Bowl Bonanza Starts Saturday

Cashline Basketball Splits on Friday
Hurley Wins @ Hollywood Park
Race 7: Victory With Honor $7.60
Exacta Pays $30.40

IT'S A BOWL BONANZA THIS HOLIDAY SEASON - CATCH THE SATURDAY GAME PREVIEWS (ALL 3 OF 'EM) AS WE SET SAIL ON A WHOPPING 35 BOWLS FROM RIGHT HERE THRU THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME ...

NFL NEWS & NOTES: CHARGERS RIP 49ERS 34-7, PLUS ARE THE SAINTS CRUISING UNDER THE RADAR? ...

COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT: TAKING A SNEAK PEEK AT A PAIR OF KEY SATURDAY SHOWDOWNS (THAT'S KANSAS STATE VS. FLORIDA & TEXAS-NORTH CAROLINA) ...
 
By Jim Hurley:

They're playing 'em in places like Albuquerque, Shreveport, Tempe, Honolulu and - say what - The Bronx.

It's a veritable College Football Bowl Blitz that rains down upon gridiron fans this holiday season and there are a record 35 College Bowl Games in all beginning with a trifecta of clashes on Saturday and - just so you know - we'll have Jim Sez Game Previews on each/every Bowl from here right though the BCS National Championship Game in Glendale on the night of Jan. 10, 2011.

Are you ready for lots and lots of Football? Good - so are we!

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to rock-n-roll you this holiday season with nothing but Winners in the NFL, the College Football Bowls and the NBA and NCAA Basketball too when you call us daily at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else when you log online right here.. Folks, the aforementioned College Football Bowls roll into action beginning Saturday and they will run straight thru January 7, 2010 (that's a total of 34 Bowl Games in all!) and so don't miss out on all the fun-and-profits as Jim Hurley's offering up the first Seven (7) Bowl Games through Christmas Eve plus Basketball for the low price of only $99. And 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, Sundays and Holidays. Keep on piling up all the Football & Basketball Winners right through the end of the calendar year!

THE COLLEGE BOWL SEASON KICKS OFF:IT'S THE NEW MEXICO BOWL, THE HUMANITARIAN BOWL & THE NEW ORLEANS BOWL ON THIS SPECIAL SATURDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Folks, as stated earlier there are a record-high 35 College Football Bowl Games on the holiday menu and it all gets kicked off with Saturday's tripleheader. Here's the game-by-game rundown:

NEW MEXICO BOWL; University Stadium - Albuquerque, NM
BYU (6-6) vs. UTEP (6-6) - 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
It's the first time in six years that BYU's not playing in the Las Vegas Bowl - the Cougars made five straight bowl appearances there and beat three Pac-10 teams along the way from 2005-thru-'09 (see wins against Oregon, UCLA and Oregon State) and the $64,000 question here is whether or not Bronco Mendenhall's crew will get excited for this clash.

Meanwhile, note that UTEP hasn't won a bowl game since a 14-7 triumph against Ole Miss in the 1967 Sun Bowl - now that's a long time between post-season drinks - and the only way the Miners can steal this one is if QB Trevor Vittatoe (2,511 yards passing with 19 TDs and 10 INTs this year) comes out hot and stays hot.
    
BYU running back JJ DiLuigi (819 yards rushing and 42 pass receptions) is a do-it-all-type who keys the Coog attack that scored 40-or-more points in three of the team's final four regular-season games.

Spread Notes - BYU charges into this post-season tilt having covered four in a row and six of its last seven games but overall the Cougars are just 7-11-1 versus the vig when laying a TD-or-taller price tag. On the flip side, UTEP's 19-14-1 against the odds when in the underdog role the past five seasons and the Miners are 4-9 ATS away dating back to late in the 2008 season.
     
New Mexico Bowl Note - Underdogs have won outright in three of the prior four New Mexico Bowl games.


HUMANITARIAN BOWL: Bronco Stadium - Boise, ID
NORTHERN ILLINOIS (10-3) vs. FRESNO STATE (8-4) - 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
You may never have heard the name Tom Matukewicz before but the former NIU Huskies linebackers coach will be the interim boss-man for the Mid-American Conference club here following the abrupt departure of head coach Jerry Kill to Minnesota back on Dec. 5th.

