Okay, so everyone's pretty much back to school these days from Maine-to-Spain and everywhere in between and let's make sure we're all learning a little something each/every day when it comes to Handicapping Football:

The lesson today has to do with the College kids (of course) and it's a little something called paying for one's past and paying for one's reputation.

You see, the 2011 College Football Season swung into action two weeks ago and yet there's already a fistful (or more) of teams that are costing their backers a proverbial pretty penny.

So, you thought Penn State would hunker down for 84-year-old head coach Joe Paterno and bang out a big year? Well, two weeks in and the Nittany Lions are 0-2 ATS (against the spread) and we all discovered that grabbing two handfuls of points at home against mighty Alabama was not nearly enough in last week's 27-11 loss in Happy Valley.

Staying with the theme of 80-plus-year-old head coaches, we've all acknowledged the fact that Florida Atlantic boss-man Howard Schnellenberger is one of the game's greats and he's rebuilt yet another gridiron program but if you "bought into" the idea that taking him is worth a few points than forget about that right now 'cause the Owls are 0-2 vig-wise and they've been outscored by a collective 85-3 so far in season-starting losses at Florida and at Michigan State.

Throw into the mix that the likes of Boston College, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska and – yes -- Notre Dame and you're looking at a batch of teams 0-2 spreadwise so far and none of the above are nearly as talented as their past would tell you they are. So, the game plan must be to re-evaluate the above-mentioned teams – any/all could strike up a spread winning streak at any time but it's not looking good at the present time – and determine whether they are worth your financial backing.

There is a difference between having a "great reputation" and a "false reputation" and these money-burning squads must be examined all that more closely in the days/weeks ahead.

Jim Hurley's NCAA PICKS & PREVIEWS are based on information obtained prior to press time and may not reflect any changes that could affect these selections. For firmed-up Game-Day selections/ratings, visit us at www.JimHurley.com or call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 after 9:30 a.m. ET on weekends and holidays and anytime after 1 p.m. ET for weeknight games.


LSU at MISS STATE: Monster matchup on a "school night" here as a pair of SEC West powers collide on ESPN but what's the M-State mindset after QB Relf was stopped short of the goal line late in 41-34 loss at Auburn last Saturday? Fact of matter is TV folks were correct in saying Bulldogs should have passed the ball there with seven seconds left on the clock (would have had another play if the pass was incomplete) and so expect HC Mullen to have faced firing squad of questions in short week leading up to this tilt – now, can LSU stop mild two-game SEC road losing streak here (fell at Arkansas and at Auburn in the last two road games in 2010)? Can the Bulldogs improve their defense? Can LSU keep its focus against a desperate opponent? We know! Click here for the winner for only $15


BOISE STATE at TOLEDO: Here's a footnote to any folks that claim the Las Vegas prices are "too high" on many Boise State Broncos game and you "can't make any money off 'em" … that's just pure nonsense! Note that B-State is a collective 39-22-2 ATS (against the spread) since the start of the 2006 season and throw in the fact the Broncos are 26-18-1 ATS as double-digit betting favorites during this same time span and you get our message loud and clear. Fact of matter is QB Moore (he threw three scoring strikes in season-opening 35-21 win against 3-point pup Georgia) has definite shot at this year's Heisman Trophy whether the "experts" say so or not! Hey, keep in mind this ESPN clash will be airing at the same exact time as Iowa State at UConn on espn2. We are locked in on at least one big play and possibly two on Friday, so click here for the picks for just $15.


WEST VIRGINIA at MARYLAND: Well-rested Maryland Terps had last weekend off following electric 32-24 Labor Day evening win against Miami and now QB O'Brien looks to zing WVU squad that's actually won its last six regular-season games while dating back to the 2010 campaign – 'Neer QB Smith not challenged at all last week while airing four TDs in romp against Norfolk State and gut feeling is winner may need to score more than 35 points here … did anyone say go "over"?

