College Football Midweek Report

St. Pete Bowl Loses with FIU but Basketball goes 3-0 Tuesday with BYU, La. Tech, and College of Charleston. Poinsettia Bowl Gets The Money Wednesday Night

Getting Excited About Bowl Season

People get excited about the College Bowls because it gives them a special occasion to root for their home team - or their alma mater - or the team that best stands for their part of the country.

Not all Buckeye fans went to Ohio State but the Bowls bring out loyalists from that whole region. The same is obviously true of Alabama or West Virginia, Oklahoma or any place you can name.

That pure flame of loyalty burns bright. And it impels otherwise rational people to make some crazy bets.

You know without thinking twice - that Alabamans are going to bet for the Tide regardless of how they think the game is going to turn out. For an Alabaman to bet for LSU would be plain treason!

The same is true in reverse. Louisianians, HAVE to bet in the Tigers. It's, like a loyalty oath!

Up in Wisconsin, folks that do bet will be betting on the Wisconsin Badgers - even if they fear the Oregon Ducks might be the better team.

And of course, it goes without saying that the "Subway Alumni" - fans of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame - absolutely MUST bet their team in the Champ Sports Bowl - especially against hated rival Florida State. It would be a mortal sin not to!

For these folks, getting points is not the point. If I'm a true Razorback, I won't hesitate to lay 7 points to get my Arkansas over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl. If I'm Sooner, I won't think twice about laying 15½ to get my good ole Sooners over Iowa in the Insight Bowl.

Aggie fans will gladly lay 9½ against Nerthwestern in the Meineke Bowl. Baylor fans will be delighted to lay 9 on Bears vs the Washington Huskies inn the Alamo Bowl especially with "their" Heisman winner Robert Griffin III leading the attack. . .

Remember, too, most such once-a-year loyalists are not full time bettors. They haven't been following the game that closely. They don't know who's been covering. They may know the USA Today or the Coaches Poll of the Top 25. But they don't study the Sagarin numbers or the offensive and defensive rankings

In plain words, more bettors do not know what they're doing during the college bowl season than at any other time of the year. And if one school has more alumni or a larger fan base, it's going to mean lopsided one way action.

And the Las Vegas sports books are going to protect themselves by raising the line on the more popular team. That way they encourage balancing bets on the other wide and reduce the risk if a big loss.

For example, the line on the Cotton Bowl is Arkansas (-7) over Kansas State. But are the Razorbacks really 7 points better than the Wildcats? Or does that number simply mean Razorback fans bet more than Wildcat fans? If that's the case, then Kansas State would be a steal at plus 7, wouldn't it? (I'm not saying that IS the case; I'm only using it as an example.)

If you scan the betting lines for the remaining bowls - and you know the true merit of the teams - if you've got these numbers in your head the way we do at Jim Hurley's Network - you're going to spot a lot of extra points - and therefore a chance to win at a higher percentage than normal.

This edge is so pronounced a lot of wise guys take the rubber band off their bankroll. It's take-the-money time - like no other time of year

Or as one-time sports book director of the Stardust, Scott Schettler, once remarked: "The wise guys are in the bushes, waiting to whack the bettors."

That being the case, the question is, are you going to be a whacker or a whackee? Just keep one thing in mind: Big wrong bets by "them" mean big right profits for us!

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By Jim Hurley:

Maybe some college football teams consider it an"insult" to be playing in these pre-January Bowl Games (see TCU and Boise State this year) but just think about how those other 50 FBS teams are thinking right now that didn't make it to the bowl party at all!

The only FBS team -out of 120 teams in all -that didn't get an invite to the bowl party despite sporting a winning record was Western Kentucky (7-5) as we cannot count probation-ridden USC (10-2) who was ineligible for post-season play.

Now we'll see if both TCU and Boise State"takes it out" on double-digit or near double-digit bowl dog foes this week.

While we all stay tuned for that as bowl madness is just really getting started (note that either the side or the total verdicts went down to the final snap in all three of last Saturday's bowl games) it's high time we weighed in on our annual Jim Sez Awards. See what you think:

PLAYER OF THE YEAR -Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: We know, we know. The soon-to-be NFL numero uno draft choice didn't cop the Heisman Trophy as fearlessly forecast on this very web site and so excuse us for being so hard-headed here but his 3,170 yards passing and 35 touchdown strikes are good enough for us and it helps that his club won 11 games (can Baylor QB Robert Griffin III say the same?).

COACH OF THE YEAR -Les Miles, LSU: Plenty of folks believe Kansas State's Bill Snyder did his greatest single-season job in Manhattan and who are we to argue but consider that the Bayou Bengals beat three teams that were ranked either #2 or #3 in the land at the time (see Oregon, Alabama and Arkansas) and go ahead and find us someone that won on a neutral field against Oregon, at Miss State, at West Virginia, at Tennessee, at 'Bama and inside the Georgia Dome against"home team" Georgia. Yes, a"hats off" to the"Mad Hatter" himself, to be sure.

GAME OF THE YEAR -TCU 36, Boise State 35 (Nov. 12th) didn't get a whole lot of hype heading in but whatta finish as Horned Frogs' boss-man Gary Patterson went for two points following a late-game TD (and succeeded) while Boise State missed yet another key clutch field goal at the end. The win propelled TCU to the Mountain West Conference crown and killed Boise State's shot at landing up in a BCS bowl game. Can someone please tell us why Boise State's Chris Petersen had a third-string running back in the game late while trying to ice matters (he fumbled, of course)?