Matukewicz won't be the boss for long as the school's hired Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren to take command starting right after the New Year - and so you see there's been more than a few "distractions" for these Dawgs. The feeling is Northern Illinois will keep this offensive game plan simple with MAC Player of the Year RB Chad Spann (1,293 yards rushing, a 5.3 ypc average and 20 TDs) getting lots of touches and so Fresno State's oft-shaky defense must come up big in this pick 'em affair.

Note that Fresno State DE Chris Carter (11 sacks) copped the WAC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2010 but running right at him might be what's up Northern Illinois' sleeve here - so stay tuned.

Note that Pat Hill's Fresno State Bulldogs, meanwhile, should have back the services of sophomore RB Robbie Rouse (1,097 yards rushing, a 5.7 ypc average and 8 TDs) after he missed the regular-season-ending 25-23 win against Illinois with a rib injury.

Spread Notes - Fresno State finished this 2010 regular season at 5-6-1 against the odds and overall the Bulldogs are just 13-22-2 vig-wise since the start of the 2008 campaign. It's worth noting that this WAC crew has failed to cover three of its last four bowl games since 2005. Meanwhile, Northern Illinois has registered a 9-1-1 ATS mark this year following a shabby 0-2 spread start. The Huskies have not covered any of their last three bowls since 2006 while getting outscored in these three games by an 81-to-20 margin.

Humanitarian Bowl Note - The last betting favorite to win/cover this game was Boston College back in 2005 when the 1½-point favored Eagles held off host Boise State 27-21.


NEW ORLEANS BOWL; Superdome - New Orleans, LA
OHIO (8-4) vs. TROY (7-5) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Let's face it: These two clubs don't exactly have a rich bowl history as they've combined for just one bowl win in nine tries (see Troy's resounding 41-17 win against Rice in the 2006 version of the New Orleans Bowl) and so the victor here will be ultra-pumped. No doubt Troy boned up for this game by playing tough non-league tilts against the likes of Oklahoma State and South Carolina but you've got to wonder here if QB Corey Robinson (3,320 yards passing with 24 TDs) can steer clear of making the bad read as he did toss 15 INTs this season.

On the flip side, Ohio head coach Frank Solich did beat Troy three years in a row back in 2001-'02-'03 when he was the boss of the Nebraska Cornhuskers but now he needs the QB Boo Jackson-to-WR Terrence McCrae combo to click here. Note that Jackson's thrown for a school-record 35 TD passes but this year the senior slinger tossed 16 INTs to go along with 15 scoring strikes. McCrae finished regular-season play with 9 receiving scores.

Spread Notes - Ohio's a healthy 8-4 versus the vig overall this season and take note that the Bobcats have covered nine of their last 13 away games dating back to early in the 2009 season. Troy, meanwhile, is just 10-15-1 ATS when playing outside the Sun Belt Conference the past six years.

New Orleans Bowl Note - Three of the last four New Orleans Bowls have been won outright by dogs including 5-point pup Troy over Rice in 2006 and Southern Miss over Troy in 2008.
 

NFL NEWS & NOTES: THE BOLTS STAY ALIVE PLUS THE HOTTEST TEAM NOBODY'S TALKIN' ABOUT

On Thursday Nite, it was ...
SAN DIEGO 34, SAN FRANCISCO 7 - Maybe the woe-be-gone San Fran 49ers (now 5-9) should have waved the white flag following that disallowed touchdown run by QB Alex Smith -- after all, the Niners fell apart at the seams after that seemingly had tied the game at 7-7 in the second quarter and it became a simple pitch-and-catch night then for San Diego QB Philip Rivers-to-WR Vincent Jackson as that dynamic duo teamed up for scoring strikes of 58, 11 and 21 yards. The Chargers (8-6) remain very much alive to win the AFC West for the gazillionith year in a row and "hats off" to San Diego RB/special teams star Mike Tobert who spent much of the night with his hat (err, helmet) off as he played hard and tough - not always characteristics associated with this San Diego football team.

In other NFL News & Notes ...

Let us ask you a simple question:

Is it at all possible that a defending Super Bowl champion could be "getting lost in the shuffle" at this late stage of an NFL season?

Okay, so we may not be the first ones to point this out but the New Orleans Saints (10-3) nary have drawn the nation's attention less than 11 months removed from winning the franchise's first-ever Super Bowl crown.

You may have heard folks whispering that the Saints enter this Sunday's high-profile game in Baltimore on a nifty six-game SU (straightup) winning streak - only AFC South archrival Atlanta currently enjoys a longer streak at seven in a row - but it's actually quite bizarre to say that a defending champ is under the radar these days and it's extra-bizarre to note that team is getting barely a peep said about 'em after not having lost a game since October 24th (see Cleveland 30, New Orleans 17).

