Thursday NFL Recap - Saturday Previews

THE NFL WEEK 2 REPORT:

RAVENS RAVAGE THE STEELERS 26-6

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEWS: WE ZOOM IN ON #4 OKLAHOMA, #9 USC AND #17 VIRGINIA TECH

Hey, just wait and see the look on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s face when he sees this video!

No, not the one we’ve all been seeing ad nauseum this past week involving a now-former star running back of the Baltimore Ravens but instead the video of Baltimore’s punishing 26-6 home win against 2 ½-point underdog Pittsburgh last night (we’ll have to assume the commish had more pressing matters that took him away from the nearly three-hour beat-down the Ravens put on their long-time arch-rivals!).

In any event, while the world awaited the next twist-and-turn in the Ray Rice Saga – and let’s say we long ago had enough! – the Ravens got down to business with a Week 2 win that featured lots of hard-hitting, a 3-to-0 turnover advantage and – get this – some 157 rushing yards by Baltimore backs not named Rice as RB Bernard Pierce (he ran it 22 times for 96 yards while RB Justin Forsett galloped free for 56 yards on just 8 carries).

Mr. Rice, your services – really -- no longer will be required!

The Steelers didn’t record a touchdown in a game against Baltimore for the first time in eight years and no amount of trickery on the part of the Pittsburgh offense could rattle the Ravens’ defense that simply didn’t get snookered for any big plays and were aided/abetted by some off-the-mark passes by generally reliable QB Ben Roethlisberger (a meaningless 217 passing yards with one pick).

Go ahead and take a deep breath, Ravens. But, sorry to say, your TMZ moment isn’t up just yet.

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT

Top-ranked Florida State (2-0) is idle this weekend; Second-ranked Oregon is listed as a 43-point betting favorite over Wyoming; And third-ranked Alabama is a whopping 48-point favorite against lowly Southern Miss; So don’t exactly expect the “status quo” to change this weekend at the very tippy-top of the College Football world.

But that doesn’t mean we still might have some movin’-and-shakin’ among the nation’s Top 25.

Earlier in the week we tossed you our Jim Sez previews regarding #6 Georgia at #24 South Carolina plus we offered up that #12 UCLA versus Texas tilt set for Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Jim Hurley and his veteran Handicappers and Bloggers are all revved up for this NCAA and NFL season and we’ll continue to storm our way right to the winner’s circle all weekend long: Make sure you’re banging out lots of winners this week beginning with the pair of NCAA Football games on tonight’s card – that’s Toledo at Cincinnati (ESPNU) and #8 Baylor at 5-TD underdog Buffalo (on ESPN).

Plus, get all the important College Football games on tap Saturday featuring such slam-bang games as Georgia at South Carolina, Purdue at Notre Dame and Tennessee at Oklahoma.

And get all the NFL Week 2 winners too including the key Sunday Night Game between the Chicago Bears at the San Francisco 49ers. There’s lots to cash in too with Major-League Baseball as it heads down the stretch of this 2014 MLB season.

Check with us right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for weeknight action and after 10 a.m. ET for the Saturday and Sunday NFL. NCAA and MLB winners!

In today’s column space, there are three more Top 25 teams get our undivided attention:

TENNESSEE (2-0) at #4 OKLAHOMA (2-0) – 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Let’s start off things by throwing some numbers in your general direction here: The Oklahoma Sooners have averaged 50 points a game in season-starting triumphs over Louisiana Tech and Tulsa and keep in mind that Bob Stoops’ crew has outscored these two foes by a 62-3 margin in first-half action.

Now on the flip side, Tennessee’s defense has held opponents to just a 7-of-31 conversion rate on third down plays while the born-again Volunteers have limited the likes of Utah State and Arkansas State to a grand total of 26 points.

Okay, so there’s no question that the “quality of competition” has gone way up for Tennessee here but Butch Jones’ crew has gotten to opposing quarterbacks so far and now must zoom in and deliver some big blows to red-hot Sooners’ QB Trevor Knight who threw for 299 yards and two TDs in last weekend’s business-like 52-7 win at 24-point pup Tulsa.

Watch Oklahoma wide-out Sterling Shepard who snagged eight passes worth 177 yards in that aforementioned win against Tulsa.
Remember that Tennessee has finished each of the past three seasons with identical (and ugly) 5-7 SU (straight-up) marks – if this is gonna be a monster year for the orange-and-white then making some noise at three-TD favorite Oklahoma is essential.

Spread Notes – Oklahoma has split its first two pointspread decisions coming out of the old starting gate (covered Tulsa last week after failing to cover the 34-point price against Louisiana Tech in the Sooners’ opener) and overall OU is 9-4 versus the vig when playing non-conference foes the past three-plus seasons. Tennessee, meanwhile, is also 1-1 spreadwise to start the 2014 season and note the Vols are just 7-17-1 ATS as underdog sides since the start of the 2010 season.

#9 USC (2-0) at BOSTON COLLEGE (1-1) – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Steve Sarkisian Era at Southern Cal is off to a rollicking start whether it’s the 105 offensive plays from scrimmage registered in that season-opening 52-13 win against Fresno State or last week’s epic 13-10 upset win at Stanford in which the Trojans managed just 291 offensive yards on 59 plays – and no need to get into the whole business of Sarkisian getting penalized for being “too close to the field” or the whole AD Pat Haden incident that was blown way out of the water by the nitwits at ESPN.

The fact of the matter here is USC must guard against the inevitable letdown against an overmatched foe that also figures to play without top LB Sean Duggan (knee).

Still, let’s see how USC slinger Cody Kessler (a career-low 135 yards passing last week against the Cardinal) handles some off-the-edge pressure here and we’ll see if BC’s dual-threat QB Tyler Murphy (a transfer from Florida) can perk up his passing game after completing only 10-of-28 aerials for 134 yards with two INTs against Pitt.

Spread Notes – The USC Trojans are 2-0 ATS right out of the gate and overall this Pac-12 team has covered eight of its last 11 games while dating back to early in the 2013 season. Note that USC is just 4-11 spreadwise away the past two-plus seasons. Boston College heads into this under-the-lights affair at 5-10 spreadwise when grabbing up points the past two-plus seasons and that includes last Friday’s 30-20 home loss versus 5 ½-point fav Pittsburgh.

EAST CAROLINA (1-1) at #17 VIRGINIA TECH (2-0) – 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
Are the glory days back in Blacksburg? Last weekend’s stirring 35-21 win at 11-point favorite Ohio State clearly marked Virginia Tech’s biggest football win in years but now this is no time for a letdown for Frank Beamer’s club.

The Techsters are hyped about having transfer QB Michael Brewer on board – he completed 23-of-36 passes for 199 yards and two TDs in last week’s shocker “W” in Columbus – but here the Hokies must run the ball better after averaging just three yards a pop last week (12 yards rushing on 40 carries).
East Carolina QB Shane Carden and WR Justin Hardy rank as one of the nation’s top pass/catch combos around and so Bud Foster’s born-again Virginia Tech defense may want to throw some different looks at this duo here … or else suffer the consequences.

Spread Notes – Virginia Tech has snapped up pointspread wins in its first two games this year against William & Mary and Ohio State but the Hokies are an ugly 9-20-1 ATS as betting favorites since the start of the 2011 season. On the flip side, East Carolina’s covered its last seven consecutive spread verdicts while dating back to last year and the Buccos are 4-1-1 spreadwise overall in their last half-dozen tilts against V-Tech.

NOTE: Get more NFL Week 2 Game Previews in tomorrow’s weekend edition of Jim Sez.

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