AUBURN at CLEMSON: The defending national champs have struck up back-to-back thrilling wins to start this here-and-now campaign but now's first road trip for HC Chiziki's club that did lose 16 starters from last year's squad and so no wonder Clemson kids are the wagering favorites here – but $64,000 question is can Tigers' QB Boyd (261 yards passing and 3 TDs in closer-than-it-should-have-been win against Wofford last Saturday) burn Auburn secondary that's been rather wobbly so far?

OLE MISS at VANDERBILT: No question that Vandy Commodores have thrived spreadwise the past 10 years in this SEC rivalry game (see our NCAA Betting Trends) plus the 'Dores shocked Ole Miss 28-14 last year as 12-point road dogs and now home folks have some major momentum on their side after PK Spear booted game-winning field goal with 2:56 left to topple UConn 24-21. Folks in Mississippi still waiting for an important "W" by HC Nutt's crew as last year-and-change just ain't been great!


KANSAS at GEORGIA TECH: Talk about your major revenge spot here! The G-Tech Yellow Jackets were beaten 28-25 as 14-point road favorites at Kansas last September and now the ACC guys want their payback here in Atlanta … and they'll get it in spades! QB Washington chucked two TD passes and ran for a pair of scores in last week's 49-21 win/cover at Middle Tennessee State and now he's stat-sheet stuffer deluxe here against Kansas club that is running on emotional "E" after winning rowdy tilt against Northern Illinois. Lay it, gang! Georgia Tech 43, Kansas 17.

TENNESSEE at FLORIDA: Early-season returns are in from Knoxville and QB Bray (405 passing yards and 4 TDs in runaway win against Cincinnati last Saturday) looks like a real gem in his second go-around and one-two wide-out punch of Rogers and Hunter (they combined for 256 receiving yards and 3 scores versus the B-Cats) are burners but can Vols' offensive line hold up to relentless pass rush here? The Gators have not surrendered a touchdown so far while bashing Florida Atlantic and UAB and now come off first shutout since '06 season. Betcha new boss-man Muschamp has 'em coming at Bray from all angles here!

Take the rubber band off your bankroll; this day is loaded with revenge games like:
Auburn at Clemson         Oklahoma at Florida State
West Virginia at Maryland     Michigan State at Notre Dame
Utah at BYU, and more.

And revenge is only ONE of the hot buttons we look at.
Example: Auburn/Clemson figures to be a big NO HUDDLE showdown. 
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MICHIGAN STATE at NOTRE DAME: It's now or never time for the 0-and-2 ND Fighting Irish who surrendered two TDs in game's final 1:12 to lose 35-31 heartbreaker at Michigan last weekend and now HC Kelly's defense must step up to the plate here against red-hot State slinger Cousins (two TDs last week in 44-0 win/cover versus Florida Atlantic). Maybe that 28-point fourth quarter by the Wolverines "woke up" the golden domers who remember well last year's fake FG-turned-TD in overtime win against Notre Dame by cocky "Sparty".

TEXAS at UCLA: The big news coming out of Austin is that sad-sack slinger Gilbert has lost his starting job and HC Brown claims former backups McCoy and Ash will split snaps here and that could be asking for trouble for a Longhorns bunch that produced only 17 points in non-cover Homecoming win against BYU last weekend. Fact of matter is that stuff usually does not work and remember the 'Horns in major revenge mode here after getting wasted 34-12 by UCLA last year.

WASHINGTON at NEBRASKA: This marks the third meeting between these schools in the past year alone – Nebraska rolled to a 56-21 win in Seattle last September and then UW Huskies got their revenge with emotional 19-7 win as two-TD dogs in last year's Holiday Bowl. Gotta look for 20-plus carries here by Nebraska QB Martinez who has been taking his fair share of hard hits in first two games into this season (and note both games against Chattanooga and Fresno State were pointspread losers for HC Pelini's squad). Just sayin'!