PLAY OF THE YEAR -Go ahead and pick one of many plays made by LSU defensive back/return specialist Tyrann Mathieu (a/k/a the Honey Badger) but we'll choose the electrifying 92-yard punt return for a touchdown against Arkansas in that day-after-Thanksgiving 41-17 win as the finest play of this College Football season. Do keep in mind Mathieu's scintillating runback actually tied the game at 14 apiece with 3:24 left before halftime and so it really energized LSU and got 'em on its way to a blowout win in Baton Rouge.

DISAPPOINTING TEAM OF THE YEAR -Texas A&M. No doubt you have a plethora of squads to choose from here (see Florida State, Notre Dame and Miami, among others) but note the Aggies began the year ranked #8 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and yet wound up blowing a gazillion big second-half leads and now head into a so-what Car Care Bowl on Dec. 31st with a 6-6 record ... simply awful stuff!

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will win big-time in NFL Week 16 action beginning with Thursday's bash between the Houston Texans at the Indianapolis Colts and -of course -- don't forget all the College Football Bowl Games right through the BCS Championship Game on Jan. 9th. Plus there is plenty of College Basketball action and the NBA (as if you didn't already know!) gets tipped off on Christmas Day -so make sure you're part of all the winning action straight through New Year's! And make sure you get all the Football and Basketball winners at our toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or else get it online right here online as America's #1 Handicapper keeps up the winning beat!

NOTE: All numbers before team name reflect the current BCS Standings:

Tonight, it's ...
LOUISIANA TECH (8-4) vs. #18 TCU (10-2) -- 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Mark this down as TCU's seventh bowl game in as many years but aforementioned head coach Patterson and Company would have liked a"bigger stage" and didn't get it but the Horned Frogs better not sleep on sleepy Louisiana Tech.

After all, the 9 ½-point underdog Bulldogs have been cookin' ever since junior QB Colby Cameron (11 TDs and 2 INTs) took control five games ago and here the Techsters (averaging nearly 31 ppg) will look to burn TCU deep with WR Quinton Patton (74 catches for 1,135 yards passing and 10 TDs) a center-stage guy.

If TCU imposes its will here, than its star LB Tank Carder -the two-time Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year -will get lots of calls from the play-by-play announcer.

Spread Notes -TCU enters this clash at 5-6-1 ATS (against the spread) overall this season and did you know the Horned Frogs have failed to cover their last three consecutive bowl games (twice versus Boise State and than last year in a non-cover Rose Bowl win against Wisconsin)? Meanwhile, Louisiana Tech's an electric 10-2 versus the vig overall this year and that includes a current seven-game spread winning streak and a nifty 6-and-oh spread log as underdogs.

On Thursday, it's ...
ARIZONA STATE (6-6) vs. #7 BOISE STATE (11-1) -8 p.m. ET, ESPN
No doubt folks can sympathize with Broncos boss-man Petersen who a couple of weeks back verbally railed against everything BCS (we're in your corner, coach!) but how did they help his club get prepped for this bowl tilt?

If Boise State wants to send a real message here -and keep in mind the Broncos are a solid two-TD betting favorite at press time -than lefty QB Kellen Moore (3,507 yards passing with 41 TDs and 7 INTs this season) will come out slinging while in attack mode against a wobbly Arizona State secondary. Note that the Pac-12 team has yielded 30-or-more points on five different occasions this season.

Arizona State pins its upset hopes on QB Brock Osweiler -the 6-foot-8 monster threw for 3,641 yards and 24 TDs this season but he also aired 12 picks. Watch yourself, big guy!

Spread Notes -Boise State is 4-8 versus the vig this year and that includes a current six-game spread losing streak ... ugh! The Broncos are a collective 81-53-2 ATS (a .604 winning rate) since the start of the 2001 season. Note that Arizona State is also 4-8 against the odds this season but the Sun Devils are a cool 7-2-1 ATS as underdog sides since the start of last year.

On Saturday, it's ...
HAWAII BOWL -- at Honolulu, HI
NEVADA (7-5) vs. #21 SOUTHERN MISS (11-2) -8 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles made news this week when decorated South Carolina DC Ellis Johnson agreed to take over the head-coaching reins following this game -Larry Fedora got his way and will coach here in the 50th state and then he'll zoom off for the head job with the North Carolina Tar Heels ... got it all?

If Southern Miss wants to put the cherry on top of that Conference USA Championship Game win against Houston back on Dec. 3rd than veteran/savvy QB Austin Davis (3,331 yards passing with 28 TDs this year) must shine against a Nevada team that allows 25.3 points per game.

If you're wrapping last-minute presents than keep one eye on the scotch tape and scissors and one eye on this Christmas Eve bash -it could be a doozy (see totals price of 62 points).

Spread Notes -Southern Miss is 9-4 ATS overall this year and that includes outright dog wins against Virginia, Navy and Houston. Note the USM Golden Eagles also have covered eight of their last 12 away games dating back to early in the 2010 campaign. Note that Nevada is 5-7 against the price tags this 2011 season and the Wolf Pack has lost versus the vig in each of its last four bowl outings dating to 2007.

NOTE: Get our NFL Week 16 Game Previews in a jam-packed edition of Jim Sez next!


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