Midweek Report & Thursday's Previews

THE JIM SEZ MID-WEEK REPORT REALLY PACKS A PUNCH

WHAT'S AHEAD FOR FOUR BIG-NAME COLLEGE TEAMS COMIN' OFF A LOSS AS RANKED TEAMS (SEE ARKANSAS, WISCONSIN, NEBRASKA & OKIE STATE) PLUS WE PREVIEW THURSDAY'S BIG EAST CLASH BETWEEN RUTGERS AT SOUTH FLORIDA ...

OUR NFL NOTEBOOK - IT'S A BEARS-PACKERS THURSDAY NIGHT PREVIEW

By Jim Hurley:

In case you had been wondering, there's already been six teams among the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll that have been beaten (see Michigan, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Boise State) but both Michigan and B-State were supposed to lose while playing prohibitive favorites Alabama and Michigan State, respectively, in opening-week action.

It was those four other guys that weren't supposed to lose last week that get our center stage treatment in today's edition of Jim Sez ... so let's get in a few words on each of these teams while heading into this weekend's action:

ARKANSAS (1-1) - Yup, the Razorbacks have been dismissed from the AP Top 25 poll this week following on the heels of that 34-31 overtime home loss against 29 ½-point underdog UL-Monroe and talk about having things go from bad-to-worse!

This Saturday the Hogs host #1 Alabama and star QB Tyler Wilson remains a question mark here after suffering several blows to the head in the first half of that tilt. Wilson - who finished that game with 196 yards passing with two TDs and 1 INT - didn't play a single down after halftime and already Arkansas has been listed as a 15 ½-point home pup for this SEC clash versus 'Bama. Yikes!

P.S., did you take note of the fact the UL-Monroe Warhawks operated 103 offensive plays to Arkansas' 66 plays in that lollapalooza upset in Little Rock?

WISCONSIN (1-1) - Gonzo from the AP Top 25 also are these Wisky Badgers who exhibited no real heart/spunk in last weekend's 10-7 loss at 6-point dog Oregon State.

Do you realize that this Big 10 team right now ranks 97th in the nation in rushing (101.5 yards per game) and RB Montee Ball just had his touchdown game streak snapped at 21 after rushing for just 61 yards on 15 pops in this clash in Corvallis?

It's safe to say seventh-year head coach Bret Bielema has read the proverbial "riot act" to his squad by now and you wonder if new transfer QB Danny O'Brien (sacked three times and picked off once by the OSU Beavers) gets the ship righted this Saturday against gritty two-TD dog Utah State. Do stay tuned.

NEBRASKA (1-1) - Here's yet another preseason Top 25 casualty that's been bopped from the polls following last Saturday's 36-30 loss at 4-point dog UCLA.

Hey, the Cornhuskers had an alibi of sorts for that game as talented RB Rex Burkhard was out with injury but what happened to that once-proud Big Red defense that surrendered 653 yards (and nearly seven yards per offensive play by the Bruins)?

No doubt this weekend's home game against 24-point dog Arkansas State figures to be a "breather" but who in Husker Nation can possibly feel good with QB Taylor Martinez continuing to show his Jekyll-and-Hyde side (see 4-of-14 passing after intermission last weekend in Pasadena)?

OKLAHOMA STATE (1-1) - Okay, so the cycle is complete with a fourth preseason Top 25 team whacked out of the polls last week as the O-State Cowboys were crushed 59-38 last Saturday night at 10 ½-point home dog Arizona ... was that perhaps just a wee bit of modern-day gridiron karma?

Consider the fact the Big 12 team roughed up Savannah State 84-0 on opening day - a result that had football purists fightin' mad - and now were handed a dose of their own medicine as 'Zona put up six offensive TDs and a 48-yard Jonathan McKnight interception return for a score just for good measure as the then 18th-ranked team in the land flopped facemask first in the desert.

Oklahoma State is now a 22-point betting favorite for this Saturday's home game against UL-Lafayette and keep a keen eye on the turnover battle:

The 'Boys lost the ball four times on turnovers last weekend in Tempe (three INTs and a fumble) and didn't snag a single turnover on defense. Hmmm.
 
