College & NFL Midweek Report and Previews

Hurley Splits Thursday Football...
Misses with Dolphins, but a cover with UNLV (+19.5) against Air Force 20-35 moves Network to 4-0 in college football this week! More action tonight with Boise-Fresno!

And a 1-for-3 day at Hollywood Park
R7: I Can Hear WON $6.60

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THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL MID-WEEK UPDATE TAKES A SNEAK PEEK AT WHAT UNDER-THE-RADAR TEAMS COULD WIND UP RIDING A "W" THIS SATURDAY INTO A SPLASHY POST-SEASON BOWL GAME ...

OUR THURSDAY/FRIDAY TV PREVIEWS INCLUDES YET ANOTHER UP-CLOSE LOOK AT BOISE STATE ...

PLUS OUR LATEST HEISMAN TROPHY REPORT AND YOU-KNOW-WHO IS STILL TOPS ON THE LIST ...

NFL THURSDAY PREVIEW: BEARS-DOLPHINS DO BATTLE IN SOUTH BEACH

By Jim Hurley:

You know the deal:

Each and every single College Football Season a couple of teams usually stand out above all the rest and their games get the super-power treatment from us media folks- this year it's #1 Oregon and #2 Auburn that are hogging up all the late-season headlines and don't expect that to change anytime soon!

Still, we wanted to take a moment or two here to recognize some of College Football's here-and-now "under-the-radar" teams that could wind up in big bowls at year's end although we must say winning their respective games this Saturday is downright essential.

Here's three teams that must win- we repeat, must win- this Saturday if they're gonna eventually wind up in an elite bowl game (note all rankings below reflect current BCS Standings):

#8 NEBRASKA (9-1, 5-1 Big 12)- Maybe the BCS Standings show that the Big Red still has a puncher's chance to get into the mix as we wind our way into the final weeks of this 2010 season but reality says that home loss to Texas- of all people this year- already cost Bo Pelini's crew a shot at all the marbles. Still, the 'Huskers quietly rolled up four consecutive wins following that mid-October setback and now really need to dispose of host Texas A&M this Saturday at Kyle Field. Keep in mind that Nebraska finishes up Big 12 regular-season play hosting lowly Colorado and so winning the Big 12 North first depends on winning this game (and note the Aggies are 3-point underdogs at press time).
Potential Fun Bowl Matchup- Nebraska vs. TCU (Sugar Bowl)

#13 ARKANSAS (8-2, 4-2 SEC)- The Hogs have played in three January bowl games in the past nine years and a win this weekend at gritty Mississippi State figures to push Bobby Petrino's team over the hump of those December bowl folks and right into a berth in either the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day or the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 7th. No doubt Arkansas owns some real signature wins this season including triumphs over Georgia, Ole Miss and at South Carolina but grab this one in Starkville and the Razorbacks put themselves in a great spot and don't forget the Pig Sooey gang still has a home game left against LSU.
Potential Fun Bowl Matchup- Arkansas vs. Iowa (Outback Bowl)

#16 VIRGINIA TECH (8-2, 6-0 ACC) - In this strange-but-true season for the V-Tech Hokies, here they are riding an eight-game SU (straightup) winning streak into this weekend's game in Miami and the freaky thing is a win here against the 'Canes not only will lock up the Coastal Division crown and a third appearance in four years in the conference's championship game but it could very possibly catapult Frank Beamer's squad into a third Orange Bowl berth in four years. BTW, has anyone out there noticed the Hokies are averaging just a shade under 40 points a game in their last six tilts (39.3 ppg, to be precise)?
Potential Fun Bowl Matchup: Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State (Orange Bowl)

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the Winners in the NFL, and College Football, the NBA and College Basketball too when you call us at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else when you log online right here. Here's an important Note: The check-in times are after 1 p.m. ET Monday-thru-Friday for all the Football/Basketball weeknight games and then anytime after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays. Don't forget that there will be plenty of College Basketball Monday-thru-Friday matinee games in the next couple of weeks with all the holidays approaching and so check your schedules and don't miss out on any of the day-time winners. Got it?

Extra, extra: Jim Hurley was smoking-hot on Sunday in the NFL as he cashed in with the Denver Broncos in their 49-29 win against Kansas City as that represented the top play of the day on the Closed Circuit. Meanwhile, Jim's Touchdown Club banged out an NFL Week 10 winner with Tampa Bay's 31-16 win against Carolina and don't forget the Blue Ribbon service rock-n-rolled with a winner on the Cowboys at the Jersey swamps.

THE THURSDAY/FRIDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME PREVIEWS

On Thursday, it's ...UCLA (4-5, 2-4 Pac-10) at WASHINGTON (3-6, 2-4 Pac-10)- 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Maybe the folks at the all-sports family of networks would like to "flex" out of this game between two of the near-the-bottom-feeders in the Pac-10 but not so fast my TV friends!

One thing to keep an eye out here is how UCLA- the nation's 114th-ranked passing attack (out of 120 FBS teams)- chucks it with kid QB Richard Brehaut (703 yards passing with 2 TDs and 4 INTs) operating Rick Neuheisel's attack for the always-injured Kevin Prince. Note that Brehaut will play it safe once he gets it into the red zone area 'cause PK Kai Forbath is one of the best in the business.

Stay tuned for whether or not Washington QB Jake Locker plays here following a recent rib injury- the Huskies need to sweep their remaining three games or else it's no bowl game for an eighth straight season.

Spread Notes- UCLA is 6-3-1 ATS (against the spread) in its last 10 head-to-head showdowns against Washington dating back to the 2000 season. Note that the UW Huskies own a rotten 2-6-1 spread log this year and remember that the Dawgs are 1-4 ATS at home one year after cranking out a solid 5-2 ATS home record.

