College Football Bowl Blitz

3-0 In Basketball Wednesday Night!
Cashline 2-0 with Dayton and No. Arizona
Private line Won with New Mexico (-5) over Colorado 89-76
Lost the Las Vegas Bowl with Utah vs. Boise State

OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL BLITZ TAKES YOU RIGHT THRU THE DEC. 28TH GAMES (HEY, THAT'S 7 QUICK-HITTER PREVIEWS IN ALL RIGHT HERE!) ...

PLUS THERE IS COLLEGE BASKETBALL NEWS & NOTES TOO AS SPARTY LOOKS FOR AN ANSWER AGAINST A "NAME" FOE

By Jim Hurley:

It's official. The College Football Bowl Blitz is in full-steam-ahead mode - there's a grand total of 31 Bowls to be played between this Wednesday-before-Christmas and right thru the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 10th and you can count on quick-hitter previews for all these post-season clashes. In this particular Jim Sez column, we'll get you the next Seven (7) Bowls on the docket ... enjoy! First, this important message:

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 continue tonight and they will run straight thru January 7, 2010 (that's a total of 31 more Bowl Games in all!) so don't miss out on all the fun-and-profits. Note that there are no weekday matinee College Football Bowl Games till Monday's Independence Bowl (a 5 p.m. ET kickoff then) but we remind you to check your schedules for when weekday afternoon games are played. Okay? Keep on piling up all the Football & Basketball Winners right through the end of the calendar year and right into 2011!

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL REPORT - (DEC. 22-THRU-DEC. 28 GAMES)

On Wednesday, Dec. 22nd it's ...

LAS VEGAS BOWL - at Las Vegas, NV
BOISE STATE (11-1) vs. UTAH (10-2) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Okay, so it's the last time we're gonna say it but the Boise State Broncos don't belong in this bowl game or any other pre-New Year's Day Bowl Game. Chris Petersen's club was in the running for national championship honors until PK Kyle Brotzman botched a pair of gimme field goals in that night-after-Thanksgiving 34-31 loss at Nevada and suddenly this WAC crew is relegated to a third-class bowl game ... ridiculous!

Now that the Broncos are here, expect lefty QB Kellen Moore (3,506 yards passing with 33 TDs and 5 INTs) - the fourth-place finisher in this year's Heisman Trophy race - to take plenty of downfield shots against a Utah secondary that's been torched some in recent outings against San Diego State (allowed 34 points) and Notre Dame (yielded 28 points).

If Utah - a 17-point underdog at press time -- is gonna hang in this game than QB Jordan Wynn (2,234 yards passing) must do damage with his right arm and his legs too as he'll face intense heat from this still-underrated Boise State defense that held five foes to single-digit scores (and that includes three shutouts) this season.

Las Vegas Spread Note - Underdogs own a 6-4-2 ATS (against the spread) mark in the last dozen editions of the Las Vegas Bowl and that includes last year when 3 ½-point pup BYU blasted Oregon State 44-20.

 

On Thursday, Dec. 23rd it's ...

POINSETTIA BOWL - at San Diego, CA
NAVY (9-3) at SAN DIEGO STATE (8-4) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

There's always been lots of pride with the Naval Academy kids but now there's finally some pride having been restored at San Diego State - the Aztecs are back in bowl play for the first time since 1998 and second-year Brady Hoke probably could have named his job following this 8-win regular season but instead he signed on the dotted line for an extension. Good for him!

Hoke's club scored 40-plus points on five different occasions this year and nearly beat toughie TCU before falling 40-35 (as a four-TD dog) and here QB Ryan Lindley (3,554 yards passing with 26 TDs and 14 INTs) will be targeting WRs DeMarco Sampson (65 catches and 8 TDs) and Vincent Brown (61 receptions and 9 TDs).

Navy QB Ricky Dobbs (1,380 yards passing and 860 yards rushing) wraps up a prestigious gridiron career here as the general of this triple-option offense but a key here is how often does RB Alexander Teich (825 rushing yards and a neat 6.0 ypc average) get his mitts on the ball - Teich was "lights out" in the Midshipmen's big win against Notre Dame this year.

