Saturday's Key College Previews
COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S KEY WEEKEND PREVIEWS HIGHLIGHTS SOUTH CAROLINA AT LSU, STANFORD AT NOTRE DAME
PLUS LOTS MORE GOODIES ...EXTRA, EXTRA: WE'RE TRACKING SOME OF THIS WEEK'S KEY LAS VEGAS LINE MOVES
By Jim Hurley:
Hey, we're quite sure that you've noticed ...There's been a handful of College Football Games on the Saturday docket that's really moved on the Las Vegas line and so let's get into some of 'em right here and right now:
The Ole Miss Rebels have climbed from a 3 ½-point betting favorite to being a 6-point choice against SEC rival Auburn as the Tigers' swoon has convinced the betting public that "this year is over" for them.
On the flip side, Ole Miss impressed handicappers with last week's 30-27 loss-but-cover against Texas A&M plus folks have noticed how Ole Miss has covered its last three games in a row. The Rebs could wind up laying a full TD or more by kickoff ...
BYU has grown from a 3 ½-point opening line favorite to minus 6 in its home game against Oregon State and it's no secret that Beavers' slinger Sean Mannion is out for the next several weeks. No doubt he's the key figure for an Oregon State offense that's averaged 28 points a game in Pac-12 affairs against UCLA, Arizona and Washington State plus you chuck into the mix the fact BYU's defense has been stout and should be tough on a new signal-caller. The question we have is BYU's offense good enough to be laying a TD against the nation's 10th-ranked team with or without Mannion ...
inally, interesting to see that West Virginia (5-0) is being bet against late in the week in its Big 12 road game at Texas Tech.
Okay, so maybe the public's thought process here is the Mountaineers just won in upset fashion at Texas last weekend in a 48-45 thriller and may suffer a letdown but note this game was West Virginia -5 ½ and it's down to 3 points in some locales. We'll soon see if the "smart money" was so smart after all.
Now, here's the marquee matchups on this Saturday's busy College Football card:
#3 SOUTH CAROLINA (6-0) at #9 LSU (5-1) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Is this the year the "ole ball coach" wins the SEC and gets to play in a national championship game?
Don't look now but these South Carolina Gamecocks - led by their nearly 70-year-old (and still feisty) head coach Steve Spurrier -- have been absolutely dominant thus far with the club's six years coming by a per-game average of 25.8 ppg ... now that deserves a wow!
The Gamecocks merely dominated Georgia 35-7 last week - it's hard to believe now that Carolina was only favored by a single point in that one! - as DE Jadeveon Clowney and his defensive friends were all over the joint but better believe the whole speed of this game will be ratcheted up by a hungry LSU squad that lost at Florida last week and gained only 200 offensive yards in the process.
LSU slinger Zach Mettenberger completed just 11-of-25 passes for 158 yards and one INT against the Gators and the question is when do the Bayou Bengals get to see the "real" Mettenberger at work?
Did You Know? - The SC Gamecocks have covered their last five consecutive games this year following that season-opening spread loss to Vanderbilt.
#17 STANFORD (4-1) at #7 NOTRE DAME (5-0) - 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
The good news for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is this: They matter again!
The bad news? If they're not careful, Brian Kelly's club could get picked off in any one of its next three games - that's here against Stanford, home to BYU and than at Oklahoma - and so let's hold off on all that BCS Championship Game talk for now, okay?
Consider that Notre Dame's defense - starring LB Manti Te'o - has held its last three foes (Michigan State, Michigan and Miami) to a combined 12 points but now they have to deal with a born-again Stanford QB Josh Nunes who threw for 360 yards and two TDs (along with three rushing scores) in a wild/gut-wrenching 54-48 OT win against Arizona last weekend. If Nunes is feeling more confident, who can blame him but note Stamford here will be without one of his top targets as WR Ty Montgomery (18 catches) has a lower body injury.
Did You Know? - Notre Dame is a dead-even but vig-losing 10-10-3 ATS (against the spread) as betting favorites under third-year head coach Brian Kelly and that includes chalk covers this year against Navy, Michigan and Miami.
#5 WEST VIRGINIA (5-0) at TEXAS TECH (4-1) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC regional
Let's just say the WVU Mountaineers loved their first-ever Big 12 road game as last week's aforementioned triumph at Texas was fun stuff all the way around as QB Geno Smith aired four scoring strikes and the nation's second-ranked passing game (now averaging a haughty 407 yards a game) made plenty of big plays even though the 'Neers wound up throwing for "only" 268 yards in that clash.
Now, West Virginia looks to maul a Texas Tech team that figures to have trouble handling that one-two wide receiver tandem of Tavon Austin (10 catches for 102 yards last week) and Stedman Bailey (8 receptions worth 75 yards against Texas).
