College Football's Key Weekend Previews

Network Wins 5th in a Row Fri. night with UConn (+3) over Pitt 24-17!

Thursday Sweeps
Va. Tech (+13.5) Fla St 22-28 WON
Colts/Jags Under 42.5 27/10  WON



By Jim Hurley:

Could you hear that collective sigh of relief coming from Tuscaloosa this past week?

No doubt the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide said their prayers following last week's thrilling 21-17 non-cover win at LSU and now the focus turns to defending another quarterback who's coming of age quickly.

Last week it was the ever-improving Zach Mettenberger; This week the Tide's gotta slow down Johnny Manziel and the $64,000 question is will that Tide defense that was so gassed by early fourth quarter last week be effective for a whole 60 minutes here against the guy they call "Johnny Football"?

That's the numero uno matchup to watch this weekend but let's check out three of the nation's top teams here:

TEXAS A&M (7-2) at #1 ALABAMA (9-0) -3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
The Las Vegas oddsmakers have not flinched when it comes to the Tide: Nick Saban's crew is a solid two-touchdown betting favorite for this SEC clash -and why not considering that 'Bama has won eight of its nine games by a minimum of 19 points with last week's four-point win in "Death Valley" the exception to the rule.

The Tide's major focus on "D" here is to keep Manziel contained in a box-like area -the energetic redshirt frosh beats most defense with off-the-edge moves that develop into monster-sized gains plus he's been more accurate that you might have thought this year.

The game plan for Alabama: Play lots of nickel defenses so that A&M's wide outs -especially WR Ryan Swope -don't have time to execute their routes and pressure Manziel off the corners so that Alabama's inside LBs can "clean up".

Now that Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron has led that glorious touchdown drive -the 72-yarder capped by his scoring run was epic stuff as we all known by now -he's not only back in the Heisman Trophy conversation but he will have the moxie to make it happen should this game be close come the final frame.

Spread Note -Alabama is just 5-4 ATS (against the spread) this year but the Crimson Tide's a spiffy 11-4 vig-wise in all conference games dating back to the start of last year.

#2 KANSAS STATE (9-0) at TCU (6-3) -7 p.m. ET, Fox
 If Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder isn't elected into the college Hall of Fame five minutes after he retires (the next time for good!) than some folks weren't paying close attention!

Snyder's work with this above average team has been terrific and did you know that K-State has won seven games by twin-figure margins and the road wins at Oklahoma and West Virginia still remain two of the sport's biggest results this year... agree?

Now in this key clash in Fort Worth,  we'll see if do-it-all QB Collin Klein -yes, the Heisman Trophy frontrunner these days no matter what folks in Eugene or Tuscaloosa or South Bend happen to say -can navigate his way with those ever-so-patient inside runs plus remember he's got a wide out in Tyler Lockett who averaged close to 30 yards a catch in last weekend's 44-30 win against 7 ½-point pup Oklahoma State.

If the Klein-to-Lockett tandem thrives here against a TCU defense that has yielded 56, 36 and 38 points in its last three games -and when has a Gary Patterson-coached defense been so generous in recent years? -than K-State's quest to get to its first-ever national championship game stays alive.
Spread Note -Kansas State's covered eight of its first nine games this season (the lone spread setback came in a 35-21 win against four-TD dog North Texas way back on Sept. 15th) and overall the 'Cats are 24-7 against the odds in all conference games the past three-plus seasons.

#3 NOTRE DAME (9-0) at BOSTON COLLEGE (2-7) -8 p.m. ET, ABC
It's safe to say that the "Luck of the Irish" has been on display for much of this current campaign: Not to say Notre Dame hasn't played top-flight ball as the road win at Oklahoma still remains the season's second-biggest game (behind last week's Alabama at LSU result, of course) but Brian Kelly's club did need a missed 33-yard field goal in the second overtime of last week's wild 29-26 triple-OT win against 16 ½-point dog Pittsburgh and don't forget that goal-line "stand" in the 20-13 OT win against Stanford a few weeks back (video replay guy be damned!).

While Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o continues to be a top three member in this year's Heisman Trophy chase, it's the Irish offense that is expected to divide-and-conquer a bad Boston College defense with QB Everett Golson looking for more vertical action here -remember that BC has yielded 40+ plus in three games this season and soon-to-be-fired head coach Frank Spaziani hasn't a clue how to handle this veritable slew of quality Notre Dame running backs.
But a word to ND's Cierre Wood: You better hold onto the ball in the red zone or else the hot-headed Kelly is gonna sit you on one of those heated benches here!

Spread Note -Notre Dame is just 5-4 ATS this season and as double-digit betting favorites in the Kelly Era the Irish is cumulative 6-7-2 against Mr. Vig. Not great, right?

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all of this weekend's College Football winners plus there's NFL Week 10, NBA and now NCAA Basketball winners too. Just check in with us either online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 anytime after 10 a.m. on weekends and after 1 p.m. ET for all the weeknight action. Stay with America's #1 Handicapper right through the Super Bowl, the Final Four and the NBA Finals as we continue to bang out the profits all year long!




Surprise, surprise!

The 2012 NFL season has been anything but predictable but how about the fact the Indianapolis Colts (6-3) - following Thursday's 27-10 win/cover at Jacksonville - now have a better won/loss record than the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions (all of whom were supposed to be way superior to the "Horseshoes" at this stage of the season) and who knew that the Houston Texans would have to win their game this Sunday night against Chicago just to maintain that two-game lead in the AFC South?

The Texans-Bears bash is the marquee matchup on this week's NFL card and we'll get you our quickie Jim Sez preview shortly plus we'll check in on Atlanta at New Orleans and get you some news/notes on other key games but first it's our Hot & Not list.

Here goes...

  • Arizona is 0-5-1 ATS (against the spread) the past six weeks - can the Redbirds truly enjoy their bye week this Sunday?

  • Baltimore is 1-5 ATS in its last half-dozen games and now John Harbaugh's crew is laying a TD-plus against Oakland. Note the Ravens have failed to cover four of their last five games when laying 7-or-more points dating to last year.

  • Cincinnati has failed to cover its last four games in a row and now the Bengal Cats try to snap the slide this weekend against the road-favored New York Giants. Hey, the Bengals are 0-3-1 vig-wise in their own backyard this year, so go figure!

  • Denver's covered its last three games in a row and did you know the Broncos sported a five-game spread winning streak last year in the pre-Peyton Manning Era. Now, Denver's laying road points for a second straight week with this date in Carolina.

  • Detroit has covered its last four consecutive games and goes for five straight in a revenge game at Minnesota this Sunday. Hey, the Motowners are just 2-6 spreadwise against fellow NFC North teams the past year-plus.

  • Kansas City has failed to cover its last three games in a row and now they're snapping up double digits in Monday Night's game in Pittsburgh. The Chiefs are 4-7 ATS as dogs since the latter part of the 2011 season.

  • Minnesota is 0-3-1 ATS in its last four games and the Vikings are just 4-8 odds-wise at home since the start of last season.

  • Philadelphia has failed to cover its last three games in succession and now host Dallas in this Week 10 tilt. The Birds - as a matter of fact - have produced just one spread win this year (see 16-14 loss-but-cover at 4-point fav Pittsburgh back on October 7th).

  • Pittsburgh - speak of the devil - has covered three in a row and the last time the Steelers notched four straight covers was late in 2010 and into that year's post-season.

  • Finally, Seattle has covered four of its last five games and now heads into Sunday's home clash against the NY Jets with a spiffy 6-3 ATS overall mark.

Now, here's some NFL Week 10 Previews...

HOUSTON (7-1) at CHICAGO (7-1) - 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC
Let's be honest, here: As much fun as this 2012 season has been, there have been precious few real marquee matchups dotting the calendar but this deserves all the hype - we think the NBC peacock is about to bust its feathers!

No doubt the Texans have put their foot down in plenty of games this year including last week's 21-9 win/cover against Buffalo when RB Arian Foster rushed for 111 yards and one shorty TD while Houston owned the ball for 34:03 and that's a real key here:

The old T.O.P.stat  - time of possession.

