NFL Season Finally Here Plus College Saturday
HURLEY RIGHT ON THE MONEY WITH THE TOTAL IN THURSDAY'S NFL
KICK-OFF AS RAVENS/BRONCOS (OVER 48.5) NUMBER WAS NEVER IN DOUBT!
THE NFL SEASON -- FINALLY -- SWINGS INTO ACTION AS PEYTON MANNING’S 7 TD TOSSES CARRY BRONCOS TO WACKY 49-27 WIN AGAINST THE PUNCH-DRUNK RAVENS …
COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S SLAM-BANG SATURDAY IS HERE – AND WE CHECK IN ON SOUTH CAROLINA-GEORGIA, NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN AND FLORIDA-MIAMI
PLUS THERE’S A WHOLE LOT MORE!
Folks, we all could have done without that 33-minute “weather delay” that preceded the Denver Broncos’ 49-27 win against defending Super Bowl champ Baltimore last night – and we also could have done without any introductions by Ryan Seacrest (him again!) – but let it be said that the NFL is back and nothing like staying up late to catch QB Peyton Manning air a league record-tying seven touchdowns.
Hey, that had not happened in the league since 1969 when fiery Joe Kapp did it for Minnesota against the other team that used to call Baltimore home (a/k/a those Colts) and while Manning gets a doff of the cap from yours truly here we gotta say it looked like a Week One game on many fronts with a slew of dropped passes on both sides – the most critical being a late first-half drop near the goal line by new Ravens’ TE Dallas Clark -- to say nothing of the bird-brain move by Broncos’ LB Danny Trevathan who failed to cross the goal line on his apparent 30-yard interception for a touchdown as he carelessly dropped the ball on the one-yard line … then he had the nerve to argue on the sidelines with defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
In all, a big night for the Broncos who are the 5-to-1 betting favorites to win it all this year and keep in mind they got mission accomplished here without suspended LB Von Miller and CB Champ Bailey.
WATCH & WIN
There are good games up and down the card after most teams just got their feet wet in last week's openers.
We're looking at games like Florida at Miami-Fla (Noon ET, ESPN),
Okay, so sometimes you might not know it after watching/listening to what the big-wig media folks say but there are some stirring headlines in the sport of College Football that have nothing at all to do with Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel!
It’s true that Manziel – last year’s Heisman Trophy winner and this summer’s Page 6 regular – has been splashed all ‘round the land the past few weeks (yes, he’s on this week’s issue of Time magazine) but not all that much to get excited about this weekend as “Johnny Football” and his seventh-ranked Aggies figure to have a proverbial walk in the park win against Sam Houston State.
Still, there’s a trio of monster matchups on this Saturday docket and we’ll get to South Carolina-Georgia, Notre Dame-Michigan and Florida-Miami in just a moment but how about this factoid:
Even with all the spread-option, fast-break offenses that are prevalent in College Football these days, the opening week of the 2013 season produced the following figures:
The “over” players finished the regular on-the-Las Vegas-board games just 20-24 in the 44 board games played from Aug. 29th thru Sept. 2 – naturally, you would have thought more of the opening-weekend games would have gone “over”, right?
But the combination of some higher-than-usual totals prices (see the dozen games that sported 60-point-or-higher totals prices) and the fact that – in many cases – defenses still were “ahead” of offenses and thus you didn’t get this scenario where “over” players piled up the cash.
In fact, a $100 per-play wager on all the “overs” in these above-mentioned 44 games would have lost you $640 … so there
Now, here’s the marquee matchups for Saturday …
WEEK ONE OF THE NFL SEASON IS FINALLY HERE!
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#6 SOUTH CAROLINA (1-0) at #11 GEORGIA (0-1) – 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
It’s not very often that on the first Saturday in September the best game on the card features an 0-and-1 team …but that’s the deal here as the Georgia Bulldogs look to avoid their second 0-2 start in the past three years while the South Carolina Gamecocks also have plenty to prove following last Thursday night’s 27-10 weather-interrupted win/cover against North Carolina.
Ready to play here, Mr. Jadeveon Clowney?
The pre-season Heisman Trophy candidate – okay, so we won’t totally count ‘em out for the bronzed statue just yet – had to endure loads of “conditioning” questions the past 10 days and that might wind up being really bad news for Georgia QB Aaron Murray who’s already been sacked four times (see that 38-35 loss at Clemson last Saturday night) and so the game plan for the Dawgs here likely is this:
Run RBs Todd Gurley (154 yards rushing against Clemson) and Keith Marshall right at the aforementioned Clowney and throw quick screens and “outs” away from Clowney while making him run long distances to make the tackles – hey, he was wearing down against UNC last week and might get winded again here especially if we’re staring at temps in the high 80s and low 90s.
Two quick-hitter items to keep in mind here:
Georgia WR Michael Bennett (five catches for 65 yards last weekend) really has to step it up now that WR Malcolm Mitchell (torn ACL) is out plus Carolina QB Connor Shaw – who threw for 149 yards and one TD against the Tar Heels – must remain a running threat too after rushing for 78 yards and a score in last year’s 35-7 walkover win against Georgia.
Spread Notes – Did you realize that the SC Gamecocks have covered the last six consecutive head-to-head battles against SEC East rival Georgia? Heck, the last time the Dawgs notched a pointspread “W” in this series was way back in 2006 when a 3-point road-favored Georgia team blanked the ‘Cocks 18-0. Overall, South Carolina is 16-9 ATS (against the spread) in its last 25 pointspread verdicts since the very start of 2011.