Poinsettia Bowl Spread Note - Favorites have really flopped in the first nine editions of the Poinsettia Bowl as chalk-eaters are a rotten 2-7 versus the vig including last year when 3-point dog Utah whacked California 37-27.

 

On Friday, Dec. 24th it's ...

HAWAII BOWL - at Honolulu, HI
TULSA (9-3) at HAWAII (10-3) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

If you're still wrapping last-second Christmas presents, than here's something to keep you company as this clash from the islands could be chock full of points (note the Las Vegas opening-line totals price went from 69 points to 73 points faster than you can say Don Ho!).

The Hawaii kids sported the nation's best pointspread record this year at 11-2 (that's an .846 winning rate, folks) and much of it is attributed to QB Bryant Moniz (4,629 yards passing with 36 TDs and 11 INTs) plus WR Greg Salas (106 receptions and 12 TDs) may be the best pass-catcher in the land that you haven't heard about. Don't be shocked here if Moniz-to-Salas hooks up a dozen times here - and that might be just some first-half numbers!

Note that Tulsa DBs Dexter McCoil and Marco Nelson each swiped six INTs for a Golden Hurricane team that sported 19 picks on the year.

Hawaii Bowl Spread Note - This is the fifth time in nine Hawaii Bowl games that the host school was playing here but the 50th state crew is just 2-2 spreadwise in the four prior tilts including a 49-21 loss versus 2 ½-point fav Notre Dame two years ago.

 

On Sunday, Dec. 26th it's ...
LITTLE CAESAR'S PIZZA BOWL - at Detroit, MI
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (6-6) vs. TOLEDO (8-4) - 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Let's just say that - in one sense - nobody deserved a bowl game more than the FIU Golden Panthers who played road games this year at Texas A&M, Maryland and Pittsburgh (that was back-to-back-to-back early in the season) and so Mario Cristobal's crew gets to dance into Motown where RBs Darriet Perry and Darrian Mallary (a combined 1,376 yards rushing with 16 TDs) look to spark the Sun Belt Conference squad.

P.S., Toledo's won eight of its last 10 bowl games but the Rockets haven't gone bowling since 2005 (a 45-13 win back then against UTEP in the GMAC Bowl).

Toledo surged down the stretch winning five of its final six regular-season games - the lone loss was a 35-point setback against Northern Illinois.

Pizza Bowl Spread Note - The former Motor City Bowl has seen underdog sides string together back-to-back-to-back pointspread wins the past three years including outright triumphs by 3-point dog Marshall over Ohio and 7-point pup Florida Atlantic over Central Michigan the past two seasons.


On Monday, Dec. 27th, it's ...

INDEPENDENCE BOWL - at Shreveport, LA
GEORGIA TECH (6-6) vs. AIR FORCE (8-4) - 5 p.m. ET, ESPN

It's great to see all three service academy teams reach post-season bowl games - note that Army has a Dec. 30th date with SMU - and here the AF Fly Boys could be playing this tilt in record time as there could be 95 rushes/5 percent passes here but the real key to this clash might be who can chuck it successfully and Air Force QB Tim Jefferson (1,342 yards passing with 10 TDs) has a way of flipping the field when opposing defenses least expect it.

Note that Tech does not expect QB Josh Nesbitt (broken arm) to go here but the ACC gang admits there is a possibility he could be "cleared" by kickoff. Look for 25-plus carries by Georgia Tech RB Anthony Allen who averaged 138.3 yards a game via the ground route while rolling up 1,225 yards and 6 scores.

The nation's top two rushing teams will play this one in a hurry - trust us!

Independence Bowl Spread Note - Betting Favorites have won/covered each of the last four Indy Bowls with Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana Tech and Georgia all netting spread "W's" here since 2006.


On Tuesday, Dec. 28th, it's ...

