Weekend Football Preview 10-3

Jim Sez

IT’S NCAA FOOTBALL AND NFL WEEK 5 PREVIEWS & FORECASTS COMIN’ STRAIGHT YOUR WAY!

By Jim Hurley

Lots to get to in today’s Jim Sez column, and we’ll begin with a batch of NCAA Football Previews/Forecasts and we’ll follow them up with some NFL Week 5 goodies.

First, a quickie house-keeping item here as NCAA Football Betting Favorites enter this brand new week/weekend with a pointspread record of 115-102-3 (with one pick ‘em game) for a decent .530 winning rate.

Note that last week’s chalk sides cranked out a dead-even but vig-losing 23-23-2 spread mark.

NCAA FOOTBALL –

In Thursday Night action, it’s …

TEXAS (2-2, 1-0 Big 12) at IOWA STATE (2-2, 0-0 Big 12) – 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

There’s heavy hearts in Longhorn Nation following this week’s death of one-time star QB James Street who sparked Texas to a famous national title in 1969.

The here-and-now ‘Horns aren’t thinking national championship these days, but the recent 31-21 win/cover against Kansas State did prop up this season, and now we’ll see if either/both QBs David Ash/Case McCoy (a combined 8 TDs and 2 INTs) can get the cash as 9-point road favorites in Ames.

#12 UCLA (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12) at UTAH (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) – 10 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

The UCLA Bruins began the year at #21 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, so Jim L. Mora’s club is climbing the charts after three consecutive wins/covers, including that stunning 41-21 come-from-behind win at 1-point favorite Nebraska.

If Bruins QB Brett Hundley (848 yards passing with 8 TDs) can light up a Utes defense that surrendered 51 points (in OT) to Oregon State a couple of weeks ago, then covering this 6 points pread won’t be a major problem.

On Friday Night, it’s …

BYU (2-2) at UTAH STATE (3-2) – 8 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network

Here’s something to chew on when it comes to this in-state showdown game:

The BYU Cougars have covered the pointspread eight consecutive times when placed in the underdog role and this marks the second time this season that the Coogs will be snatching up points (see 40-21 win against 7 ½-point fav Texas back on Sept. 7th).

Keep a close eye here on how BYU star LB Kyle Van Noy deals with Utah State’s dual-threat QB Chuckie Keeton (17 TD passes and 1 INT to go along with another 224 yards rushing) … it may be the key to whether or not BYU can land another underdog cover.

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On Saturday, it’s …

#6 GEORGIA (3-1, 2-0 SEC) at TENNESSEE (3-2, 0-1 SEC) – 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Naturally, everyone wants to know if there will be a hangover here for the Georgia Dawgs who are fresh off that thrill-a-minute 44-41 win/push against LSU.

The other thing is that everyone’s telling Georgia that its schedule “lets up” now after already playing the likes of Clemson, South Carolina and aforementioned LSU …but might that trick Mark Richt’s crew into thinking it can get by here on less than 100 percent effort?

Something tells us Georgia QB Aaron Murray (1,138 yards passing with 11 TDs and 3 INTs) might have to help the Dawgs put up 40-or-more points here to deliver the pointspread KO blow.

#10 LSU (4-1, 1-1 SEC) at MISS STATE (2-2, 0-1 SEC) – 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

Hey, don’t sleep on these Bayou Bengals from LSU-land as they still could make a charge towards the top of the polls despite last week’s aforementioned loss “between the hedges”.

What really encouraged head coach Les Miles and Company in that wild and wacky tilt was that QB Zach Mettenberger (372 yards passing with 3 TDs against those Bulldogs) never flinched – it was that once-trusted LSU defense that sagged at crunch time, and so Miles must fix what ails this stop unit that ranks just 39th nationally in total defense, a far cry from those title teams in the 2000s.

Gotta believe Miss State can put up three-or-more TDs here and that should slide the Starkville squad under the precious 9 ½-point price tag.

#15 WASHINGTON (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) at #5 STANFORD (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12), 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

The best Pac-12 tilt for the weekend comes from “The Farm” where Stanford is 31-3 SU (straight-up) and 22-11 ATS (against the spread) since the start of the 2008 campaign, and now toss into the mix here the fact that the Cardinal lost 17-13 at Washington last season, and that loss prevented Stanford from playing for bigger/better things last January.

