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NFL WEEK 14: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4
DALLAS (8-4) at CHICAGO (5-7)— The Week 14 menu gets revved up with this prime-timer from Soldier Field where the Bears actually have won their last two games (and by identical 21-13 scores over Minnesota and Tampa Bay) but both “Da Bears” and the Cowboys come off haunting losses on Thanksgiving Day. Heck, Dallas was held to a mere 267 offensive yards in that 33-10 home loss to Philadelphia and QB Tony Romo— sore back and all— was sacked four times. If the Cowboys’ haughty O-line can’t give Romo adequate protection here than the 3 ½-point underdog Bears could strike up the mild upset tune. Check with Jim Hurley on game-day afternoon here online or at our toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 and get Side/Totals action.
Thursday College & NFL Moneymaker Double Play
Cowboys-Bears & UCF at East Carolina
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UCF (8-3, 6-1 AAC) at EAST CAROLINA (8-3, 5-2 AAC)— This is championship weekend all ‘round the college landscape with seven conferences determining champs and here on this first Thursday in December the UCF Knights are looking for their share of “the pie” as a win would knot ‘em with Memphis and possibly Cincinnati for American Athletic Conference title honors. If UCF— the fourth-ranked defense in the country— is gonna grab the upset here as TD underdogs, then slowing down East Carolina QB Shane Carden (3,912 yards passing and 25 TDs) is a must. Did you know the ECU Pirates have failed to cover six of their last seven games after starting off the year at 4-and-oh versus the vig? Make sure to get all the games on this final regular-season college football weekend right here with Jim Hurley!
COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S HOT TOPICS
Let’s zip ‘round the College Football landscape on this early December week with a batch of hot topics:
NICE KNOWING ‘YA!
‘Tis the season for College Football head coaches to get the axe and— so far— we’ve waved bye-bye to Michigan’s Brady Hoke, Florida’s Will Muschamp, Nebraska’s Bo Pelini and more than a handful of lesser-light name program bosses … and there’s more sure to follow.
So, that gets us (and everyone else in the media) to speculate on who’s gonna fill the vacancies and, let’s face it, it’s not every year places such as Michigan, Florida and Nebraska are all looking for new head coaches in the same winter.
Gotta believe that Michigan— just 31-20 SU (straight-up) and 25-24-1 ATS (against the spread) in the four-year Hoke Era— would love to have “favorite son” Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco 49ers) come back to campus life but we don’t believe that will happen and so expect Miss State’s Dan Mullen and/or TCU’s Gary Patterson to be more realistic bets to land the job.
The gig in Gainesville, meanwhile, is less muddled as insiders say Colorado State boss-man Jim McElwain will be named sometime in the next 10 days. McElwain’s Rams are headed to a second straight bowl game while Muschamp— never a good fit as the Gators’ head coach— probably gets a defensive coordinator job in a heartbeat (see Texas A&M).
Meanwhile, the Pelini firing after posting a 67-27 career mark for the Cornhuskers (including two Gator Bowl wins and a Holiday Bowl triumph too) caught most folks by surprise after a 9-3 SU regular season but Pelini’s “antics” in years past caught up with ‘em and the early favorite to snag this Big Red job is one-time Nebraska QB Scott Frost, the current offensive coordinator/play-caller at Oregon.
But, hey, don’t be shocked if Nebraska opts for someone with past head coaching experience and so Memphis’ Justin Fuente could be a dark horse candidate here.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS THAT WERE NOT NAMED MICHIGAN OR FLORIDA THIS SEASON
Sure, we touched on the likes of Florida and Michigan here and how those high-profile programs struggled through sub-par seasons but let’s not allow some other folks to escape our wrath:
MIAMI (6-6) -- If the Hurricanes lose their upcoming bowl game then this will mark the program’s first losing season since 2007 (5-7) and we want to know just what happened with Al Golden’s club following that heart-breaking 30-26 loss to Florida State in mid-November? The ‘Canes were zapped by Virginia and Pittsburgh to close out regular-season play and— go check out the standings— Miami actually finished tied for last in the ACC’s Coastal Division.
Remember when Miami used to score a ton? Well, this 2014 team finished ranked 47th nationally in total offense and was held to below 24 points five different times (and they lost four of those five games).