CHAMPS SPORTS BOWL - at Orlando, FL
N.C. STATE (8-4) vs. WEST VIRGINIA (9-3) - 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Here's a really intriguing bowl matchup with a little twist to it - folks now know that West Virginia boss-man Bill Stewart will be exiting stage left following the completion of the 2011 season (he never really was the right choice just because he engineered that Fiesta Bowl upset win against Oklahoma back in the 2007 season) while N.C. State slinger Russell Wilson (an ACC-best 3,288 yards passing with 26 TDs and 14 INTs) also could be calling it a gridiron career with the Major-League Baseball world beckoning to him.

Note that the 'Pack has not won a post-season bowl game since 2005 - a 14-0 triumph over South Florida in the Car Care Bowl -- while West Virginia's actually enjoying a neat recent bowl run with four wins in the Mountaineers' last five post-season tilts. If WVU is gonna nab this one - and the 'Neers are 3-point favorites at press time - than they better find a way to get the ball into tiny RB Noel Devine's hands after he rushed for 886 yards this year.

Champs Sports Bowl Spread Note - Dogs have notched spread wins in four of the last five Champs Sports Bowl games including last year's 20-14 win by Wisconsin over 3 ½-point fav Miami.


INSIGHT BOWL - at Tempe, AZ
MISSOURI (10-2) vs. IOWA (7-5) - 10 p.m. ET, ESPN

You have to excuse the Mizzou Tigers: They think - and to a man - that they deserved better than a late December bowl tilt in the desert as Gary Pinkel's crew wanted a January bowl game but didn't get it and now we'll see if this Big 12 squad slumps its shoulders or rises to the occasion. Note that Missouri's jetted up from a 1-point favorite to a 3-point choice at press time although that mainly has to do with the fact Iowa RB Adam Robinson (concussion) may not play here at Sun Devil Stadium.

Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert (2,752 yards passing with 15 TDs and 7 INTs) will play even though he's experienced his share of ankle/leg ailments this season but a player-to-watch for these Tigers is wide-out T.J. Moe (77 receptions for 893 yards and 6 TDs) who started fast this year and then slowed a bit - he could be "due" for a monster game here.

Note that Iowa absolutely staggered to the 2010 regular-season finish line with back-to-back-to-back losses versus Northwestern, Ohio State and Minnesota - by a combined 10 points - and now veteran QB Ricky Stanzi tries to turn the beat around against a Missouri defense that held seven foes to 14 points or less this year.

Insight Bowl Spread Note - Go back the past 13 years and you'll find that underdogs have cleaned up here with a tidy 9-4 ATS mark that includes outright wins by Iowa State (+ 1 ½) over Minnesota last year and California (+ 3) over Virginia Tech back in 2003.

 

COLLEGE BASKETBALL UPDATE

There's plenty of solid matchups on this Wednesday-before-Christmas College Basketball menu but nothing's better than the battle of ranked teams as #18 Texas is at #12 Michigan State in an espn2 tilt that figures to rock the joint in East Lansing.

But can Tom Izzo's veteran and time-tested Spartans bunch - 8-3 upon entering this clash - get it right while playing a "name" team?

Note that M-State's losses have come against Connecticut, Duke and Syracuse and so that's gotten critics to whisper than maybe Sparty isn't as good as everyone thought they would be (plus there was that all-too-close 77-76 win against next-door neighbor Oakland back on Dec. 11th) and so this becomes a bigger-than-you-think game for Izzo's crew that the coach himself termed a "pretty-boy jump shooting team" lately and there continues to be major problems on the free-throw line and with the club's interior defense too.

Now, here comes Texas into town and Rick Barnes' club is puffing out its collective chests following last Saturday's 78-76 win against North Carolina and the 'Horns are hyped that rallied back from seven points down with five-plus minutes remaining in that Greensboro game to win as Jordan Hamilton was the game's top stat-sheet stuffer with 24 points and 10 boards.

