College Football and NFL Weekend Preview
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND REPORT – WE KICK OFF THE WEEKEND’S PREVIEWS/FORECASTS
WITH WASHINGTON AT #13 UCLA TONIGHT PLUS IT’S THE RETURN OF THE JIM SEZ
“SATURDAY SIX-PACK” AS WE DIG INTO THE MARQUEE MATCHUPS FEATURING #25 GEORGIA AT #7 AUBURN,
#4 STANFORD AT USC AND #12 OKLAHOMA STATE AT #24 TEXAS
PLUS NFL WEEK 11 FORECASTS
By Jim Hurley
Here’s a quickie heads-up when it comes to the almighty Las Vegas numbers:
We head into tonight’s Pac-12 tilt between Washington at #13 UCLA with College Football Betting Favorites for the year at 275-248-5 with two pick ‘em games -- that’s a .526 winning rate for college chalk sides so far this 2013 season – and keep in mind that last week/weekend the NCAA Football Favs registered a 25-24 spread mark with one pick ‘em game tossed into the mix.
Most years we’ve found that the Favorites vs. Underdogs battle has been right about a 50-50 split – so right now the Betting Favorites have enjoyed a slightly better-than-average season … will that mean the pups growl this weekend? Hmmm.
Now, let’s get to the key games on this weekend menu and note all the rankings below refer to the current BCS Standings:
In Saturday’s top NCAA Football games, it’s …
#25 GEORGIA (6-3, 4-2 SEC) at #7 AUBURN (9-1, 5-1 SEC) – 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
If we had a nickel for every TV talking head who’s proclaimed to “watch out for the Auburn Tigers” in the past week, we would be living comfortably on the French Riviera!
Okay, so everyone and his brother knows this Auburn team – a shaky 3-9 SU (straight-up) a year ago – has been one of the great comeback stories in all of college football, but it remains a major stretch to think that Gus Malzahn’s crew can “run the table” and somehow find its way into the BCS Championship Game.
Still, it could happen with a variety of scenarios that begins with beating archrival Georgia here:
Note that Auburn was blasted 38-0 by the Dawgs last year at Jordan-Hare Stadium, and so this is a chance for major revenge, but can the Tigers get away with throwing the ball only 7 times as was the case on last Saturday’s 55-23 win/cover at Tennessee?
Quarterback Nick Marshall completed just three passes in that tilt, but didn’t have to air it out after the first quarter as Marshall’s 214 yards rushing and two ground scores helped deflate the Vols and now we’ll see if he can dent a Georgia defense that ranks a rock-solid 20th in the land against the rush (allowing 126 yards per game).
The game plan, meanwhile, for the Georgia offense is to have veteran QB Aaron Murray move the chains with some quick-hitter passes, but injuries in the Bulldogs’ receiving corps could hurt the cause here – if Georgia is able to snag the mild upset here (Auburn’s a 3 ½-point favorite at press time) than Murray needs someone like WR Michael Bennett (24 catches in seven games this year) to become a major figure in this game.
Spread Notes – Auburn’s riding a seven-game pointspread winning streak into this SEC clash and note the Tigers are 16-8 ATS whenever in the favorite’s role the past three-plus seasons. Georgia, meanwhile, is a money-torching 1-6-1 against the odds this season with the lone cover occurring way back on Sept. 7th with the 41-30 triumph over 3 ½-point dog South Carolina … remember when?
#4 STANFORD (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12) at USC (7-3, 4-2 Pac-12) – 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Here’s what we all know:
The Stanford Cardinal is the highest-ranked one-loss team in the land.
Here’s what you may not know while heading into this Pac-12 blockbuster game from the venerable Los Angeles Coliseum:
The USC Trojans are no longer on college football’s scrap heap.
In fact, the Men of Troy are 4-1 SU and 4-1 ATS ever since AD Pat Haden kicked head coach Lane Kiffin to the proverbial curb and you do have to wonder whether Stanford’s gonna suffer some type of letdown following last Thursday’s 26-20 win against Oregon.
