAMA (7-1, 4-1 SEC) at #10 LSU (7-1, 4-1 SEC) - 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Maybe there is a repeat performance straight ahead for the 'Bama Crimson Tide in the next BCS Championship Game - but let's just say that if this SEC clubs hurdles any/all unbeaten teams to get there than it'll be a crying shame!
Alabama has propelled itself right back into the national title discussion despite that 35-21 loss at South Carolina back on Oct. 9th but keep in mind that the Tide not only needs to win here in Baton Rouge (something it's failed to do in two of its last three trips) but to win some style points too and so maybe head coach Nick Saban unloosens the hold a bit here on QB Greg McElroy who does have 1,781 yards passing and 11 TDs this season.
One key here is McElroy must make LSU's safeties pay for "cheating up" in running down situations and so you may see a couple of long balls to WR Julio Jones (45 catches) who has the ability to take over this game if all else fails.
LSU's two-headed quarterback system of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee better complete 60 percent of their pass attempts here because the Tigers' ground game likely isn't gonna explode against the country's top 20 rush defense (ranked #17 at press time).
Spread Notes - Alabama is an electric 13-5 ATS away since the start of the 2008 season and that includes a 27-21 win/cover at LSU two years ago. On the flip side, LSU is an ugly 4-12-2 versus the vig at home since the start of the 2008 season and the Bayou Bengals are 14-27-6 ATS in SEC affairs the past five-plus seasons.
#15 ARIZONA (7-1, 4-1 Pac-10) at #13 STANFORD (7-1, 4-1 Pac-10) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC regional
There's Rose Bowl hopes shooting through the heads of both these teams this year - if Oregon winds up getting to the BCS Championship Game than the winner of this titanic tilt will have the so-called inside track to the "Granddaddy of the Them All" and everyone knows the U of A Wildcats have never played in the Rose Bowl... as in never!
If Arizona - a 9-point underdog at press time - plans on stealing this one in Palo Alto, than the 'Cats need three things to happen:
Prodigal son QB Nick Foles - who has missed the last two games with a sprained right knee - must be razor-sharp from the get-go because Stanford's always been a fast starter in 2010;
Next, Arizona cannot yield the really big play here as was the case in last week's tough 29-21 win against UCLA. Even though Mike Stoops' crew owned that game from a statistical point of view, the 'Cats allowed UCLA to hang around thanks to 68- and 49-yard aerials for scores;
Finally, if Stanford QB Andrew Luck (1,920 yards passing with 20 TDs and 6 INTs) is gonna beat you with his right arm, that's one thing but if 'Zona allows Luck (40 carries for 345 yards, 8.6 ypc and 3 TDs) to prance for some big rushing plays (designed or otherwise) than Arizona will have no shot to extend its three-game winning streak.
Spread Notes - Arizona is a solid 21-14-1 against the odds in Pac-10 games dating back to midway of the 2006 campaign but the 'Cats have failed to cover five of their last seven showdowns against Stanford. Note that the Cardinal is a dead-even but vig-losing 4-4 against the odds this year and they're a modest 24-21 ATS in the Jim Harbaugh Era that began in 2007.
#18 ARKANSAS (6-2, 3-2 SEC) at #19 SOUTH CAROLINA (6-2, 4-2 SEC) - 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Is this simply a bad matchup for the host SC Gamecocks - and/or also coming at a bad time? Note that Steve Spurrier's crew allows 260 passing yards a game this year - making the Gamecocks the worst pass defense in the Southeastern Conference - plus there's a little game at Florida on deck that more than likely will decide the SEC East champ.
So, this one pretty much comes down to pressure - can South Carolina's front seven get enough pressure on Hog QB Ryan Mallett (2,449 yards passing with 18 TDs and 7 INTs) who last week set a school single-game passing record with 409 yards despite the fact a bevy of his favorite pass-catchers kept going down with injuries in that 49-14 win/cover against Vanderbilt.
