Saturday College Previews



Hope you weren’t among the folks who “buried” the New Orleans Saints a couple of weeks back: Sean Payton’s team won its second game in a five-day period with Thursday Night’s rollicking 28-10 triumph over 3-point home underdog Carolina and before you sing high praises for Saints’ QB Drew Brees (297 yards passing with one TD run/one TD chuck) just remember that born-again RB Mark Ingram (100 yards rushing and two TDs) was the biggest story on the night as he followed up last Sunday’s 172-yard rushing game in the 44-23 win/cover against Green Bay with another splendid showing.

Might the Saints’ ground game - dare we suggest - help to make this an NFC “team to watch” in November/December (and maybe even January)?

Stay tuned.

No tricks, only treats for you good Jim Hurley Network folks on this Halloween Day and so let’s get right to it with key College Football Playoff-related action beginning with last night’s tilt ...

#2 FLORIDA STATE 42, #25 LOUISVILLE 31 - The FSU Seminoles haven’t overpowered many opponents this year but they sure have a sense of timing - in this come-from-way-behind win/cover at 3.5-point dog Louisville, Jimbo Fisher’s club answered the bell after digging themselves a 21-zip hole and wasn’t it neat how all those true freshmen namely RB Dalvin Cook (see 40- and 38-yard clutch touchdown runs) came through at crunch time? Okay, so 2013 Heisman Trophy winner QB Jameis Winston shook off a batch of mean body blows to throw for 401 yards but we admire ‘em more for shaking off those three INTs ... can we pencil in Florida State as one of the four College Football Playoff teams now?

On Saturday, it’s ...

ARKANSAS (4-4, 0-4 SEC) at #1 MISSISSIPPI STATE (7-0, 4-0 SEC) - 7:15 p.m. ET, espn2
Can you hear the cowbells clanging already? The top-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs actually have the dual distinction of sitting #1 in both this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll and the spanking-new College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings ... and why not?

Quarterback Dak Prescott - still our frontrunner for this year’s Heisman Trophy - operates an attack that’s scored 35-or-more points in all seven games this year but it’s a ground game that pumped out 326 rushing yards in last weekend’s 45-31 non-cover win at 15 ½-point dog Kentucky that everyone wants to talk about as RB Josh Robinson was dynamic with his 23 carries for 198 yards including the spectacular end-to-end TD run that helped seal the deal against the Wildcats.

If Arkansas wants to hang around here - the Razorbacks are prohibitive 10 ½-point betting favorites at press time - then their 16th-ranked rushing game must chew yards/clock and that means RB Jonathan Williams (830 rushing yards and 10 TDs) has to be a factor and note he’s done most of his damage in non-SEC affairs.

Spread Notes - Mississippi State is a rock-solid 5-2 ATS (against the spread) this year and the Bulldogs actually have covered 10 of their last 12 games dating back to last season. On the flip side, Arkansas is a hearty 6-2 versus the vig this year (betcha didn’t know that!) but the Hogs are just 8-14 ATS as underdogs the past three-plus seasons.

#3 AUBURN (6-1, 3-1 SEC) at #4 OLE MISS (7-1, 4-1 SEC) - 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
How the SEC West will be won will be its own little “mini-series” these next few weekends and here’s a de facto elimination game when it comes to the here-and-now College Football Playoff chase.

The one thing we need to know is just what did last week’s games take out of these powerhouses: Remember Auburn had to go to the mat to fend off 18.5-point underdog South Carolina 42-35 as the Tigers churned out 395 rushing yards but they allowed five fourth-down conversions and so there’s major angst here regarding short-yardage defense plays.

On the flip side, Ole Miss is coming off last week’s 10-7 loss at 5-point dog LSU and rush defense was the Rebels’ bugaboo there as they surrendered 264 rushing yards and QB Bo Wallace couldn’t come through late while getting picked off on the game’s final play.

