Saturday College Forecasts

Network 3-1 Overall on Thursday Night winning with Giants and the OVER in the pros, and splitting in college, winning with UCLA crushing ASU, and just missing with OSU against Texas Tech.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND PREVIEWS/FORECASTS

WE ROCK-N-ROLL THROUGH A BATCH OF KEY SATURDAY MATCHUPS AND ASK ABOUT THE “HOT SEAT” AT MICHIGAN

We’re winding down the month of September but even we gotta admit there’s some strange things when you look at this weekend’s NCAA Football menu:
There’s only 16 teams among the current Associated Press Top 25 in action here (okay, so #24 Oklahoma State, #11 UCLA and #15 Arizona State have games to play tonight) and there are no head-to-head Top 25 games at all and so that means that’s lots of good/competitive games on this docket but no one blockbuster tilt on the menu.

What you also have this weekend is the continuing “hot seat” drama involving Michigan head coach Brady Hoke who – we must say – appeared a bit lost in an earlier-week presser in which he spent many moments fending off the array of media second-guessers who are wondering why the maize-and-blue is just 2-2 SU (straight-up) so far this year and truly anemic when playing big-time teams (see zero points versus Notre Dame in a 31-0 loss and then last week’s 26-10 home loss to Utah).
Now, Hoke and Company are prohibitive favorites for Saturday’s home game against Little Brown Jug rival Minnesota – note the Las Vegas spread opened at 8 points and the Wolverines have shot up to be a 12-point choice at last check – and if Michigan somehow was to lose this game to the Golden Gophers, all hell is bound to break loose in Ann Arbor where in-the-loop folks want Hoke gone even before Year Four is completed and the hot names we’re hearing include time-tested winners elsewhere such as TCU’s Gary Patterson and BYU’s Bronco Mendenhall.

Let’s just say that a .500-type season and a minor bowl game in the Texas Bowl (for example) ain’t gonna cut it for Hoke who these days is battling with his own coordinators and unsure how to proceed with his troubled quarterback position. It’s a mess for Big Blue.

Jim Hurley’s Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to torch Las Vegas and the off-shore books with loads of NFL and NCAA Football winners this week and that includes a daily dose of pigskin on Friday night, with Middle Tennessee State at Old Dominion (8 p.m. ET on Fox 1) and Fresno State at New Mexico (8 p.m. ET on ESPN). Then it’s a full Saturday card (see top games below) and the pros are back at it come Sunday with the New Orleans at Dallas prime-time game sure to be among our selections this weekend. Check with the Jim Hurley Network right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 after 1 p.m. ET on week days and any time after 10 a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday. Plus get all our down-the-stretch Major-League Baseball winners too! The MLB Playoffs are just days away now with wild card games slated for Tuesday/Wednesday!

NCAA PREVIEWS

On Saturday, it’s |
#7 BAYLOR (3-0, 0-0 Big 12) at IOWA STATE (1-2, 0-1 Big 12) – 8:20 p.m. ET, Fox

Maybe you wish to scoff at the competition so far as the Baylor Bears have beaten the likes of SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo by a composite score of 178-to-27 but here’s now the fourth straight season-opening game in which Art Briles’ club is at least a three-touchdown betting favorite and note Baylor’s bringing back some injured wide outs including Antwan Goodley who led last year’s Fiesta Bowl team in receptions with 71 catches worth 1,339 yards and 13 TDs.

If the now-15 day break between games did anything for Baylor, it healed ‘em up on offense where QB Bryce Petty is getting closer to 100 percent after having two cracked bones in his back on opening day.

If Iowa State is gonna deliver the shockeroo upset here – and note the Cyclones barely fell short to 12-point fav Kansas State 32-28 back on Sept. 6th and then did win as 13 ½-point pups at Iowa on Sept. 13th – then PK Cole Netten might have to bag a whole bunch of field goals here!

Spread Note – Baylor has charged out of the starting gate with a 3-0 ATS (against the spread) mark this year and overall the Bears are 28-11 versus the vig since the start of the 2011 campaign.

TENNESSEE (2-1, 0-0 SEC) at #12 GEORGIA (2-1, 0-1 SEC 12) – 12 p.m. ESPN
The Georgia Dawgs should have only one real strategy for this SEC clash between the hedges: Get the ball to superstar RB Todd Gurley as often as possible – how about 25-to-30 carries and another 4 or 5 pass receptions as a bare minimum! – and then see where the proverbial chips fall

No doubt that Georgia head coach Mark Richt heard plenty about not getting the ball to Gurley in that goal-line area series against South Carolina two weeks ago but that won’t be a “talking point” here. Note the Vols have a banged-up wide receiver corps and so here extra attention must be paid to Tennessee’s starry soph WR Marquez North (14 catches for 173 yards and two TDs this year).

Spread Note – Georgia has failed to cover six of its last eight head-to-head pointspread verdicts against Tennessee.

