Volume 26, Issue 1
Volume 26, Issue 1 ~ Thursday, September 2 thru Wednesday, September 8
Jim Hurley's NCAA BOWL PICKS & PREVIEWS are based on information obtained prior to press time -- to get all the firmed-up Game-Day selections/ratings, just check with us anytime after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and whenever there are weekday afternoon games and also after 1 p.m. ET for the weeknight games either online here at www.jimhurley.com or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2
SOUTHERN MISS at SOUTH CAROLINA: It's lights/cameras/action as the College Football 2010 season gets kicked off on ESPN and what better way to start a year than watching Carolina HC Spurrier get squeamish when his offense sputters -- betcha didn't know that the Gamecocks scored 16 points or less in eight games last year and are only 7-8 ATS (against the spread) as betting favorites the past three seasons.
PITTSBURGH at UTAH: Here's a case where the ranked team (that's Pitt) is taking points against the unranked team but tough to say anything bad about the Utes who've won 23 games the past two seasons and could just be that non-BCS power that makes a run for all the marbles should the Mountain West Conference guys win here and than at Notre Dame in mid-November. The key here is simple: Utah's defense must keep RB Lewis' big runs to a bare minimum and must hold Pitt to '3's' in any of their red-zone visits. Got it?
USC at HAWAII: It's safe to say that new SC boss Kiffin is the 'most hated coach in America' and so maybe it's only appropriate that his first game with the Men of Troy will take place in one of the world's great honeymoon destinations -- but don't look for host Hawaii to show him much love here! The Warriors had major problems scoring last year -- consider that the WAC team finished 14th in the country in total offense (437 yards a game) but a dismal 89th nationally in scoring (22.8 ppg) and no question any/all trips inside the Southern Cal red zone here better result in touchdowns. Gut feeling is this one's closer than 'they' think and so gobble up the available points and tune in for this ESPN late-night affair. Call it USC 34, Hawaii 22.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3
ARIZONA at TOLEDO: Might this be a tougher-than-they-think game for the U of A Wildcats? The Pac-10 team is a hefty two-TD betting favorite but there are brand-new coordinators on both sides of the ball for HC Stoops and no telling if QB Foles (2,486 yards passing and 19 TDs) will be razor-sharp to start this season. Note that Toledo's defense last year ranked 116th out of 119 teams (allowed 37.2 ppg) and so odds are the Rockets will blitz more here and hope to rattle Foles into making a slew of bad passes/decisions. The 'Cats have high hopes in 2010 as they gun for a third consecutive post-season bowl bid but this one might not be a walk in the park!
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 4
ILLINOIS vs. MISSOURI (at St. Louis): This now-annual season-opening next-door neighbor rivalry game has favored the offenses in recent years (74, 94 and 46 total points scored in the past three matchups here) and won't expect anything else than shootout in St. Looie with Mizzou QB Gabbert (3,593 yards passing with 24 TDs in 2009) more than capable of pouring on the points. Note that Illini last year allowed opponents to complete 61 percent of their passes and inexperienced front seven here just won't get enough pressure on Gabbert and Co. in this clash. Missouri 38, Illinois 22.
COLORADO vs. COLORADO STATE (at Denver): No love loss here in Rocky Mountain Battle and now heavy-duty fav Colorado Buffaloes have major revenge in mind here following last year's 23-17 loss to the C-State Rams. The heat has been cranked up pretty high on Buffs boss-man Hawkins -- he's just 16-33 SU (straightup) in four years in Boulder -- and so this becomes must-win tilt especially with games at California and home to Georgia in the near future. Expect Colorado's shutdown CBs Smith and Brown to hold the keys here and so only hope for underdog Rams is to make things happen on special teams and force a batch of turnovers ... don't hold your breath!
NORTHWESTERN at VANDERBILT: We put this tilt in the 'must-win' category for the visiting N'western Wildcats who are shooting for a third consecutive bowl berth this year and must get QB Persa in gear from the get-go here. Remember that Vandy HC Caldwell only took over the reigns this past July after HC Johnson bagged it and so highly doubt the Commodores are a perfectly functioning unit right now.
PURDUE at NOTRE DAME: No doubt that the Fighting Irish hit the jackpot when it named HC Kelly to run the show after Weis Era fizzled badly but that doesn't mean South Bend crew will cruise here and so our NETWORK BULLETIN play is to gobble up all those points with a frisky Boilermakers team -- and don't ask any questions! Purdue WR Smith (91 catches for 1,100 yards last year) can burn the best of secondaries and PK Wiggs quite capable of booming a couple of 45-plus yarders here. Maybe the Irish will get 9 or 10 wins this 2010 season but this one is old-fashioned barnburner. Trust us! Notre Dame 30, Purdue 28.
