College Football Weekend Review + NFL News and Notes

Jim Sez

THE JIM SEZ HOLIDAY FOOTBALL REPORT: WE HIT THE RE-WIND BUTTON ON THE OPENING WEEK/WEEKEND OF THIS 2013 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON

PLUS A QUICKIE PREVIEW OF TONIGHT’S FLORIDA STATE VS. PITTSBURGH SHOWDOWN … OUR NFL NEWS & NOTES SETS SIGHTS ON THURSDAY’S SEASON OPENER BETWEEN THE CHAMPION RAVENS AT THE BRONCOS

Maybe it only seemed worse than it was for the "name teams" in College Football this past holiday weekend... The reality of the situation is that only four of the Associated Press’ Top 25 teams actually lost – that’s #5 Georgia, #19 Boise State, #20 TCU and #25 Oregon State – but the aforementioned O-State Beavers were part of the bigger problems for a slew of FBS teams.

Can you believe that on this opening week/weekend of the here-and-now NCAA Football season, no fewer than eight FBS teams lost to the “little guys” of the FCS?

The roll call for FBS teams that were whacked include Connecticut and South Alabama last Thursday night; Kansas State and Georgia State last Friday night; and Oregon State, San Diego State, Iowa State and South Florida on Saturday ...hey, maybe it’s time the FBS guys started to “think twice” about scheduling games with these so-called cupcakes!

Now let’s dig a little deeper here:

  • Connecticut and South ‘Bama were 16- and 15-point betting favorites last Thursday in their respective losses to Towson and Southern Utah.
  • Kansas State was favored by 13 in its setback versus North Dakota State while Georgia State was, admittedly, a 9 ½-point underdog in its 31-21 loss to Samford.
And – on Saturday...
  • Oregon State was a 26-point fav against Eastern Washington and lost 49-46.
  • San Diego State was a 14-point fav against Eastern Illinois and lost 40-19.
  • Iowa State was a 9 ½-point choice against Northern Iowa and lost 28-20.
  • South Florida was a 20 ½-point betting fav in its humbling 53-21 loss against McNeese State.

Was does it all mean?

Well, the knee-jerk reaction is to say that the talent gap between the FBS and FCS guys is getting narrowed, and when the likes of Oregon State and Kansas State are getting beaten in these games, someone should sit up and take notice.

The $64,000 question now is just how will some of these teams respond going forward – is the year already a "train wreck" for these FBS teams that lost and were not supposed to on opening week/weekend or will some/most/all of them now have received a needed wake-up call?

Stay tuned.

Hey, one piece of “house-keeping” here:

The first full week/weekend of this College Football season brought the following pointspread stats:

College Football Betting Favorites registered a 24-19 ATS (against the spread) mark heading into the Florida State at Pittsburgh game on Monday Night. That’s a .558 winning rate for the chalk-eaters, and note overall College Football’s Double-Digit Betting Favorites reeled off a 17-10 spread log – that’s a spiffy .630 winning rate.

The biggest on-the-board betting favorite to lose outright (not including the aforementioned FCS teams) was 7 ½-point fav Southern Miss which lost 22-15 to Texas State.

P.S., last year Southern Miss finished the season 0-12 SU (straight-up) and 3-9 versus the vig.

Just sayin’!

In other NCAA Football action this past weekend...

#1 ALABAMA 35, VIRGINIA TECH 10 – The good news for the three-peat-minded Crimson Tide is that they scored three non-offensive touchdowns for the first time since 1995 (yes, that surprised us too!) but what happened to that allegedly vaunted offense?

Okay, so QB A.J. McCarron threw a pick – he had a 30-TD, 3-INT ratio a year ago – and the revamped O-line surely had a lot of bumps in their opening-week road – but it’s hard to believe the Techsters could hold Alabama to just 206 offensive yards and still not cover the bloated 21-point price tag.

Something is telling us that V-Tech may wind up on the short end of a .500 season this year – would that be enough to finally send Frank Beamer off to a retirement village?

#8 CLEMSON 38, #5 GEORGIA 35 – The weekend’s premier game did manage to go “over” that 71 ½-point price, thanks to that one-yard scoring run by Bulldogs QB Aaron Murray with a mere 1:19 remaining in the game – but we want to know if both of these clubs still harbor national title hopes while playing that kind of defense?

The numbers are one thing:

Georgia totaled a rollicking 545 yards on 70 snaps (that a per-play average of 7.8 yards) while Clemson rolled up 467 offensive yards on 76 plays (or 6.1 yards per play from scrimmage).

Note that everyone in the media was making a big fuss about the fact Georgia was forced to replace seven defensive starters who were selected in last spring’s NFL Draft, but still the tackling was terrible and thus Clemson QB Tajh Boyd – a legit Heisman Trophy chap heading into this game/season – finished with three touchdown passes and two TD runs while the Tigers’ defense was alarmingly bad (even in victory), but at least four sacks of Murray may have been what saved the day... that plus a strong and spirited second-quarter defensive showing after Georgia had shredded the Tigers for 21 points faster than you could say Danny Ford!