If Texas goes into Big 10 country and wins here than Izzo's guys may not enjoy such a Merry Christmas!

NOTE: Catch all our NFL Week 16 Key Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!! ...THE NFL WEEK 16 MENU IS SERVED - IT'S A HOLIDAY FOOTBALL FEAST AS WE LOOK TO STUFF YOUR STOCKING WITH A HALF-DOZEN KEY GAME PREVIEWS

By Jim Hurley:

It's the penultimate week of the NFL 2010 season and there's four teams that have already been granted their holiday wishes as the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Atlanta Falcons and the Chicago Bears all have clinched playoff berths with"Da Bears" the first of 'em all to wrap up a divisional crown

There's also seven NFL teams that have secured double-digit win seasons already with two weeks to go - but don't expect anybody to take their foot off the proverbial pedal this Christmas Weekend. For some teams, it's must-win time right now - no ands, ifs or buts about it -- while others really need to sweep their two remaining regular-season games to land a post-season berth.

Heck, Santa Claus isn't the only cat who can crank up his sleigh and hand out nothing but"winners" as a slew of playoff-bound or playoff-hopeful teams are truly in a win-or-else mode as we enter this Christmas Weekend.

And Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to rock-n-roll you this holiday season with nothing but Winners in NFL Week 16 action along with the College Football Bowl Games and the NBA / 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 online.

And here's another 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. Note that there are no weekday matinee College Football Bowl Games till Monday's Independence Bowl (a 5 p.m. ET kickoff then) but we remind you to check your schedules for when weekday afternoon games are played. In fact, beginning with Wednesday, Dec. 29th, there's day-time and night-time Bowl Action for a total of four consecutive days including the always-exciting New Year's Day Bowl Card that we'll preview for you in the next installment of Jim Sez. Okay? Just go ahead and keep on piling up all the Football & Basketball Winners right through the end of the calendar year and right into 2011!

NFL WEEK 16 PREVIEWS

On Thursday, it's ...
CAROLINA (2-12) at PITTSBURGH (10-4) - 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Maybe the good folks at NFL Network didn't realize that the Carolina Panthers would be such a colossal bust this year, but what can you do? There's still plenty of drama here as the Steelers might already have cinched a playoff berth but Mike Tomlin's team can wrap up the AFC North and gain a first-round playoff bye by snagging wins here and then in Week 17 at Cleveland and - it's well worth noting that the Steelers have not dropped back-to-back games since Week 14 a year ago and now come into this prime-time clash fresh off that unsatisfying 22-17 home loss against the New York Jets.

Meanwhile, remember that Carolina RB Jonathan Stewart has gained 270 rushing yards in his last two outings but facing the NFL's top-ranked rushing defense could be a super-tall order and one key for the two-touchdown favored Steelers is that they must not overwork star RB Rashard Mendenhall who's carried the ball some 292 times this year and he's shown real signs of wearing down lately.

Spread Notes - Pittsburgh is 8-6 ATS (against the spread) overall this season but note the Steelers have failed to cover five of their last six outings when installed as double-digit betting favorites. Carolina is an ugly 4-10 against the odds this season and the Panthers are 3-8 ATS as underdogs this year after compiling a brilliant 33-18-1 spread log as dogs from 2003-thru-2009.

On Saturday, it's ...
DALLAS (5-9) at ARIZONA (4-10) - 7:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network
There are no playoff implications here but this Christmas Night tilt still will have plenty of folks tuned in to see if"America's Team" can keep up its recent surge in the here-and-now Jason Garrett Era.

The Dallas Cowboys - winners of four of their six games since Wade Phillips was mercifully axed back on Nov. 8th - hardly roar into this clash in the desert as Garrett's guys blew a 20-point lead to Washington last Sunday before PK David Buehler's 39-yard field goal with 50 seconds left won it and did you happen to notice there that the Redskins were a perfect 4-of-4 in red-zone efficiency (including three TDs in goal-to-go situations) and that was with QB Rex Grossman running the show for the 'Skins ... so maybe Cardinals rookie QB John Skelton (a 46 percent passer so far with 0 TDs) has a shot to make something positive happen here.