Everyone can sit back and pontificate about the "re-birth" of the Saints' offense starring QB Drew Brees (4,076 yards passing and 28 TDs) but the bottom line is the N'Orleans defense has held opponents to a per-game scoring average of 17 ppg during this recent winning streak and you may also have noticed where PK Garrett Hartley - a major bust in the first part of this current campaign - has come surging back to his post-season self of a year ago while connecting on 16-of-21 field-goal attempts in all ...

Meanwhile, an NFL team "streaking" in the opposite direction - that's the hapless and often heartless Cincinnati Bengals - is the only guy in the league where they play for pay sporting a 10-game losing skid this year and how about the fact Cincy's yielding nearly 25 points a game during this rotten run?

Wasn't head coach Marvin Lewis - who might even be shown the door prior to Week 17 at this point - supposed to be a defensive guru?

Lewis' squad somehow surrendered 49 points in a November 21st home loss to Buffalo and no one should be surprised if the Bengals allow a bushel of points in their final two regular-season games against San Diego and Baltimore.

Want to know who Cincinnati should look to hire for 2011 and beyond?

Don't laugh ... give Bill Parcells one last shot to whip an NFL team into shape. There's talent here but it must be brought to the surface and wouldn't it be a kick to have a Parcells-led Bengals team play the Pittsburgh Steelers twice a year?

Now that's fun stuff.


COLLEGE B-BALL HOOP REPORT: TALKIN' ROUNDBALL

Lots of good stuff on the Saturday College Basketball menu but here's two games we'll keep keeping tabs on:

#6 KANSAS STATE (9-1) vs. FLORIDA (7-2) - 3:30 p.m. ET, espn2 (at Sunrise, FL)
The best part about watching the K-State Wildcats is that wacky head coach Frank Martin always puts on a sideline show that matches his club's intensity level - if star guard Jacob Pullen (16.3 ppg. 4.0 apg) can just get his role figured out (point guard or shooting guard ... or a combination of both) here than the Big 12 Wildcats should march into the winner's circle yet again. Hey, the only team that beat Kansas State so far is Duke and there's no shame there! Florida looks to put up a balanced attack here as the trio of G Kenny Boynton (12.1 ppg), F/C Vernon Macklin (10.9 ppg) and G Erving Walker (12.1 ppg) all are capable to getting hot and the big question here is which team is deeper as this could turn into a schoolyard, run-run game before you know it.

#22 TEXAS (8-2) vs. NORTH CAROLINA (7-3) - 4 p.m. ET (at Greensboro, NC)
This not-so-neutral-site game will have lots of Carolina blue in terms of crowd color but the on-the-court chess match here will revolved around how the Tar Heels play defense: Note that many of the early-season Texas foes have decided to go zone against a 'Horns crew that can be shaky from the perimeter and now let's see if UNC head coach Roy Williams mixes up his defenses here. Watch for Texas freshman Cory Joseph and soph J'Covan Brown as they combined for nine three-point goals in a recent win against Texas State - gut feeling here is the 'Horns may have to nail a dozen-or-more trifectas to get into the winner's circle.

 

KEY PREVIEWS - THERE ARE LOTS OF ROCK-'EM, SOCK-'EM GAMES ON THIS DOCKET INCLUDING THE SAINTS-RAVENS, JETS-STEELERS & EAGLES-GIANTS

By Jim Hurley:

Ever hear of "gut-check games"?

Sure you have and there's plenty of them on this NFL Week 15 Sunday card and the fact of the matter is there is a great cross-section of blood-and-guts matchups here including a pair of ultra-important interconference clashes - that's the New Orleans Saints at the Baltimore Ravens (a Super Bowl 45 preview, anyone?) and the Green Bay Packers at the New England Patriots - along with a pair of key divisional duels (see the Philadelphia Eagles at the New York Giants along with the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Indianapolis Colts) and maybe the best of 'em all is that AFC showdown game between the sagging New York Jets at the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

Wow ... that is some monster menu, right?

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to rock-n-roll you this holiday season with nothing but Winners in the NFL, the College Football Bowls and the NBA and NCAA Basketball too when you call us daily at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else when you log online right here.. Folks, the aforementioned College Football Bowls roll into action beginning Saturday and they will run straight thru January 7, 2010 (that's a total of 34 Bowl Games in all!) and so don't miss out on all the fun-and-profits as Jim Hurley's offering up the first Seven (7) Bowl Games through Christmas Eve plus Basketball for the low price of only $99. And 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, Sundays and Holidays. Keep on piling up all the Football & Basketball Winners right through the end of the calendar year!