MISSOURI (3-1, 0-0 SEC) at #13 SOUTH CAROLINA (3-1, 2-1 SEC) – 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Turn back the clock to a year ago and you’ll recall the Missouri Tigers were flying high at 7-0 SU and in serious contention for the BCS championship game but a twin-OT home loss to South Carolina crushed those elite dreams  -- and don’t forget that the Gamecocks came back from a late-game 17-point deficit to snag the 27-24 victory.

Now, Steve Spurrier’s club – already playing here its fourth league game of the season (say what!) – hope to string together a fourth straight win following that 52-28 season-starting home loss to Texas A&M and it’ll be up to QB Dylan Thompson (22-of-34 for 237 yards passing and 3 TDs in last week’s 48-34 non-cover win at 21 ½-point pup Vanderbilt) who must steer the ship against a Missouri defense that’s allowed just 20.8 ppg this year but simply did not make the big stand in last week’s 31-27 loss to two-TD dog Indiana.

Can QB Maty Mauk and the Tigers now gain a little revenge after last year’s collapse against Carolina? Stay tuned.

Spread Note – South Carolina is just 4-8 vig-wise as betting favorites since the start of last year and that includes pointspread setbacks as the chalk this year against Texas A&M, East Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Meanwhile, in keeping with our season-long pointspread stats, here’s what the NCAA Football Favorites vs. Underdogs categories look like the first four weeks of play:

NCAA FOOTBALL 2013

WEEK #

FAVS

PCT

#1

20-18-0

.526

#2

19-25-0

.432

#3

22-25-2

.468

#4

24-21-1

.533

Total

85-89-3

.489

In other NCAA News & Notes …

Hey, we talked about the Top 25 in today’s Jim Sez but what about the fact that the likes of Virginia Tech, Michigan, Texas, Clemson, Miami, Louisville and Penn State are all NOT Top 25 teams as we write this mid-week column. Hmmm …

Finally, when you begin to think – and yes, we know it’s early – about possible Coach of the Year candidates, do not overlook East Carolina’s Ruffin McNeill who has his Pirates at 3-1 (and ranked #23 in the latest AP poll).

McNeill has a high-flying offense starring QB Shane Carden and one of the most exciting players in the land in WR Justin Hardy. IF ECU is the “playoff-buster” out there among non-Power 5 conference teams, than they’re liable to build a statue of McNeill by New Year’s Day!

RE-CAPPING THE NEW YORK GIANTS’ RESOUNDING 45-14 WIN THURSDAY NITE IN WASHINGTON

Hey, wait, did Washington QB Kirk Cousins just throw another interception?

Sorry for the dig, D.C. fans, but the Robert Griffin III-less Redskins were torn to pieces last night 45-14 as New York Giants’ slinger Eli Manning flicked four touchdown passes and threw for 300 yards in the lid-lifter of this NFL Week 4 menu that continues Sunday both here in the good ole U.S.A. and overseas in London too!

The Giants had taken a deep breath following last Sunday’s 30-17 home win/cover against Houston – and you got the feeling from the get-go that Tom Coughlin’s team was energized and excited by its trip into Landover – and, hey, it didn’t hurt matters that the Redskins were short-handed all over the place.

It’s amazing that for all the talk about Cousins and his high-powered teammates the likes of WRs DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon combined for three receptions worth 37 yards … back to the drawing board, Jay Gruden!

NCAA FOOTBALL PREVIEWS –

#1 FLORIDA STATE (3-0, 1-0 ACC) at N.C. STATE (4-0, 0-0 ACC) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC regional
Here’s hoping Florida State QB Jameis Winston knows he is supposed to be in uniform for this ACC bash in Raleigh – the oft-troubled 2013 Heisman Trophy winner has been involved in more than his fair share of off-the-field problems the past year-plus but how could he not know last week that he was suspended for the whole game against Clemson when everyone in/around the sports world knew it by late last Friday night … hmmm.

Winston hopes to make his return to the gridiron a memorable one for a Seminoles team that allowed five quarterback sacks last week – backup-turned-starting QB Sean Maguire really had some dark moments in that 23-17 OT win against Clemson – and let’s see here if N.C. State has any answers for WR Rashad Greene who registered the game-tying 64-yard catch-and-run last week in Tallahassee.

Spread Notes – Florida State is winless in three pointspread tries so far this season but the Seminoles have covered seven of their last 10 spread verdicts in ACC play. N.C. State’s actually covered eight of its last nine head-to-head matchups against Florida State including last year’s 49-17 loss-but-cover as 35-point road dogs.

#8 NOTRE DAME (3-0) vs. SYRACUSE (2-1) – (at East Rutherford, NJ) 8 p.m. ET, ABC
The Notre Dame’s “subway alumni” will combine with Syracuse’s rich New York City-area alum base to pack the joint at MetLife Stadium – but the question is can the ‘Cuse do anything to contain ND quarterback Everett Golson who’s thrown for 780 yards, 7 TDs and 0 INTs this year while leading the Fighting Irish to twin-figure wins over Rice, Michigan and Purdue.

