Volume XXVIII Issue 1
In 2010 we kicked off with South Carolina (-14) over Southern Miss 41-13! In 2011 it was Miss. St.
(-31) over Memphis 59-14! If this year's Classic develops the way I think it will, we'll have our third straight Mismatch winner! There are 8 games scheduled including these TV games. One may be the Kickoff Knockout!
South Carolina-Vanderbilt (ESPN) SC has lofty goals but opens with Vandy, a dangerous home dog
Washington St. at BYU (ESPN) New WSU Coach Leach will showcase high-wire offense vs. tough BYU
Plus My NFL Pre-Season Finale -13 games- Get my best! Won last year with Rams (+3) over Jags 24-17
Click Here to Kick off the College Season and end the preseason for only $25.
IT'S COLLEGE FOOTBALL "CRYSTAL BALL"TIME
Okay, so we admit the following idea was "stolen"...forgive us!
In recent years past while the world awaited the winners of that year's Oscar Awards, we've loved reading about "who should win"and "who will win"in the various categories and so we'll apply that to the various College Football Conferences/Leagues ...enjoy!
The Wolfpack isn't on anyone's so-called radar screen these days but the gang from Raleigh has a batch of big-time playmakers including CB David Amerson who intercepted an amazing 13 passes last year. If QB Mike Glennon can follow up his 31-TD season with more aerial success (and if State can win at Clemson in mid-November) than the Pack gets our call to win the ACC Atlantic Division and than knock off Virginia Tech for the conference crown.
No doubt the Sooners don't give you lots of reason to be optimistic here 'cause Bob Stoops' club has found different ways to lose key regular-season conference games the past few years (see inexplicable loss to 29-point dog Texas Tech last year and that 28-point loss to T-Tech back in 2009, for examples) but QB Landry Jones will cut down on his 15 picks from a year ago and the defense will find ways to get the ball back after going -2 in the turnover margin category a year ago.
The Bulls have never won a conference crown in their seven prior seasons in the Big East (even in recent years when the "experts"said they would) but now Skip Holtz's crew has quality depth and a veteran quarterback in senior B.J. Daniels and gut feeling is USF will find ways to win the close ones after going a rotten 1-5 SU (straight-up) in games decided by 6 points or less last season. Ouch!
Keep in mind that the Ohio State Buckeyes are ineligible to play in either the Big 10 Championship Game or a post-season bowl game and so that narrows the field as to whom really will win out here and the Cornhuskers are ready to take the "next step"one year after losing Big 10 games versus Wisconsin, Northwestern and Michigan - look for Big Red to avenge all three of those 2011 setbacks this year while QB Taylor Martinez upgrades that 104th-ranked passing attack. Count on it! The 'Huskes will beat Wisconsin in the Big 10 title game, says us!
The Coogs won't miss a beat in Year One of the post-Sumlin and post-QB Case Keenum Era as slinger David Piland - who started eight games for an injured Keenum back in 2010 - is ready/willing/able to torch C-USA defenses and take note that Houston won't play UCF in the regular season and all of UH's league road games are eminently winnable (go look 'em up!). We'll call for the Cougars to best UCF come the C-USA Championship Game.
The Falcons lost a pair of one-point games last year including a painful 29-28 setback against Ohio in the next-to-last game of the year but expect the BG's fortunes to take a turn for the better in the close tilts this season as underrated head coach Dave Clawson pushes all the right buttons while QB Matt Schilz (3,024 yards passing last year) is the league's best triggerman when all's said and done. Bowling Green nips Northern Illinois for the MAC crown in December.
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
It's true the blue turf Broncos have taken a step or two back in the overall talent department but this is still a legit top 25 side and nobody in this league does a better week-in and week-out job than seventh-year head coach Chris Petersen. If you wish to circle B-State's biggest MWC game this year than check out the season-ending November 24th showdown at Nevada - now that oughta be a blast!
No question the Men of Troy have the deepest roster in the land and QB Matt Barkley (3,528 yards passing with 39 TDs and just 7 INTs a year ago) is right atop that short Heisman Trophy list but now the offensive balance this Southern Cal club will sport with Penn State transfer RB Silas Redd on its side is just downright scary. USC will beat Oregon by at least two TDs in this year's Pac-12 Championship Game.
The ole ball coach is gonna win one of these league free-for-alls one of these years ...so why not now? The Gamecocks are in just about everyone's top 10 while entering this upcoming campaign and last year's third-ranked defense (allowed 267.7 ypg) will be awesome even with some defections at cornerback. Hats off to y'all, Steve Spurrier! Look for South Carolina to topple Alabama in the SEC Championship Game inside the Georgia Dome this year.SUN BELT
Who Should Win - FIU
Who Will Win - UL-Lafayette.