Keep in mind that Ole Miss is banged up - there’s three or four defensive starters who might sit with ailments.

Spread Notes - Auburn is only 3-4 against the odds this season but the Tigers are a collective 14-6 ATS under second-year head coach Gus Malzahn. Ole Miss is a snazzy 6-1-1 vig-wise this year and the Rebels already own home SEC covers versus Alabama and Tennessee.

STANFORD (5-3, 3-2 Pac-12) at #5 OREGON (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12), 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox
Two years ago the Oregon Ducks were cruising along with a 10-and-oh record before 19 ½-point underdog Stanford sabotaged ‘em 17-14 in Eugene.

Say goodbye to any/all hopes of playing in the BCS Championship Game.

Last year there was Oregon zipping through its schedule with an 8-0 SU (straight-up) mark until the Ducks were derailed by - you got it - 10-point home dog Stanford 26-20.

Like we said, say goodbye to any/all BCS Championship Game hopes.

Well, now with the four-team college playoff in place, obviously it’s no longer necessary to finish either #1 or #2 in the final polls but is this gonna be a “hat trick” of sorts with Stanford ending Oregon’s potential title hopes here?

The funny thing about this weekend’s game at Autzen Stadium is that Stanford heads into play as a “wounded animal” of sorts after getting beaten this year by 3, 3 and 16 points versus USC, Notre Dame and Arizona State, respectively, and so some folks in/around Oregon might not respect this three-loss team ... best beware!

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota (24 TD passes this year) has never beaten Stanford - the only Pac-12 team he hasn’t beaten in his illustrious career - but he won’t win it as a one-man gang either and so look for RB Royce Freeman (a conference-best 12 rushing TDs this year) to have a big say.

Spread Notes - Oregon has split its eight pointspread verdicts this year but note the Ducks do enter this Pac-12 clash on a three-game spread winning streak (covers against UCLA, Washington and California). Meanwhile, Stanford’s also 4-4 vig-wise this season but note the Cardinal is a composite 9-3 ATS as underdogs since the start of the 2009 season.

#7 TCU (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) at #20 WEST VIRGINIA (6-2, 4-1 Big 12) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
One week after the TCU Horned Frogs “dropped” 82 points on clueless Texas Tech, they march into Morgantown and look to stay very much in the conversation in this year’s playoff race.

No doubt TCU - the country’s highest-scoring outfit while averaging 50.4 points per game - needs QB Trevone Boykin (433 yards passing and a school-record 7 TD passes last week) to hit his targets all day long but will WR Josh Doctson (right ankle) be A-OK here?

Meanwhile, West Virginia’s won four in a row and is averaging 36.3 ppg during this stretch that includes wins/covers against Baylor and Oklahoma State - hey, nobody’s talking about WVU slinger Clint Trickett (2,763 yards passing with 17 TDs and 5 INTs) but this dude’s been a major noise-maker for a Mountaineers team that could wreck the seasons of both TCU and Kansas State (see Nov. 20th).

Spread Notes - TCU is the nation’s only undefeated pointspread side with a perfect 7-0 ATS mark that includes road covers at SMU and Baylor. The Horned Frogs actually are 9-0 spreadwise overall while dating back to late 2013. West Virginia’s 5-3 vig-wise so far and the ‘Neers enter this clash at 5-8 ATS in league play the past year-plus.

My handicappers and bloggers have everything all scoped out and you can get all the NCAA Football, NFL Week 9 and NBA daily winners when you check with us here at the blazing-hot Jim Hurley’s Network and then keep rollin’ in the green all weekend long! There’s College Football this evening too with a pair of games on the docket including Tulsa at Memphis (8 p.m. ET on ESPNU) and Cincinnati at Tulane (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).

And on Saturday/Sunday there are full slates of key gridiron games and so make sure you check in with us on game days either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - put a capper on this month of October and start November off with a big bang!

NOTE: NFL Week 9 Previews in tomorrow’s Jim Sez.


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