Sunday' and Monday's College Previews and Cowboys-Giants
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!
By Jim Hurley:
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.
SATURDAY'S BIGGEST "WINNERS" AND "LOSERS" PLUS A LOOK AHEAD TO MONDAY NIGHT'S BASH IN BLACKSBURG AS G-TECH TAKES ON #16 V-TECH
Hey, the Labor Day Weekend began with the close-but-no-cigar upset attempts by the likes of Vanderbilt and Boise State this past Thursday/Friday but Saturday brought a few favorites to their knees with the likes of Penn State, Colorado, California and five-TD fav Houston all getting dunked on the holiday weekend - bet that spoiled their Sunday barbecues, right?
On this first Saturday in September we watched Notre Dame do a real "Irish jig" on Navy and we saw a Heisman Trophy candidate in Michigan QB Denard Robinson fight for his life in a high-profile 41-14 loss to mighty Alabama but to delve into some of the real "Winners" and "Losers" on this first weekend of the 2012 College Football Season, we've come up with some ditties for you below. So, here goes ...
The Alabama O-line:
Surprise, surprise. The best single unit in the land may have gotten better than the one that helped pave the way to a BCS championship a year ago as Nick Saban's massive blocking wall opened the door to a 230-yard rushing night (the Crimson Tide running backs averaged a haughty 5.5 yards a carry and frosh T.J. Yeldon finished with 111 yards on 11 carries). There's size/strength aplenty on this 'Bama offensive line and while C Barrett Jones might well be on his way to playing three different O-line positions for three different national champs, we were truly wowed by 335-pound RT D.J. Fluker who pounded Michigan's defensive linemen and linebackers in a man-against-boys type exhibition.
West Virginia QB Geno Smith:
Maybe this Heisman Trophy hopeful will "meet his match" in the Big 12 Conference beginning later this month but right now the 6-foot-5 senior is right on target to at least getting an invitation to this year's Heisman ceremony in NYC following his 323-yard, 4TD pass showing in the Mountaineers' easy-as-pie 69-34 win/cover against 26 ½-point pup Marshall. Note that Smith actually completed 32-of-36 passes in this in-state rivalry win and keep in mind Smith also rushed for 65 of WVU's 331 rushing yards.
Bill O'Brien and the Penn State Nittany Lions:
Okay, so call us crazy (and a wee bit mean, too!) for slamming both this brand-new head coach and his wounded team but ... Consider the 6-point favored Nittanies were outscored 21-zip in the second half of Saturday's 24-14 home loss to Ohio University on an afternoon when Penn State had all the emotions on its side. And consider that communication was a major problem for the Big 10 team - see the time out called prior to Penn State's third offensive snap of the game - and fear the fact this hyped State defense simply didn't make any real big stands as it allowed Ohio to convert on 13-of-21 third-down plays while the Bobcats possessed the ball for more than 33 minutes of game clock time. It's not just that Penn State lost at home in the first game of the post-Joe Paterno Era. It's that so many glaring problems popped to the surface. Is .500 now even a reasonable goal for a team that lost only nine players to other schools this past summer after those well-documented NCAA sanctions?
Forget for a moment that #1 USC rock-n-rolled its way past hapless Hawaii (as everyone knew it would!) and consider that both California and Colorado as prohibitive favorites against Nevada (an 11-point dog) and Colorado State (a 6-point pup), respectively, in Saturday afternoon action and #21 Stanford didn't exactly resemble a world-beater in Friday night's scary 20-17 win against 26 ½-point dog San Jose State. In opening-week play, these sort of non-league games can either instill instant confidence in league members - or make 'em wonder if they are really any good. Let's just say Pac-12 teams outside of USC, Oregon and UCLA have to be wondering that right about now.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT ROLLS ON - HERE'S THE WEEKEND'S FINALE ON MONDAY NIGHT
GEORGIA TECH at #16 VIRGINIA TECH - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Sorry, but it is time to bring down the curtain on this holiday weekend of College Football - heck, we've had 40 games played already between Thursday night and Sunday evening (and in four different time zones, no less!) - and this Atlantic Coast Conference game is chock full of meaty storylines:
First off, there's a Virginia Tech team that ain't particularly happy about starting off the season at #16 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll as Frank Beamer's crew does bring back nine starters from a defense that last year finished 10th in the country in total defense (304 ypg) and 7th in the land in scoring defense (17.6 ppg) but maybe one problem for the Gobblers is that folks watched their offense disconnect at all the wrong times in that aforementioned 23-20 loss/push versus Michigan.
Than consider the revenge angle here for Georgia Tech:
Last year Paul Johnson's club lost 37-26 as 2-point home underdogs and nobody in Yellow Jackets-land will soon forget the game's key play: A late third-quarter personal foul penalty against Georgia Tech - Jeremiah Attaochu punched VT quarterback Logan Thomas in the helmet - changed the complexion of that tilt but one positive that Georgia Tech took from that game is that QB Tevin Washington ran for three touchdowns and his ability (or inability) to make big gainers when he cuts the corner on option plays will be a major part in determining who wins here.
Two keys to watch for in this under-the-lights ACC tilt:
The Hokies need to get "Beamerball" back after blocking just one punt all of last year; If V-Tech doesn't make at least one momentum-changing special teams play here than Georgia Tech could be right there at the finish line.
Finally, Georgia Tech - the 112th-ranked passing team in the country last season - must get a big play or two in the aerial game and so watch for Washington to fling it deep on a couple of first-down plays while trying to catch VT napping.
Spread Notes - Virginia Tech staggered to a 3-9-1 ATS (against the spread) mark last year despite that appearance in the Sugar Bowl against Michigan and take note that the Hokies failed to cover all five of their home games in 2011 (after banging out a 9-3 ATS mark combined in the two prior seasons). Meanwhile, Georgia Tech's been in its own pointspread funk the past couple of seasons as the Yellow Jackets are a collective 9-13-2 versus the vig since the start of 2010. The G-Tech gang is just 5-9-2 against the odds in all ACC games these past two years.
NOTE: Catch our NFL Kickoff Game Preview - that's the Dallas Cowboys at the New York Giants - coming soon in Jim Sez.
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