#7 TEXAS A&M 52, RICE 31 – Okay, so what could a re-cap of the key College Football weekend games be without a comment or two on Aggies QB Johnny Manziel?

Right, you don’t need us to tell you what kind of jerk he was – even while playing just a quarter-and-change in this opener – as even the sensible A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin had enough of all the on-the-field hijinks by benching Manziel with nine-plus minutes left in a game he didn’t enter until the early stages of the third quarter – thanks to that silly first-half “sanction” by the NCAA nitwits.

True, Manziel finished up his brief showing with 94 yards passing and three TD tosses but all that “sign-your-autograph” and “money, money, money” hand gestures were too much:

Call us “old school” but this kid better get a grip or else he’s gonna flame out before his time – think the Alabama kids want more than just a little piece of him in a couple of weeks? Geez!

In tonight’s Labor Day tilt, it’s...

#11 FLORIDA STATE at PITTSBURGH – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Here’s what you may not know about the nationally-ranked FSU Seminoles even after all that summertime research that you’ve been doing...

They have a real genuine shot to be playing in a BCS bowl come January and could be playing for all the marbles should things "break right" with a schedule that isn’t exactly a murderer’s row.

Okay, so fourth-year head coach Jimbo Fisher does need newly-named redshirt freshman QB Jameis Winston (205 yards passing and two TD passes in the spring game) to play without any semblance of stage fright and he would like to see RBs Devonta Freeman and James Wilder – both of whom exceeded 600 yards rushing in 2012 – stay injury free throughout the whole season.

Mostly, Fisher would like to see those highly-rated recruiting classes come through big-time just months after the Seminoles lost three superstar players among the top 25 picks in the NFL Draft: That’s QB E.J. Manuel to Buffalo with pick #16; DE Bjoern Werner to Indianapolis with pick #24; and CB Xavier Rhodes to Minnesota with pick #25.

If Winston can get a real neat run/pass balance here against a Pittsburgh squad that last year ranked a solid 19th nationally in pass defense (yielded 194.2 yards per game) and 29th nationally in rush defense (allowed 136.4 yards per game), than the ‘Noles could be "in business", but the fact remains the Panthers – a 10-point underdog on the Las Vegas boards at press time – could steal the show providing that aforementioned defense scores some points via the turnover. Remember that Pittsburgh is starting novice QB Tom Savage, who hasn’t played a down in some three years and there are also two Pitt offensive linemen making their collegiate debuts so – guess what we’re trying to say here is – don’t expect the home dogs to bang home lots of points against a defense that ranked 1st overall in pass defense a year ago.

Spread Notes – Florida State finds itself a sorry 22-27 ATS the past four years and that includes a sickly 4-8 spread log last season. Note the ‘Noles failed to cover six of their seven away games last year... ouch! On the flip side, Pittsburgh has been a consistent pointspread force the past four years with 7-win spread seasons in each/every one of these campaigns and the Panthers are a collective 28-17-2 ATS since the start of the 2009 season (folks, that’s a nifty .622 winning rate).

This just in...

My veteran Handicappers, bloggers and I are storming their way towards the start of this 2013 NFL season with Thursday’s Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos game set to kick off this new pro season plus America’s #1 Handicapper shined on the College Football scene after big weekend wins with Toledo (+ 23) over Florida, Northern Illinois (+ 3) over Iowa, Alabama (- 21) over Virginia Tech and Clemson (+ 2) over Georgia.

The College Football season rolls on this week with Florida State at Pittsburgh tonight and then on Thursday it’s Florida Atlantic at East Carolina, on Friday it’s Wake Forest at Boston and then – of course – a whole slew of key games on Saturday headlined by Notre Dame at Michigan and Florida at Miami.

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, NCAA Football and MLB action, after 12 p.m. ET for the weekday Baseball games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday and Sunday action.

NFL NEWS & NOTES

As we’ve said, the NFL ’13 season swings into high gear come Thursday night when the Baltimore Ravens play at the Denver Broncos... as everyone by now knows, the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens will not be hosting their opener due to a conflict with their down-the-block neighbors, MLB’s Baltimore Orioles who are hosting the Chicago White Sox on Thursday evening.

Still, it’s a good time to remind you all of how the NFL Kickoff Game has gone since its inception in the 2004 season... here’s the game-by-game lowdown with home teams in CAPS:

YEAR WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
2012 Dallas + 3.5 NY GIANTS 24-17
2011 GREEN BAY - 5 New Orleans 42-34
2010 NEW ORLEANS - 5 Minnesota 14-9
2009 PITTSBURGH - 6.5 Tennessee 13-10
2008 NY GIANTS - 4.5 Washington 16-7
2007 INDIANAPOLIS - 5.5 New Orleans 41-10
2006 PITTSBURGH - 1 Miami 28-17
2005 NEW ENGLAND - 7.5 Oakland 30-20
2004 NEW ENGLAND - 3 Indianapolis 27-24

Note that defending Super Bowl champs are a collective 5-2-2 against the odds since these Kickoff Games were first started but last year was the only occasion where an underdog side won the “whole game”. Hmmm...

NOTE: Get our Ravens at Broncos preview – plus lots more – in the next edition of "Jim Sez".

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