College & NFL Midweek Update

It's A Side & Total Sweep On Thursday!
Arizona State (+5.5) Arizona 30-29 WON!
Arizona State/Arizona (Over 55) WON!
A 2-0 night kicks off a big weekend on football!




By Jim Hurley:

'Tis the season for football folks to compile their holiday wish list:

Like the #1 Auburn Tigers - well, they don't want to get greedy or anything - who sure would like a win over South Carolina in this Saturday's SEC Championship Game and a shiny Heisman Trophy tucked under the tree for superstar quarterback Cam Newton.

Than there's the #2 Oregon Ducks who are monstrous 16 ½-point betting favorites in their "Civil War" game at Oregon State this weekend - the "Quack Attack" doesn't have to win by any great margin in terms of BCS importance but you may want to know that the Ducks are a dead-even but vig-losing 4-4-1 ATS (against the spread) when it comes to covering double-digit pointspreads this season.

Finally, let us not forget #3 TCU - the Horned Frogs' "wish list" includes losses by either/both Auburn and Oregon this weekend but the $64,000 question making the rounds in the College Football world is that it's very possible a "close loss" by 12-and-oh Auburn still might not KO the Tigers from the BCS Championship Game next month because that all-important strength of schedule item could still have the SEC crew surpass unbeaten TCU in the computers.

Stay tuned!

In today's Mid-Week edition of Jim Sez there's plenty of College Football to nosh on plus we've chucked in the Thursday Night Football bash in the NFL between the Houston Texans at the Philadelphia Eagles ... so let's get it started already!

And now hear this ...

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will get you winners in the NFL Week 13 menu beginning with Thursday's tilt between the Texans at the Eagles plus remember to get all the NFL, NCAA Football, the NBA and NCAA Basketball too when you call us daily at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or when you log online right here online. Keep up your winning roll right through the merry month of December!


On Thursday Nite in NFL Week 13 play, it's ...

HOUSTON (5-6) at PHILADELPHIA (7-4) - 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Wasn't it just two short weeks ago that the "Michael Vick Experience" was all the rage in the league where they play for pay?

Well, we're not here to say Vick's been in some vicious slump since that all-world game against Washington in that Week 10 bash but the fact of the matter is the Eagles were fortunate/lucky to beat the New York Giants the following Sunday and then last week's 31-26 loss at Chicago included Vick getting tossed around like a rag doll for much of that affair (yes, he threw for 333 yards and two TDs but met with plenty of resistance for the first half) and now Philly needs their star signal-caller to respond big-time here against a Houston team that comes off throwing its first shutout since the next-to-last game in the - get this - 2004 season!

The Eagles didn't run it well in Chitown last Sunday - top RB LeSean "Shady" McCoy finished with 53 yards on 10 carries while Vick contributed 44 yards on 9 rushes - and here it will be critical to get the ground game going and Vick's play-action fakes working while looking to baffle what's been a rotten Houston secondary.

One item to watch when Houston has the ball: QB Matt Schaub (2 TDs and 0 INTs in last weekend's 20-0 win against Tennessee) must get his middle-of-the-field aerial game working with TE Joel Dreesen so that RB Arian Foster (143 yards rushing and 75 yards receiving against the Titans last Sunday) isn't keyed/spied on here.

Spread Notes - Philadelphia is just 5-6 against the Las Vegas prices this year and note that the Eagles have failed to cover five of their last six spread verdicts when playing AFC opponents. On the flip side, Houston is 4-6-1 versus the vig overall this season but it's worth mentioning that the Texans are a heady 12-7 spreadwise when in the underdog role dating back to the start of last season.

In College Football, it's ...ARIZONA STATE (5-6) at #23 ARIZONA (7-4) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Once upon a time this 2010 season the U of A Wildcats were a really big story with a sizzling 7-1 start that included "name wins" against Iowa and California but talk about the bottom falling out!

The'Cats stagger into this Cactus State showdown on a three-game losing skid and it sure looks as if seventh-year head coach Mike Stoops - never to be confused with Bud Wilkinson or Joe Paterno - is "losing it" with more sideline antics/tantrums that could get him hit with NCAA sanctions any day now.

If Stoops' club is gonna cop a third consecutive win against Arizona State than the QB Nick Foles-to-WR Juron Criner combo must hit it big with some vertical success here. In last week's 48-29 loss-but-cover at 20-point fav Oregon, the oft-injured Foles threw for an eye-popping 448 yards including 8- and 85-yard scoring strikes to Criner who might just be the Pac-10's best wide-out in 2010.

Note that bowl folks claim Arizona is headed to the Alamo Bowl after this one while an A-State win - note the Sun Devils are 6-point dogs at press time - would sneak Dennis Erickson's club into the bowl wars for the first time since 2007 (and probably a date in the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24th)

Spread Notes - Arizona's just 5-5-1 against the odds this year after starting off the season on a three-game spread winning streak. The'Zona Wildcats do own a healthy 13-5 ATS log at home since the start of the 2008 campaign. Arizona State, meanwhile, is a delicious 8-2-1 against the prices this year (surprised us too!) and the Sun Devils enter this intrastate clash on a four-game spread winning streak.

