Saturday Key College Previews

THE NFL ’14 SEASON GETS JUMP-STARTED WITH THE SUPER BOWL CHAMP SEAHAWKS SLAMMING THE PACKERS 36-16 …

PLUS OUR NCAA FOOTBALL WEEKEND PREVIEWS INCLUDING #7 MICHIGAN STATE AT #3 OREGON AND THE “LAST DANCE” BETWEEN MICHIGAN AT #16 NOTRE DAME
 
Repeat after me … it’s gonna be awfully tough to take down the 2014 Seattle Seahawks who these days are more than simply just the “Legion of Boom”.
Heck, in last night’s rollicking 36-16 home win against the 4 ½-point underdog Green Bay Packers, the defending Super Bowl champions broke out the heavy artillery with 398 offensive yards (including 207 rushing yards and a silly 5.6 yards-per-carry average) and let everyone know that they don’t believe in “Super Bowl hangovers”.

Among the headlines in Seattle’s 20-point win was the fact now-healthy WR Percy Harvin – who had 11 offensive touches worth 100 yards – is gonna be a major factor for this NFC West crew plus it’s obvious that the Seahawks’ secondary hasn’t missed a beat despite the off-season exodus of a pair of key players in Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner.

Yes, Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers (only 189 yards passing with 1 TD and 1 INT) never did challenge Pro Bowl CB Richard Sherman – not once, we say! -- and testing out opposite CB Byron Maxwell didn’t work out great either as he allowed just 52 passing yards on 10 throws in his general direction.

Okay, so you saw that NBC graphic showing no defending Super Bowl team has repeated since the 2003-04 New England but gotta ask yourself the question here … you think anyone else will look better in their Week 1 games comes Sunday/Monday?
We doubt it!

Seattle QB Russell Wilson (two TDs passing with 0 INTs and another 29 yards rushing on seven carries) was pretty much picture-perfect on the night and the folks in/around the Seahawks this past summer that claimed the best was yet to come for this third-year signal-caller look as if they know what they were talkin’ about!

Note … we’ll have lots of NFL Week 1 game previews in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez, so don’t miss out as the fun (and profits) are just beginning!

NCAA FOOTBALL – SATURDAY’S KEY PREVIEWS

#7 MICHIGAN STATE (1-0) at #3 OREGON (1-0) – 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox
The high-flying Oregon Ducks are currently a 12 ½-point favorite for this high-profile duel at always-noisy Autzen Stadium and – just for the record – it will be the 13th straight game that the Pac-12 team is a twin-digit fav.

So, should Michigan State be worried?

You betcha as Oregon QB Marcus Mariota (267 yards passing with 3 TDs and one rushing score in last weekend’s 62-13 non-cover win against 55-point pup South Dakota) appears healthy following last season’s knee issues and he’s got plenty of ammo on his side not the least of which is hot-shot freshman RB Royce Freeman who registered a pair of touchdowns in last week’s win.

If Mariota gets chased from the pocket – or runs on his own – then Michigan State’s defense starring DE Shilique Calhoun will have to limit the big plays but it says here that if Oregon gets five-or-more 20-plus yard gainers in this game, it wins … and covers that aforementioned twin-figure price tag.

Spread Notes – Oregon is a healthy 22-14-1 ATS (against the spread) as a betting favorite since the start of the 2011 season plus the Ducks have covered eight of their last baker’s dozen pointspread verdicts against non-league foes. Meanwhile, Michigan State’s 34-15-1 versus the vig overall the past three years (a sizzling .694 winning rate) and note Sparty is 10-2-1 ATS as the underdog side since the start of the ’11 campaign.

#14 USC (1-0) at #13 STANFORD (1-0) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
The update from LA-LA land is that USC quarterback Cody Kessler’s toe is fine after an early-week procedure that cured what ailed him – Kessler came out of the 2014 starting gate by throwing for 394 yards with four TDs on 25-of-37 completions in a rollicking 52-13 triumph over 18 ½-point dog Fresno State. Kessler claims his mobility won’t be an issue here but one major looming question is can Stanford’s novice-like offensive line (only one starter back from last year’s Rose Bowl-losing squad) give Cardinal QB Kevin Hogan enough time to rattle USC’s cage?

Hogan fired three first-half touchdowns last week in Stanford’s 45-0 win/cover against UC-Davis and the reports coming out of “The Farm” – not necessarily from the mouth of fourth-year head coach David Shaw, mind you – is that Hogan will indeed be trusted to make more plays in the passing game for this generally ultra-conservative run-first offense.

