Volume XXVII, Issue 8
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.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20
UCLA at ARIZONA: First game for new 'Zona boss Kish as the team's former defensive coordinator took over for clueless HC Stoops back on October 10th following the Wildcats' fifth consecutive loss. Maybe the 'new blood' will energize U of A here but fact of matter is this represents ultra-important game for the visiting Uclans who are very much in the thick of the Pac-12 South race and remember injury-prone QB Prince is in the saddle now that Brehaut's gone for the year with a broken leg. We're looking at this game and Central Florida-UAB, also going on Thursday night.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21
RUTGERS at LOUISVILLE: It's the first time this 2011 season that the Rutgers Scarlet Knights are coming off a spread loss (see 21-20 non-cover win against Navy) but sure looks like HC Schiano's club has found a quarterback with kid Nova fresh off 23-of-31, 271-yard game against Middies and let's see if road folks turn 'em loose here. Note this is big-time revenge spot for Rutgers team that lost 40-13 at home to the 'Villa last year.
WEST VIRGINIA at SYRACUSE: Both of these Big East teams are fresh off a bye week and gotta believe that means the extra prep time for WVU boss-man Holgorsen meant more playbook goodies for this espn2 showdown – will QB Smith (2,159 yards passing with 16 TDs and 3 INTs this year) take more downfield shots here against a 'Cuse defense that's surrendered 30-or-more points in three of its last four games? Jim Hurley's Network has targeted one of these games for a strong play.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22
ILLINOIS at PURDUE: Now that the bubble's officially burst on this 2011 Illini club (last week's 17-7 home loss versus Ohio State left a bad taste in many mouths especially when HC Zook went for first down/touchdown late while eschewing the needed field goal) you have to wonder if laying road juice is the way to go here. Keep in mind Illinois lost the turnover battle 3-to-0 last week and QB Scheelhaase (just 169 yards passing with two picks) had a rare"off game".MARYLAND at FLORIDA STATE: It's about time the FSU Seminoles returned home as HC Fisher's gang has not played in its own backyard since that 23-13 high-profile loss to Oklahoma way back on Sept. 17th … remember? Last Saturday's 41-16 runaway win at 11½-point underdog Duke included a pair of scoring strikes from QB Manuel and kid must be licking his chops here against Maryland defense that's allowed 37, 38 and 56 points in three of its last five outings.
COMPLIMENTARY BEST BET
GEORGIA TECH at MIAMI: Call this a near-perfect handicapping set-up for the G-Tech Yellow Jackets who enter this ACC clash off last weekend's disappointing 24-21 loss at 8-point pup Virginia and with double-revenge here – the Techsters are a rock-solid 25-16-2 ATS (against the spread) overall in the HC Johnson Era that started back in 2008 but they've lost 35-10 and 33-17 in the last two showdowns with 'The U' but here's a whole different picture. Georgia Tech allowed Virginia to rush for 272 yards last week but now the Jackets will control the LOS (line of scrimmage) and QB Washington makes some big plays on the perimeter. Miami's still soaking up last week's upset win at North Carolina but who needs the 'Canes here as they're a shabby 8-17 spreadwise at home the past four-plus seasons? Georgia Tech 30, Miami 20
WAKE FOREST at DUKE: Last weekend's 38-17 home loss to V-Tech was no way for Wake Forest to keep pace with 4-and-0 Clemson in the ACC Atlantic Division but gotta believe lefty QB Price (12 TDs and only 3 INTs this year) will be razor-sharp here – but laying road points still is foreign stuff to the Demon Deacons (3-1 in league play).
ARKANSAS at OLE MISS: One-time Arkansas boss-man Nutt was 'gold' whenever he was taking points but that's no longer the case as Ole Miss has covered just four of the team's last 11 dog appearances and no sense getting all juiced up about taking Rebels-plus-points here even though it is a revenge game for Mississippi (see 38-24 loss at 10-point favored Hogs last year).
NORTH CAROLINA at CLEMSON: Gotta hand it to these Clemson Tigers who scratched their way out of 18-point hole to snag 56-45 win/cover at 9 ½-point dog Maryland last Saturday night as do-it-all guy Watkins grabbed a pair of QB Boyd scoring strikes plus the former raced 89 yards with a kick return for a go-ahead TD midway through the fourth quarter. Electric stuff! If you tell us right now that Clemson's gonna roll up 500-plus yards here than we'll be inclined to think HC Swinney's team will indeed cover a sixth straight game … is this really Clemson we're talking about?