Last year's speed-crazy New Orleans Bowl win against favored San Diego State really gave a major energy boost to this program and now we'll count on Mark Hudspeth's squad to win the close ones again (see 4-0 SU last year in games decided by 5 points or less).
THURSDAY, AUGUST 30
SOUTH CAROLINA at VANDERBILT: Lots of folks are tabbing the SC Gamecocks as "serious"national championship contenders this season but HC Spurrier's gang has its share of worries too including RB Lattimore (818 yards rushing and 10 TDs last year) who's attempting a bounce-back from knee surgery - can Vandy's tougher-than-you-think front seven on defense keep Lattimore fenced in here in this ESPN prime-time clash? Check with us game-day and we'll get you the Side/Totals winners and remember there are Nine (9) on-the-board games on this opening night of the 2012 College Football Season.
** UPSET SPECIAL ** UPSET SPECIAL **
FRIDAY, AUGUST 31
TENNESSEE vs. N.C. STATE (at Georgia Dome): Don't tell anyone but N.C. State Wolfpack could be real sleeping giant on the national scene this year behind snazzy QB Glennon (3,054 yards passing with 31 TDs last season) and so this could be real rough-and-tumble game in Hot-lanta and do keep in mind Tennessee Vols were true offensively-challenged team last year while scoring 12 points or less in six of the team's final eight games. Okay, so Tennessee boss-man Dooley squarely on the "hot seat"right at season's start and word has it he's ready/willing to throw gimmick plays at State defense that stars CB Amerson (13 picks a year ago). If Glennon keeps his mistakes to a minimum, than Pack could steal this one.
BOISE STATE at MICHIGAN STATE: No doubt that the Boise boys have thrived in these recent season-opening non-league affairs with wins against Georgia, Virginia Tech and Oregon the past three years but this is truly tricky spot for HC Petersen's squad now - finally - without QB Moore (yes, he's gone to the NFL). Still, Boise State's biggest problem here is a defensive line that needs major patchwork against big/strong Michigan State O-line that brings back four starters from last year's Outback Bowl-winning squad. Hey, Sparty is a 7-point betting favorite for a reason, gang!
COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S FIRST SATURDAY SLAM
Ohio U. at Penn State Noon (ESPN) Southern Miss at Nebraska 3:30pm (ABC)
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1
NOTRE DAME vs. NAVY (at Dublin): Nice to see that chamber of commerce folks in Ireland report millions of bucks will be poured into the country thanks to this college football tilt but have the locals pushed the game price to silly stages here? At last check, Notre Dame Fighting Irish was listed as 17-point betting favorites (okay, so HC Kelly's crew did hammer the Midshipmen 56-14 last year as 23½-point favs in South Bend digs) and there are genuine questions at quarterback and in the secondary where three of last year's starters are gone. Fact of matter is Navy - which was a plus 9 in the all-important turnover margin a year ago - must force some Irish miscues here and play stout red-zone defense ...or else it will indeed be a "great day for the Irish"! Note this one kicks off at 9 a.m. ET on CBS. Rise and shine!
CLEMSON vs. AUBURN (at Georgia Dome): Okay, so it hardly qualifies as a "news flash"right here and right now but Clemson WR/KR Watkins was suspended for the first two games this year and his field-flipping prowess will be sorely missed in this indoors showdown but keep a close eye on the Tigers' other downfield threats as veteran QB Boyd (3,828 yards passing with 33 TDs a year ago) quite capable of launching it 60 yards-or-so while Auburn key is getting its quarterback position straightened out a year after War Eagle ranked a dismal 105th nationally in passing (out of 120 FBS teams back than). This ACC-SEC battle is always entertaining (see Tigers 38-24 home win last year as 5-point betting favorites) and it may take 35-or-more points for someone to win here ...thinking about the "over"? Us too! Let's call it Clemson 37, Auburn 35.
MICHIGAN vs. ALABAMA (at Arlington): Are the defending national champion 'Bama Crimson Tide "overpriced"here as 12½-point betting favorites at press time? No doubt HC Saban's crew really shined last year when placed in the chalk role with heady 9-4 ATS mark that included 7-3 spread record when laying twin-figure prices and now "experienced"QB McCarron will try to hit some downfield home runs against a Michigan defense that last year ranked a real solid 16th nationally in pass defense. Hey, if do-it-all Wolverines QB Robinson - no doubt on that Heisman Trophy short list this year - can scramble for the sticks on some third-down plays than this neutral game could get very interesting, right?
The NFL begins the following Sunday...