MIAMI-OHIO (8-4) vs. #25 NORTHERN ILLINOIS (10-2) - 7 p.m. ET, espn2

Here's the "appetizer" among college football's conference championship games as four more come rollin' your way on Saturday including battles in Conference USA, the SEC, ACC and Big 12 but no Las Vegas price tag even approaches this current 17-point spread (it opened with Northern Illinois favored by 14 points and it has not stopped climbing). Hey, Northern Illinois has been one of the hottest commodities in the sport since late September with nine consecutive SU (straightup) wins including runaways by 36, 31, 35, 38 and - hold your hats here - 68 points.

Last Friday's 71-3 demolition of 24 ½-point pup Eastern Michigan might have been a case of "unnecessary roughness" by Jerry Kill's club but it did get the DeKalb kids into the BCS Top 25 standings and now the Huskies have sights set on winning their first Mid-American Conference crown in 27 years.

Note that NIU rushed for 544 yards in that latest win - the second-best total in school history - and RB Chad Spann (1,239 yards rushing and 20 TDs) figures to get 25-or-more "touches" here while dual-threat junior QB Chandler Harnish (1,949 yards passing with 17 TDs to go along with 761 yards rushing and 5 ground scores) is playing his best ball at this level.

Spread Notes - Northern Illinois is a rip-roaring 9-2-1 ATS this season and note the Huskies actually started off the current campaign having failed to cover their first two games ... wow! The Dawgs, however, have dropped their last three consecutive spread verdicts against Miami-Ohio dating back to the 2006 season. The Miami RedHawks are 7-5 against the odds overall this season and they have covered nine of their last 15 spread decisions when in the dog role.  


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 - Is there really any doubt now that this more-than-slightly controversial star of the #1 team in the land will win the coveted trophy on the evening of Dec. 11th? Newton's club rebounded big-time in that dramatic come-from-behind 28-27 win at Alabama last Friday as the junior quarterback threw for 216 yards and 3 TDs and his up-to-the-minute stats now include 2,254 yards passing, 24 TD strikes and another 18 rushing scores (plus a receiving TD too). It's his trophy hands-down no matter what happens in Saturday's SEC Championship Game - and if any voters hold his alleged off-the-field pay-for-play jive against him than shame on the voters!

#2. LaMICHAEL JAMES, RB, OREGON - The fact is we're squeezing this soph running back over the guys listed #3 and #4 here by just a smidge as it's really tightened up in terms of the runner-up spot lately. James rushed for 126 yards and two TDs in Oregon's aforementioned 19-point comeback win against Arizona last Friday night and now he's rushed for 1,548 yards (a 6.1 yards-per-carry average) and 19 TDs in 2010 and it doesn't hurt his cause that this Pac-10 team has a shot at all the marbles.

#3. ANDREW LUCK, QB, STANFORD - The king of the 11-1 Cardinal set a school single-season touchdown mark in last weekend's 38-0 win against Oregon State as the classic hurler now has 28 TD strikes this year (and only 7 INTs) while throwing for 3,051 yards with a 70 percent accuracy rate. If Luck - who's also rushed for 438 yards and 3 TDs this year - didn't start so far back in the pack in this Heisman Trophy race he might have been right on Newton's tail but Luck will be the frontrunner next year if he decides not to go pro.

#4. KELLEN MOORE, QB, BOISE STATE - Last week's somber 34-31 overtime loss at Nevada dunked this lefty's Heisman hopes once and for all but how about a round of applause for that brilliant long completion late in regulation that should have been the set-up for a game-winning FG except PK Kyle Brotzman blew it (twice!). Moore's stats heading into Saturday's game against Utah State include 3,269 yards passing with 30 TDs and 5 INTs and note he's completed 71.1 percent of his throws.

#5. JUSTIN BLACKMON, WR, OKLAHOMA STATE - Okay, so we'll finally give in and get this classy pass-catcher into the mix after snagging 111 yards of passes in the wild 47-41 "Bedlam Series" loss to Oklahoma last Saturday night. Blackmon's now caught 100-plus yards worth of passes in 11 straight games and he exits the regular season with 1,665 yards receiving and 18 TDs. Sorry, Justin, that it took us this long to include you in our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy Watch Top 5!


Extra, extra: Our next edition of Jim Sez will include Saturday's Conference Championship Game Previews but here's some off-the-radar stuff on all four games:

CONFERENCE USA - SMU at CENTRAL FLORIDA - Did you realize that the SMU Ponies have won 15 games since the start of last season and third-year head coach June Jones inherited a team that was fresh off back-to-back 1-10 seasons? So, why not more Coach of the Year consideration for the one-time/long-time Hawaii head honcho?

SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - AUBURN vs. SOUTH CAROLINA - The Gamecocks have not lost away from Columbia since Oct. 16th (a 31-28 setback at Kentucky) and one reason why Steve Spurrier's guys have gotten hot and stayed hot is PK Spencer Lanning who has nailed his last 10 consecutive field goals plus note as a punter he pinned Clemson inside the 3-yard line twice in last weekend's 29-7 win.

ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - FLORIDA STATE vs. VIRGINIA TECH - This is the fourth time in the past six years that the Hokies will be part of this conference title tilt and did you know Virginia Tech's heading into this clash having allowed just 70 yards on 34 rushes in last weekend's 37-7 win against Virginia?

BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - NEBRASKA vs. OKLAHOMA - The Sooners are back in this game after a one-year hiatus as this marks the fourth time in five years that Bob Stoops' club is playing in this game and note OU's held its last three championship game foes to a grand total of 45 points or 15 points per game.

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


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