Saturday's College Previews
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT
CATCH SATURDAY'S TOP TILTS HERE AS OUR JIM SEZ TV PREVIEWS ROLL ON THIS BUSY HOLIDAY WEEKEND
By Jim Hurley:
Talk about bringing out the heavy-duty ammunition!
Folks, this first Saturday in the month of September shows off the top eight teams in the land (according to the season-opening Associated Press Top 25) and - as you've no doubt been hearing for weeks now - it includes the defending national champion/second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide against #8 Michigan in a marquee matchup that the Las Vegas oddsmakers nonetheless claim will be one-sided (note that 'Bama has gone from an 11-point opening-line betting favorite to a full two-TD or 14-point price at press time).
It's also an opportunity to feast your eyes on #1 USC - granted a near six-TD betting choice over Hawaii - plus don't forget the whole day starts off in Ireland with Notre Dame battling Navy in the Emerald Isle class. Hey, set those alarm clocks early because that one starts at 9 a.m. ET.
So, pass the orange juice gimme me the remote control ... it's gonna be a great Labor Day weekend of College Football with this well-stocked Saturday card featuring some 28 on-the-board games and all those high-profile teams in action and you must wonder if any of 'em will be hitting an opening-week speed bump.
'Cause that almost happened on Opening Night to the #9 South Carolina Gamecocks.
Steve Spurrier's squad endured a game-opening torrential rainstorm, a first-half shoulder injury to starting QB Connor Shaw (he returned to action in the third quarter) and the "ole ball coach's" own rather conservative game calls to squeak out a 17-13 non-cover win at 6 ½-point fav Vanderbilt and so "upset alert" was averted but it wasn't easy - and it may be a sign of what's to come this college football season where many in-the-know folks believe not all that much separates the top 25-to-30 teams in the land.
Lots of goodies straight ahead and so let's get the Saturday menu started with the starriest game on the board:
#8 MICHIGAN vs. #2 ALABAMA (at Arlington) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC
So, just how does one beat the defending champs who last year led the nation in scoring, rushing, passing and total defense?
In short, flip the script ... that's how.
In other words, if two-TD dog Michigan really wants to "shock the world" than the Wolverines' defense must force turnovers, make key third-down stops and win most of the grunt battles in the trenches and common sense says that's not gonna happen as 'Bama has a glitzy offensive line that figures to pave plenty of holes for RB Eddie Lacy (674 yards and 7 TDs in part-time duty last year) and remember that second-year slinger AJ McCarron is brimming with confidence these days after a very special spring.
No doubt Michigan's do-it-all QB Denard Robinson - who last year threw for 2,173 yards and rushed for another 1,176 yards - will be the focus point for the aforementioned Alabama defense and expect Wolverines' head coach Brady Hoke's game plan here to include a stretch-the-field approach in the passing game but do you really think the maize-and-blue can get three or four 40-plus yard plays here?
Note that Alabama's won its season-opening games by 41, 45, 10, 24 and 46 points in Nick Saban's dominant stay in Tuscaloosa - albeit save for Virginia Tech back in 2009 none of the other season-opening foes were considered top 10-caliber squads but the point is 'Bama always comes out of the gates with a passion and now it can defuse Robinson's Heisman Trophy candidacy even before it ever really gets warmed up here.
Spread Notes - Alabama rolled up a nifty 9-4 ATS (against the spread) mark last year en route to winning its second national championship in three years but did you realize that the Crimson Tide have covered all five of their on-the-board season-opening games under boss-man Saban? Also, 'Bama is an electric 9-3 versus the vig in non-conference affairs dating back to the start of the 2009 campaign. Note that Michigan enters this high-profile shindig having registered a neat 7-4-1 ATS log last season in Year One of the Hoke Era. The Wolverines, however, are just 6-12-1 against the odds when in the underdog role since the start of 2008.
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#14 CLEMSON vs. AUBURN (at Georgia Dome) - 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
It's the third straight year that these two southern powers will meet and - after both teams "held serve" with home wins the past two showdowns - this one goes indoors for a "neutral setting" and so right away you think of which team holds the speed advantage as they play on the fake stuff inside the Georgia Dome.
No question that one speed guy that Clemson will sorely miss here is sophomore wide receiver and return specialist Sammy Watkins - a legit Heisman Trophy candidate once upon a time - who has been suspended by the team for the first two games this year and so no wonder the ESPN broadcasters in that South Carolina-Vandy game said the Clemson kids better watch out here because Auburn QB Kiehl Frazier seems ready/willing/able to strut his stuff now that he beat out Clint Moseley for the starting job last spring.