True, the Bears' defense has now scored seven touchdowns the past six weeks but if Houston can hammer out lots of between-the-tackle runs here - we say Foster must bust the century mark if small dog Houston is gonna get this win - than Chicago won't be able to ball-hawk as much on obvious passing downs.
Two real keys for Chicago on offense:

One week after QB Jay Cutler threw for 229 yards with three scoring strikes to WR Brandon Marshall, the Bears slinger must have good "vision" while trying to chuck it over the likes of DE J.J. Watt and so that could mean some rolling pockets - will Cutler be able to be successful when on the go? Stay tuned.

Secondly, in last week's never-in-doubt 51-20 win against Tennessee, the Bears' ground game banged out 160 yards on 35 carries and we say Chitown must get 30-or-more rushes here and go right at the aforementioned Watt on several occasions.

Spread Notes - Chicago is 5-3 ATS overall this season and the Bears are a nifty 5-1 versus the vig when playing outside the NFC North. On the flip side, Houston is 6-2 against the Las Vegas prices and they're 5-2 spreadwise as dogs since the start of last year.

ATLANTA (8-0) at NEW ORLEANS (3-5) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Now that the Falcons have proven their mettle in a one-score game again - that's now 5-and-oh this year in games decided by 8-or-fewer points following last Sunday's 19-13 taffy-pull win against Dallas - the intrigue continues to build as to whether or not the Falcs will be perfect.

Gotta believe this could well be Atlanta's toughest test over the course of the next six weeks - and keep in mind the Falcons and Saints will collide again in late November at the Georgia Dome.

This here-and-now game pits that well-oiled Atlanta attack - see 330 passing yards and nearly five yards a pop rushing en route to a 123-yard ground game against the 'Boys - against a leaky Saints defense that allowed Michael Vick and the Philly Eagles four trips into the red zone last Monday night and yet the Eagles didn't score a single TD on those escapades close to the goal.

Now, home dog N'Orleans must shadow Atlanta WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones - they nabbed QB Matt Ryan aerials worth 118 and 129 yards, respectively, last weekend - or risk giving up a batch of "chunk plays" here.

One underrated part of this Atlanta team is this defense - and specifically and active secondary starring CB Asante Samuel - but the Saints likely need to show some physicality at the line of scrimmage and run the ball even though no RB Darren Sproles (hand) till further notice.

Spread Note - The Saints swept the season series last year spreadwise and that included that late-in-the-season 45-16 win on Monday Night Football.

Here's some other NFL Week 10 News/Notes...

The New York Giants get another crack at an AFC North crew with this trip into Cincinnati following last week's bitter 24-20 loss to Pittsburgh and wonder if this is simply a bad matchup for the home folks considering last week QB Andy Dalton was sacked five times in last week's 31-23 loss to Denver and this NASCAR-like Giants pass rush has a few things to prove...

The Seattle Seahawks play that other tenant of MetLife Stadium - that would be the NY Jets, of course - and how about last week when Pete Carroll's club gobbled up 28 first downs and 385 net offensive yards in that 30-20 win/cover against Minnesota? The 'Hawks are leaning on RB Marshawn Lynch plenty these days - see 26 carries for 124 yards against the Vikes plus he caught two QB Russell Wilson passes for 26 yards - and we won't be at all surprised if Lynch gets 30+ carries here against a Jets defense that has not stopped physical teams at the point of attack...

Finally, you fantasy league owners know that last week Detroit RB Mikel LeShoure finished with three TDs (yes, all in the second quarter of play) but will he be a red-zone menace in this key NFC North game in Minnesota?

Plus, how about that non-existent Oakland Raiders ground game that accounted for 22 yards on 11 carries last week in the 42-32 loss to Tampa Bay? Now that RB Darren McFadden is hurt - again! - the Raiders will be relying on a cast of unknowns to run it against Baltimore. Don't be surprised if QB Carson Palmer - who threw 61 passes a week ago - chucks it 65-or-more times here. Really!

NOTE: We'll get you our Monday Night Football Preview - that's Kansas City at Pittsburgh - in an upcoming Jim Sez column, so don't miss out!


Today’s Hot Plays