Friday Night Previews + Pre-Season Update

THE COLLEGE GRIDIRON REPORT:

THURSDAY AND FRIDAY KEY PREVIEWS PLUS A LOOK AT THE BEST POINTSPREAD
COACHES IN THE LAND…

THE NFL PRESEASON UPDATE:
WE WRAP UP THE EXHIBITION SKED AND HERE’S SOME QUICK-HITTER NEWS/NOTES

By Jim Hurley

Here’s a question worth asking:

Will any of College Football’s top 10 teams go down to defeat right out of the starting gate?

Well, one might believe the likeliest candidate is #5 Ohio State now that QB Braxton Miller (shoulder) is gone for the year, but the Buckeyes are still a hefty 16½-point betting favorite for their Saturday noon time (ET) game versus Navy at M&T Stadium in Baltimore… or maybe you believe #9 South Carolina is goin’ down this evening at home against 10½-point underdog Texas A&M.

Otherwise, it’s tough to expect anybody to beat the other Top 10 teams this week/weekend but anybody that follows College Football closely knows that each/every year someone comes from out of the woods to spring a monster upset and so don’t fall out of your easy chair this Labor Day Weekend when/if some big-time favorite gets whacked. Just sayin’!

Okay, time to get to some Thursday and Friday Nite Previews in the world of NCAA Football but first this important reminder…

The College Football 2014 campaign kicks off and immediately swings into high gear with a full week/weekend card scheduled right through Labor Day evening.

Folks, you definitely want to be in the winner’s circle for all the big opening-week tilts with the college games beginning with tonight’s action as the aforementioned Texas A&M at South Carolina tilt kicks things off at 6 p.m. ET on the SEC Network then there’s a handful of games on Friday including BYU at UConn and then Saturday there are 25 on-the-board games featuring Clemson-Georgia and Florida State versus Oklahoma State. On Sunday it’s Utah State at Tennessee and SMU at Baylor and it all wraps up Monday Night with an ACC bash between Miami at Louisville!

And—of course—the NFL Preseason wraps up tonight with all 32 teams in action and so there’s more winnin’ right here before we even kick off the 2014 NFL Season for real with next Thursday’s bash between the Green Bay Packers at the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks!

Take note that Jim Hurley—America’s #1 Handicapper—also continues to bang out lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do to win in the NFL, NCAA Football and MLB is to check in either right here online at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for all the weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners… can’t beat that, right?

The NFL Preseason, the start of the College Football campaign and then Baseball action too—it’s always a major money-making time of the year for the Jim Hurley Network so why not join in on all the fun-and-profits right now!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL – THURSDAY’S KEY PREVIEWS

#21 TEXAS A&M at #9 SOUTH CAROLINA – 6 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Let the schedule-makers be damned! For the past two years in Southeastern Conference play we didn’t get treated to a matchup between Texas A&M and South Carolina and so, thus, we didn’t get to see Gamecocks’ DE Jadeveon Clowney chase around Aggies’ QB Johnny Manziel.

Now, the teams unofficially christen this current campaign and neither mega-star is still around their college campuses and so attention is turned to their replacements:

South Carolina looks to sophomore Darius English to fill Clowney’s large shoes – note the 6-foot-6 last year registered 19 tackles and forced one fumble in part-time play last year and his target on this night is Texas A&M’s soph QB Kenny Hill (183 yards passing and one TD pass last year backing up Manziel) who promises no “Johnny Dollar” signs in this one at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Spread Notes – South Carolina is just 17-16 ATS (against the spread) overall in SEC games the past four years but note the Gamecocks have notched pointspread wins in eight of the team’s last dozen home games. Texas A&M enters this 2014 lid-lifter fresh off last year’s 0-5 ATS away mark that included spread setbacks at Arkansas, Ole Miss, LSU and Missouri.

#18 OLE MISS vs. BOISE STATE (at Georgia Dome in Atlanta) – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
You can look it up: The Boise State Broncos have not been a double-digit underdog since early in the 2008 season – a shocking 37-32 win at 10 ½-point favorite Oregon – and the first thing that came into mind here is that this current price tag of Ole Miss favored by 10 points appears a tad “tall” … is it?

The Rebels do have a whole lot of veteran flavor on this 2014 squad including senior QB Bo Wallace who threw for 3,346 yards and 18 TDs last year when Ole Miss won eight games including a 25-17 triumph over Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl.

If Wallace can connect for some major strikes to star WR Laquon Treadwell (team-best 72 receptions for 608 yards and five TDs last year as a frosh) then keeping the Rebs below 35 points will be tough for Boise State.