Spread Notes - Arkansas has notched spread wins in five of its last six games this year dating back to Sept. 18th and the Razorbacks are respectable 12-8 versus the vig whenever taking points the past three-plus seasons (including 2010 dog covers against Georgia and Alabama). Meanwhile, South Carolina's split its eight pointspread decisions so far this season and the Gamecocks have covered 11 of their last 18 SEC games tracing back to the start of 2008.
#21 BAYLOR (7-2, 4-1 Big 12) at #17 OKLAHOMA STATE (7-1, 3-1 Big 12) - 12:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net regional
Let's go on the record to state that it's really neat to see Baylor back on the football map (no bowl appearances since 1994!) but did the Bears have to be chanting "our house, our house" inside their locker room following the 30-22 win at Texas last Saturday night?
Guys, Baylor had not beaten Texas since 1997 and so that may have been a bit over-the-top reaction, if you ask us!
Still, hard not to like QB Robert Griffin who ranks eighth in the FBS with 288 passing yards per game - last week Griffin threw two TD passes and rushed for another in Austin and here he must trust RB Jay Finley (813 yards rushing, 6.8 ypc and 6 TDs) to make the key short-yardage plays against an athletic Okie State defense.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, welcome back WR Justin Blackmon (62 receptions, a 17.9 ypc average and 14 TDs) following his one-game suspension for a DUI and it says here Blackmon and Company must do something the 'Horns didn't do last weekend and that's make the Baylor defense pay following prolonged drives.
Spread Notes - Get this: The Baylor Bears have failed to cover eight of their last 10 head-to-head pointspread verdicts against Oklahoma State and that includes last year's 34-9 home loss as 9-point underdogs. The O-State Cowboys, meanwhile, are 6-2 spreadwise overall this season and they are 16-5-1 ATS as betting favorites since the start of the 2008 season (a wonderful .762 winning percentage).
THE NFL WEEK 9 MENU IS CHOCK FULL OF ROAD FAVORITES - AND WE ASK WHETHER THE SAINTS, JETS & CHARGERS CAN GET "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" ON SUNDAY ... OUR NFL WEEK 9 POINTSPREAD TIDBITS ARE HERE!
By Jim Hurley:
Wonder if you happened to give this NFL Week 9 card a good/long look:
You might have noticed that there are actually more Road Favorites than Home Favorites on the menu (seven road chalk-eaters as compared to six home favs) and now you can question whether that's more a product of Super Bowl-hungry teams playing away (see the New Orleans Saints, the New York Jets and even the San Diego Chargers) or whether that's more in line with who's at home this weekend ... see the likes of the rotten Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns, for example, as three such teams taking home points in some other Week 9 games.
The bottom line is last week there was only one road favorite in the NFL - the Miami Dolphins (-1) at Cincinnati - and that was only have some real 11th-hour money moves that pushed the Fish into the chalk role. Now, all eyes are on the teams that are "supposed to win" in enemy territory and we'll get to a trio of those teams shortly plus we'll feed you a Sunday Night Preview as downtrodden Dallas ventures into Lambeau Field for a bash with the born-again Green Bay Packers.
NFL WEEK 9 KEY PREVIEWS
NEW ORLEANS (5-3) at CAROLINA (1-6) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Guess the big question the defending Super Bowl champion Saints are asking themselves these days is whether or not they feel "challenged" when playing one of the NFL's weak sisters?
In last Sunday Night's 20-10 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Saints showed their '09 moxie by forcing a pair of key fourth-quarter turnovers and don't forget that first-half goal-line stand that might wind up being this team's defining moment if/when they get to Super Bowl XLV in Arlington.
Sean Payton's crew has lost games this year to 3-point underdog Atlanta and 6 ½-point home pup Arizona and who can forget that humiliating 30-17 loss versus 12 ½-point underdog Cleveland just two weeks ago - in the don't-come-easy world of these here-and-now Saints this game in Charlotte could be a problem.
