College Football News and Notes

Hit & Run Baseball 2-0 Friday, now 9-1 this week and 11-5 since the All Star Break!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS & NOTES:

YES, THERE ARE OTHER THINGS HAPPENING BESIDES THE PENN STATE MESS! ...

PLUS WE BRING YOU LAST YEAR'S FAST (AND SLOW) SPREAD STARTERS IN THE COLLEGE PIGSKIN WORLD

By Jim Hurley:

No doubt about it:

We've been giving lots of attention to the good folks of the National Football League this summer and-hey, who's not excited about the start of the 2012 NFL season where arguably half the league's 32 teams would appear to have legit shots at winning it all in New Orleans next winter!

Still, today's end-of-the-work-week edition of Jim Sez is totally devoted to the college kids-remember their season is just now over a month away-and we promise not to bog down this entire column with more messy Penn State stuff.

Want our opinion on that whole saga?

Good, than we'll point out two things that seemingly nobody else has pointed out during this now nearly nine-month-old escapade:

Number one, not to throw more dirt on now-deceased Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno but there's no doubt he knew that long-time defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was up to no good back in/around 1998 and '99 and than after that "shower incident" in 2001 there was Penn State handing over a coaching position to novice Mike McQueary who later became a major sideline influence ... was that not a "reward" for McQueary for not pushing harder in the Sandusky matter at that time? Hmmm.

And finally, let's please not have any former Penn State coaches-like last year's interim head coach Tom Bradley-claim they were not aware of the Sandusky sex scandals because how does something like that stay buried when it appeared to be rather common knowledge in the athletic department (and maybe elsewhere in university circles)?

No question that each/every one of those coaches under Paterno should have been kicked to the curb in a clean sweep-at least the school got that one right!

Okay, so now the here-and-now Penn State football team must wipe away all that garbage that had nothing to do with them and play a football season with possible (or should we say likely) NCAA sanctions hanging over their heads.

And first-year head coach Bill O'Brien-the New England Patriots offensive coordinator the past couple of years-must do everything in his power to keep the Lions' heads on straight but how about the raw emotion that figures to fill Beaver Stadium on September 1st when Penn State opens the 2012 campaign with a home tilt against a dangerous Ohio Bobcats bunch? It will be interesting to see how many signs in the building reference Paterno come opening day with talk that this weekend the statue of JoePa is coming down despite protests of many blue-and-white fans.

In other College Football News & Notes ...

The Walter Camp Player of the Year Award Watch List has been released and note it includes three Camp semifinalists from a year ago in USC quarterback Matt Barkley, Oklahoma QB Landry Jones and Clemson WR/KR/PR Sammy Watkins but note that overall the SEC (surprise, surprise!) leads the way with 12 "watch list" players and the early money says this will come down to a head-to-head battle between LSU Tyrann Matthieu-a defensive back who doubles as the country's most dangerous return specialist-and Georgia QB Aaron Murray who could well get a seat at this year's Heisman Trophy presentation in New York City when all's said and done with this upcoming season.

Last year's Walter Camp Award winner? Stanford QB Andrew Luck who just inked for a few bucks with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.

Speaking of Stanford, no question the Cardinal will be hard-pressed to match last year's offensive numbers that included the Pac-12 team finishing eighth nationally in total offense (nearly 490 yards per game) without the aforementioned Luck but did you know that Stanford scored more than 35 points on 10 different occasions last year and actually lost once while scoring 38 points (see that 41-38 overtime loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl)?

Keep a close eye on Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor who was just named to the Doak Walker Watch List after he rushed for 1,330 yards (a 5.5 yards-per-carry average) a year ago. Last year Taylor rushed the ball a total of 242 times (that was approximately 18.6 carries per outing) but early signs say he will average closer to 23 or 24 carries a game providing he stays healthy ...

Now, let's jump to the "other coast" and see what's happening at Rutgers where Greg Schiano is gone off to the NFL's Tampa Bay Bucs after 11 years on the New Brunswick campus.

Okay, so Schiano upgraded/improved the program in his decade-plus long stay but don't ignore the fact that the Scarlet Knights really padded their schedules with creampuff non-league games and now in steps new head coach Kyle Flood and the sked includes a non-Big East road game at Arkansas?

Don't think we would have seen much of that in the Schiano Era save for an occasional non-league road game at North Carolina or Maryland ...