The Chris Petersen Era is over for these Broncos as former B-State assistant Bryan Harsin takes over the head coaching gig and all eyes are on State QB Grant Hedrick who threw for 1,825 yards with 16 TDs and only 5 INTs while sharing the No. quarterbacking job a year ago.

Spread Notes – Ole Miss is 8-5 versus the vig as betting favorites since the start of the Hugh Freeze Era (2012) and note the Rebels have covered five of their last six on-the-board season-opening games. Meanwhile, Boise State is just 16-22 ATS overall the past three years but note the Broncos are a decent 8-7 spread log when playing non-conference foes.

RUTGERS at WASHINGTON STATE – (at Seattle) 10 p.m. ET, Fox 1
There’s a whole lotta love going ‘round for this Washington State squad that last year finished 6-7 SU (straight-up) and that included a wild 48-45 loss to Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl.

Maybe Year Three of the Mike Leach Era – he’s 9-16 SU and 13-10 ATS overall so far – will turn out special but it all starts with QB Connor Halliday who last year threw for 4.597 yards and 34 TDs (but also 22 INTs).

On the flip side, Rutgers waited deep into the summer before announcing Gary Nova would be the team’s starting signal-caller but it’s the Scarlet Knights’ defense that really must rise up here after finishing 81st nationally in points allowed (29.8 ppg).
The Coogs are listed as 8-point betting favorites and it’s worth pointing out that Washington State has failed to cover four-of-five games under Leach whenever laying 8-or-more points.

Spread Notes – Washington State’s failed to cover seven of its last nine season-opening spread tilts and that includes last year’s 31-24 loss-but-cover at 14-point favorite Auburn. On the flip side, Rutgers is a dead-even but vig-losing 12-12 against the odds under third-year head coach Kyle Flood but did you realize the Scarlet Knights are 29-18-1 ATS away since the start of the 2006 season?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL—FRIDAY’S KEY PREVIEWS

BYU at CONNECTICUT—7 p.m. ET, ESPN
There’s been some talk that the BYU Cougars could be “spoilers” in this newfangled College Football Playoff (CFB) system and no doubt Bronco Mendenhall’s club is a heavy-duty favorite to tuck away its first win of the year here in Storrs (the Coogs are 16-point betting favorites at last check).

IF BYU is gonna cover this bloated price tag then the tandem of QB Taysom Hill (2,938 yards passing and 1,344 yards rushing last year) and physical RB Jamaal Williams (1,233 yards rushing and 7 TDs a year ago) must be stat-sheet stuffers from the proverbial get-go.

It’s the head coaching debut for UConn’s boyish-looking Bob Diaco—not exactly the way you probably want to begin things, right?

Spread Notes —Did you know that last year the BYU Coogs failed to cover six of their seven away games? The lone spread road win was a 31-14 triumph at 5½-poinjt favorite Utah State but keep in mind BYU has notched spread wins in six of its last nine games whenever laying a twin-figure price. UConn, meanwhile, is 4-10-2 ATS (against the spread) as underdogs since the start of the 2011 season.

A Season's Worth of College Football Winners
Kicks Off Tonight!

Click Here For More Info!

COLORADO STATE vs. COLORADO (at Denver)—9 p.m. ET, Fox 1
This is an always-heated intrastate rivalry that tends to be close—note that Colorado has won seven of the last 10 games in this series but three of those Buffaloes wins were by just three points.

If CSU is gonna snag this mild upset here—and thus gain revenge for last season’s 41-27 loss—than senior QB Garrett Grayson (3,696 yards passing with 23 TDs last year) must be sharp and keep the heat on a Colorado defense that last year ranked a deadly 115h nationally in points allowed (38.3 ppg).

Spread Notes —Colorado and Colorado State have split their last 10 head-to-head spread decisions but the CU Buffaloes have covered three of the last four showdowns. Overall, Colorado is 8-18 ATS away the past four years while Colorado State’s 2-5 versus the vig in on-the-board season openers the past seven years.

UNLV at ARIZONA—10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The good folks in the desert—a/k/a Las Vegas—has the host U of A Wildcats favored by 24 points here and interesting to note the Pac-12 team won 58-13 last year at two-TD dog UNLV, so what might the score be here?

The ‘Cats say redshirt freshman Anu Solomon won a four-way battle for the starting quarterback spot—now third-year head coach Rich Rodriguez needs the passing stats to perk up one year after ‘Zona ranked 100th nationally with just 193.5 aerial yards per game.

