Previewing College Football's Friday Night Games, Plus Last Year's Pointspread Winners and NFL Preseason Notes

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT:

HERE’S A COUPLE OF FRIDAY NITE TV PREVIEWS PLUS A LOOK AT WHAT TEAMS LAST YEAR STARTED OFF WITH A REAL POINTSPREAD BANG

PLUS OUR NFL NEWS & NOTES SECTION: THE BIGGEST PRESEASON PROBLEMS FOR A TRIO OF TEAMS

Hey, it’s Labor Day Weekend and that means loads of great College Football games on the opening-week/weekend docket – there’s 44 on-the-board tilts from tonight’s eight games right through the Monday Night prime-timer between Florida State at Pittsburgh – and we will all get to further whet our appetite on this final Friday of the summer. So, let’s go ahead and dig into a pair of TV tilts that will officially kick off the holiday weekend on this Friday night:

First, it’s:

FLORIDA ATLANTIC at MIAMI – 8 p.m. ET, ESPNU

The good news for this here-and-now Miami bunch is the Hurricanes – finally – are eligible to compete for the ACC championship and sophomore RB Duke Johnson (957 yards rushing, a 6.9 yards-per-carry average and 10 TDs a year ago) figures to give whatever fans Miami draws lots of high-energy moments both in this game and for the whole 2013 season.

The bad news?

Now that the ‘Canes are “back”, there’s a whole lot of teams shooting to knock ‘em off a high perch and so third-year head coach Al Golden’s club would like to avoid sloppy play here as a 31 ½-point betting favorite against in-state “rival” Florida Atlantic.

Keep in mind that last year Miami ranked a lowly 118th in total defense while yielding nearly 487 yards per game, so let’s see if a stop unit that surrendered 52 points to Kansas State and 41 points apiece versus Notre Dame and Virginia can right the ship here with FAU – one of the newest members to Conference USA – trusting that star WR William Dukes (979 yards receiving) will be the Owls’ top target here.

Spread Notes – Miami banged out a super-impressive 9-3 ATS (against the spread) mark a year ago and note that included pointspread wins against N.C. State, Florida State and Virginia Tech. However, it is worth noting that “The U” is a rotten 1-8 versus the vig whenever laying twin-digit prices while dating back to late in the 2009 campaign. On the flip side, Florida Atlantic is fresh off a rock-solid 8-4 ATS season that included spread “W’s” against the likes of Georgia and Alabama. The Owls last year registered a perfect 5-and-oh spread mark when grabbing double-digit prices.

TEXAS TECH at SMU – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Okay, so which freshman quarterback is gonna get the call to start this game for 6-point road favorite Texas Tech? Might we expect both frosh slingers Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield to get in on the action here after expected starter soph Michael Brewer aggravated a back injury during recent fall workouts?

We here at Jim Hurley's Network know that the 6-foot-4 Webb has the inside track for brand-new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, but the fact of the matter is you can expect both kids to play here against an SMU team that last season ranked 107th nationally in passing defense while allowing 278.2 aerial yards per game.

Still, remember that SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert was not exactly a picture of consistency in the 2012 season as he threw 15 TDs and another 15 INTs. Gilbert (2,932 yards passing overall last season) isn’t helped by the fact that the Mustangs bring back only two offensive line starters from a team that sported a fourth consecutive .500-or-better season under June Jones who – in case you were wondering – has done one of college football’s best under-the-radar coaching jobs in the past decade-or-so with this one-time “death penalty” program.

Spread Notes – Texas Tech’s shaky 6-7 ATS mark a year ago included a six-game spread losing skid to end the year, but did you know the Red Raiders have covered four of their last five games when placed in the role of road betting favorite? Note that SMU enters this tilt fresh off an 8-5 ATS season last year and overall the Mustangs are a more-than-respectable 16-10 versus the vig as underdogs dating back to the start of the 2099 season.

And now hear this:

My Veteran Handicappers, Bloggers and I 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 this evening, so don’t miss out on all the fun and profits!

Just a reminder...

I cleaned up this past week/weekend with last Thursday’s sweep as Detroit (- 2 ½) blasted New England 40-9 and Carolina (+2 ½) 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 ½) 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.