Spread Notes - Dallas has notched spread wins in five of the six games during this aforementioned Garrett Era with last week's 33-30 non-cover win against 9 ½-point pup Washington the lone blemish on the Cowboys' spread mark lately but did you know that this NFC East crew actually has failed to cover 16 of its last 26 away games? Arizona enters this prime-time affair having dropped seven of its last nine spread verdicts since the team's Week 6 bye and overall the Redbirds are 3-7 ATS as underdogs this year after banging out a healthy 6-1-1 ATS mark as dogs a year ago.

On Sunday, it's ...
NEW YORK GIANTS (9-5) at GREEN BAY (8-6) - 4:15 p.m. ET, Fox
The big news here is that Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (second concussion of the season) is expected to start in this ultra-important clash at Lambeau Field but you do have to wonder if the NFC North team - playoff spot on the line or not - should go this route now that a quite-capable QB Matt Flynn (251 yards passing with 3 TDs and 1 INT in last Sunday Night's rugged 31-27 loss-but-cover at New England) can go full tilt.

There's no doubt Flynn is not in Rodgers' league in terms of NFL quarterbacking play but at least Pack boss-man Mike McCarthy knows now what he's getting with Flynn - and who knows if one head knock to the frozen field here will kayo Rodgers for good this 2010 season.

It's a true dilemma for a Packers squad that's lost three of its last four games and is finding ways not to win in recent weeks (see CB Charles Woodson's dropped INT last week at Foxboro, etc.)

On the flip side, the Giants won't be sending any sympathy cards to G-Bay as Tom Coughlin's club comes off one of the worst losses in franchise history - the Giants 38-31 meltdown loss to the Philly Eagles last Sunday has given New York City radio talk show hosts plenty to chew on but the real question now is can the Jints recover in time to save their season?

Note that QB Eli Manning called a player's only meeting earlier in the week - a truly uncharacteristic move for the normally stoic seventh-year pro - but most media folks that talked with Giants players claimed the NFC East team still had a deer-in-the-headlights look to them and there's real worry that the Giants' monstrous special teams problems will somehow sink this club again whether it's mistake-prone P Matt Dodge doing another nasty deed or a kick/punt coverage unit that's been rotten all year long.

Spread Notes - The New York Giants have split their first 14 pointspread verdicts this season but did you know the"G-men" are a dazzling 30-10 away since the start of their 2007 campaign? On the flip side, Green Bay's 8-6 against the odds this season and the Packers are 9-4-1 ATS at Lambeau Field since the start of last season.

NEW YORK JETS (10-4) at CHICAGO (10-4) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Maybe the tabloid folks in NYC spent a bit too much time this week discussing Jets head coach Rex Ryan and his wife's feet - please, we won't even go there! The fact of the matter is the Jets may have some body parts hurting here as WR Santonio Holmes (foot) and QB Mark Sanchez (shoulder) are far from 100 percent these days and now they tackle a second straight rough-and-tumble foe on the road following that 22-17 escape-job win in Pittsburgh - think the Bears are flying high following the aforementioned divisional crown (their first since 2006)?

Chicago's stingy defensive front has its work cut out for 'em here as the Jets allowed only one quarterback sack to Pittsburgh last week (after surrendering six sacks the week before in the 10-6 loss to Miami) and so don't be shocked if Chicago DE Julius Peppers (see 8 sacks) lines up in an array of positions while trying to trick up the Jets here - and that could open up things for blitzing LB Brian Urlacher (3.5 sacks) who delivered some real crunching blows in Monday's easy-as-pie 40-14 win against Minnesota.

Gut feeling here is that the Jets will not even let Chicago's Devin Hester sniff the football as a punt return specialist following that electrifying (and record-setting) 64-yard punt bring-back for a score in that outdoors win in Minnesota earlier this week.