Spread Notes —Arizona is a rotten 17-29-1 ATS dating back to the start of the 2010 season and that includes an 9-18-1 spread mark as point-laying sides. On the flip side, UNLV is 14-9-1 ATS overall the past two years.

In other College Football News & Notes…

So, who’s been the Best Bets when it comes to NCAA head coaches?

Here’s a little Jim Sez report as we set sail on this 2014 season…

It’s only been one year at Auburn but boss-man Gus Malzahn cranked out an 11-2 ATS mark in 2013 and that included covers in the SEC Championship Game versus Missouri and the BCS National Championship Game against Florida State…

Ball State’s Pete Lembo isn’t a name that jumps right out at you but note the fourth-year Cardinals coach is 23-14 (a .622 winning rate) versus the vig in his career with the Mid-American Conference crew…

Baylor’s Art Briles is given plenty of credit for building back this Big 12 program but did you know the Bears are 43-27 ATS under Briles in his six years on the job (that’s a .614 winning percentage)?…

Tim DeRuyter of Fresno State has cranked out a tidy 16-9 ATS mark in his two-plus years on the job (a .640 winning rate) and note that includes a dandy 10-2 spread mark in his first full year in 2012…

Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze has taken Oxford by storm and he’s becoming more and more popular among Rebels’ backers because of his 16-8 ATS mark (a .667 winning percentage) and note Freeze already owns spread wins against Alabama, Auburn and two over LSU in his brief stay…

North Texas head coach Dan McCarney is the proud owner of a 22-14 ATS mark in his three years in Denton (that’s a .611 winning rate) and among the pointspread conquests to his name are upset wins against Ball State last year and versus Indiana back in 2011…

Stanford’s David Shaw has earned major praise from his college coaching peers, but how about putting smiles on his backers who’ve gone 26-14-1 ATS in the Shaw Era (a .650 winning rate)? Hey, Shaw already owns covers in two different BCS bowls— a 41-38 loss-but-cover OT affair against Oklahoma State in the 2011 season Fiesta Bowl and a 20-14 win/cover against 4-point pup Wisconsin in the 2012 season Rose Bowl…

Here’s another Pac-12 coach who has been getting in on the green as UCLA’s Jim Mora is 17-10 versus the vig in his first two years on the job (a .630 winning rate) and don’t forget this Bruins boss started off last season with five consecutive season-opening pointspread “W’s”…

And, last but not least, UTSA Roadrunners coach Larry Coker has pounded out a 13-6-1 ATS mark in three years in San Antonio (a .684 winning rate)—true, the San Ant team is not always on the big board but the former Miami boss has his now-Conference USA club playing hard against bigger-name teams and thus dog covers last year against the likes of New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Tulsa and North Texas.

NFL PRESEASON NEWS/NOTES
The hammer came down on Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon with the Wednesday announcement that he will be suspended for this entire 2014 season—and our question is why did the league let him play in the preseason and risk injury then if it was gonna punish him with a one-year ban?

Don’t get us started but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is not exactly on a good streak these days, what with the two-game ban on Baltimore Ravens’ RB Ray Rice having come under heavy-duty criticism (we believe Rice should have been sacked for eight games for his domestic violence incident) and with the recent bad press involving the Washington nickname and the “payola” business surrounding this year’s Super Bowl halftime show…

Okay, so who’s gonna come running to sign bad boy offensive lineman Richie Incognito after his role in BullyGate a year ago? Something tells us OL-needy teams such as the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers won’t exactly be at the front of the line. Our best guess is he goes—where else—but to the Oakland Raiders…

Don’t know if you’ve been tracking the Super Bowl 49 “Odds to Win it All” but just wanted to get you up to speed:

The really “hot sides” in the past few days are the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers: Note the Saints went from being 14-to-1 to win it all in late July to 7-to-1 as per last night, while the Packers went from 12-to-1 a month ago to 8-to-1. Guess that means there’s a little less confidence out there that the Seattle Seahawks are gonna repeat…

Finally, you can also—in many places/locales—wager on the Super Bowl matchup odds and one that has us intrigued is a New Orleans vs. Pittsburgh showdown in Glendale come February. You can get that at 90-to-1 right now meaning a $100 wager on a Saints-Steelers Super Bowl would get you $9,000 clams. Hmmm.

We’re thinking about it, folks!

NOTE: Catch more NCAA Football Game Previews—that’s a slew of Saturday games—plus lots more in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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