Thursday's Key College Previews
THE 2013 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON'S FINALLY HERE AND WE HAVE THE KEY THURSDAY NITE TV PREVIEWS ...
PLUS THERE'S NFL PRESEASON WEEK 4 NOTES & OUR POINTSPREAD BREAKDOWN CHART
By Jim Hurley:
Is it us or has just about everyone in the mass media christened the Alabama Crimson Tide as the BCS champion - again - for this here-and-now 2013 season?
The fact of the matter is Alabama pulled down 58 of a possible 60 votes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll to be the preseason #1 team in College Football this year - note that #2 Ohio State and #5 Georgia each received a single first-place vote - but here's another fact:
The Tide's lost a Southeastern Conference home game in each of the past three seasons - to Auburn in 2010, versus LSU (in overtime) in 2011 and last year there was that 29-24 home loss against Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies.
Still, in each of the last two years the Tide was able to overcome the home losses (yes, the BCS system really played out quite favorably for 'Bama!) and go on to play and win in the BCS Championship Game and our question here is this:
If Alabama loses an SEC home game this year - maybe the Nov. 9th tilt against arch-rival LSU? - will the Crimson Tide be so fortunate again? Hmmm.
Meanwhile, before we get to a few key Thursday Night College Football games that will open up this '13 campaign, here's a few quick-hitter items to keep in mind as we embark on another great season:
Six of the first 12 teams in the aforementioned AP Top 25 poll hail from the mighty SEC including #1 Alabama, #5 Georgia, #6 South Carolina, #7 Texas A&M, #10 Florida and #12 LSU while overall there are five teams from both the Big 10 and the Pac-12 in the opening Top 25 poll, another four teams from the Big 12, two teams from the ACC and then single entries from the American Athletic, the Mountain West and the Independents.
In all, there's 30 new head coaches in FBS play (note that there are 125 FBS teams in all this year) but the first-year coaches that will be having the biggest spotlight shined on them include Oregon's Mark Helfrich, Tennessee's Butch Jones and Wisconsin's Gary Anderson.
Finally, if you're looking for a team with championship aspirations that's either back in the pack in this preseason Top 25 or not even inside the Top 25, than consider #19 Boise State and the unranked pair of Baylor and Arizona State ... and don't say we didn't warn you!
Jim Hurley and his veteran Handicappers and Bloggers are all revved up for a big-time College Football Season and we're storming straight ahead after winning our last 7 consecutive NFL Preseason games. Make sure you're all aboard for the start of this 2013 College Football season and stay hot with us on our NFL Preseason Week 4 Sides & Totals plays too - there's 44 NCAA Football on-the-board games this holiday weekend beginning Thursday night and all 16 NFL Preseason Week 4 games also will be played Thursday evening, so don't miss out on all the fun and profits!
Just a reminder ...Jim Hurley -- America's #1 Handicapper -- cleaned up this past week/weekend with last Thursday's sweep as Detroit (- 2.5) blasted New England 40-9 and Carolina (+2.5) downed Baltimore 34-27 and then last Saturday we went 3-and-oh in the pros including our NFL Preseason Game of the Year winner as Philadelphia (- 4.5) beat Jacksonville 31-24.
Plus cash in with loads of Major-League Baseball Winners too as we've been banging out lots of "W's" in recent weeks as we head to the home stretch of this 2013 MLB season. Check with us right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 after 1 p.m. Eastern time for weeknight NFL and MLB action, after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Football/Baseball Winners.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S OPENING NITE - WE CHECK OUT THE BATTLE OF CAROLINA AND MORE!
Let's kick if off already! The 2013 College Football season's here and time to check in on some TV action come Thursday night:
NORTH CAROLINA at #6 SOUTH CAROLINA - 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
Okay, so we've now all witnessed that Jadeveon Clowney hit on Michigan RB Vincent Smith a gazillion times over the ESPN air waves - no doubt you'll see it a few more times during the course of this non-conference game that figures to kick-start the South Carolina Gamecocks to yet another monster-sized season.
Okay, so Steve Spurrier's team has strung together back-to-back 11-2 seasons in Columbia but if Clowney - a 6-foot-6, 275-pound junior defensive end who some folks think can turn the "daily double" and win this year's Heisman Trophy and then become the #1 draft pick in the NFL next spring - is gonna be as good as advertised then this South Carolina club could be playing in Pasadena come Jan. 6, 2014 (see the BCS Championship Game).
Clowney's main task here is to stifle North Carolina QB Bryn Renner who has tossed some 54 touchdown passes over the course of the last two seasons and keep in mind that last year the Tar Heels (8-4) scored 40-plus points on six different occasions.
Second-year Heels' boss Larry Fedora claims this high-tempo offense has looked great in practice but both WR Bruce Ellington and TE Rory Anderson must play here after suffering through recent ailments.
It's the Battle of the Carolinas but only one of these teams could be playing for all the marbles - yes, an out-of-the-box "must-win" (of course) for S-Carolina here.
