Saturday's Key College Previews

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S KEY SATURDAY PREVIEWS
By Jim Hurley:

Once upon a time - like 20-plus years ago! - we used to get early-season non-conference marquee matchups like #1 Oklahoma at #5 Florida State all the time but then things happened...Big-time teams - including the OU Sooners and FSU Seminoles -- started to schedule more "gimme wins" and claimed they had to gear up more for conference play but the reality of it is all the big shots in College Football got scared of suffering a loss in September that might cripple their BCS Championship Game bowl hopes and so we've been "treated" to just scattered monster showdowns in this era ... and that's too bad!

Now, when the sun sets in Tallahassee come Saturday night, there'll be a pair of top 5 teams squaring off - just like we had two weekends ago when then-#3 Oregon and then-#4 LSU battled in the "Cowboys Classic" - and so savor the showdown in the Sunshine State.

They still don't exactly come around all that often, you know!

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers plan on winning plenty this NFL and College Football season and so please make sure you're all aboard for all the action and that means getting in on tonight's College Football showdowns between Boise State at Toledo and Iowa State at Connecticut plus get all the weekend action too. Let us take you right thru the BCS National Championship Game on January 9th plus get all our NFL Winners too right through Super Bowl XLVI on February 5th. Hey, it's gonna be a great ride!

Plus get all the Major-League Baseball Winners right through next month's World Series and this is all you have to do to get all the Winners: Just remember to call our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here for the NFL, NCAA Football and MLB winners! Sign up now and get the College Football and NFL Seasons for a grand total of $199. Check it out today!

Now, here are College Football's Key Saturday Previews with Spread Notes included ...

#1 OKLAHOMA (1-0) at #5 FLORIDA STATE (2-0) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Is this the game in which Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops gets back his "Big Game Bob" nickname?

No doubt the Sooners have not always come up large in such marquee matchups in recent years but Stoops and Company do enter this clash as 3-point road favorites and QB Landry Jones (375 yards passing and one TD in OU's 47-14 win/cover against 24-point dog Tulsa two weeks ago) is armed-and-dangerous here ... and now looking to make it two in a row against Florida State (see last year's 47-17 win/cover as 7-point home favorites).

It could be gut check time early for the host Seminoles who have cranked out 96 points in season-opening SU (straight-up) wins against UL-Monroe and Charleston Southern but the $64,000 question here is what team will decide to perk up the tempo first? Tell us that either team will get 70-or-more offensive snaps here and that's the side that'll win as FSU quarterback EJ Manuel (581 yards passing with 6 TDs so far in 2011) isn't afraid to put his foot on the gas pedal and go no huddle for a 10- or 12-play drive.

Spread Notes - Oklahoma has covered eight of its last 11 overall games dating back to early 2010 but note the Boomer Sooners are a dreary 4-7 ATS (against the spread) in non-conference affairs since late 2008. Florida State, meanwhile, has split its first two spread verdicts this year and the Seminoles are 8-7 ATS thus far in the Jimbo Fisher Era. Note that Florida State's a collective 15-9 versus the vig as underdog sides since the start of the 2005 campaign.


WASHINGTON (2-0) at #11 NEBRASKA (2-0) - 3:30 p.m. ET. ABC
Fancy seeing you again ... this is the third time in a year that the UW Huskies and Nebraska Cornhuskers have banged heads on the gridiron as Big Red snared a 56-21 win at 3-point home dog Washington last Sept. 18th and than who's gonna forget the Huskies 19-7 Holiday Bowl shocker win against the 11 ½-point favored 'Huskers?

Now the "rubber match" is set here in Lincoln -- and Nebraska dual-threat QB Taylor Martinez (a team-leading 301 yards rushing and 335 yards passing) must prove he can take the big hits and still be standing there at the finish line. If Washington - a 17-point pup here - is seriously entertaining any upset hopes than the heir to QB Jake Locker - that's soph Keith Price (417 yards passing with 7 TDs and 1 INT in '11) -- must get three or four "chunk plays" here and that means aerials gains of 30-plus yards.

Spread Notes - Nebraska actually has failed to cover six of its last eight overall pointspread decisions since mid-to-late last year and that includes shabby 0-2 ATS start here in 2011. The Big Red is 9-13-1 vig-wise at home in the Bo Pelini Era that began back in 2008. Note that Washington is 5-1 vig-wise as double-digit underdogs since the start of 2009 and that, of course, includes last year's aforementioned upset win against Nebraska.