Hey, just remember that N'Orleans needed every ounce of energy to topple these 13-point underdog Panthers 16-14 back in Week 4 play inside the Louisiana Superdome. There were lots of sweaty palms on the Saints' sideline in that clash.
The Saints have not swept a season's series from Carolina since 2001 - they needed three PK John Carney field goals to douse the Panthers back in early October - and here QB Drew Brees (2,334 yards passing with 16 TDs and 11 INTs) will look to carry over the momentum from last week's aforementioned win against Pittsburgh when he completed 34-of-44 aerials including going an eye-popping 20-of-22 after intermission.
Note that the Saints have their bye next week and then come off the idle weekend with a home game versus Seattle - maybe we're right in the midst of a real run here but New Orleans fans this year know better than to count their chickens too soon!
P.S., the Panthers will start Matt Moore at quarterback here as rookie Jimmy Clausen hits the pine once again.
Spread Notes - New Orleans is just 2-5-1 ATS (against the spread) so far in this 2010 campaign but did you realize the road team is a rollicking 15-5 versus the vig in the last 20 head-to-head battles between the Saints and the Panthers? Carolina enters this NFC South clash at 2-5 spreadwise this season and overall John Fox's squad is 36-21-1 ATS as pups since the start of the 2003 season.
NEW YORK JETS (5-2) at DETROIT (2-5) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
No ands, ifs or buts about it ... this has been the biggest soap opera season in New York Jets history and we're only halfway through the regular season!
The Jets pulled down plenty of negative headlines following last Sunday's ultra-drab 9-0 home loss against the 6 ½-point underdog Green Bay Packers and everyone wanted to know why the J-E-T-S got away from the ground game on a day when the New Meadowlands Stadium winds were really howling.
Maybe folks would not have been asking that question had the over-the-top hyped Jets receivers held onto QB Mark Sanchez's passes as WR Jerricho Cotchery dropped three balls and WR Santonio Holmes botched what figured to be either a long gainer or a touchdown as he failed to bring in a well-thrown ball.
Sanchez wound up tossing two INTs in that loss to an NFC North foe - he finished last weekend's game having completed 16-of-38 passes for 256 yards - but now everyone's clamoring for bigger/better results here inside the climate-controlled Ford Field but has it dawned on anyone that it's the Lions who possess the best offensive playmaker on the field here?
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson (38 receptions and 8 TDs) has been a regular staple on the highlight shows all year long and here he figures to be engaged in one of the best one-on-one matchups of the year as the Jets are expected to put fully healthy CB Darrelle Revis on Johnson and than keep him there.
Under-the-radar key for the road-favored Jets here is can red-hot PK Nick Folk save their hide when drives stall in Motown territory?
Note that Folk is 13-of-16 on field goals this year and that includes a 5-of-5 performance back on Oct. 11th against Minnesota.
Spread Notes -- The Jets are 5-2 versus the vig overall this year and a very healthy 12-4 ATS dating back to late last season and "gang green" has covered both of its road favorite affairs this year with wins/covers in Buffalo and Denver. Note that Detroit enters this interconference clash having split their last dozen spread verdicts against AFC teams the past three years (this is the Lions' first game this year against an out-of-conference opponent).
SAN DIEGO (3-5) at HOUSTON (4-3) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Maybe the $64,000 question is do you - or don't you - still consider the SD Chargers a viable Super Bowl contender?
Sure, the losing record might be a dead giveaway that the window's been slammed shut on the SB hopes of this west coast club but let's not forget some of the tremendous regular-season winning streaks this franchise has posted in recent seasons - including 11 consecutive wins just last year before hitting that AFC Divisional Playoff speed bump against the New York Jets - and so maybe last week's gutty 33-25 win/cover against 6-point pup Tennessee was the beginning of something really big ... we'll see!
The Chargers would love to bag a "W" here and then head into next weekend's bye with lots of positive momentum plus knowing that four of the teams' next five games are at home including AFC West showdowns against Denver, Oakland and Kansas City (in that order).