LOUISVILLE at KENTUCKY: The Battle of the Bluegrass State has been all UK Wildcats in recent years as Kentucky kids have won the last four showdowns SU (straight-up) while notching spread wins in three of these four games but now "chopping heavy wood" here and we can see the 'Ville being live after somehow losing last weekend while out-gaining Florida International 446-to-293 yards. Closer than "they" think as Redbirds slinger Stein (349 yards passing and two TDs last Friday) keeps this one tight and so grab the points. It's Kentucky 31, Louisville 30.
ARIZONA STATE at ILLINOIS: One thing about this A-State Sun Devils squad is they go full-speed ahead on every play with last Friday's wild 37-30 non-cover OT win against Missouri true entertainment. QB Osweiler aired three scoring strikes in that clash and now he looks to WR Pflugrad (8 catches for career-best 180 yards and two TDs against Mizzou) for more magic but this one's virtual pick 'em affair and note Illini in midst of a season-starting five-game home stand that could propel 'em into the polls.

SYRACUSE at USC: Major confusion reigned as to what was USC's final margin of victory in last weekend's wacky win against Utah (the Pac-12 folks say it was 23-14 Trojans and thus either a "push" or USC spread win in most wagering circles) but real problem HC Kiffin's club has is it can't finish off foes with tight wins in the bank already against Minnesota and the Utes. Now 'Cuse club grabbing two-TD type price saunters into LA-LA land and we'll grab what's offered as Orange QB Nassib -- fresh off a career-high 318-yard, 3-TD showing in 21-14 non-cover win against Rhode Island – makes things interesting on the left coast. It's USC 28, Syracuse 22.


OKLAHOMA at FLORIDA STATE: Major hoedown in Tallahassee here and big question is whether last week's early-season bye week helped or hurt the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners … so stay tuned! The Big 12 team rolled over in-state rival Tulsa in Week One and now QB Jones faces whole new animal here and gut feeling is the home dog Seminoles will send the proverbial kitchen sink at OU's Heisman hopeful here and gamble on making big defensive plays. On the flip side, Florida State's getting-better-all-the-time QB Manuel (329 yards passing and 4 TDs in walkover win against Charleston Southern) knows that the Sooners have some weak links in the secondary.

OHIO STATE at MIAMI: The big news here is that Miami QB Harris is back after one-game suspension but gotta question how must rust has to be scraped off here against Buckeyes bunch that's already got two games under their belts. True, HC Fickell's squad needed some special teams magic to dispose of 17-point dog Toledo 27-22 last weekend as speedy Fields returned punt 69 yards to pay-dirt and won't be shocked here if some punt/kickoff returns is the key in this under-the-lights tilt (7:30 p.m. ET start) on ABC.

UTAH at BYU: The famed Beehive State Battle is no longer played at the tail-end of the regular season and so it'll be interesting to see how high favored BYU will be here following back-to-back one-point verdicts (a 14-13 non-cover win at Ole Miss followed by last weekend's 17-16 loss-but-cover at Texas). What we can tell you here is Utah better shore up O-line as QB Wynn was running for his life much of the time in last Saturday's 17-14 loss-but-cover at USC.

STANFORD at ARIZONA: Forgive us for looking ahead but wouldn't it be a neat BCS Championship Game on January 9th if Stanford QB Luck (four touchdown passes in the 44-14 win/cover at 21-point pup Duke last weekend) went against that stingy Alabama defense for all the marbles? No doubt that Luck is a major diff-maker – note that Stanford's covered 14 of its last 20 overall games with him in the saddle – but is this price too rich to lay in the desert against desperate U of A Wildcats?

Last week the Jim Hurley Network won its top play on Saturday with Kansas (+4.5) over Northern Illinois 45-42, and again on Sunday with Buffalo (+5.5) over Kansas City 41-7. Now we're going to do it again! Take a look at what's ahead this weekend as we target two more stunners...