CONNECTICUT at MICHIGAN: Maize-and-Blue Nation is in a tizzy these days as third-year HC Rodriguez has run this once-proud program right into the ground (see 8-16 SU mark in his first two seasons on the job) and so sense of urgency hits these Wolverines right at season's start -- and this is no easy-chair game for sure. The visiting UConn Huskies won eight games a year ago but consider they lost their five games by a grand total of 15 points and now HC Edsall brings back veteran-flavored club (8 starters back on offense; 8 starters back on defense) and QB Frazer has plenty of support with RB Todman (1,188 yards and 14 TDs last year in part-time role) ready/willing/able to make a splash here. Connecticut 27, Michigan 21.
KENTUCKY at LOUISVILLE: The Bluegrass State Battle usually has been a good time to grab the points (see our NCAA Betting Trends) but here the visiting UK 'Cats are smallish 3-point favorites and we have two new head coaches running the show ... hmm. The 'Ville is keeping fingers crossed that former Florida defensive coordinator Strong can bring this program back to the glory days while Kentucky said bye-bye to HC Brooks and hello to his long-time assistant Phillips. Hunch tells us this thing will be won late (or even in OT!) and so don't say you haven't been warned! Louisville 27, Kentucky 24.
UCLA at KANSAS STATE: Must admit that we really loved this Pac-10 versus Big 12 matchup when the Las Vegas numbers-crunchers had the visiting Bruins installed as a 2 ½-point favorite but pointspread's swung in the other direction -- K-State was a 2-point fav at press time -- and so we'll temper this pro-Wildcats play but still have mucho confidence while backing HC Snyder's guys. Game plan is to pound up behind veteran offensive line and so RB Thomas (1,265 yards rushing and 11 TDs last year) will be main benefactor and could go for 175 yards-or-so here. The Uclans ranked 94th nationally (out of 119 FBS teams) in scoring offense at 22 points per game and that ain't enough here. Kansas State 33, UCLA 22.
WASHINGTON at BYU: Great West-of-the-Mississippi battle here (even though neither team finds itself in the AP Top 25 at season's start) and all eyes will be on Huskies' senior slinger Locker (2,800 yards passing with 21 TDs and 11 INTs a year ago) who is looking to lead this Pac-10 team to its first bowl game since 2002 -- really! Locker has been known to play the game with a reckless abandon at times and so don't be surprised if BYU defenders drop into coverage more and tempt Locker to run it. If the host Cougars are gonna secure a 'W' here than a veteran defense (three starters are back) must silence Locker in his red-zone visits and BYU must be able to run the ball behind its star-studded O-line.
OREGON STATE vs. TCU (at Arlington): This year the TCU Horned Frogs start off the season ranked #6 in the AP poll and so that means there is a king-sized target on their backs -- and that could play into their mindset at times this season. Right here Oregon State has plenty of offensive talent including the Rodgers Brothers -- that's RB Jacquizz and WR James -- and a couple of big plays from both could keep the Beavers within shouting range all game long. TCU 27, Oregon State 20.
NORTH CAROLINA vs. LSU (at Atlanta): The Chick-Fil-A season opener is one of the best games on the board this holiday weekend and truth of the matter is not a heckuva lot separates these two programs (note that Carolina is ranked #18 and LSU #21 to start off the season). The Tar Heels do have loads of quality starters back -- 9 offensive starters and 9 defensive starters return including DE Quinn (11 sacks last year) while Bayou Bengals have their own defensive stud in LB
CINCINNATI at FRESNO STATE: The departure of brilliant boss-man Kelly to Notre Dame left the Cincy Bearcats angry and agitated last December -- but now here's something on the field that will tick 'em off! Look for host Fresno State to come out of the chute smoking as veteran HC Hill gets his team's ground game in gear even without former star RB Mathews (San Diego Chargers) on his side. The Bulldogs bring back their whole offensive line and smaller Cincinnati front four will get worn down here by game's end. P.S., don't expect any miracles here from Cincy QB Collaros (10 TD passes last year in part-time duty) who shined last year but may need to learn new schemes here. Fresno State 32, Cincinnati 25.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 5
TULSA at EAST CAROLINA: Count us among the folks who were sorry to see HC Holtz leave the ECU Pirates -- his teams registered a startling 23-8-1 spread mark as underdogs in his five years on the job -- and now not so sure that new boss McNeill will have the same 'Midas touch'. The Buccos are TD-plus pups for this home clash on Labor Day Weekend and no wonder as they lost their entire front seven from last year's Conference USA champion defense and there's major question marks to answer at quarterback. On the flip side, Tulsa looking to bounce back from rare losing season (see 5-7 SU) and return specialist Johnson (nation's-best 224 all-purpose yards per game last year) figures to make his way onto the highlight reel here in this espn2 matinee tilt.
