FSU/NC State Could Be Great

HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

TOP TWO TEAMS IN ACC ATLANTIC
SQUARE OFF TONIGHT ON ESPN

by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

Sometimes projected thrillers turn out to be duds...and projected duds turn out to be thrillers. But, based on our indicators, we think that Florida State/NC State has a chance to be one of the most entertaining Thursday Night games this season.

Both teams are playing very well lately. You can see they sit at 1-2 in the ACC Atlantic standings heading into the weekend...

ACC ATLANTIC
Florida State 4-0
NC State 2-1
Maryland 2-1
Clemson 2-2
Wake Forest 1-3
Boston College 0-4

Note that NC State's only league loss was to Virginia Tech, who many consider to be the best team in the ACC. State led 24-13 in the second half, see-sawed leads through the fourth quarter, LED WITH TWO MINUTES TO GO, then saw a late score and a cheap quickie give Tech a 41-30 lead.

In their conference victories, State throttled Georgia Tech 45-28 as an 8-point underdog, and bombed Boston College 44-17 as a 9-point favorite.

Florida State's big ACC win came on the road against Miami of Florida. Hopefully you read our preview of that game a few weeks ago, and saw how Jimbo Fisher is doing things the right way in the game telecast. The rest of FSU's undefeated league slate is made of up victories over bad teams. They've defeated Wake Forest and Boston College from their own division, and Virginia from the Coastal.

We're not ready to say that NC State is as good as Miami of Florida. But, this will surely be a very stern test for the Seminoles. Both offenses are capable of putting on a great show. Both quarterbacks will make big plays...but will also flirt with disaster when pressured. This game could blow up in a variety of directions based on the interceptions that either do or don't happen at critical junctures.

And, we have to say, we're happy to see both teams moving so strongly in the right direction. You regulars know we can be pretty pessimistic about many college football programs, particularly when overhyped head coaches are floundering. We've been hard on both of these programs in recent years. They deserved it! But,

*Florida State has clearly retooled their offensive gameplan under Jimbo Fisher, throwing out the out-dated stuff from the Bobby Bowden era. We outlined that for you in depth before the Miami game. You saw exactly what we meant during the Miami game.

*NC State was on the verge of having to make a coaching change because Tom O'Brien wasn't doing what was expected. Things have really clicked this year. Sure, an upset loss at home to East Carolina in non-conference action shouldn't have happened. But, it was in a sandwich spot after three straight ACC games and just before this national TV showdown with Florida State. That's the nature of college football. Now, State is in a bounce back spot after that result...and may play one of its best games of the year.

We could easily have a very strong play here one way or the other based on our computer simulations of the game. The total is a possibility as well. We can't tell you on these pages who JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK is playing. That wouldn't be fare to our clients. You can purchase tonight's selection (and Game Two of the World Series, plus NBA action) right here at the website with your credit card. Seasonal packages in the BLUE RIBBON and CLOSED CIRCUIT clubs are also available.

We tinkered with our normal NOTEBOOK schedule this week to squeeze in a World Series preview back on Tuesday. That meant we had to drop our look at misleading final scores from the previous weekend. It turned out there were quite a few of those that needed to be brought to your attention. So, we've decided to squeeze them in today since college football is the topic. Let's touch on those briefly...

MISLEADING SCORES FROM LAST SATURDAY

*Illinois 43, Indiana 13
The Illini were actually outgained 388-289 in this one, but used a 5-1 turnover advantage to post a big victory margin. It's easy to assume a great offensive day for Illinois given the 43 points. They were only 3 of 11 on third downs, and couldn't crack the 300 yard barrier. Be careful giving them too much credit here. They've surely improved dramatically this year from last, but they're not as good as this final score makes it sound.

*Arkansas 38, Ole Miss 24
Ole Miss was more competitive than the final score makes it sound, putting over 500 yards up on the board. Arkansas had a non-offensive TD to help them build a big lead. We don't want to suggest that the wrong team won. But, as you handicap Auburn/Ole Miss this Saturday, be aware that Ole Miss gave Arkansas a better run for it's money on the road last week than the final score suggests.

*Ohio 34, Miami of Ohio 13
This game was basically a dead heat statistically, but Ohio won turnovers by a stunning 2-6 margin. Don't give them credit for what they weren't really doing. Vegas had Ohio as a 2-point favorite...and the stuff in the trenches suggest that wasn't far off. This was a turnover blowout not an 'earned' blowout for the Bobcats.

*California 50, Arizona State 17
What a weird game! Our condolences if you had the Under. Both teams had blocked punts returned for TD's. Arizona State added a fumble return TD. So, ASU scored ZERO offensive TD's in the game. California was getting cheap points left and right thanks to a 3-1 turnover edge, and only gamed 372 yards on 5.2 yards-per-play. This wasn't a 50-point effort from the Bears. Don't go thinking Cal can explode like this on command. And, be aware that ASU's offense is really going to struggle vs. decent defenses.

*Auburn 24, LSU 17
You probably watched the game. Were you aware that Auburn won total yardage 528-243? Or rushing yardage 442-115?! Auburn was much more dominant than the score makes it seem. Time will tell if that means they can only move between the 20's vs. good defenses...or if they're about to explode on the rest of their schedule when points match production.

*Georgia 44, Kentucky 31
Georgia was outgained 423-290, but won big thanks to a turnover edge of 4-1 and a kickoff return TD. Be careful giving Georgia too much credit here. The media is talking about 'momentum' and a strong finish. You can't control when your special teams scores and turnover edges are going to come. And, it's not like Kentucky is anything special this year anyway outside of their fortunate schedule spot win over South Carolina. Georgia's picked itself up and dusted itself off from a bad start. But, they're not playing as well as this score makes it seem.

That wraps up our Thursday report. Please call 1-800-323-4453 if you have any questions about tonight's big games, our WEEKEND PASS program, or anything else related to the busy sports schedule that features football, the NBA, and the World Series. What a great week to be a legal sports wagerer!

Back tomorrow to preview Auburn/Ole Miss, in what could be the next upset of a new #1 team in the BCS rankings. We'll preview ABC's prime time telecast of Oregon/USC (also an upset possibility for #1 upset from the polls) in our Saturday edition.

Make sure you're with us EVERY DAY so you know what's REALLY happening in the world of sports! And, link up RIGHT NOW with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK for tonight's big winners in Florida State/NC State and Game Two of the World Series!

This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.

22
Nov

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