Here’s the lowdown:

Check with us right here online at www.jimhurley.com or call toll-free at 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 OUT-OF-THE-GATE STARS

Okay, so who were College Football’s best starters a year ago when it comes to the all-important Las Vegas prices? Here’s a rundown of the best:

BALL STATE – The Cardinals zoomed out of the chute last year with four consecutive pointspread triumphs en route to an eventual 9-4 ATS season.

FRESNO STATE – All hail the Bulldogs from Silicon Valley fame as last year’s club snagged six straight spread wins to open the season and among the batch of winners were pointspread triumphs over Oregon and San Diego State. P.S., Fresno State finished with a zippy 11-2 spread mark.

UL-MONROE – The Warhawks may not be a “national name” but last year’s crew blasted out of the starting gate with a 5-0 ATS start that included back-to-back season-opening overtime spread wins at Arkansas and at Auburn... remember that 34-31 outright upset at the 29 ½-point favored Hogs?

NORTHWESTERN – Don’t dare call these guys the “Mildcats” as this Big 10 team really is among the nation’s elite, and you might recall how last year the Evanston gang started off 5-0 ATS with spread covers against fellow BCS conference teams Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Boston College and Indiana.

SAN JOSE STATE – Surprise, surprise! Last year’s SJSU Spartans reeled off five straight spread wins to begin the year including that season-opening 20-17 loss-but-cover at four-TD fav Stanford. You might recall that San Jose State finished up with an 11-2 ATS mark overall.

TEXAS TECH – The above-mentioned Red Raiders went totally ga-ga out of the starting gate last year with four consecutive spread wins and keep in mind the Techsters were the betting favorites in all four of these games.

UTAH STATE – Hey, nobody charged out of the chute last year quite like these Aggies who actually covered their first 11 games in a row en route to a 12-1 ATS campaign. Just so you don’t think all of the Utah State covers came against “cupcakes” you’ll note the Aggies covered in games versus the likes of Utah, Wisconsin and BYU.

WESTERN KENTUCKY – The Hilltoppers pounded out six consecutive spread wins to start off the 2012 season, and even in a 35-0 shutout at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide, these ‘Toppers still covered the hefty 38-point price.

NFL PRESEASON NEWS/NOTES

The NFL Preseason finishes up with a 16-game slate on this final Thursday night in August – but what have been some of the most painful issues for a trio of teams this summer?

ARIZONA – The Cardinals wrap up preseason play with their game in Denver tonight, but the major hub-bub here surrounds the fact rookie G Jonathan Cooper broke his left leg in the loss to San Diego last Saturday night and that puts a major crimp in this team’s running plans. P.S., it wasn’t helping morale that the Redbirds’ first-team offense didn’t score their first preseason TD until the third quarter of their third preseason game on a QB Carson Palmer-to-WR Michael Floyd 15-yard scoing play...finally!

CINCINNATI – Lost amidst all the silliness of this year’s "Hard Knocks" production on HBO is the fact that RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis isn’t exactly tearing things up behind the Bengals’ offensive line. In fact, Green-Ellis rushed the ball five times for a grand total of five yards in last weekend’s 24-18 loss in Dallas, and thus far through action in two preseason games the former New England star has eight carries for 19 yards. Reason to worry, or will rookie Gio Bernard “handle things” in the ground game? Hmmm. Hey, maybe now Green-Ellis stops getting his personalized golf cart rides to the practice field from “real boss” Mike Brown!

NEW YORK GIANTS – No doubt most (if not all) of the post-game news/notes from last Saturday’s 24-21 OT win by the NY Jets over the Giants had to do with J-E-T-S quarterback Mark Sanchez and his injured shoulder, but did you take a second to think that the G-men's passing game was an absolute mess in that Preseason Week 3 affair? Not only did Giants’ QB Eli Manning complete only 8-of-20 passes for 83 yards with 0 TDs, but the Manning-to-WR Hakeem Nicks tandem was totally out of synch, and the connection with WR Rueben Randle (two catches for just 14 yards against the Jets) was not exactly humming either. If WR Victor Cruz (heel) isn’t ready to play in the Sept. 8th prime-time opener in Dallas, the Giants’ passing game could be a team weakness, not a strength.

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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