Spread Notes - Chicago is just 7-6-1 against the Las Vegas prices this year and the Bears are a money-losing 7-11-1 spreadwise in non-divisional games since the start of last season. On the flip side, the J-E-T-S are 8-6 against the odds overall this season and a collective 19-14 ATS under second-year boss-man Ryan. P.S., the last time these non-conference foes played was back in 2006 when Chicago blanked NYJ 10-0 as 6 ½-point road favorites.

On Sunday Night, it's ...
MINNESOTA (5-9) at PHILADELPHIA (10-4) - 8:25 p.m. ET, NBC
Okay, so we promise to not even utter the name"Brett Favre" here ... got it! The major plot line here isn't the broken-down quarterback of the Minny Vikings but instead the born-again quarterback on the other team as Michael Vick remains one of the NFL's biggest stories in years.

Last week's dazzling fourth-quarter performance against the Giants - some 215 offensive yards by Vick in the game's final seven-plus minutes alone - had every NFL fan wondering if they've seen anything like that and so now Vick (2,755 yards passing with 20 TDs and 5 INTs to go along with 613 rushing yards and 8 scores) will look to wave more magic against a Vikes defense that's basically shut it down ... or hadn't you realized that Minnesota has allowed 27-or-more points on six different occasions this year?

By the way, if Philly head coach Andy Reid doesn't finish either #1 or #2 in this year's Coach of the Year balloting than we'll demand a recount!

Spread Notes - Philadelphia is a dead-even but vig-losing 7-7 spreadwise this season and the Eagles have covered 16 of their last 25 home games while dating back to late in the '08  season. Meanwhile, Minnesota is a dreadful 4-9-1 spreadwise this season after going an electric 11-6-1 ATS a year ago. The Vikes are an awful 0-6-1 ATS as underdogs this year and 1-9-1 against the juice as pups dating back to late in the 2008 season.

On Monday Night, it's ...
NEW ORLEANS (10-4) at ATLANTA (12-2) - 8:40 p.m. ET, ESPN
The history books say that the Atlanta Falcons have not won a divisional crown since 2004 - and they also say that last year's #1 NFC Playoff seed (the New Orleans Saints) won it all while operating from that lofty perch.

In short, the Falcs may not be guaranteed a Super Bowl 45 win quite yet but a"W" here means an NFC South title and clinching the aforementioned top conference seed and no NFL visiting side has won inside the Georgia Dome this year. In fact, the Saints - who have won five of their seven away games this year - can clinch a playoff spot with a win here or one next week against Tampa Bay and you can fully expect head coach Sean Payton's crew to sport a take-no-prisoners attitude in this clash with QB Drew Brees having thrown for 1,256 yards with 13 TDs and just 1 INT in his last four appearances on Monday Night Football.

Two quick-hitter items to watch here:

Saints PK Garrett Hartley boomed a 47-yard FG in last week's 30-24 loss to 2-point fav Baltimore and the post-season hero a year ago appears to"be back" after an early-to-mid-season slump - the Falcons have won a few games this year with PK Matt Bryant made FGs but the script could get flipped here;

Finally, Atlanta QB Matt Ryan (3,321 yards passing with 25 TDs and 9 INTs) has won 15 straight games inside the Georgia Dome and he's 19-1 SU (straightup) overall in this building but the Saints defense - with that extra day to prep under wiz Gregg Williams - could well throw some different looks at Ryan here and bringing corner blitzes figures to be on the N'Orleans menu.

Spread Notes - Atlanta is 10-4 versus the vig overall this season and that includes the current snazzy six-game spread winning streak that started way back on Nov. 11th with a 26-21 win/cover against 2-point pup Baltimore. Note the Falcons have compiled a 7-3 ATS mark in divisional duels dating back to the start of last season. Meanwhile, New Orleans is 5-8-1 spreadwise this season and the Saints have failed to cover seven of their last 10 NFC South duels dating back to the start of last year.

NOTE: More College Football Bowl Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.

23
Nov

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