If you're wondering what's a good/sound strategy here for T-Tech, it's this: Control the ball with a short, ball-control passing game directed by QB Seth Doege (1,392 yards passing with 15 TDs and 6 INTs) and let RB Kenny Williams - averaging 6.2 yards a pop - dent the interior of the West Virginia defense with lots of draws/traps. Maybe you can keep Mr. Smith off the field for 40 minutes of game clock here, you never know!
Did You Know? - West Virginia's covered six of its last eight away games while dating back to the start of last year.
#15 TEXAS (4-1) at #13 OKLAHOMA (3-1) - 12 p.m. ET, ABC
Gotta believe the OU Sooners will be feeling pretty good about themselves following last weekend's 41-20 win at 4 ½-point pup Texas Tech with Bob Stoops' crew boasting the country's ninth-ranked passing defense (allowing just 160.5 aerial yards per game) and so let's see if Texas QB David Ash - a Heisman Trophy candidate on some lists these days - has success against Oklahoma's stop unit here.
Hey, Oklahoma will be dealing with a slinger that sports 11 TDs and just 1 INT (and a snazzy QB Rating of 180.1) while the flip side of this Red River Rivalry Game story is Sooners QB Landry Jones already has thrown for 1,037 yards with 7 TDs and 2 INTs and it seems he learned his lesson well about ball security deep in his own end (see Kansas State fumble a few weeks back).
Did You Know? - The team laying points is 6-3-1 spreadwise in the last 10 games in this rivalry tilt and that includes the Sooners' 55-17 win/cover last year as 11-point favorites.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the NCAA Football, plus NFL Week 6 and - of course - the Major-League Baseball Playoff winners just for you and so go ahead and climb aboard right now with America's #1 Handicapper! Make sure to get all this week's key gridiron games and the MLB Divisional Series winners and be sure to 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. So, let's go ahead and pile up the profits together right thru Super Bowl XLVII ... okay?
THE NFL WEEK 6 SUNDAY AFTERNOON KEY PREVIEWS ARE HERE
GIANTS-NINERS RENEW THEIR RIVALRY ON THE LEFT COAST (OF COURSE!)...PLUS WE DIG INTO SOME OF THE NFL HOT TOPICS INCLUDING STAR ROOKIE KICKERS IN ST. LOO AND MINNY
By Jim Hurley:
Have you noticed how the College Football world actually has been influencing the NFL guys these days?
Okay, so we're seeing more and more no-huddle offenses in the league where they play for pay - some folks like the Baltimore Ravens had a bit more success with it earlier this year and it sure appears that QB Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos are beginning to get more and more comfortable with the no-huddle lately - and so we've seen an increase in offensive plays too.
Last week note that the New England Patriots rushed the ball 54 times (for 251 yards) and threw it 31 times (for 193 yards) for 85 total plays from scrimmage in all - now that may not be quite as much as some college kids (see University of Arizona running 103 offensive plays in last weekend's OT loss to Stanford) but it's a whole lot and that means constant pressure on NFL defenses.
Still, in a strange-but-true factoid, NFL Totals Players know that entering Sunday's Week 6 menu the "overs" are just 38-39-1 ATS (against the spread) this year and so that means two things:
Las Vegas numbers have been adjusted accordingly - yes, we saw four games on the board last week in NFL action where the totals price was 49 ½ points or higher - and not every team is in a mad rush to get off more plays as last week Kansas City controlled the clock 34:10-to-25:50 and still operated only 70 plays from scrimmage in that 9-6 loss-but-cover versus the Ravens.
Also, one of the best-kept secrets 'round the league this year is the fact so many young kickers are making a major impact on their teams' games.
Consider that St. Louis Rams rookie PK Greg Zuerlein - a/k/a "Greg the Leg" - already has nailed all 13 of his field-goal attempts and that includes a rather amazing 9-of-9 from beyond 40 yards (he's 4-of-4 from past 50 yards) and in there is a 60- and a 58-yard field goal against Seattle.
And don't forget Minnesota star rookie kicker Blair Walsh who has drained 12-of-13 FG tries so far including all three of his tries from beyond 50 yards. Walsh saved the Vikings in their season-opening 26-23 overtime win against Jacksonville - he booted the game-tying kick at the buzzer and won it in the extra session - and somehow when most folks handicap the NFL card on a week-to-week basis they somehow "short-change" the impact of the kicking game.
If the Rams and/or Vikings get into the post-season this year, you can bet your high-top spikes that Zuerlein and Walsh will be major factors.
Check around the league and see what other NFL teams are getting major mileage from their field-goal kickers - and you're liable to find teams that win the close games and stay in the post-season hunt.