Everyone’s looking forward to the so-called matchup between Stanford LT Andrus Peat and USC defensive end Leonard Williams but we could see Hogan dumping off lots of screen passes/quick outs to the likes of WR Ty Montgomery and mates here and thus neutralizing Williams’ speed … stay tuned!

Spread Notes – Stanford owns a 6-3-1 pointspread the past 10 years in head-to-head games against rival USC and note the Cardinal is a solid 26-13 odds-wise at home the past six-plus seasons. The Southern Cal Trojans, meanwhile, enter this Pac-12 game having covered just three of their last 14 away games as that includes a shabby 0-7 ATS road mark in 2012. The Troy Boys are a dead-even but vig-losing 6-6-1 ATS as dogs since the start of the 2008 season.

MICHIGAN (1-0) at #16 NOTRE DAME (1-0) – 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC
It’s been pounded into everyone’s heads this week that this is the last time we’re gonna get Michigan v. Notre Dame for a long, long time and so now the key question is what team gets more geeked for this “final showdown”?

Is it a Michigan bunch that’s P.O.’ed because Notre Dame opted out of the final few years of the head-to-head contract … or is it the Irish who were not happy that following last year’s 41-30 Wolverines win in Ann Arbor the loudspeakers blared the “Chicken Dance”?

In any event, it figures to come down to which veteran quarterback makes more plays on third down here and gotta believe Notre Dame was ecstatic last week after QB Everett Golson threw two long TD passes (75 and 53 yards) and rushed for three scores in a commanding 48-17 win/cover against 20-point dog Rice following his one-year academic suspension while Michigan man QB Devin Gardner is fresh off his team’s 52-14 win/cover versus 20-point pup Appalachian State last week. Gardner hurled three first-half touchdowns to TE-turned-WR Devin Funchess as the Wolverines’ quarterback completed an eye-popping 13-of-14 passes.

Who’s gonna have the “last laugh” now?

Spread Notes – Notre Dame is 2-6 spreadwise in the last eight head-to-head matchups against Michigan and take note that point-grabbing sides have notched spread wins in seven of the last 10 games played in this soon-to-end rivalry. Michigan is 12-8-1 ATS when playing non-Big 10 teams the past five-plus seasons and the maize-and-blue is just 19-20-1 ATS overall as underdog sides dating back to the start of the 2004 season.

VIRGINIA TECH (1-0) at #8 OHIO STATE (1-0) – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
If you watched last week’s 34-17 win/cover by 13 ½-point fav Ohio State over gritty Navy, then you know the following: The Buckeyes’ brand-new QB J.T. Barrett (12-of-15 passing for 226 yards last Saturday) has talent but is far from a prime-time performer right here/right now; you also know that the Ohio State offensive line – with four new starters in tow this season – wasn’t very good in that opener in Baltimore and so expect a major leap in play here.

On the flip side, Virginia Tech is banking on transfer QB Michael Brewer (251 yards passing and a pair of scoring strikes in last weekend’s 34-9 win/cover against 23 ½-point dog William & Mary) to be the “real deal” against an Ohio State defense that surrendered some 370 rushing yards to the Midshipmen and so the key for the 11-point underdog Gobblers might be less about Brewer and more about how the Tech ground game fares here.

Spread Notes – Ohio State is now 13-12-1 ATS overall in the Urban Meyer Era but did you know the Buckeyes are a shabby 7-10 ATS as double-digit betting favs in the two-plus year Meyer reign? Virginia Tech scoots into this road tilt with a 3-8-2 ATS mark in non-league affairs the past three-plus seasons and take note the Hokies are an ugly 3-11 ATS in away games since the start of the 2012 season.

Now hear this …
Jim Hurley and his veteran Handicappers and Bloggers are all revved up for this NCAA and NFL season and we’ll storm our way to the winner’s circle all weekend long: Get all the above-mentioned important College Football games plus lots more on Saturday and get your weekend started right tonight with winners on the ESPN games between Pittsburgh at Boston College and Washington State at Nevada.

Then, it’s a grand NFL Opening Week with lots of marquee matchups including Sunday afternoon’s action between Cincinnati at Baltimore and San Francisco at Dallas plus get in on all the prime-time action featuring Sunday Night’s Indianapolis at Denver bash and the two Monday Night Football games … that’s the New York Giants at Detroit and San Diego at Arizona. 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 2014 MLB season.

Now, here’s what you gotta do: Check with us right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 after 1 p.m. Eastern time for tonight action and after 10 a.m. ET for the Saturday and Sunday NFL. NCAA and MLB winners!

NOTE: More NFL Week 1 Previews in tomorrow’s weekend edition of Jim Sez.

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