If the SEC gang can step up its rush defense (ranked 94th nationally last year) and keep Clemson QB Tajh Boyd from getting into a rhythm here, than you might get the mild upset in Hot-lanta but that's a lot on Frazier's shoulders here.
Spread Notes - Clemson is just 8-12 vig-wise in non-ACC affairs the past five years but that does include a pair of covers against Auburn both in 2010 (a 27-24 loss-but-cover as 7 ½-point underdogs) and in 2011 (a 38-24 home winner as 5-point betting favorites). Meanwhile, Auburn staggered through a 5-8 spread season a year ago (just one year removed from that national championship) and the SEC Tigers have failed to cover six of their last nine season-opening games.
HAWAII at #1 USC - 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox
Wonder how many times "Traveler" will be making his merry way around the Los Angeles Coliseum on this night!
The fabled white horse that charges around the perimeter of the field following Trojans touchdowns might need oxygen at some point here as USC's a stiff 40-point betting favorite with a current "totals" price of 64 points ... yowie!
The top-ranked Men of Troy have the horsepower - pardon the pun - to run roughshod over plenty of teams this year and it'll be interesting here to see how many rushes former Penn State star RB Silas Redd gets in his debut in the wine-colored jerseys as SC head coach Lane Kiffin may ease the former Big 10 star into play with just 6 or 7 carries here.
Hey, Heisman Trophy frontrunner QB Matt Barkley (3,528 yards passing with 39 TDs a year ago for USC) will be the one doing the "heavy lifting" in this pass-first offense, you know!
Spread Notes - USC really piled up the greenbacks last year with a tidy 8-3-1 ATS log that included a modest 4-2 spread mark whenever laying twin-figure prices. Overall, the Men of Troy are 6-0-1 spreadwise in their last seven games heading into this clash but USC is just 7-11-1 vig-wise at home the past three years. Hawaii is coming off a rotten 4-9 ATS campaign that included a season-ending three-game spread losing skid. The Warriors have covered eight of their last 13 games when in an underdog role.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are ready to rock-n-roll this Football Season with Saturday's menu featuring Clemson vs. Auburn (also in said Georgia Dome), Sunday's couple of gridiron goodies including Kentucky at Louisville and than it's all capped off on Labor Day evening with an ACC showdown between Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech -we can't wait, can you? Plus, Jim Hurley and his crew will stay on top of things in this final week of NFL Preseason action and than taking you right though a sure-to-be-thrilling NFL 2012 campaign. Make sure to check in with us on Game Days either right here online or else at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the NCAA & NFL Winners and get all the daily and nightly Major-League Baseball winners too. Let's pile up the profits together from here right thru Super Bowl XLVII.
GUESS WHAT? THERE'S MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL ON THIS HOLIDAY WEEKEND MENU AS WE TACKLE SUNDAY'S TWO TV GAMES PLUS WE CHIME IN WITH NFL STUFF TOO AS WE DRAW NEAR TO COWBOYS-GIANTS THIS WEDNESDAY NITE!
Safe to say everyone's having a blast with the start of this College Football Season - heck, Thursday night's triple-OT win by Minnesota over UNLV was some of the best late-night TV we've seen in a long, long time - but how about the fact the National Football League swings into action this Wednesday with the annual NFL Kickoff Game and there's plenty to say right here/right now:
The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants won/covered on this Opening Night big stage back in the 2008 season following on the heels of that stunning Super Bowl 42 win against the New England Patriots - remember that 16-7 win/cover against the 4 ½-point underdog Washington Redskins? - and now Tom Coughlin's crew looks to hammer out the win against the (for now) 4-point underdog Dallas Cowboys. And just remember last year when the Jints powered their way to an NFC East crown by snagging two late-season (as in December and January) games against the'Boys.