Finally, we spent some time/space the other day discussing the quick (or slow) pointspread starts of NFL teams last year and so let's do likewise with the college kids:

  • Air Force failed to cover five of its first six spread verdicts last year

  • Alabama started off 2011 with a 6-1 ATS (against the spread) log

  • Arkansas State covered its first four pointspread decisions last year

  • Boston College failed to cover 5 of its first 6 spread decisions in '11

  • Central Michigan dropped its first four ATS decisions last year

  • Clemson was 7-1 odds-wise to start off the 2011 season

  • Florida covered its first four games a year ago

  • Georgia Tech was 4-0-1 ATS out of the chute last season

  • Kansas State notched six spread wins in its first seven board games last year

  • Kent State failed to cover its first four games a year ago

  • Michigan was 5-1 ATS out of the starting gate last year

  • N.C. State was 0-4-1 ATS in its first five games

  • Oklahoma State started last year with seven covers in its first eight games

  • Penn State was 0-5 spreadwise to begin the 2011 campaign

  • Rutgers was 5-and-oh spreadwise to start off last season

  • Stanford was 8-0-1 versus the vig in its first nine games in '11

  • Temple was 4-0 ATS to start off the 2011 season

  • And Washington covered five of its first six games last year.

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NFL POINTSPREAD TIDBITS

EXAMINING SOME RECENT KEY TEAM TRENDS

By Jim Hurley:

Here's the deal: Each and every year we have a buddy or two ask us pointspread-related questions when it comes to the National Football League and we always like to be armed with the answers (of course) and so here's a pre-emptive strike, if you will, with some dandy ATS (against the spread) stats for the pros ... enjoy!

THE NFL

ATLANTA - Think the Falcons have a real "dome field advantage" inside their Georgia Dome building? You bet they do as Atlanta's a tasty 21-10-1 ATS as hosts the past four years (a snazzy .677 winning rate) and that includes an 8-3-1 against-the-odds mark the past two-plus years whenever playing non-NFC South competition.

P.S., it also may interest you to know the Falcons have covered their last four consecutive home games against divisional foe Carolina ... see how you learn something new every day?

CINCINNATI - It's true that last year's Bengals finished up the campaign with a decent 4-3-1 ATS log when it comes to the favorite's role but how about going back to the start of the 2007 season and then you'll note that this AFC North crew is a composite 10-24-1 vig-wise as chalk sides (a rotten .294 winning rate).

The Bengals have bungled away plenty of opportunities to cash as betting favs through the recent years and last year - even in that winning spread season as favs - the Cincy kids failed to cover as home chalk against San Francisco, Cleveland and Houston.

GREEN BAY - Go back the past three years and you'll discover that the Packers are a collective 35-18-1 versus the almighty vig (that's a stunning .661 winning rate) in all games and that's really saying something when you stop to consider that this NFC North squad has been a betting favorite of 7-or-more points on 23 different occasions (okay, so we admit that Green Bay's just 12-11 spreadwise in this heavy-duty fav role but still!).

Last year's Packers team finished up at 11-6 against the odds and that featured a splendid 5-1 spread log against fellow divisional foes (the lone spread loss was a 33-27 non-cover win at 10-point dog Minnesota in a Week 7 game).

MIAMI - You can lump the Dolphins in together with the aforementioned Cincinnati Bengals as NFL teams that simply cannot get the job done as betting favorites in recent years. The Fish - who did split six spread verdicts as the chalk a year ago - are a composite 16-38 against the Las Vegas prices whenever laying points while dating all the way back to the 2003 campaign (folks, that's a .296 winning rate!).

Ironically enough, last year's Dolphins finished the season with a SU (straight-up) win but pointspread loss: The 19-17 non-cover victory against the 3-point road dog New York Jets. Figures!

PHILADELPHIA - Once upon a time the Eagles were money-makers in just about every statistical category but not anymore: In fact, these past two seasons have seen Philly finish with a collective 7-14 spread log when playing outside the rough-and-tumble NFC East and just about the only thing that saved Andy Reid's crew from an even worse ATS mark was those late-year covers at Miami and against the Jets.

Keep in mind the past two years that Philadelphia is 3-7 against the odds when hosting non-NFC East team ... yuk!

SEATTLE - Shhh, don't tell anyone but the Seahawks really do sport a major home-field advantage! Go back the past three NFL seasons and you'll find that Seattle is 17-8 against the odds in its own backyard (that's good for a scintillating .680 winning rate) and how about the fact that since Pete Carroll took over as the team's head coach prior to the 2010 season the 'Hawks are an electric 12-5 vig-wise as hosts (an even-better .706 winning rate).

Note that Seattle's covered its last seven consecutive divisional home games (and eight of the last nine dating back to the start of the 2009 season) and that ranks as money-in-the-bank stuff for any NFL bettor, right?
 
WASHINGTON - Go ahead and think about the recent Redskins-Cowboys games the past five-or-so years: Does anything really stand out to you? Yeah, the Cowboys have won seven of the last 10 head-to-head meetings in SU fashion including both of last year's games but now take a deeper look and you'll uncover the fact that the 'Skins have covered eight of these last 10 hoedowns (and 9 of the last 11 if you care to dip back to the second meeting in 2006).

Gotta admit that surprised us a whole lot and so no wonder why our Washington pals have boasted that they've "collected" in recent years when these clubs have hooked up and how about the fact that both of the Redskins' covers against the 'Boys last year came in Dallas SU wins: See Cowboys 18-16 (but laying the 3 ½ road points) and later 27-24 (but laying a full touchdown price)

 

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