College Football News and Notes (September 13, 2012)

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By Jim Hurley:

Can it really be just two years ago that the Auburn Tigers were kings of the College Football universe?

Sure, do-it-all QB Cam Newton transformed a good team back than into a mega-power with the BCS Championship Game win against Oregon capping off an incredible 14-and-oh season back in 2010 but the here-and-now version of War Eagle is wounded -and badly.

Two games out of the box and Auburn is 0-2 SU (straight-up) and 0-2 ATS (against the spread) and this bunch has scored a grand total of 29 points through two games.

Heck, that aforementioned 2010 team led by the Heisman Trophy-winning Mr. Newton scored in excess of 29 points on nine different occasions en route to being one of the country's most explosive and exciting teams we've all seen in a long time.

True, we're very, very early in this 2012 season but check out the stats and you'll find that Auburn ranks 97th in the nation in passing offense (159.5 yards a game) and a dismal 99th in total offense.

In last weekend's 28-10 loss at 3-point favorite Mississippi State, the visiting Tigers scored their one-and-only touchdown on a 100-yard kickoff return to start the second half by speedster Ontario McCalebb. Otherwise, this Auburn offense converted just 2-of-12 third-down plays while finishing with only 91 yards rushing and 125 yards passing ... ugh!

No doubt quarterback Kiehl Frazier -who threw three interceptions and lost a pair of fumbles in that SEC affair in Starkville -hasn't exactly been Newton-esque thus far but fourth-year head coach Gene Chizik claims he's sticking with Frazier here in this weekend's home game against giant-killer UL-Monroe but keep in mind that if 16 ½-point fav Auburn somehow loses to the gritty Warhawks here than the Tigers could well be staring at a potential 0-8 SU start:

Home games against LSU and Arkansas follow this weekend's interconference bash and than it's on the road to Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

Hey, we don't wish to become the gloom-and-doom report here but is it possible that the national champ from just two years ago could be 0-for-September and October?

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.


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 the Friday Nite TV Preview ...
WASHINGTON STATE (1-1) at UNLV (0-2) -9 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Mike Leach Era in Pullman was supposed to be about bells and whistles and all that good stuff:

But so far the Washington State Cougars have been nothin' special at all after their first two games -a truly disheartening 30-6 season-opening loss at BYU followed last weekend by a 24-20 non-cover win against 18 ½-point dog Eastern Washington.

The big-play offense that was supposed to be a staple in the Wazzau attack has been sorely missing and now the Coogs claim that a knee injury to starting QB Jeff Tuel could keep him sidelined for this interconference tilt and so it might be Connor Halliday under center for this game.

Throw into the mix the fact that star WR Marquess Wilson -who displayed horrible body language in that aforementioned loss at BYU two Thursdays back -has totaled just 8 catches for 108 yards so far and reports have it that Wilson is uncomfortable in this newfangled offense.

Hey, keep an eye on State kicker Andrew Furney who's connected on 3-of-4 FGs so far in 2012 including a 60-yard that ended the first half of last Saturday's home game.

One note on UNLV -a team that's 4-23 SU since the start of the head coach Bobby Hauck ERA in 2010 -is that the Rebels are 6-1-1 all-time in games played on a Friday night.

Spread Notes -Washington State has failed to cover its first two out-of-the-gate games this year versus BYU and Eastern Michigan but did you realize that the Cougars have been betting favorites just three times since the start of the 2008 campaign? Meanwhile, UNLV's split its first two spread verdicts this year including that 30-27 loss-but-cover against 9 ½-point fav Minnesota in a triple-OT affair. The Rebels are just 9-19 versus the vig as underdog sides the past three-plus seasons.

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! Make sure to get all this week's key gridiron games including Saturday's nationally ranked prime-time showdown between #20 Notre Dame at #10 Michigan State plus all the Sunday goodies including Baltimore at Philadelphia and the prime-timer between Detroit at San Francisco  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.


You tell us:

 Is it already put-up or shut-up time for the 0-1 New Orleans Saints?

Last week's humbling/bumbling 40-32 home loss to 8 ½-point underdog Washington featured lots of heartache including three turnovers and seven penalties and how about the fact the Saints were out-gained by more than 100 yards (see 464-to-358)?

The Saints are banking on DE Will Smith to play a big-time game this Sunday in Carolina. Smith -who registered a four-tackle game against the Redskins after having his suspension overturned two days before the Week 1 bash -will be a key pass-rusher here but perhaps new DC Steve Spagnuolo just doesn't have everyone on the proverbial "same page" yet ...

Hey, the Saints weren't the only team that was supposed to win in Week 1 that didn't as the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants dropped that Kickoff Game to Dallas 24-17 and now the Week 2 home tilt against Tampa Bay falls into that "must-win" category for Tom Coughlin's club.

The Giants -the only NFC East team that didn't win its opener -believe their tattered secondary is gonna get some key pieces back here as CB Prince Amukamura and CB Jayron Hosley are ready to bolster a unit that surrendered 290 passing yards (or 9.4 yards-per-pass).

Still a sore back is bothering S Kenny Phillips who says he'll play against the Bucs.

Meanwhile, other not-so-sweet Week 1 stats from that Giants loss: NYG lost time of possession by nearly 10 minutes (34:07-to-25:53) and the alleged new ground game rushed for only 82 yards with rookie David Wilson getting benched following his first-half lost fumble.

Note that the G-men are at Carolina next Thursday and than at Philadelphia in Week 4 -so no wonder this is must-win time at MetLife Stadium for the guys in blue.

Finally, here's a couple of NFL pointspread notes to chuck your way as we zoom into Week 2 action ...

The Houston Texans currently are listed as a 7 ½-point betting favorite this week at AFC South rival Jacksonville and did you know the Texans are 13-6-1 ATS against the Jags in their history?

Also, the Kansas City Chiefs are in Buffalo this weekend and KayCee's a tasty 25-15 vig-wise away since the start of the 2007 season -now who would have thought that, right?

NOTE: Get our NCAA Football Saturday Key Previews in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.


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