In fact, check out our Jim Sez chart how that reveals just how dominant the G-men have been against the Cowboys in head-to-head showdowns ever since that NFC Divisional Playoff win back in the 2007 season (note all home teams below are in CAPS):
COWBOYS v. GIANTS (Meetings the Last 4+ Years)
|2007 *||Giants||+ 7.5||COWBOYS||Giants 21-17|
|2008||GIANTS||- 8.5||Cowboys||GIANTS 35-14|
|2008||COWBOYS||- 3||Giants||COWBOYS 20-8|
|2009||Giants||+ 3||COWBOYS||Giants 33-31|
|2009||GIANTS||+ 1||Cowboys||GIANTS 31-24|
|2010||Giants||+ 3.5||COWBOYS||Giants 41-35|
|2010||Cowboys||+ 12.5||GIANTS||Cowboys 33-20|
|2011||Giants||+ 4.5||COWBOYS||Giants 37-34|
|2011||GIANTS||- 3||Cowboys||GIANTS 31-14|
= NFC Divisional Playoff Game
Add'em all up, folks, and you see the Giants are 7-2 SU (straightup) and 7-2 ATS (against the spread) against the Cowboys beginning with that epic post-season game that really got the Giants' wheels in motion towards the first of coach Coughlin's two Super Bowl victories.
Will the tide turn come Wednesday night at MetLife Stadium?
Well, Jim Hurley will have that answer for you Game-Day afternoon (see note below) but we thought it would be nice to feed you a little NFL ditty a handful of days before they kick it off for real in the league where they play for pay - much more NFL goodies all week long right here at Jim Sez.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT - THE SUNDAY SHOWDOWNS
KENTUCKY at #25 LOUISVILLE - 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The ole Battle of the Bluegrass State remains one of the great rivalries in the sport and - in this case - it's the Louisville Cardinals who are the "hot side" and the Kentucky Wildcats who could stagger through the 2012 season. No question that Louisville head coach Charlie Strong has re-energized this program with last year's 7-6 SU season featuring a big win in Lexington (see details below) and now soph QB Teddy Bridgewater looks to improve on his 14-TD, 12-INT season from a year ago but note top target WR Michaelee Harris is gone for the year with a knee injury and somebody else from this sophomore-heavy lineup must step into the fray beginning right here.
How can two-TD dog Kentucky keep this clash close ... or maybe even pull the gigantic upset?
Well, it would help if the Wildcats' passing game awoke.
Last year Kentucky ranked a dismal 114th out of 120 FBS teams in passing offense while averaging just 135.6 ypg and here soph slinger Maxwell Smith will shoulder the burden after playing in just eight games a year ago. Smith - who threw for 819 yards with 4 TDs and 4 INTs in 2011 - will eyeball senior WR La'Rod King who caught 40 balls for the aerial-challenged Wildcats.
Spread Notes - Louisville has banged out 7-5 and than 8-5 ATS campaigns so far under boss-man Strong but note the U of L Cardinals registered a shabby 1-4 spread log as betting favorites a year ago. The Redbirds - a 24-17 winner at 5-point fav Kentucky last September - have failed to cover four of their last five on-the-board season-opening games while dating back to the 2007 season. On the flip side, Kentucky is coming off a 6-6 spread season that included a 4-4 ATS split in games where the'Cats were the underdog side and did you realize that this SEC crew is a rock-solid 13-7 versus the vig overall in non-league affairs since the start of '07?
SMU at BAYLOR - 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Network
The "RG3" Era was a major blast in Waco - a Heisman Trophy, 10 wins and a bowl triumph last year for QB Robert Griffin III and mates but that's in the proverbial rear-view mirror now and so Baylor boss Art Briles has turned the keys over to senior Nick Florence who won't surprise anyone here should he throw the ball upwards of 50 times but let's see if Baylor has another Heisman hopeful in WR Terrance Williams who snagged 105 balls for 1,502 yards and 15 TDs last year while getting real cozy with Griffin's strikes.
Meanwhile, don't dare sleep on this 2012 SMU team as former Texas QB Garrett Gilbert figures to have plenty of opportunities to strut his right arm for pass-happy head coach June Jones.
In case you were wondering, the "totals" price on this all-Lone Star State battle sits at 58 points - might that be a tad shy?
Spread Notes - Baylor rolled up an impressive 8-4 ATS mark last year and remember the Bears finished off the 2011 season on a four-game spread winning streak. Note that Baylor banged out a perfect 7-and-oh pointspread mark at home last season and that included covers against the likes of TCU, Oklahoma and Texas. Meanwhile, SMU snapped a six-game pointspread slide a year ago with a 28-6 Compass Bowl win against 4-point fav Pittsburgh and overall the Mustangs are 11-6 ATS as dogs the past three seasons.
NOTE: Catch our Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech Monday night game preview in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez and remember we'll dig deep into NFL Week 1 play all this coming week right here, so don't you dare miss out!
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