NFL WEEK 15 SUNDAY PREVIEWS

Her are Five (5) Key Week 15 NFL Previews but don't forget there's meaningful matchups between "Show Me State" rivals Kansas City at St. Louis along with key tilts for AFC South sides Tampa Bay (the Buccaneers are hosting Detroit) and Atlanta (the hot-hot-hot Falcons are at Seattle):
 
NEW ORLEANS (10-3) at BALTIMORE (9-4) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
The Saints are hoping to be rollin' a "7" here as in seven straight wins and it's a born-again offense that's rallied the troops - New Orleans is averaging 30.5 ppg during this six-game SU (straightup) winning streak that happens to include a pair of victories against AFC North teams Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and for Sean Payton's gang to keep on truckin' here the ground game must be really potent.

The Saints rushed for 132 yards in last week's 31-13 home triumph over St. Louis and that means N'Orleans has exceeded the 100-yard rushing mark four times in its last five games - if RB Pierre Thomas can sledgehammer his way for some key between-the-guard plays here than life will be a tad easier for QB Drew Brees (3,855 yards passing and 28 TDs).

On the flip side, the Ravens come off their third overtime game this year (they've won two of 'em) - last Monday's 34-28 OT triumph in Houston was won by the "pick six" of CB Josh Wilson - but if Baltimore is gonna nab this home game than QB Joe Flacco must remain turnover-free. Note that Flacco's not thrown an interception in his last two games and he enters this high-profile tilt with 21 TDs and just 8 picks on the year ... not bad at all!

Note that both Baltimore wide-outs Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason have exceeded the 50-catch mark (while teaming for 13 TDs) and here it might take one or both of these pass-catchers to have a bust-out stat game for the Ravens to prevail.

Spread Notes - Baltimore has covered 13 of its last 22 home games while dating back to the start of the 2008 season and note the Ravens are a collective 7-4 ATS (against the spread) when facing NFC opponents the past two-plus seasons. New Orleans is just 5-7-1 against the Las Vegas prices this season but the Saints are 19-10-2 ATS in non-NFC South tilts since the start of the '08 campaign.
 

NEW YORK JETS (9-4) at PITTSBURGH (10-3) - 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Will either/both offenses wake up here? We ask that pointed question 'cause the Steelers - riding a four-game SU winning streak - have not scored an offensive TD in the past 11 quarters of play (see the 19-16 OT win in Buffalo back in Week 12) - while the free-falling Jets have been held to a grand total of three Nick Folk field goals in their recent back-to-back AFC East losses to New England and Miami.

Hey, folks want to see someone score here just so we can catch the J-E-T-S tripping someone on a kickoff!

Now that Rex Ryan's club embarrassed itself - again - with that stupid incident involving knucklehead strength coach Sal Alosi you wonder if NYJ's collective head is on straight for this clash at Heinz Field (and note the Jets have never/ever won a game in the city of Pittsburgh).

Look here for the Steelers' super-aggressive defense to get right in the face of slumping Jets' QB Mark Sanchez (16 TDs and 12 INTs this season) with S Troy  Polamalu really digging in on blitzes here and so it's not all that likely former Pittsburgh WR Santonio Holmes will have some monster game in his return to the Steel City.

On the flip side, there's talk that the Steelers already have "worn down" RB Rashard Mendenhall (275 rushing attempts this year for 1,073 yards and 9 TDs) and so expect QB Ben Roethlisberger to throw it more on first downs and also at other times when the Jets figure to be keying on the run.

Spread Notes - The NY Jets have failed to cover five of their seven post-bye games this year but overall the AFC East crew is a decent 13-8 ATS in non-divisional duels the past year-and-change. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, enters this Week 15 bash with an 8-5 spread log this season one year after staggering through a 5-10-1 ATS campaign. Overall, the Steelers are just 24-28-1 ATS as betting favorites under fourth-year head coach Mike Tomlin.
 

PHILADELPHIA (9-4) at NEW YORK GIANTS (9-4) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Would you be apt to say that the New York Giants sport the quietest three-game winning streak in all the NFL? Heck, Tom Coughlin's club has been a veritable punching bag in the New York City tabloids at times this season and yet here's the "G-men" coming into this ultra-important NFC East showdown off back-to-back-to-back wins against Jacksonville, Washington and Minnesota with that latest 21-3 conquest coming in Detroit after a three-city, three-night junket through the Midwest.