TEXAS A&M at IOWA STATE: Don't look now but the A&M Aggies are scoring points by the bushel these days (that's 46 ppg through last three outings) and QB Tannehill comes off 415-yard, six-TD showing in 55-28 win against Baylor – do the I-State Cyclones have any answers here after allowing 101 points in their last two games?
OKLAHOMA STATE at MISSOURI: Note that the Mizzou Tigers have covered seven of their last 11 games inside Big 12 play while Okie State's a resounding 15-4 against the odds overall while dating back to the start of last season – now these boys have been double-bagging their greenbacks! Now, the OSU Cowboys are in road fav role here one week after pounding out 38-26 win/cover at 7-point dog Texas (see 202 team rushing yards and 218 yards passing by QB Weeden) but you know what we always say about winning/covering back-to-back weekends on the road! It ain't easy at all. Closer than the experts think. It's Oklahoma State 36, Missouri 33.
OREGON at COLORADO: Call it a good-news, bad-news scenario for this year's Oregon Ducks … The good news is HC Kelly's club is averaging an eye-popping 48.7 points a game but the bad news is the Ducks have merely split their first six pointspread verdicts and now are laying monster-sized road price here and note this one's in the high-altitude zone. The other bad news for the Ducks: Now QB Thomas (leg) is hurting and remember RB James sat out last week's 41-27 win against Arizona State with a dislocated elbow. Let's find something else on this college gridiron menu, okay?
NEBRASKA at MINNESOTA: Nice of the Minny Golden Gophers to make Big Red their Homecoming Game but fact of matter is Nebraska's in no mood to fool around after recently falling out of the Top 10 and with QB Martinez often booed off his own field in Lincoln – maybe the road game will do the 'Huskers good after they started off the season a rocky 1-5 versus the vig. It's Nebraska 48, Minnesota 15.
AIR FORCE at BOISE STATE: Gotta say that B-State Broncos deserve all the attention they get as team is 6-and-oh SU (straight-up) this year and a rousing 22-10 against the odds dating back to the start of the 2009 season. Last weekend's 338-yard, four-TD passing performance by lefty QB Moore just his latest 'fab' game but let's not overlook RB Martin who rushed for 200 yards and three scores in last week's 63-13 win against Colorado State. Only thing is here do you wish to be laying multiple-TD price against Air Force club that can chew clock once it starts moving the chains? Hmmm.
KANSAS STATE at KANSAS: Annual Sunflower State showdown has been tilted in the favor of the home teams in recent years as hosts own 7-3 ATS mark since 2001 but $64,000 question here is do you wish to be laying a bundle with K-State crew that's won last four weeks by 4, 1, 7 and 7 points? Maybe HC Snyder's guys will be running on 'E' although versatile QB Klein (146 passing yards and 110 rushing yards in last week's 41-34 win at 3 ½-point fav Texas Tech) never should be underestimated.
TEXAS TECH at OKLAHOMA: Congrats to Oklahoma Sooners WR Broyles who now stands as the NCAA's all-time receptions leader following 13-grab, school-record 217 yards receiving and two TDs in last week's 47-17 non-cover win at Kansas – the kid now has 326 career catches and you might need a calculator here to figure out where he finishes this game in expected offensive hoedown. Meanwhile, no question Tech slinger Doege a little shell-shocked after throwing three picks in last weekend's aforementioned loss to Kansas State and note it's never a good sign when you get 32 first downs and they get 16 first downs and you still lose at home!
PENN STATE at NORTHWESTERN: Go ahead and praise 84-year-old JoePa all you want … the numbers don't lie and they say this year's Nittany Lions team is shoddy 1-6 versus the vig following last weekend's 23-18 non-cover win against 12-point pup Purdue. Note that Penn State's usually stingy defense surrendered 344 yards to the Boilers but Purdue's inability to cash in on third- and fourth-down plays (see 4-of-15 success rate) was a real problem. Gonna feel so confident laying road points now here? Real close, ladies and gents! Penn State 22, Northwestern 21.
TENNESSEE at ALABAMA: So what that this isn't necessarily the 'Third Saturday in October' but it's still a chance to check out 'Bama bunch that must keep its eyes on the prize without looking too far ahead to that November 5th game against #1 LSU. In this under-the-lights clash, RB Richardson – fresh off his career-best 183-yard, 4-TD performance – will try to stay in the Heisman hunt against Tennessee team that (oddly enough) can't run the ball worth a lick!