True, the methodical nature of the Stanford ground game – RB Tyler Gaffney rushed the ball 45 times in that tilt and enters this game with 1,043 yards (a 4.9 ypc average) and 13 TDs – might simply mean someone else is gonna have to pile up the carries as it’s doubtful Gaffney runs it more than 25 times, but could that provide USC an opportunity to steal this one with QB Cody Kessler (12 TDs and 6 INTs) showing real signs of “getting it” these days?
Spread Notes – Stanford’s covered its last three in a row (versus UCLA, Oregon State and Oregon) and the Cardinal comes into this prime-time game with a nifty 6-2-1 ATS log in its last nine games against USC. Note that the Trojans have covered their last three in a row under interim boss-man Ed Orgeron.
FLORIDA (4-5, 3-4 SEC) at #10 SOUTH CAROLINA (7-2, 5-2 SEC) – 7 p.m. ET, espn2
It’s always fun to examine a Gators-Gamecocks game because SC head ball coach Steve Spurrier will always be “connected” to the Florida program, but think he’s gonna get a little extra charge out of things here while having a chance to practically bury the bowl hopes of the Gainesville gang?
Spurrier’s club has won six of its last seven games while averaging a haughty 33 ppg and last week’s bye helped the Gamecocks who had been banged up – namely QB Connor Shaw, who has been playing with a bulky knee brace. Maybe Shaw can help the Gamecocks do better than the 1-of-11 third-down conversion rate put up in that 34-16 win against Miss State two weekends ago.
P.S., Spurrier and Company very much have revenge on their minds following Florida’s 44-11 home win a year ago when the Gators capitalized on four turnovers by Carolina (three lost fumbles and one pick).
Spread Notes – South Carolina is a sub-par 4-5 against the prices this year but the Gamecocks have covered 11 of their last 17 home games. Meanwhile, Florida is a dreary 3-6 against the odds overall this season but the Gators have covered four of their last five games when in the underdog role.
Super Saturday Gift Game
#12 OKLAHOMA STATE (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) at #24 TEXAS (7-2, 6-0 Big 12) – 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox
While everyone chats up the 8-and-oh, high-octane Baylor Bears these days what about these two teams that have combined to lose just one game in Big 12 play?
Right, don’t look now but the Texas Longhorns have designs on going unbeaten in league play – yes, Mack Brown’s bunch plays at Baylor come December 7th – and no doubt this crew has found lots of different ways to mow down its first six league opponents including a wild 47-40 OT triumph at West Virginia last week that required a last-minute-of-regulation field goal by PK Anthony Fera, who’s quietly become one of the most important Longhorns since QB Vince Young.
Fera has nailed 15-of-16 field-goal tries this season and may be an afterthought in a game in which the totals price stands at 63 ½ points right this minute, but the home-dog ‘Horns could be putting points on the board every time they get inside the opponent’s 30-yard line and that’s key here.
No doubt the Okie State Cowboys – who have lost 23 of their 27 lifetime decisions to Texas – needs QB Clint Chelf to stay hot after he’s thrown six TDs in the past three games while winning the No. 1 job from J.W. Walsh. Look for Chelf to toss a slew of swing passes in the direction of ultra-valuable RB Desmond Roland, who has recorded 10 of his team’s 12 offensive touchdowns the past four games.
Spread Notes – Oklahoma State roars into Austin riding a four-game spread winning streak that includes covers against TCU, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Kansas and the O-State Cowboys are a collective 22-10 ATS in Big 12 games since the start of 2010. Texas is 5-4 vig-wise overall this season but the Longhorns are just 26-34-1 ATS in all games since the start of 2009.
#16 MICHIGAN STATE (8-1, 5-0 Big 10) at NEBRASKA (7-2, 4-1 Big 10) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/espn2
Hard to believe, but Big Red has won all seven games played between these Big 10 schools all-time and so – if Michigan State is gonna seize control of the Legends Division and get a shot at Ohio State in the league’s championship game next month – Mark Dantonio’s team must lean on the nation’s top-ranked defense … one that’s allowed just 44 rushing yards per game and 167 passing yards per tilt.
Michigan State LB Max Bullough heads up a unit that’s yielded 0, 3 and 6 points in its last three games – wins over Purdue, Illinois and Michigan, respectively – and it appears that State will be facing a Nebraska team without QB Taylor Martinez as Tommy Armstrong, Jr. has started five games in his absence.