MARYLAND vs. NAVY (at Baltimore): Now here's a showdown that should be an annual affair -- the crab cake clubs have met just once in recent years (see 23-20 non-cover Maryland win back in 2005) and that's too bad -- and fully expect under-siege Terrapins HC Friedgen to get what he's after here as improved O-line gives QB Robinson enough time to chuck it and cat-quick junior signal-caller will make his fair share of big plays with his feet too. Navy is near-TD favorite right now but all this summer prep time means Terps will be ready for the Midshipmen's triple-option attack. Beware of the Turtle, indeed! It's Maryland 27, Navy 18.
BOISE STATE vs. VIRGINIA TECH (at Landover): Monster matchup on so-called 'neutral field' where Hokie Nation should comprise 85-to-90 percent of this crowd -- but when has going on the road to play big games ever bothered this Boise State program? The Broncos have won at Oregon, Southern Miss and Fresno State (twice) in the past three years alone and now HC Petersen's guys venture to the East Coast for this gotta-have-it game that could well define Boise State's whole season. The WAC crew opens the season ranked #3 by the Associated Press and QB Moore (3,536 yards passing with 39 TDs and 3 INTs a year ago) is legit Heisman Trophy contender but he must steer clear of the costly sack in this game against a defense that ranked ninth nationally in scoring last season (15.6 ppg) but lost eight starters from that vaunted stop unit. The winner here makes instant leap in its attempt to get a national title shot in January and gut feeling is Techsters need to own the ball for 40 minutes (or close to it) ... or else HC Beamer's club will be the latest team to get bamboozled by Boise State.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9
AUBURN at MISSISSIPPI STATE: Here's an ESPN prime-time clash of SEC West Division rivals and wondering what type of game we'll get here: After all, Auburn copped 3-2 'pitchers duel' win in Starkville two years ago and than last season the Tigers rolled to high-scoring 49-24 triumph over M-State. If Auburn's gonna win this battle royal on the road here, than RB Fannin likely must be front-and-center guy for HC Chizik's crew while State looking to jump-start an offense that finished a lowly 72nd nationally in scoring a year ago (see 25.6 ppg). Find out what gives in this game -- and don't forget to bring along your cowbells! -- when you check out our Side/Totals plays here at 1-800-323-4453 or online at www.jimhurley.com. Got it?
NCAA BETTING TRENDS
Arizona is 4-9 away
THE 2010 HEISMAN TROPHY ODDS
So, who's gonna win College Football's most prestigious individual award this season?
ODDS TO WIN 2010 HEISMAN TROPHY
Mark Ingram RB Alabama + 150
Jim Hurley's NFL PICKS & PREVIEWS are based on information obtained prior to press time. To get all the NFL Week 16 Side & Totals Winners, just log online here at www.jimhurley.com or call our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 anytime after 10 a.m. ET on Sunday and after 1 p.m. ET on game days for Monday Night Football.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9
MINNESOTA at NEW ORLEANS: Now that the Saints are coming off their first-ever Super Bowl title, will that hunger still be there for this 2010 season? No doubt creative New Orleans HC Payton will open up his bag of tricks here for QB Brees (4,388 yards passing with 34 TDs and 11 INTs in '09) and so expect the home folks to chuck it 40-plus times here while looking to expose the Vikes' somewhat shaky secondary. On the flip side, Minny QB Favre (4,202 yards passing with 33 TDs and 7 INTs last year) claims he's fit to go after off-season ankle surgery but no WR Rice here (see hip surgery in late August/out for at least eight weeks) and constant headache issues involving WR Harvin (check status) could limit his play here. If point-grabbing Vikings wish to pull the mild upset in the dome, than RB Peterson (1,383 yards rushing and 18 TDs in '09) must slice/dice a Saints defense that ranked a mediocre 21st in the NFL in rush defense -- and he must hold onto the football! Check with us for the Side & Totals Winners of this NFL Kickoff clash on game-day afternoon anytime after 1 p.m. ET and we'll put you in the winner's circle. Go ahead and clap your hands -- the NFL's back!
NFL BETTING TRENDS
Minnesota is 6-2 in its last eight openers
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