Thursday/Friday Bowl Previews & Wild Card ATS

JIM HURLEY gave his clients a trio of BOWL SHOCKERS on Wednesday with Nebraska (+9), Michigan St. (+7) and UCF (+17), plus the Total of the Day in the UCF game (OVER 70.5)!    


The beat goes on with the College Football Bowl Season - who's gonna strike it rich Thursday and Friday nights in the three bowls set in New Orleans, Arlington and Miami? We preview Thursday's and Friday's bowl previews right here and right now:

Here's a look at the Jan. 2 and Jan. 3 Bowl Games:

On Thursday, Jan. 2, it's ...

SUGAR BOWL - at New Orleans, LA
#11 OKLAHOMA (10-2) vs. #3 ALABAMA (11-1) - 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
There won't be a national championship "three-peat" for the 'Bama Crimson Tide this year - and no doubt Nick Saban's team will be mentally re-winding that 100-plus yard touchdown return by Auburn's Chris Davis off a missed field goal for the next several months - but here the defending champs end the AJ McCarron Era with the stage to themselves on this night-after-New Year's and it'll be interesting to see how Alabama tackles this challenge.
Okay, so Saban's staying put after snubbing Texas and there's been plenty of talk about how Alabama's won five-of-six bowl games in the Saban Era with the lone bowl loss coming in 2008 (also in the Sugar Bowl) against Utah when Alabama's loss in that year's SEC Championship Game versus Florida kept the Tide from a date for playing for all the marbles. Let's see if McCarron (2,676 yards passing with 26 TDs and 5 INTs) gets the green light to go after an Oklahoma pass defense that finished a solid 15th nationally this year.

The Sooners - who wound up ranked just 102nd nationally in passing offense - have shown major explosiveness late in the year while scoring 48, 41 and 33 points in back-to-back-to-back wins/covers against Iowa State/Kansas State/Oklahoma State and head coach Bob Stoops claims it will be a "game-time decision" as to who starts at quarterback here from the triumvirate of Trevor Knight, Blake Bell and/or Kendal Thompson.

One major X-factor for this game of high-profile foes: What will be the mental state of Alabama PK Cade Foster who was reviled for missing those field goals against Auburn ... stay tuned!

Spread Notes - Alabama is 7-5 ATS (against the spread) overall this year but date back to the start of the 2008 campaign and you'll see the Crimson Tide's a spiffy 48-28 versus the vig overall (that's a .632 winning rate). On the flip side, Oklahoma rides a three-game spread winning streak into this prime-time bowl bash and the Sooners are also 7-5 ATS overall this year but did you know OU's just 3-7 ATS in its last 10 bowl games?

Get all the College Football Bowl Games plus get all the NFL Wild Card Round games this Saturday/Sunday too when you check with us here at Jim Hurley's Network. And, of course, make sure you're all aboard for the NBA and NCAA Basketball daily/nightly winners all this week/weekend action either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.

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On Friday, Jan. 3, it's ...

COTTON BOWL - at Arlington, TX
#13 OKLAHOMA STATE (10-2) vs. #8 MISSOURI (11-2) - 8 p.m. ET, Fox
Hey, don't I know you? That's surely the case here for these one-time conference rivals who will be meeting one another for the 52nd time - but the first time since Missouri fled the Big 12 for the bigger dollars of the SEC two years ago. In fact, the Tigers - who own a 28-23 lifetime lead over Oklahoma State - roll into this bowl bash averaging 39 points per game while the Cowboys average 39.8 ppg and in a bowl season where "over" bettors have gotten scorched, this could be a case where the result matches the offensive hype (the totals price here is 61 ½ points).

All eyes will be on Missouri QB James Franklin (2,255 yards passing with 19 TDs and 5 INTs) who missed a chunk of games this year with a separated shoulder but how often will he be able to chuck it deep to WRs L'Damian Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham who combined for 1,683 yards and 22 TDs?

On the flip side, this Oklahoma State squad is shooting for a fourth straight bowl win here and the top priority is keeping Missouri DE Michael Sam (10.5 sacks) out of the Cowboys' backfield that likely needs a pedestrian ground game to keep Sam and Company at bay - screens, draws and traps will be part of head coach Mike Gundy's offensive game plan but the O-State gang wins or loses here based on QB Clint Chelf who threw for 15 TDs and 6 INTs as he wrestled away the starting job in a three-way quarterback battle.