#14 NOTRE DAME (1-0) at #17 MICHIGAN (1-0) – 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Hey, let’s disregard this whole “rivalry game” bit that stirred the pot earlier in the week – as it is, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly basically back-tracked on his comments and so no sense dredging up old news here … still, there’s major bad blood brewing between these two Midwest sides as the fact ND cancelled the 2015-through-2017 matchups with Michigan has the maize-and-blue folks steamin’ mad while Irish backers still ain’t happy about what Wolverines’ head coach Brady Hoke said a while back about Notre Dame “chickening out” of the rivalry.
On the field, the Irish defense is hoping to replicate last year’s numbers when they forced six – count ‘em, six – Michigan turnovers in a 13-6 win and so they’ll be coming at Wolverines QB Devin Gardner who aired a pair of picks in last weekend’s easy 59-9 win against Central Michigan.
On the flip side, Irish QB Tommy Rees – in for good for the suspended-for-the-season Everett Golson – is fresh off a 346-yard, 3-TD passing game in the 28-6 non-cover win against Temple and keep an eye here on wide-out TJ Jones who caught six balls for 138 yards. If Jones hits a couple of “home runs” here against Michigan’s still-untested secondary, then the Irish could be headed to the winner’s circle and another top 10 ranking in the polls.
Spread Notes – Home teams have covered five of the last six games in this rivalry including last season when 6-point home fav Notre Dame squeaked out a 13-6 victory. Note that the ND Fighting Irish is 6-4 spreadwise when grabbing points in the Kelly Era but go back a bit further and you’ll see Notre Dame’s a solid 12-7 vig-wise as dogs the past six-plus seasons. Michigan, meanwhile, is now 11-6-1 ATS as chalk sides since the start of 2011 and that includes last weekend’s lopsided 59-9 win/cover against 31 ½-point pup Eastern Michigan.
#12 FLORIDA (1-0) at MIAMI (1-0) – 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
It’s like the good old days in the Sunshine State – for only the second time in the past decade (see 2008) we’ll have that “round robin” deal where Florida, Florida State and Miami will play one another and that’s good because we may not get another Gators vs. Hurricanes tilt for a long, long time … please don’t get us started about the future schedules, okay?
As it turns out, Florida enters this road game a field-goal betting favorite after dispatching Toledo 24-6 last week behind RB Mack Brown’s 112 rushing yards but will this guy who’s had just 40 carries in his past three years with the Gators stay fresh here – he was dehydrated and vomiting for parts of last week’s tilt in Gainesville.
No doubt that Florida QB Jeff Driskel (17-of-22 for 153 yards against Toledo) must be mobile against a Miami pass rush that figures to bring blitzers off the edge.
The ‘Canes are baking on swifty RB Duke Johnson one week after he scooted free for 186 yards rushing (a 9.8 yards-per-carry average) in a 34-6 non-cover win against Florida Atlantic. Gut feeling is that Miami will try to get the ball in Johnson’s hands 25 times here – last week Johnson had 19 carries and one reception, so he should expect a stepped-up work load here.
Spread Notes – Florida has not played Miami since early in the 2008 season when the 23-point favored Gators “pushed” in a 26-3 home win. Overall, Florida’s a tidy 6-3-1 ATS as road/neutral favorites since the start of the 2010 season. Meanwhile, Miami is 7-3 versus the vig in its last 10 home games while dating back to early in the 2011 season.
In other key College Football Games, it’s …
WEST VIRGINIA (1-0) at #16 OKLAHOMA (1-0) – 7 p.m. ET, Fox
Something tells us we won’t be seeing a repeat of last year’s pinball-like score when these clubs clashed Nov. 17th in Morgantown – do you remember Oklahoma’s 50-49 non-cover victory as 10 ½-point favorites? – but the host Sooners could be in a name-the-score mode providing redshirt freshman QB Trevor Knight make a leaps-and-bounds progression in his game.
Last week Knight rushed for 103 yards and threw three touchdowns in a sparkling 34-0 win against UL-Monroe and maybe the best thing of all was Knight committed just one turnover (an INT) in some 70-or-so snaps.
If the WVU Mountaineers – a three-TD dog here – are gonna make a game of it in this Big 12 tilt, then Houston transfer RB Charles Sims (120 rushing yards and a score last week in a 24-17 non-cover win against William & Mary) must be a chain-mover as Dana Holgorsen’s club was a rotten 2-of-10 on third-down plays last weekend.
WASHINGTON STATE at #25 USC (1-0) – 10:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
The jury’s still out on this whole Southern Cal quarterbacking bit – neither Cody Kessler nor Max Wittek wowed anyone while combining to complete 15-of-29 passes for 172 yards in last Thursday’s 30-13 non-cover win at Hawaii -- but now Trojans’ boss-man Lane Kiffin has only one real concern here:
And that’s making sure Kessler or Wittek keeps targeting top WR Marqise Lee (8 catches for 104 yards last week but note a couple of key drops and a lost fumble too).
Plus, the Troy Boys believe RB Silas Redd (knee) will play here after not even making the trek to the 50th state last week.
Now hear this …
My veteran Handicappers and Bloggers are all revved up for this NFL season and we’ll storm our way to the winner’s circle with all the Week One games this Sunday/Monday.
And note that last weekend we smoked Las Vegas big-time with the College Kids as Jim Hurley -- America’s #1 Handicapper – banged out wins with Toledo (+ 23) over Florida, Northern Illinois (+ 3) over Iowa, Alabama (- 21) over Virginia Tech and Clemson (+ 2) over Georgia.
And remember the College Football season rolls on this week with Wake Forest at Boston College on espn2 tonight and then – of course – there’s a whole slew of key games on Saturday headlined by Notre Dame at Michigan, Florida at Miami and South Carolina at Georgia.
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.
Now, here’s the lowdown:
Check with us right here online at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 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.
NOTE: Catch our NFL Week 1 Sunday Game Previews in tomorrow’s Jim Sez.
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