It's the perfect week to find an upset if you're paying attention, crunching your numbers and watching game tape. The public is overreacting to developments of the first two weeks. In the meantime, some teams are showing obvious signs of being ready to make significant improvement. With our entire team of stat guys, scouts and sources we know there's one spot in particular offering us a huge overlay. It's our September Shocker, the one game that will rattle your man!

I am sitting on one of the biggest upsets of the year and I’m dying to tell you what it is but I can’t. Is it Panthers over Packers? Seahawks over Steelers? Chargers over Patriots. Shhh! Don’t miss this chance to zing your bookie for big bucks!



(All figures below are against the spread)

Arizona was 2-7 vs. Pac-12 teams last year
Army is 5-12 at home
Clemson is 6-11 in non-ACC games
Florida is 5-10-1 vs. the SEC
Florida State is 4-11 at home
Illinois is 5-14 in non-league games
Iowa is 1-5-1 overall since late 2010
Kentucky is 8-3 as betting favorites

Michigan State is 4-1-1 vs. Notre Dame
North Carolina is 2-8 vs. Virginia
Ole Miss is 2-8 vs. Vanderbilt
San Diego St is 5-1 in non-conference games
Toledo is 13-19 at home
Washington is 3-7 in last 10 road openers
West Virginia is 4-0 vs. Maryland


Jim Hurley's NFL PICKS & PREVIEWS are based on information obtained prior to press time and may not reflect any changes that could affect these selections. For firmed-up Game-Day selections/ratings, log online at www.JimHurley.com or call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 after 10 a.m. ET on Sundays and after 1 p.m. ET for the weeknight games.


CHICAGO at NEW ORLEANS: Is it too early in an NFL season to declare a Week 2 game a "must win"? No doubt the Saints – who couldn't stop a soul in their season-opening 42-34 loss in Green Bay back on Sept. 8th – know a three-game road trip is right around the bend beginning in Week 4 and so HC Payton's guys have sense of urgency to 'em here but might N'Orleans be "paying" for that in this current Las Vegas price tag? One note on Da Bears: They scored only two offensive TDs in 30-12 win against Atlanta and speedball Hester only had 60 yards from scrimmage.

JACKSONVILLE at NY JETS: If the Jaguars are gonna hang around here at all than ultra-underrated PK Scobee (see FGs of 38, 21 and 45 yards in last Sunday's 16-14 victory against 1-point fav Tennessee) must be dead-on with any/all opportunities and handicappers should be aware that J-ville has dominated this matchup spreadwise the past several years (see our NFL Betting Trends) – yet the fact remains the J-E-T-S didn't play very well and still survived Dallas in Week One as O-line was wobbly and CB Cromartie was burned a few times.


ARIZONA at WASHINGTON: Hope you counted Skins QB Grossman (305 yards passing and two TDs in 28-14 home win against the NY Giants) as one of the league's NFL Week 1 stars as "Sexy Rexy" really had some major zip on his throws and it didn't hurt the cause that TE Davis and WR Moss were spectacular while combining for 181 receiving yards. Now – with everyone in D.C. expecting an "encore performance" – gotta believe that we'll see the "Bad Rex" here as the Cardinals have been hearing how bad their pass defense was all week long. Arizona's QB Kolb-to-WR Fitzgerald combo was relatively quiet last weekend in 28-21 win/push against Carolina but here's a breakout game. It's Arizona 27, Washington 17.

BALTIMORE at TENNESSEE: Life in the NFL can take some strange twists and turns … and here's a game that might get filed in the don't-make-sense draw at day's end. Consider that the road-favored Ravens are feeling good about themselves after lopsided 35-7 win last week against archrival Pittsburgh as DL Ngata led opportunistic defense that caused seven turnovers in all and QB Flacco aired three scoring strikes but gut feel here is this one will be closer than the "experts" think as home-pup Titans can fully expect more than 49 offensive yards from RB Johnson (see 24 yards rushing in 16-14 loss at Jacksonville). Grab what's offered, ladies and gents! Baltimore 20, Tennessee 19.