TENNESSEE (2-0) at #16 FLORIDA (2-0) - 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
You know that it's mid-September when these SEC rivals are squaring off but did you know that Florida's won the last six in a row SU in this series and the Volunteers have not scored in excess of 20 points in any of these games while dating back to 2004:

Now the "mighty Gators" need to prove that they can handle Tennessee's starry one-two wide receiver punch here as WRs Justin Hunter (16 catches for 18.9 ypc and 2 TDs) and Da'Rick Rogers (15 receptions worth 13.3 ypc and 3 scores) have been dynamite so far - might that tempt Florida's first-year offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to run more traps/draws and thus keep Tennessee's high-octane passing game on the sidelines more here?

The big beneficiary could be Florida's red-hot RB Chris Rainey who has rushed for 198 yards (a 7.3 ypc average) as he continues to put last year's suspension in the rear-view mirror.

Spread Notes - The Florida Gators have chomped down with back-to-back pointspread wins to start off the Will Muschamp Era but note the Gainesville gang is a rotten 1-6 versus the vig when hosting SEC foes the past two-plus seasons. On the other hand, Tennessee's 4-5-1 against the odds in its last 10 head-to-head showdowns against Florida and that includes last season's 31-17 loss/spread push as 14-point home dogs in Knoxville. The Vols are a collective 12-6-2 ATS away dating back to late in the 2007 season.


#17 OHIO STATE (2-0) at MIAMI (0-1) - 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Just when you thought College Football was getting closer to riding itself of scandals, along come both the Buckeyes and the Hurricanes ... good grief!

No need to get into all the details here but consider this is the first road game for Ohio State boss-man Luke Fickell and his Big 10 guys barely made it past 17-point pup Toledo last week but count us among the folks impressed thus far with QB Joe Bauserman who is starring in Year One after Terrelle Pryor - Bauserman's stats already include 4 TDs and 0 INTs and no doubt the hungry 'Canes need to force a few turnovers here and continue playing strong red-zone defense.

Or was that merely a case of Maryland's offense botching things up when they got deep in Miami's territory in that 32-24 win/cover on Labor Day evening?

Note that Miami QB Jacory Harris is back from his one-game suspension and here's hoping booster Nevin Shapiro doesn't show up in the team huddle!

Spread Notes - Ohio State's split its first two pointspread verdicts this year but did you know the Buckeyes are 8-4 spreadwise as underdog sides since the start of the 2005 season. Miami enters this prime-time affair at 27-45-1 against the Las Vegas prices the past six-plus seasons and that includes failing to cover four of its last six non-league affairs.

 

THE NFL WEEK #2 KEY SUNDAY AFTERNOON PREVIEWS

CHECKING OUT THE TEAMS THAT BELIEVE THIS IS "MUST-WIN" TIME (ALREADY!)

By Jim Hurley:

Here's a strange-but-true factoid as we head into the National Football League Week #2 card ...

There are only four NFL games (out of 16, of course) that pit teams with winning records against one another on this third Sunday in September - that's Oakland at Buffalo, Jacksonville at the New York Jets, Arizona at Washington and San Diego at New England.

Now here's another:

Only half of last year's dozen NFL Playoff teams came out winners in Week #1 as the likes of Atlanta, Indianapolis, Kansas City, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Seattle all tumbled right out of the starting gate and - come to think of it - isn't it funny how fates/fortunes can change in a relative heartbeat as it was just two years back when the New Orleans Saints started off 13-0 SU (straight-up) en route to a Super Bowl title while the then-led Peyton Manning Indy Colts started off the 2009 campaign at 14-0 SU before finally stubbing their collective toe in the S-Bowl.

Now here's both of 'em looking to avoid an 0-2 SU start in 2011!

Okay, so that's one reason why he highlight the Saints here in today's Jim Sez as - according to our calculations - they are one of three NFL teams that sure enough consider this "must-win Sunday" even if it's just the second week of play.

We've added the aforementioned Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys to this short list here.