It's not a Big 12 or even Big 8 matchup here - but neither of these teams wants to end the year with back-to-back losses and so you'll see a sense-of-urgency feel from both the 'Boys and the Bengals here ... count on it.

Spread Notes - Oklahoma State is a money-making 8-4 against the odds overall this season and note the Cowboys have covered 17 of their last 25 away games while dating back to the start of the 2010 season. Meanwhile, Missouri is an electric 10-3 spreadwise this special season and the Tigers covered five of their six away games this year with the lone loss coming in that 59-42 shootout versus 1 ½-point pup Auburn in the SEC Championship Game.

ORANGE BOWL - at Miami, FL
#12 CLEMSON (10-2) vs. #7 OHIO STATE (12-1) - 8:30 p.m. ET
So close, yet so far. No doubt that's the sentiment regarding the Ohio State Buckeyes who blew a second-half lead in the Big 10 Championship Game loss to Michigan State and so there was no pot of gold over the rainbow for Urban Meyer's squad - will that effect how the Buckeyes play here? The Big 10 runner-ups - who average a mind-numbing 46.3 ppg - look to hard-charging RB Carlos Hyde (1,408 yards rushing with 14 TDs despite missing the season's first three games) to both pile up the yardage and keep Clemson QB Tajh Boyd (3,473 yards passing with 29 TDs and 9 INTs) off the field.

The Tigers - who lost two of their three major hoedown games this year (beat Georgia and lost to Florida State and South Carolina) - sport the country's 12th-ranked passing attack and no question Boyd will be eyeballing "chunk plays" downfield here to WR Sammy Watkins (85 catches and 10 TDs) who also figures to get his hands on the ball with some runs/reverses.

In fact, look for more than a few gimmick plays on both sides here with the totals price these days at 69 ½ points - maybe Ohio State QB Braxton Miller (22 TD passes and 10 TD runs this injury-abbreviated year) puts his best foot forward while seeking next year's Heisman Trophy.

Spread Notes - Ohio State's just 6-7 against the Las Vegas prices this year and that includes a current four-game spread losing streak but keep in mind the Buckeyes are 6-3 ATS in bowl games the past 10 years. Meanwhile, Clemson is a dead-even but vig-losing 6-6 spreadwise this season and the Tigers have failed to cover six of their last eight bowl games since 2005.


The NFL Playoffs swing into action this weekend and here's quick-hitter pointspread notes on all eight teams:

CINCINNATI - Everyone knows the Bengals are a perfect 8-0 ATS at home this year but how about the fact the AFC North champs have covered 7-of-11 games when in the favorite's role?

GREEN BAY - Go back to the Super Bowl-winning season in 2010 and you'll see the Packers have covered five of their last seven post-season games but this year Mike McCarthy's crew is a rotten 1-5 spreadwise whenever in the underdog role.

INDIANAPOLIS - The Colts are now 11-4-1 vig-wise at home since the start of last year and that includes home covers this year against the likes of Seattle and Denver.

KANSAS CITY - Did you know the Chiefs have not played in a post-season road game since 2006 and that was a 23-8 loss at 7-point fav Indianapolis? Note that KayCee's just 2-4 vig-wise against fellow playoff teams this season.

NEW ORLEANS - All this talk about the Saints and their shabby road play and it sure was made evident in the team's pointspread problems as the NFC South club failed to cover seven-of-eight away games this year with the lone cover coming in a Week 5 win at Chicago.

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles were a shaky 6-7 ATS as betting favorites this season and note they split their 10 out-of-division games against Mr. Vig too.

SAN DIEGO - The Chargers cranked out a solid 9-6-1 ATS mark in Year One of the Mike McCoy Era and that included outright upset wins against Philadelphia, Dallas, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Denver ... so you never know, Cincy!

SAN FRANCISCO - Since the Jim Harbaugh Era began back in 2011, these SF 49ers are a collective 32-18-3 against the odds for a fantastic .640 winning rate.

NOTE: Get Saturday's NFL Wild Card Round Games - that's Kansas City at Indianapolis and New Orleans at Philadelphia - in the next edition of Jim Sez and we'll also continue our College Bowl coverage too!


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