Armstrong doesn’t present the same type rushing threat that Martinez does, and so the likelihood here is Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah (1,213 yards rushing this season) will be given 25-plus totes to make something happen.
Spread Notes – Michigan State is an electric 12-3-1 against the Las Vegas prices when travelling the past two-plus seasons and that includes spread covers this year at Iowa and Illinois (and a spread push at Notre Dame). Note that Nebraska’s 15-18-1 ATS overall since the start of the ’11 season.
#23 MIAMI (7-2, 3-2 ACC) at DUKE (7-2, 3-2 ACC) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Have the Miami Hurricanes run out of gas?
The once-upon-a-time 7-0 team has dropped back-to-back games against Florida State and Virginia Tech by a composite score of 83-38, and Al Golden’s crew has been a mess on special teams, has allowed too many third-down conversions and QB Stephen Morris is gimping around these days on a bad ankle that doesn’t allow him to throw the ball effectively (we thank ESPN’s Todd Blackledge for pointing out that fact in last weekend’s rainy 42-24 V-Tech win in South Beach).
Meanwhile, Duke remains one of the country’s top feel-good stories as sixth-year head coach David Cutcliffe’s crew scored three non-offensive touchdowns in last week’s 38-20 win/cover against 10 ½-point dog N.C. State as DeVon Edwards scored on a pair of late-game INTs and also raced 100 yards with a kick return, but the Blue Devils better get their quarterback situation fixed as starter Anthony Boone and back-up Bradon Connette threw the ball 34 times between ‘em last weekend against the Wolf Pack and neither threw a touchdown pass … the Dookies probably need Boone to get his passes on line here (or else!).
Spread Notes – Duke rides a four-game spread winning streak into this high-profile ACC clash and the Blue Devils are 12-6 versus the vig as hosts dating back to the start of 2011. Miami has been a real streaky spread side this year with four covers in a row followed by four straight spread setbacks. Overall, “The U” is 1-4 vig-wise in conference play this year after going 8-0 ATS in league games in 2012.
NFL WEEK 11 FORECASTS
In an earlier-week edition of Jim Sez we brought you in-depth previews/forecasts of a pair of NFL Week 11 games including Baltimore at Chicago and San Francisco at New Orleans, so let’s keep the pro gridiron beat rollin’ on here with more action as we check out four games on Sunday’s card including the one everyone’s talkin’ about in prime time:
In NFL Week 11 play on Sunday Night, it’s …
KANSAS CITY (9-0) at DENVER (8-1) – 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Here’s the three words that have been getting the most press in/around the NFL this week …
Peyton Manning’s ankles.
No doubt Manning’s sore right ankle was re-aggravated in last Sunday’s 28-20 win at San Diego, but both ankles are bothering Manning, who sat out a Wednesday practice and has been on the gimpy side the past couple of days.
The hard-charging KC Chiefs – who come off their bye week after blitzing Buffalo 23-13 with two defensive touchdowns back in Week 9 play – sport an NFL-best 36 sacks this year, and they’ve been devising ways to get to Manning here, and one strategy could be blitzing defensive backs who will make Manning shift/move quickly in the pocket and that will be a challenge with the bum pegs.
Two main game plan strategies for the KayCee offense that will allow WR Dwayne Bowe (arrested last weekend for speeding and possession of marijuana) to play here:
Get the ball in the hands of RB Jamaal Charles, who has 575 total yards in his last five games against the Broncos – KC should get it to ‘em 25-to-30 times in all – and make sure QB Alex Smith is allowed to take some downfield chucks against a somewhat suspect deep secondary.
Smith may be operating the league’s 27th-ranked passing attack, but you might see some mile high bombs, and note the Las Vegas oddmakers have this totals price hovering right around 50 points … they don’t think Denver’s gonna score all the points, right?
P.S., Kansas City head coach Andy Reid registered a 13-1 SU (straight-up) mark in his post-bye games in Philadelphia. Hmmm.