SMU at Baylor 6:30 (FSN)
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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2
KENTUCKY at LOUISVILLE: It's revenge plus double-digit points for the UK Wildcats here as the SEC guys lost 24-17 last year to the 'Ville and now oddsmakers have posted the U of L Cardinals as hefty 14-point favs for this Sunday matinee (3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN). Put it this way: If Louisville QB Bridgewater (2,129 yards passing with 14 TDs and 12 INTs a year ago as a frosh) gets the green light to chuck it early and often, than 'Cats could be chasing all game long and all we know is Kentucky scored a grand total of 28 points in its final three games last year and that's one reason why team's five-year bowl streak came to a crashing thud.
It's Labor Day...for most of us it's a day of rest...
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 3
GEORGIA TECH at VIRGINIA TECH: If you ask us, this one has all the earmarks of a closer-than-you-think game - V-Tech is a 7½-point fav at press time and it is revenge for Georgia Tech which brings back senior QB Washington and lots of firepower from a team that ranked 21st nationally with 34.3 ppg scored and that ain't bad! The real key to this under-the-lights ESPN clash is whether or not the host Hokies get productivity from offensive players other than QB Thomas who is the leading returning rusher from last year's Sugar Bowl-losing squad. Make sure you check in with Jim Hurley for this Labor Day evening bash as we get you Side & Totals action.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S MOST UNDERRATED SPREAD SIDES
Folks, there have been a handful of NCAA Football teams that have really cashed in big the past couple of seasons - even if they have flown under the proverbial radar screen!
BYU (17-9) - The Cougars have covered better than 65 percent of the time the past two gridiron campaigns and who knew that in these past two years BYU enjoyed a seven-game and a five-game spread winning streak? If the Coogs are gonna get the green again in 2012, than a rock-ribbed defense that ranked 13th nationally a year ago must shine and especially in the road games at Utah, Boise State, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. P.S., note that BYU is 9-4 ATS (against the spread) away the past two years.
UL-LAFAYETTE (16-9) - Not many folks outside the great state of Louisiana could tell you a whole heckuva lot about these Ragin' Cajuns but we're here to say this Sun Belt Conference crew has covered 64 percent of its games the past two years and that includes a three-game spread winning streak to cap off the 2011 season. Hey, ULL covered all eight of its games last year when placed in the underdog role and it put the proverbial cherry on top with that thrilling 32-30 win against 5½-point favorite San Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl. There is major speed/talent on special teams - again - this year and that could be the "diff"in some of this team's spread results.
TEMPLE (15-9) - Don't look now but the Owls actually have sported a winning spread mark for the past five years in a row but for our purposes we'll condense things to the team's .625 winning rate these past couple of seasons. Temple - which finished last year an electric 9-4 against the odds including a rollicking 37-15 win/cover against 7-point pup Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl - has covered 8 of its last 12 away games and note that this 2012 agenda includes road stops at Penn State, Pittsburgh and Louisville ...can the Owls cover 2-of-3 or maybe even sweep this road board spreadwise? Note that last year's Owls finished third nationally in scoring defense while yielding just 13.9 points per game.
WASHINGTON STATE (14-9) - Okay, so maybe a power conference team sporting a 61 percent winning rate spreadwise isn't reason to have a parade but keep in mind Wazzu was a collective 29-46 versus the vig in its previous six seasons (that's a .387 winning rate) and so the strides made spreadwise the past two years is reason to celebrate! Note that W-State enters a whole new era this year with the hiring of offensive hot-shot Mike Leach and so let's see if outscoring Pac-12 foes gets W-State more pointspread "W's"than "L's: this year.
WESTERN KENTUCKY (16-7-1) - Told you we were talkin' about "underrated"spread sides here as the Hilltoppers last year banged out a spiffy 10-2 ATS mark that featured pointspread wins against the likes of SEC members LSU and Kentucky ...not too shabby! If Western Kentucky's defensive front seven plays as well as advertised - and the folks in Las Vegas continue to undervalue this rather no-name club - than you might be watching yet another double-digit win spread season. Let's see!
Editor's Note: Jim Hurley's NETWORK BULLETIN NCAA & NFL Power Ratings are updated each and every week throughout the 2012 Football Season. There are three categories for each team below: PR=The Team Power Rating; CR= The Coach's Rating; and HF=Home Field.
Both the Coach's Rating and the Home Field has a maximum rating of 5 points and a minimum rating of 0 points.
Here's an example of how to utilize the NCAA & NFL Power Ratings:
Let's go to the NFL and say that the Buffalo Bills are at the Tampa Bay Bucs: The Bills have a PR of 89 and a CR of 3 - so that means Buffalo's overall rating is a 92; Tampa Bay has a PR of 83 with a CR of 3 and a HF of 3 - so the Bucs have an overall rating of 89 points.
So, according to our Power Ratings, the Bills should be a 3-point betting favorite at Tampa Bay
Folks, it's that simple!
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