In this clash against the up-and-down Texans, look for San Diego slinger Philip Rivers (an NFL-best 2,649 yards passing with 15 TDs and 7 INTs) to test a secondary that last Monday Night couldn't even handle a bunch of backup pass-catchers in that 30-17 loss at Indianapolis.
Rivers threw for 305 yards and two TDs in the above-mentioned win against the Titans last weekend and could hit 400-plus passing yards here if he continues to get superior pass protection. If you don't hear the name of Houston DE Mario Williams too often here, than the 3-point favorite Chargers could well be going up and down the Reliant Stadium field at will.
Spread Notes - The SD Chargers are a pitiful 0-4 against the odds as betting favorites this year while losing games in Kansas City, Seattle, Oakland and St. Louis. Note that the Bolts have not covered a road game since that 42-17 crush job of Tennessee last Christmas Night in Nashville. On the flip side, Houston is just 2-4-1 versus the vig overall this season and the Texans have failed to cover their last three consecutive home games this season (against Dallas, the NY Giants and Kansas City).
On Sunday Night, it's ...
DALLAS (1-6) at GREEN BAY (5-3) - 8:25 p.m. ET, NBC
Everyone keeps talking about 1989 when it comes to these here-and-now Dallas Cowboys:
After all, that's when this franchise finished 1-15 right before their dynasty began with three Super Bowl crowns within a four-year span - wish we could tell you the future's gonna be real rosy for the 'Boys in 2011 and beyond but the reality is this club could get busted up at the end of this current campaign and here QB Jon Kitna (3 TDs and 4 INTs in relief of injured QB Tony Romo) better hope he's not busted up by game's end.
After all, the Packers have cranked out 24 quarterback sacks this year - that's third-best in the league - to go along with 12 interceptions and now Green Bay comes off its first shutout win in 20 games as last Sunday's 9-0 blanking of the Jets featured more pressure from LB Clay Matthews and some dynamite secondary play from last season's NFL Defensive Player of the Year CB Charles Woodson.
If the Packers can surprise the beleaguered Cowboys O-line here with some well-disguised blitzes - and you just know defensive coordinator Dom Capers has been staying up late at night with his pad and pencil - than Kitna could wind up tasting Lambeau Field turf much of this November night.
On the flip side, Green Bay's offense has some things to prove after not scoring a touchdown last week - PK Mason Crosby's three FGs was it - and note that WR Donald Driver (his 28 catches are second-best on GB) won't play here because of a quad injury.
Hey, the Pack ain't saying this for public consumption but they have not been thrilled so far with the play of QB Aaron Rodgers (2,011 yards passing with 12 TDs and 9 INTs).
Spread Notes - Green Bay's a dead-even but vig-losing 4-4 against the odds this year but the Packers are a solid 7-4-1 ATS as hosts since the start of last season. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are a dismal 1-6 spreadwise this season and did you know this NFC East crew is a rotten 8-15 ATS in all road games dating back to late in the '07 season?
NFL WEEK #9 POINTSPREAD TIDBITS
Let's go 'round the league and get you our Jim Sez NFL Week #9 Pointspread Tidbits with all figures below against the spread:
- The Baltimore Ravens are 13-7 spreadwise in their last 20 homes games;
- The Buffalo Bills have failed to cover five of their last seven games against NFC competition;
- The Cleveland Browns are 11-3-1 overall since the middle of the 2009 season;
- The Indianapolis Colts are 33-18-2 when playing outside the AFC South in recent seasons;
- The Kansas City Chiefs own a sparkling 8-2 spread mark in their last 10 trips to Oakland;
- The Minnesota Vikings are 11-6-1 as betting favorites since the start of last season;
- The New York Giants are 28-12 away since the start of the 2006 season;
- And the Tampa Bay Bucs have covered 11 of their last 17 spread verdicts against Atlanta;
NOTE: Get our Monday Night Football Preview - that's the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Cincinnati Bengals - plus all the NFL Week 9 and College Football weekend roundups in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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