GREEN BAY at CAROLINA: Lots of folks figure to be quick to say "gimme the Panthers plus points" this year with new-kid-on-the-block QB Newton having looked so good in season-opening loss at Arizona. Last year's Heisman Trophy winner threw for 422 yards and two TDs and quickly showed major downfield rapport with perennial Pro Bowl WR Smith (8 catches for 178 yards including TDs of 77 and 26 yards) but these are the defending Super Bowl champion Packers here and can we remind you that Green Bay's covered 12 of its last 15 overall games. Maybe it is time for folks to mention HC McCarthy as one of the league's top two or three sidelines generals. Yowie!

DALLAS at SAN FRANCISCO: Fully expect the Cowboys to be second-guessing lots of things about last Sunday's painful 27-24 prime-time loss-but-cover against the NY Jets and now tricky spot here for HC Garrett's guys who are laying road points and know QB Romo can self-destruct at any moment. On the flip side, San Fran return specialist Ginn registered kickoff and punt bring-backs for scores in 33-17 win against Seattle in Week One and who's to say he won't shift the playing field here?

SAN DIEGO at NEW ENGLAND: Can we just simply hand the 2011 NFL Most Valuable Player award to Patriots QB Brady right this very instant! The three-time Super Bowl winner was sharper than a razor blade while chucking it for 517 yards and 4 TDs in Monday Night's 38-24 win/cover at Miami but what really struck our fancy there was with all the talk about who gets the most carries for N'England it was sparkplug RB Woodhead (14 of the team's 22 overall carries and he finished with 69 ground yards) who did the major grunt work and so that means RB Green-Ellis (7 carries for 34 yards) is well-rested and quite dangerous here in the NFL's best Sunday afternoon matchup on the docket. On the flip side, the Chargers are without PK Kaeding and add that to the always-growing list of special teams woes here.


PHILADELPHIA at ATLANTA: Think the Georgia Dome will be jumping here? The return of "prodigal son" QB Vick in Eagles colors will have the home folks in a foul mood – yes, last weekend's 30-12 no-show performance by the Falcons in Chicago also has Hot-lanta fans annoyed – but DE Abraham and mates better get in Vick's grill here or he'll run for key yardage and note even with 14-of-32 passing game last week the lefty Vick engineered a dazzling 404-yard offensive attack … not bad. 

Get this winner of this "Battle of the Birds" for only $25,
plus the Chargers-Patriots winner too. Click here.


ST. LOUIS at NY GIANTS: Let's just say that there were more than a few disgruntled fans of the G-men following last Sunday's 14-point loss in Landover and there was plenty of blame to go around – QB Manning threw for 268 mostly-hollow yards, there were a few dropped passes and the injury-wracked defense collected four sacks but never did get a handle on the aforementioned QB Grossman. The Giants now have had eight days to get ready for Rams bunch that may or may not have star QB Bradford (nerve damage in right hand fingers) here and don't forget that St. Loo also lost stud WR Amendola in that tilt too – so check who's stepping in for either/both here and make sure to check in with us for a game-day play at 1-800-323-4453 or click right here online for the winner.


(All figures below are against the spread)

Arizona is 2-10-1 away
Baltimore is 23-11-1 vs. non-division foes
Chicago is 8-3 as an underdog
Cincinnati is 13-7 when getting points
Detroit is 6-2-1 in its home opener
Houston is 3-7-1 away

Jacksonville is 5-0 vs. NY Jets
Minnesota was 4-7-1 vs. the NFC in 2010
New England is 13-7-1 vs. non-AFC East teams
Philadelphia is 28-18 away since 2006
St. Louis is 0-5 vs. NY Giants
Tennessee is 24-15 as underdogs

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Alabama
  3. Boise St
  4. LSU
  5. Stanford
  1. Florida State
  2. Wisconsin
  3. Oklahoma State
  4. South Carolina
  5. Texas A&M

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