USC at NOTRE DAME: Nicely-timed bye last week for the ND Fighting Irish could be real key as QB Rees had more time to view USC defensive film and HC Kelly surely studied how to get the ball to WR Floyd – and keep in mind South Bend crew on four-game SU winning streak while heading into this annual tug-of-war affair. USC merely toyed with Cal in 30-9 win at AT&T Park last Thursday night but shouldn't the Troy Boys be worried about anemic ground game (see 37 carries for 118 yards or 3.2 yards-per-carry average against Cal)?
AUBURN at LSU: Monster price tag on this SEC tilt and do keep in mind this is a revenge game for the Bayou Bengals (a 24-17 loser at 5 ½-point fav Auburn last year) and so HC Miles and Company may not have any mercy here. Last weekend's rocking-chair 38-7 win/cover versus 17-point dog Tennessee included zero turnovers by efficient LSU offense (and 383 offensive yards) with RB Ware (23 carries for 80 yards) proving once again it takes more than one tackler to bring 'em down!
WISCONSIN at MICHIGAN STATE: As you might have seen with our Jim Hurley Top 10 rankings, we've slotted the Wisky Badgers a bit lower than conventional wisdom and mainly that's because HC Bielema's troops really have not beaten anyone of note (see UNLV, Oregon State, Northern Illinois, South Dakota and Indiana) save for the rollicking win against Nebraska back on October 1st. Maybe a road win in East Lansing will go a long way in getting us in Wisky's camp here as QB Wilson (one TD passing and one TD receiving in last weekend's 59-7 romp over the IU Hoosiers) has snazzy surrounding cast while M-State could be hung over following fourth consecutive win against "big brother" Michigan.
UL-LAFAYETTE at WESTERN KENTUCKY: Hope that you've noticed UL-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns are perfect 4-and-oh in oft-overlooked Sun Belt Conference plus they did land a pointspread "W" in season-opening 61-34 loss to 38-point fav Oklahoma State (and ULL's success this year actually could impact the BCS standings because more wins for them helps Okie State). Now key question is whether or not WR Lawson (27 receptions and a tidy 16.7 yards-per-catch average) is playmaker deluxe here.
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.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23PREFERRED PICK
CHICAGO vs. TAMPA BAY (in London): Tally-ho, it's off to jolly old England for the NFL folks (and don't ask why!) and we're wondering whether the Chicago Bears have a real run in 'em following that efficient 39-10 win/cover against 1 ½-point underdog Minnesota last Sunday night – all of a sudden the O-line looked greatly improved with QB Cutler (267 yards passing with two TDs against the Vikes) more relaxed plus throw into the mix here the fact the Bucs come off highly emotional home win against New Orleans and this looks like a 'one-way bet'. Chicago 26, Tampa Bay 17.
WASHINGTON at CAROLINA: The Panthers finally failed to cover a pointspread in 31-17 loss at 3½-point fav Atlanta last week (note that Carolina's now 4-1-1 against the odds this year) and now find selves in chalk role for only the fifth time in their last 23 games – but note 'Skins only had ball for 21-plus minutes last week in home loss to Philly and there's definite cracks showing here with kid Shanahan's offense.
SAN DIEGO at NY JETS: Maybe nobody was doing cartwheels in the J-E-T-S locker room following Monday's 24-6 win/cover against 7-point dog Miami (yes, the Dolphins are truly one of the worst teams in recent NFL memory) as NYJ offense went three-and-out on its first four possessions but 100-yard INT-for-TD by CB Revis changed complexion of that AFC East tilt and now wondering if momentum from that game carries over in 'short week' here. The Jets collected four quarterback sacks in that prime-time game at MetLife Stadium but taking down star slinger Rivers (1,536 yards passing with 6 TDs) won't be easy and $64,000 question is will San Diego challenge Revis as much as silly Miami did in MNF affair? Stay tuned.
SEATTLE at CLEVELAND: Interesting sub-plot here as this is Browns' president Holmgren now getting a shot at old Seahawks organization but what's happened with the once-potent Cleveland ground game (note 6 carries for 14 rushing yards for disgruntled RB Hillis in last week's 24-17 loss/push at Oakland)?