Now, let's get right to this week's NCAA Football action:

On Thursday Night, it's ...RUTGERS (2-0) at SOUTH FLORIDA (2-0) - 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Hope you were lucky enough to catch the final few minutes of South Florida's come-from-behind 32-31 win at 1-point fav Nevada last Saturday afternoon as it wound up being one of the best finishes you'll ever see: The USF Bulls scored on two aerial touchdowns that covered more than 50 yards in the game's final 2:37 as B.J. Daniels airmailed scoring strikes to Andre Davis from 56 yards out and Chris Dunkley from 52 yards away after Skip Holtz's squad had originally skidded into an early-game 21-6 hole.

Now, Daniels - who finished that tilt in Reno with 363 yards passing and three TDs - must show better touch on those 10-to-15-yard pass routes or else 9-point dog Rutgers could well be hanging around by game's end here.

What to watch for with Kyle Flood's Scarlet Knights bunch that comes off a 26-0 home win against 42-point dog Howard:

Rutgers needs to get the passing game clicking here as QB Gary Nova threw for only 130 yards against Howard and there are serious questions regarding this Knights' O-line that may need a few more games to jell.

Spread Notes - South Florida's failed to cover its last five consecutive games versus Rutgers and that includes last year's 20-17 loss in New Jersey when the USF Bulls were a 2-point road choice. Note that the Scarlet Knights enter this prime-time tilt at 22-12-1 spreadwise away since the start of 2006.

NFL THURSDAY NIGHT PREVIEW

The NFL will be playing a Thursday Night game from here on out and it all begins here at Lambeau Field where - surprise, surprise - the Green Bay Packers now actually have lost their last two games in a row with last year's NFC Divisional Playoff loss to the New York Giants followed last weekend by that 30-22 setback against 6-point pup San Francisco. Are the archrival Chicago Bears now gonna make it three in a row?

On Thursday Night, it's ...CHICAGO (1-0) at GREEN BAY (0-1) - 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network
A little history lesson here, folks: The one-and-only time the Packers have started off a season at 0-2 SU (straight-up) under now seventh-year head coach Mike McCarthy was way back in his debut season of 2006 (started off with home losses to Chicago and New Orleans) and take note Green Bay never did recover en route to an 8-8 SU season that did not include a playoff berth.

Now, if the Packers lose here in this under-the-lights deal you could make the case that this year's team won't ever recover considering Green Bay still hasn't gone on the road and will be playing back-to-back-to-back road games beginning in Week 5 in Indianapolis (something McCarthy was not happy about last spring, you'll recall when the NFL schedules were made public).

So, safe to say it's now-or-never time - already - for the Pack who displayed terrible "body language" in the team's season-opening loss to the hungrier 49ers last Sunday afternoon. Forget for a single moment that Green Bay was flagged for 10 penalties in a terribly-officiated game by the "replacement" officials and instead consider the fact G-Bay doesn't even a second-half TD until garbage time without a blown call by a zebra who allowed Randall Cobb's 75-yard fourth-quarter punt return for a score to stand despite an obvious block-in-the-back penalty.

Hey, Green Bay ain't winning here if QB Aaron Rodgers is the club's leading rusher as was the case in Week 1 (see 5 carries for 27 yards) and the Pack's not winning if the secondary can't better cover Chicago WR Brandon Marshall who registered a 9-catch, 119-yard, one-TD game in last weekend's 41-21 route over 9 ½-point dog Indianapolis.

Like we said, Green Bay. It's now or never time!

Spread Notes - Green Bay has covered seven of its last nine head-to-head showdowns with archrival Chicago and that includes the 21-14 NFC Championship Game win as 3 ½-point home favorites back in the 2010 season. On the flip side, the Bears are 14-19-2 ATS (against the spread) as underdog sides while dating back to the start of the 2008 campaign.

Now, here's a key reminder ...Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the NFL Week 2 Side & Totals Winners beginning here with Bears-Packers plus there's lots of NCAA Football and MLB Winners too every day -- so go ahead and climb aboard right now with America's #1 Handicapper! Check in with us on Game Days either right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winners and note the check-in times are after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball Winners and than after 1 p.m. ET for weeknight NFL, NCAA and MLB action and than after 11 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays. So, let's go ahead and pile up the profits together right thru Super Bowl XLVII ... okay?

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Aug

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