Enjoy ... and now hear this:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers plan on winning plenty this NFL and College Football season and so please make sure you're all aboard for all the action! Plus get all the Major-League Baseball Winners right through next month's World Series and this is all you have to do to get all the Winners: Just remember to call our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here for the NFL, NCAA Football and MLB winners! Sign up now and get the College Football and NFL Seasons for a grand total of $199. Check it out today!

Now, here are Sunday afternoon's "must-win" subjects - the Saints, Steelers and Cowboys:

CHICAGO (1-0) at NEW ORLEANS - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Were the aforementioned 2009 N'Orleans Saints just "one-year wonders"? Okay, so you're allowed to think that after last year's one-and-done NFC Wild Card Playoff loss in Seattle and this year's 42-34 Week #1 setback in Green Bay - a game in which the Saints' defense didn't stop a soul and that included poor tackling, bad pass coverage and blown assignments all over the joint. If New Orleans wishes to square its 2011 record and get back into the swing of things here, than that stop unit better get in gear.

There was nothing wrong with the Saints' offense in G-Bay as QB Drew Brees (419 yards passing and 3 TDs) powered the NFC South team to a 477-yard total output but remember no WR Marques Colston (broken collar bone) here or for the foreseeable future but look for Brees to target oncoming star TE Jimmy Graham here and especially if the Saints can get Graham matched up against one of Chicago's less-speedy LBs and that could mean picking on grief-stricken 'backer Brian Urlacher.

Spread Notes - New Orleans is 8-17-1 ATS (against the spread) overall dating back to late in the 2009 Super Bowl season and did you know that the Saints are 5-10-1 ATS as betting favorites since late '09?


SEATTLE (0-1) at PITTSBURGH (0-1) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS

It's not like the Pittsburgh Steelers to enter an NFL season all fat and complacent but the fact of the matter is the defending AFC champions did not make a whole lot of personnel moves in this lockout-affected off-season and did not appear real hungry in last week's 35-7 loss in Baltimore.

The Steelers committed seven turnovers in suffering their worst loss in 14 years and - even though they're listed as solid two-TD betting favorites for this clash at Heinz Field - there is some question as to whether Pittsburgh's already-tattered offensive line can hold up for an entire season (note that RT Willie Colon was placed on IR with a torn triceps muscle).

The upset-minded Seahawks - who surrendered a pair of last-game special team returns for touchdowns against San Fran's Ted Ginn Jr. last week - need QB Tarvaris Jackson to steer clear of hard-charging LB James Harrison and move the chains with some third-down runs/scrambles. If Jackson can rush for 50-plus yards here and/or keep Seattle's offense on the field for long periods of time than the Steelers likely won't be able to swat the Seahawks into submission despite that bloated pointspread.

Spread Notes - Pittsburgh covered 7-of-10 home games last year en route to the team's third Super Bowl appearance in the past six years and the Steelers are a collective 2-5 versus the vig as twin-figure betting favorites dating back to the start of 2009.


DALLAS (0-1) at SAN FRANCISCO (1-0) - 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox
Sure, the Cowboys have won only one playoff game in the last 15 years (see 34-14 triumph over Philadelphia two years ago) but just the general mindset is that Dallas is a perennial playoff team or contender and yet a loss here at Candlestick Park could have "America's Team" - and their oft-annoying fan base - in a real tizzy here.

Last Sunday Nite's painful 27-24 loss to the 6 ½-point favored New York Jets had Cowboys fans reaching for the hard stuff this week but no time to look back now and so QB Tony Romo (see fourth-quarter lost fumble and late-game pick) must spread the wealth here but WR Dez Bryant could be far less than 100 percent healthy - he missed Wednesday's practice after suffering a thigh injury and that means TE Jason Witten (6 catches for 110 against the Jets) might have to be an occasional deep threat here.

One note on the Niners: RB Frank Gore (22 carries for just 59 yards rushing in last Sunday's 33-17 win/cover versus 6-point dog Seattle) showed major rust after coming back from last season's year-ending hip injury - if 25 carries doesn't net him at least 110 yards here than San Fran's going down!

Spread Notes - Dallas is a money-toasting 11-18 versus the vig away while tracing back to late in the 2008 season and note the 'Boys have failed to cover seven of their eight games when placed in the road favorite's role? Yikes!

NOTE: More NFL Week coverage in tomorrow's Jim Sez including the Sunday Night Football Game Preview - that's Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles at the Atlanta Falcons.

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