The Giants still have a M*A*S*H-like look to their team as O-line injuries are piling up - see G Chris Snee and C Shaun O'Hara - and the announcement earlier this week that Pro Bowl WR Steve Smith is lost for the year was a real punch to the gut. Here, Giants QB Eli Manning (3,169 yards passing with 24 TDs and 19 INTs) must prove to be a solid game manager as you'll note he's thrown seven INTs in his last four games against Philly and so it's no total shock that NYG has dropped its last five games in a row to the archrival Eagles.

One note on Philly here: WR DeSean Jackson (a great player but an A-1 jerk!) missed Wednesday's practice with a sprained left foot and he comes off that epic 4-catch, 210-yard receiving game in last Sunday Night's 30-27 non-cover win in Dallas.

Spread Notes - The Giants are a head-shaking 4-12 against the odds when hosting games since late in the 2008 season and that includes the 23-11 NFC Divisional Playoff loss as 4-point favorites two years ago against Philly and last year's 45-38 home loss to the 1-point favored Eagles. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is just 6-7 against the juice this year but overall the Birds are a tasty 26-16 ATS away the past four-plus seasons (a .619 winning rate).

JACKSONVILLE (8-5) at INDIANAPOLIS (7-6) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Here's something that you might find tough to believe: The J'ville Jaguars have not won a divisional crown in 11 years but Jack Del Rio's club can accomplish that fact with a win at Lucas Oil Field against the injury-riddled and inconsistent Indy Colts - and there's been some trash talking that's taken place all week long including the Del Rio comments that claimed the Colts "pipe in" noise when opposing teams are on offense.

Hey, now that's rivalry stuff chatter!

The Jags have won just five of 17 head-to-head matchups against Indianapolis since the NFL realigned divisions back in 2002 but the here-and-now says Jacksonville has won five of its last six games this year while averaging a piping-hot 193 rushing yards per game and the formula is rather simple here:

If Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew (1,278 yards rushing) can move the chains here and make the occasional long burst than the Colts could be kaput when it comes to chasing down a playoff berth - yes, Indy's been to the post-season every year since '02 but even four-time league MVP quarterback Peyton Manning (4,028 yards passing with 26 TDs and 15 INTs) might not be able to save 'em this time.

Spread Notes - Indianapolis is a money-losing 7-11 ATS in head-to-head showdowns against Jacksonville while tracing back to the 2000 season. The Colts stagger into this divisional duel on a three-game spread losing skid and you have to go all the way back to the end of the 2005 season to find a longer spread losing streak (five consecutive ATS setbacks back then). On the flip side, the Jaguars roll into this clash on a six-game spread winning streak and overall J'ville has notched spread wins in seven of its last 10 AFC South games.

On Sunday Nite, it's ...

GREEN BAY (8-5) at NEW ENGLAND (11-2) - 8:25 p.m. ET, NBC
Can we stop hearing talk of anyone other than Patriots QB Tom Brady winning this year's league MVP? The issue was settled a long time ago and here Brady (3,398 yards passing with 29 TDs and 4 INTs) now must make sure he stands tall in the pocket behind the sport's best offensive line while looking to have LB Clay Matthews (and others) kept at arm's length. Note that the Pats have not committed a single turnover during this current five-game SU winning streak while the New England defense has collected 13 takeaways ... amazing.

Obviously, the big health issue here is whether or not Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers (concussion) plays but the fact that this is his second concussion this 2010 season almost assuredly will keep him from this prime-time tilt.

And who doesn't want to see another starry QB Matt Flynn performance here (see 182 yards passing with one pick so far this season)?

Spread Notes - New England is 8-4-1 versus the vig overall this season and did you know the Patriots are 13-6-1 ATS in their last 20 non-AFC East games? Meanwhile, Green Bay's 25-15 versus the vig while dating back to the start of the 2006 and that includes a pair of key away covers against AFC sides with the 9-0 win at the 6 ½-point favored New York Jets in Week 8 action and last year's 37-36 loss-but-cover at 3-point fav Pittsburgh. 

NOTE: Catch all our NFL Week 15 Roundup Notes plus get the Monday Night Football Preview - that's Chicago at Minnesota (outdoors!) - in the next edition of Jim Sez. Plus, continue to stay tuned in the coming days for all the remaining College Football Bowl Games as we'll preview/analyze/dissect all 35 Bowl Matchups!
 

 

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