Spread Notes - South Carolina has rolled up four consecutive winning spread seasons while going a collective 29-21 ATS (against the spread) since the start of the 2009 season. You may be interested in knowing the SC Gamecocks have covered 13 of their last 21 games as betting favorites going back the past two years (that's a .619 winning rate). North Carolina, meanwhile, split its 12 spread verdicts a year ago while notching pointspread wins in three of its four non-conference affairs. The Tar Heels, however, are an ugly 3-8 versus the vig in all away games since the start of the 2011 season.
UNLV at MINNESOTA - 7 p.m. ET, Big 10 Network
Most in-the-know folks believe that Minnesota will finish sixth - that's dead-last - in the Big 10's Legends Division and so it's that's gonna be the case than third-year head coach Jerry Kill's club better win the games they can - and here the Golden Gophers are a solid two-touchdown betting favorite against a UNLV team that's won a total of seven games the past three years.
If Minny RB Donnell Kirkwood (926 yards rushing last year) can tote it 20-or-more times here, than the bigger/stronger Big 10 team could roll to a major win but do keep in mind last year these clubs clashed on opening day and Minnesota needed three overtimes to snag a 30-27 win as 9.5-point road favorites. Just sayin'!
Spread Notes - Minnesota doesn't have a whole lot to brag about spreadwise in recent years but did you know the Golden Gophers are an electric 8-3 ATS when playing non-Big 10 foes the past three seasons? Meanwhile, UNLV's actually coming off a respectable 7-5-1 ATS campaign that included spread triumphs against BCS school Washington State (a 35-27 loss at 9.5-point underdogs) and the aforementioned 2012 season-opening 3-OT loss versus these heavy-duty favored Gophers.
#24 USC at HAWAII - 11 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Yup, it's hard to believe that just a year ago at this exact time the USC Trojans stood tall as the #1 team in the land - and then losses to Stanford, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech made an absolute shambles of the 2012 season.
Say it slowly, folks ... 7-and-6.
Hey, not many teams that begin the year with the AP's #1 ranking wind up completely out of Top 25 sight but that was the case with the Trojans who look to "turn the page" here with a 16th consecutive season-opening SU (straight-up) win but even now there's junk surrounding this team as it's being reported both sophomores Max Wittek and Cody Kessler will play here at the quarterback position - which clearly means under-siege head coach Lane Kiffin really doesn't have a No. 1 slinger right now.
No doubt both Wittek and Kessler need to get WR Marqise Lee (118 receptions for 1,721 yards in 2012) right smack into the action against a Hawaii squad that last season that yielded 42-or-more points on seven different occasions and don't forget Hawaii has other "issues" as head coach Norm Chow fired offensive coordinator Aaron Price on the first day of practice earlier this month ... really!
Spread Notes - USC is coming off a dreadful 3-10 spread season and so that makes the Troy Boys a collective 20-30-1 ATS the past four years. Ugh! Overall, USC has failed to cover its season opener for the past three consecutive years and this Pac-12 team is a brutal 2-9 vig-wise when playing non-league foes the past three years. On the flip side, Hawaii is a dismal 7-16-1 ATS the past two years and that includes last year's 49-10 loss-but-cover at 43-point fav USC. Note that the Warriors actually have covered their season-opening on-the-board game for the past four years in a row.
NFL PRESEASON WEEK 4 NOTEBOOK
It's time to rattle through the final week of NFL Preseason play and - save for that pronouncement by Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski who claims his starters will play a bunch of snaps in his team's game at Chicago - you know the drill here and that means few-if-any snaps for most starters and a whole lot of second- and third-stringers getting the lion's share of time here.
So, with that in mind, let's simply feed you a couple of NFL Preseason Week 4 nuggets and then turn you over to our NFL Preseason Pointspread Chart where New Orleans, Seattle and Washington each enter this final preseason game picture-perfect versus the vig so far this summer:
The Green Bay Packers are gonna let new No. 2 QB Vince Young get significant action here in the game at Kansas City after he beat out Graham Harrell for the backup gig. Hey, did you realize starting QB Aaron Rodgers has played just 45 snaps in preseason action this summer after averaging nearly 81 snaps per preseason between 2008-through-2012? ...
Will the Tampa Bay Bucs be tempted to play QB Josh Freeman a bit here in Preseason Week 4 at home versus Washington after his rotten showing last weekend in the 17-16 comeback win against Miami? Freeman finished 6-of-16 passing for 59 yards plus he lost a fumble and was sacked five times.
Afterwards, Bucs boss Greg Schiano said, "The quarterback play was not what I wanted it to be ... The good thing is we have two weeks before the season starts, because we're going to need every day of it." ...
Finally, what would an NFL column these days be without some mention of the New York Jets? We know four-year starting QB Mark Sanchez (shoulder) won't play here but don't think the J-E-T-S are gonna send rookie QB Geno Smith to the proverbial wolves in this home tilt versus the Philadelphia Eagles.
Most of this game's snaps should be taken by either/both Greg McElroy and Matt Simms - expect Smith to play no more than a quarter here. Yes, we know that could change because Jets head coach Rex Ryan has been known to change his mind about his quarterbacks during the course of preseason play!
NFL PRESEASON POINTSPREAD CHART
Here's how NFL Preseason team-by-team pointspread records go while heading into Thursday's action 'round the league:
NOTE: More College Football Previews/Notes plus more NFL goodies too in the coming editions of Jim Sez ... so don't miss out!
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