Golson now gets to challenge an Orange defense that last Saturday allowed 34 points at home in a two-TD loss to Maryland – key for the underdogs from upstate New York is rely on the nation’s 20th-ranked rushing attack and hope QB Terrel Hunt keeps his cool.

Spread Note – Notre Dame’s just 16-20-4 ATS (against the spread) as betting favorites in the four-plus year reign of head coach Brian Kelly. Syracuse, meanwhile, is a hearty 11-6 spreadwise as underdog sides since the start of the 2012 campaign.

#16 STANFORD (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12) at WASHINGTON (4-0, 0-0 Pac-12) – 4 p.m. ET, Fox
Hey, Stanford, it’s time to finally pack your bags! The Palo Alto kids have been home for the season’s first month – three games and a well-timed by last weekend – but now the Pac-12 road calls and we’ll see if a Stanford defense that’s surrendered just one offensive touchdown in all in the games against UC-Davis, USC and Army will be ultra-stout here against a Washington crew that’s averaging 49.3 points per game since QB Cyler Miles was inserted back into the lineup after his one-game suspension against Hawaii (a 17-16 non-cover win for the 17 ½-point favored Huskies).

Spread Note – Stanford is 6-3 ATS in its last nine head-to-head games against archrival Washington but note the Huskies have covered the last two meetings. The UW Huskies are 4-8 ATS overall in their last dozen on-the-board games while dating back to last season.

NFL WEEK 4 PREVIEWS

CAROLINA (2-1) at BALTIMORE (2-1) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Lots of juicy storylines for this clash in crab cake country as Ravens’ WR Steve Smith Sr. gets to “welcome” his long-time/one-time teammates into town but the $64,000 question here is what kind of condition is Carolina QB Cam Newton in after we all watched him limp/gimp around the field in that 37-19 loss to Pittsburgh last Sunday Night?

Newton missed the Week One game in Tampa Bay with bad ribs but it’s a sore ankle that limited his mobility against the Steelers last week and no doubt the Ravens will be bringing the proverbial “kitchen sink” here – and it’s surely worth noting that Newton’s rushed for a grand total of 26 yards in his first two games and so that threat of escaping the pocket and dashing for the chains may not exist here.

Baltimore – already without suspended RB Ray Rice for the year (duh!) – now won’t have the services of TE Dennis Pitta whose dislocated right hip will kayo him for the remainder of the 2014 season and so you might look for even more totes from RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (91 yards rushing and a TD in last weekend’s 23-21 win at Cleveland) who has been a true godsend to John Harbaugh’s club throughout these early chaotic days in ’14.

Spread Notes – Baltimore is playing its first non-AFC North game this year and the Ravens are 41-29-1 versus the vig outside the division since 2008. Meanwhile, Carolina is 11-6 spreadwise as pups the past two-plus seasons and that includes this year’s season-opening 20-14 win at 4 ½-point fav Tampa Bay.

PHILADELPHIA (3-0) at SAN FRANCISCO (1-2) – 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
So, maybe those know-it-all numbers-crunchers didn’t have it right when it came to the here-and-now Philadelphia Eagles … consider that the “over/under” wins total posted for the Birds was 9 victories prior to the start of this 2014 season and here’s the NFC East guys making it a habit of coming back from double-digit deficits to win week-after-week-after-week.

If the Eagles get too far behind the struggling 49ers here, than QB Nick Foles (an NFL-best 326 yards passing per game with 325 aerial yards in last week’s 37-34 non-cover win against 3 ½-point underdog Washington) better keep “heads up” against the Niners’ pass rush starring DL Justin Smith.

No doubt San Fran’s been a second-half disaster this year – they blew TD-plus leads in each of the last two weeks against Chicago and Arizona – and why SF can’t put teams away with this RB Frank Gore-led ground game is strange stuff. P.S., Gore somehow managed just 10 rushing yards on six carries in last week’s 23-14 meltdown loss at Arizona.

Look for one bit of San Francisco strategy here to include more QB Colin Kaepernick runs in the first half against a Philly defense that has allowed 78 points through the first three weeks – the Eagles’ secondary has some “issues” and Kaepernick might be tempted to tuck-and-run when he see the LBs/DBs turn their backs to him here.

Spread Notes – Philadelphia is a dead-even but vig-losing 10-10 ATS under second-year boss-man Chip Kelly while the San Fran 49ers zoom into this game at 17-10-1 ATS at home since the start of the 2011 season.

NOTE: Get more NFL Week 4 Previews, News & Notes in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez and remember we’ll have a Sunday Night Football preview of the New Orleans Saints at the Dallas Cowboys!

17
Oct

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