Spread Notes – Kansas City is 6-3 against the odds this 2013 campaign, and take note that underdog sides are a collective 13-7 versus the vig when these AFC West teams battle it out. Denver is just 5-4 spreadwise this season and the Broncos are a composite 15-7 ATS (against the spread) as betting favorites since the start of last year.
In Sunday afternoon action in NFL Week 11 play, it’s …
NEW YORK JETS (5-4) at BUFFALO (3-7) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Give an NFL team something to complain about … and they will!
This week the talk’s been about how the Buffalo Bills are not happy with the fact that both meetings with the rival NY Jets come after gang green had “extra time” to prepare for ‘em.
Back in Week 3 the J-E-T-S were coming off a Thursday Night game in Foxboro – a 13-10 loss-but-cover to the New England Patriots – when they had 10 days to prep for the Bills and the Jets won that penalty-marred game 27-20.
Now, the Jets come off their bye week and get Buffalo, and so management folks with the upstate New York team are moaning and groaning … shut up already!
The Jets’ win-one, lose-one trend gets tested here – they’re “due” to lose – with born-again RB Chris Ivory looking to follow up his season-high 139-yard rushing performance in that 26-20 win against New Orleans back in Week 9 and he’ll get plenty of carries against the NFL’s 22nd-ranked rush defense.
Key to the Bills getting a win here while trying to stop a three-game losing skid:
Get the ball in the hands of C.J. Spiller 30+ times – keep in mind there are WR injury woes with the Bills as Stevie Johnson (groin) and rookie Robert Woods (sprained left ankle) are iffy.
Spread Notes – The New York Jets have covered six of their first nine games this year and note Rex Ryan’s crew is a perfect 3-0 ATS in divisional play. On the flip side, Buffalo’s a dead-even but vig-losing 5-5 spreadwise so far in Year One of the Doug Marrone Era, and the Bills have gone 4-1 ATS in their own back yard.
WASHINGTON (3-6) at PHILADELPHIA (5-5) – 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Key clash in the jumbled NFC East where it’s beginning to look more and more as if a .500 team is gonna win the division … but the $64,000 question here is when will the Eagles win a home game?
The Birdies have dropped their last 10 consecutive home games and that includes divisional tilts already this year against Dallas and the New York Giants – so will Chip Kelly’s club be able to overcome this bugaboo and keep Washington QB Robert Griffin III under wraps – RG3 has eight TDs and three INTs in his three career games against Philly.
Spread Notes – Philadelphia’s split its first 10 pointspread verdicts this year but note the Eagles are just 3-7 spreadwise in their last 10 home games against Washington. The ‘Skins enter this divisional clash at 3-6 vig-wise overall this year including an 0-2 ATS mark against NFC East teams after going 14-4 ATS inside the division from 2010-12.
GREEN BAY (5-4) at NEW YORK GIANTS (3-6) – 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Let’s see …
The Giants have won three in a row heading in here, and now Tom Coughlin’s club is facing off with a third-string quarterback in former Wisconsin whiz Scott Tolzien
Advantage Giants, right?
Well consider that Tolzien completed 24-of-39 passes as an emergency replacement for the injured Seneca Wallace (who was starting last week for the injured Aaron Rodgers) in that 27-13 loss to Philadelphia last Sunday, and reports are he’s looked smooth/sharp in practice this week.
Hey, he might be better than Giants slinger Eli Manning, who has just 11 TDs and 16 INTs – the fact is this is Eli’s worst year since his rookie season in 2004!
Spread Notes – Green Bay is 4-4-1 odds-wise overall this year but did you know the Packers are 19-9 ATS as point-grabbers since the start of the 2007 season? Meanwhile, the New York Giants are 3-6 versus the vig this year (that’s after an 0-5 ATS start) and the G-men are 9-6-1 ATS against fellow NFC competition since early in the 2012 season.
Here’s an important note …
My handicappers and bloggers will have all the weekend winners and you can get NCAA Football, NFL Week 11 play and all the NBA/NCAA Basketball action when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online at www.jimhurley.com.
Check is any time after 1 p.m. ET today and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturday/Sunday.
NOTE: Lots more in the next edition of Jim Sez including a Monday Night Football Preview/Forecast – that’s the New England Patriots at the Carolina Panthers.
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