Is it all pointing towards a two-TD-or-bigger win for the home folks here?

Maybe mobile QB Kevin Hogan will be the diff-maker here for David Shaw’s Stanford squad – a 7 ½-point betting favorite for this conference clash – as keep in mind last year the Cards didn’t score an offensive TD in that game against the Huskies.

If you’re looking for an X-factor, trot out the Stanford defense that last year sacked Washington QB Keith Price three times and registered seven tackles for a loss.

Hey, we’ll get to lots more NCAA Football Saturday Previews/Forecasts in tomorrow’s Jim Sez, including #4 Ohio State at #16 Northwestern, TCU at #11 Oklahoma and #3 Clemson at Syracuse.

NFL Thursday Night Football

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NFL WEEK 5 –

In Sunday action, it’s …

NEW ORLEANS (4-0) at CHICAGO (3-1) – 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The best matchup on this NFL Week 5 docket could go a long way in determining home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs this year – let’s just say that the Saints are darn near unbeatable inside the Louisiana Superdome while the Bears hold less of a home-field edge – but anyone that watched New Orleans carve up Miami 38-17 this past Monday Night knows you better get some pressure on QB Drew Brees, or you don’t stand even a little chance.

Brees – who is averaging 338 yards passing per game to go along with 10 TDs and 4 INTs so far – really unleashed the total package at Miami with RB Darren Sproles and TE Jimmy Graham accounting for 214 receiving yards between ‘em, but watch here for WR Marques Colston (a quiet 7-catch, 96-yard game against Miami) who may have to wrestle “Peanut” Tillman for a few alley-oop balls at or near the goal line here.

Note this NFL Week 5 game’s been bouncing back-and-forth between Pick ‘Em and the Bears minus a 1-point price – but don’t be surprised if by game time the Saints are the chalk side. Just sayin’!

KANSAS CITY (4-0) at TENNESSEE (3-1) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS

If you told us back in August that this would be a “marquee matchup” come the fifth week of the season, we likely would have raised and eyebrows and laughed.

Not anymore.

The fact of the matter is these here-and-now KC Chiefs sport one of the league’s top-flight defenses – the AFC West gang’s allowed 2, 16, 16 and 7 points in its first four games and currently ranks second in the league in pass defense -- and so backup-turned-temporary starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick must steer clear of making the same mistakes he often made as the one-time signal-caller of the Buffalo Bills.

Tell us right now that the Chiefs win the turnover battle and we’ll tell you Andy Reid’s guys – a 2 ½-point fav here – wins going away!

DENVER (4-0) at DALLAS (2-2) – 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

We could sit here and spit out QB Peyton Manning-related stats until everyone got green in the face, but here’s something that is rather amazing with this whole Broncos offense:

In their first four games, the Broncos have averaged 44.8 ppg, and yet they’ve turned the ball over five times (all on lost fumbles) in some 279 offensive plays. Wow!

Now, the TD-favored Broncos look for more “ball security” here against a Cowboys team that has forced eight enemy turnovers through four games after getting just 16 all of last year.

On Sunday Night, it’s …

HOUSTON (2-2) at SAN FRANCISCO (2-2) – 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC

Okay, so technically this isn’t the only Sunday night game on the NFL Week 5 docket as the MLB Playoffs forced the San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders clash to an 11:35 p.m. ET start across the bay … but let’s focus on Texans-Niners and wonder who’s gonna be the high-profile team coming out of this game with a losing record.

Houston may be coming off the worst emotional loss in franchise history as the 23-20 overtime setback against Seattle last Sunday was a major bummer, but did a nearby restaurant really have to name one of their food items a “Pick Six Burger” in honor of QB Matt Schaub? Now that’s poor taste!

If Schaub’s mentally recovered from last week’s tilt, then 6 ½-point dog Houston does – indeed – have a serious shot at landing the upset here providing RB Arian Foster gets another 25-plus carries here (see 27 rushes for 102 yards last weekend).

Best spread stat we’ve seen on the Niners:

They’ve covered seven of their last 10 matchups against AFC sides, but two of the three spread setbacks came against the Baltimore Ravens including last year’s 34-31 Super Bowl loss as 5-point favorites.

NOTE: More NCAA Football and NFL Week 5 Previews/Forecasts in tomorrow’s Jim Sez column.

 

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