Here's a look at the NFL Week 6 Key Sunday afternoon previews:
NEW YORK GIANTS (3-2) at SAN FRANCISCO (4-1) - 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Here's a not-so-much-news-flash: The Giants and 49ers are meeting in San Francisco... again.
It's the third time in the past 11 months that these two proud franchises have bonked heads and all three times it's been a west coast thing but maybe that works for NYG head coach Tom Coughlin who's spent the better part of this past week selling the "underdog" role to his defending Super Bowl champs and - you may wish to know this - the Giants probably prefer playing on the road when you consider they're 9-4 SU (straight-up) away since the start of last year while going just 7-5 SU at home.
Okay, so all that aside and it's still all about counter-punching a 49ers defense that leads the NFL in scoring against (see 13.6 ppg) and truth be told there's really only been three "meaningful" TDs scored against LB Patrick Willis and friends this year.
If the Giants are gonna rev up their engines versus a stop unit that ranks 7th in the league against the rush and 2nd versus the pass than Giants QB Eli Manning must get better protection from his O-line as last year's NFC Championship Game win by the G-men "featured" six sacks of Manning and a slew of other hurries/hits.
In recent weeks, Giants wide receivers have stepped it up whether it's been rookie Reuben Randle or Ramses Barden but here WR Victor Cruz (his 37 receptions ranks him fourth in the league) must be a major playmaker in his one-on-one battles against chatty/overrated CB Carlos Rogers.
If you are looking for an X-factor beyond San Fran QB Alex Smith and workhorse RB Frank Gore, than let's check out born-again WR Michael Crabtree who nabbed six balls for 113 yards in last Sunday's 45-3 utter route of the Buffalo Bills.
Remember in last year's title tilt - a 20-17 OT win by the Giants - Crabtree didn't make a single catch in regulation play and finished with one reception in all.
Did You Know? - San Francisco has notched pointspread wins in four of its first five games this year and so that makes the 49ers a cool 16-6-1 ATS overall since the start of the Jim Harbaugh Era.
DALLAS (2-2) at BALTIMORE (4-1) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
The Cowboys have had two long weeks to think about their last game: Chicago 34, Dallas 18.
Nope, there wasn't much pretty about that one for Jason Garrett's gang as QB Tony Romo and troubled WR Dez Bryant "miscommunicated" all night long and the Bears raced back with two picks for touchdowns... all you need to know is if the always-opportunistic Ravens defense scores a couple of defensive TDs here than America's Team will be tarred-and-feathered again.
Baltimore marches into this clash knowing its offense is a tad out of whack these days as last week's aforementioned 9-6 win in Kansas City included some ugly stats such as just 165 passing yards (QB Joe Flacco completed less than half his passes!) and four sacks.
The Ravens' game plan - every week - should include 25-or-so touches by RB Ray Rice who last week had just 17 carries (for 102 yards) and one reception and that's simply not enough even with John Harbaugh's troops claiming they are becoming a more balanced run/pass team these days.
Last week was the first time in 43 regular-season games the Ravens did not score a touchdown and so it's put-up or shut-up time for both the Ravens and the 'Boys (as you can see!)
Did You Know? - Baltimore skids into this interconference clash on a three-game spread losing streak and the last time the Ravens lost four-or-more spread verdicts in succession you have to go back to the 2007 season (the final year in the Brian Billick Era) when that Ravens bunch suffered a mid-season five-game spread losing streak.
NEW ENGLAND (3-2) at SEATTLE (3-2) - 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
Okay, so we get it with all this talk of the irresistible force going up against the immovable object - see the Patriots offense against the Seahawks defense - but one question for the home underdogs here is how are they gonna score enough to win?
No doubt the Pats - who average NFL highs of 33 points per game and nearly 440 offensive yards a game - will find their way into the end zone whether it's QB Tom Brady slingin' it or RB Stevan Ridley gashing the Seahawks in the red zone. But Seattle should figure that it cannot win here unless it holds Brady and Company below 30 points and than Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson must make some flip-the-field pass plays and note last week's 221-yard passing game finally snapped a four-game run where Wilson threw for less than 160 yards.
The strategy for the Seahawks offense here should be to throw on first down against the NFL's 28th-ranked passing defense and than look to soften up the interior of the Pats' D-line with RB Marshawn Lynch (21 carries for 85 yards in last week's 16-12 win in Seattle) getting a minimum of 20 between-the-tackles runs... got it?
Did You Know? - New England rides a three-game spread winning streak into this clash in the great northwest and the Patriots have covered all three of their away games so far (at Tennessee, at Baltimore and at Buffalo).
NOTE: Catch our NFL Week 6 Sunday Night Game Preview - that's Green Bay at Houston - in our next edition of Jim Sez.
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