On Friday, it's ...#4 FRESNO STATE (6-3, 4-2 WAC) at BOISE STATE (9-0, 5-0 WAC)- 9:30 p.m. ET, espn2
Here's one thing you may not know about this year's Boise State Broncos: They really/truly like the bright lights of these Friday night games 'cause they know it's the only game in town and everyone's tuned in to see 'em.

Maybe that was one reason why last Friday night the Broncos buried host Idaho 52-14 and really appeared to be enjoying the moment as QB Kellen Moore threw for 216 yards in three quarters of action while underrated RB Doug Martin chipped in 117 yards rushing and two scores- if Chris Petersen's club somehow gets out to a similar start here (see 28-0 after the first quarter) than the pollsters/computers would seem to have no other option than to throw some bouquets B-State's way.

Could the "smurf turf" kids be climbing the BCS charts by week's end?

Let's just say if they put a 30-plus point beating on Fresno State here than it might be tough not to reward the "no-respect" guys from the potato state.

Spread Notes - Boise State's an electric 7-2 versus the vig overall this season and the Broncos are a collective 23-9-2 against the odds since the start of the 2008 campaign (that's a magical .719 winning rate). On the flip side, Fresno State enters this prime-time clash a dead-even but vig-losing 4-4-1 spread mark this 2010 season but did you realize the Bulldogs have failed to cover seven of their last eight games against Boise State?

THE HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH

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).

#1- CAM NEWTON, QB, AUBURN: If they tallied up all the votes right now, than this would be a slam dunk even with the swirling suspicions about a "play-for-pay" matter here as the 6-foot-6 junior has piled up 21 aerial touchdowns, 17 rushing scores and one TD reception) while powering the Tigers to their glitzy 11-and-oh SU mark. Newton is the most exciting player in the sport in years and his ability to tune out all the nonsense was evident in last week's come-from-behind 49-31 win against Georgia as he rushed for 151 yards and threw for 148 yards.

#2- KELLEN MOORE, QB, BOISE STATE: The aforementioned front man for the Broncos has been in our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy Watch Top 5 all year long and he leaps into the second spot following a three-week stay in third place. Moore's numbers last week as mentioned above weren't dazzling but he once again didn't throw a single INT and his up-to-the-minute stats now include 2,588 yards passing with 24 TDs and only 4 INTs. P.S., don't discount big games happening against Fresno State and Nevada these next two weeks as they could propel Moore into making this a close fit should Newton stumble against Alabama on Thanksgiving Weekend.

#3- LaMICHAEL JAMES, RB, OREGON: The mega-star of the 2010 version of the "Quack Attack" got knocked back a peg to third place following last week's 29-carry, 91-yard, 0-TD showing in the rather squeaky 15-13 non-cover win at California. Okay, so James still sports monster numbers for the year including 1,422 yards rushing (a 6.3 ypc average) to go along with his 18 TDs (all but one of 'em rushing) and now the Ducks draw a bye this week and so that could really cripple his hopes of swiping this shiny hardware.

#4- ANDREW LUCK, QB, STANFORD: We stay with a Pac-10 theme here in the Heisman Trophy Watch as this 6-foot-4 sophomore slinger stays in the chase following last weekend's 33-of-41, 292-yard passing performance in the 17-13 win at Arizona State. Note that Luck's numbers on the year- 2,511 yards passing with 22 TDs and 7 INTs- get a further boost by the fact the Cardinal's lone loss this season was at Oregon (and Stanford's scored 35-or-more points on eight different occasions). Remember: Luck will dominate the voting on the West Coast.

#5- KENDALL HUNTER, RB, OKLAHOMA STATE: We've been stating the case for this powerful senior back who enters this Saturday's Big 12 game at heavy-duty dog Kansas with 1,356 yards rushing (a haughty 6.0 ypc) to go along with 16 TDs. In last weekend's 33-16 win at Texas, Robinson cranked out 116 rushing yards on 23 carries and he scored twice and so we keep wondering why isn't he on more ballots across the land at this late stage of the season? Right now we have him nudging out a handful of folks (including Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick and TCU signal-caller Andy Dalton for the final spot in our Top 5).

 

NFL THURSDAY NITE PREVIEW

CHICAGO (6-3) at MIAMI (5-4)- 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Who's next under center for the Miami Dolphins ... Bob Griese? The numero uno storyline of this prime-time clash is the fact the Fish are down to their third-string slinger Tyler Thigpen but read between the lines of what Miami coaches are saying this week and you get the distinct feeling that RBs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will be hauling the football about 80 percent of the time. Williams has rushed for 428 yards and a nifty 5.2 ypc average in three career games against the Bears while Brown will get it plenty via the once-mothballed Wildcat attack.

No wonder Chicago LBs Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are so critical to the road team's success here because they can not afford to allow Brown/Williams to slip out of tackles- if Miami faces more than a handful of third-and-longs here than the suddenly-alive Bears will thrive. Psst, don't tell anyone but Brown may be more accurate in his Wildcat throws here than now-injured QBs Chad Henne and Chad Pennington would have been.

Spread Notes - Miami is 6-3 versus the vig overall this season and note the Dolphins already have covered its two games against NFC North foes this year (14-10 as a 5 ½-point pup  in Minnesota in Week 2 and 23-20 over 3-point home fav Green Bay in Week 6 action). Meanwhile, Chicago's 4-4-1 against the odds overall in 2010 but the Bears have covered 3-of-4 as underdogs after going a composite 4-11-1 ATS as pups the two previous seasons.

NOTE: Lots more in the next edition of Jim Sez as we bring you the College Football Saturday Six-Pack!

21
Nov

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