HOUSTON at TENNESSEE: Folks are now gonna find out whether or not the Houston Texans have a strong backbone as back-to-back losses to Oakland and Baltimore (our clients went 2-0 Sunday as we gave out the Ravens and the Under) has dropped HC Kubiak's club to the .500 level and this once-potent offense is averaging just 17 points per game in its last three outings after starting off the year averaging 30 ppg in its first three games – maybe RB Foster (only 49 yards rushing in last week's loss to the Ravens) needs to get more early-game carries to get his motor revved up. P.S., the Titans come off their bye week and extra prep time could be key for vet QB Hasselbeck here.
DENVER at MIAMI: The Tebow Era officially begins for the Broncos and gotta believe he will lift spirits here even if we don't expect great passing stats – hey, Dolphins on short week after 24-6 loss at NY Jets this past Monday Night and QB Moore simply not a prime-time player and so who needs to lay points with 'em here? Denver 23, Miami 19.UPSET SPECIAL
ATLANTA at DETROIT: Wonder if that post-game "hard handshake" deal between SF's Harbaugh and Detroit's Schwartz will dominate the headlines in the Motor City this week … of course it will! Now, young Lions team – off debilitating 25-19 last-minute home loss – might not have necessary focus to handle this major task at hand as visiting Falcons showed "true colors" last Sunday in 31-17 triumph over Carolina as RB Turner banged out 139 rushing yards and two TDs and defense didn't allow a point in last 21-plus minutes against Cam and the Carolina Panthers. Another tough one for the fans at Ford Field here.
It's Atlanta 28, Detroit 23.
KANSAS CITY at OAKLAND: The silver-and-black just keep winning, baby, as last week's 24-17 hang-on-for-dear-life triumph over Cleveland (we loved the Browns but had to settle for the push) pushed the team's spread mark to 4-1-1 this year and now Raiders laying 'only' a field goal at last check … doesn't that seem a bit short here, folks? Visiting KayCee Chiefs drew a bye last week and now aerial game featuring WRs Bowe and Breaston (a combined 37 catches with 6 TDs) looks to wreck havoc against Oakland secondary that does have some holes. Real close with the call for the mild upset here. Kansas City 21, Oakland 20.
PITTSBURGH at ARIZONA: It sure seems like a long time ago when the Steelers snagged a last-minute Super Bowl XXXIII win against Arizona (see 2-1-09) and as long as 'Zona has QB Kolb and not QB Warner (remember him?) under center than we simply cannot grab those points with the home dog here. The Cardinals – who had a much-needed bye last week – not getting much in the passing game and did you know NFC West club has scored just 47 total points in last three games and WR Fitzgerald has been close to invisible. Meanwhile, Steelers got back to basics in last week's 17-13 non-cover win against 12 ½-point pup Jacksonville as RB Mendenhall cranked out 23-carry, 146-yard rushing game and defense collected five sacks.
ST. LOUIS at DALLAS: Did you realize the Cowboys are 1-10-1 ATS (against the spread) as betting favorites since the start of last year and now oddsmakers have you laying nearly two-TD price for this bash? Pass!
GREEN BAY at MINNESOTA: It really doesn't matter all that much whether the Vikings bench QB McNabb for wet-behind-the-ears rookie Ponder here as TD-plus favorite GB Packers are clicking big time and has anyone noticed that Green Bay defense has yielded a mere 57 points in team's last four games (that's 14.25 points a game)? Throw in fact Packers QB Rodgers (310 yards passing with 3 TDs in last week's 24-3 win/cover against 14-point dog St. Louis) remains absolutely brilliant and you won't catch us telling our man to 'gimme Minnesota plus the points' here.
INDIANAPOLIS at NEW ORLEANS: Memo to Saints boss-man Payton … sorry, but it's better that you broke a leg and busted up a knee instead of slick signal-caller Brees (383 yards passing in last week's 26-20 loss at 6.5-point pup Tampa Bay - a winner for Hurley clients tat took our advice to grab the Bucs and the points). Now, former star in the Hoosier State – a Purdue man, remember – gets to taunt the pro team from that state here and Las Vegas oddsmakers aren't fooling around as N'Orleans is a hearty 14-point favorite. Note the Saints are shabby 5-10 vig-wise as favs of 7½-or-more points since the start of that Super Bowl-winning season in 2009. Cash this winner for $15.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 24
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