COLLEGE FOOTBALL DECEMBER GAME OF THE YEAR
Final Week off-the-charts winner plus bonus play
There are more than a handful of KEY COLLEGE MATCHUPS on Saturday. But as tough as those battles all appear, there is one game that IS AN ABSOLUTE BLOWOUT MISMATCH. It is Jim Hurley’s DECEMBER GAME OF THE YEAR. Jim has won this one big play 7 of the last 8 years (last December it was Rutgers -4 over South Fla 31-6!) and there is NO OTHER MOVE TO BE MADE until you are on this MUST-PLAY GAME. And because Jim wants moderate players and high rollers alike involved you can WAGER AND COLLECT for ONLY $35. Click here.
NORTH CAROLINA (6-6)— Let’s stay right here in ACC-land and dish some dirt on the UNC Tar Heels.
Wasn’t Larry Ferdora’s crew supposed to contend for the aforementioned ACC Coastal Division crown and be in play for a January bowl?
Forget that as the Tar Heels finished a dismal 118th in total defense in FBS play and allowed 70, 50, 50, 43 and 47 points in five different games … plus they snagged unnecessary bad press for spray-painting the Duke locker room following Carolina’s 45-20 win in Durham back on Nov. 20th. Not nice, fellas!
NOTRE DAME (7-5)— The Fighting Irish will be landing in some minor bowl later this month but nothing like falling facemask first into the end of your season!
Brian Kelly’s crew lost its final four regular-season games— including last weekend’s ugly-as-sin 49-14 loss at 6-point fav USC— and when you think about it the only important win Notre Dame had all year was the 17-14 triumph over Stanford back in early October … and even that doesn’t look so great considering Stanford’s sickly season!
COLLEGE FOOTBALL TOP 10
- Oregon (11-1)— Don’t look now but the Ducks have covered seven games in a row while heading into Friday’s Pac-12 Championship Game in Santa Clara and so maybe they get this year’s “win-win” prize of a Heisman Trophy winner and a national championship too (see Jameis Winston and Florida State a year ago).
- Alabama (11-1)— Maybe this current ‘Bama defense won’t remind anyone of those 2009-through-2013 stop units that were loaded with premium NFL talent but who can stop this QB Blake Sims-led offense? Sims has 24 TD passes and 6 TD runs going into Saturday’s SEC Championship Game versus Mizzou.
- Florida State (12-0)— Remember what we said: If this was the “old” BCS system than the Seminoles would be #1 and just needing to squeeze past Georgia Tech in Saturday’s ACC Championship game to defend its crown. Still, how ‘bout showing up for a first half now and then, FSU?
- TCU (10-1)— Consider that the Horned Frogs have beaten five teams by 30-plus points this year and are 5-1 spread wise whenever laying a twin-figure price tag.
- Ohio State (11-1)— We know the Buckeyes have work to do in terms of beating favored Wisconsin in Saturday’s Big 10 title tilt but do you really think the committee will cut ‘em a break without star QB J.T. Barrett … we don’t!
- Baylor (10-1)— The Bears need a healthy QB Bryce Petty and a sizable win against Kansas State this weekend to “get in the conversation” as one of country’s top four teams and remember that Baylor’s averaged a haughty 51.2 ppg the past month.
- Arizona (10-2)— Looks like the Wildcats have catapulted themselves into the mix here and get this potential scenario: Arizona beats two-TD fav Oregon on Friday, then watches some combo of Alabama, Ohio State and Baylor lose this Saturday and the cactus kids could be in Sunday’s “final four” announcement.|
- Michigan State (10-2)— Sparty gets kudos for covering five of their last six tilts.
- Wisconsin (10-2)— Badgers lost their games to LSU and Northwestern by a combined 10 points … or this could have been a really fun holidays for the cheese gang.
- Miss State (10-2)— Just hate the way cowbell kids have fallen apart down the stret
ch. Don’t you?
NCAA PICKS & PREVIEWS
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5
PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME— at Santa Clara
ARIZONA vs. OREGON— Let’s see if the third time’s a charm for Ducks’ QB Marcus Mariota who has lost to ‘Zona each of the past two seasons including that 31-24 loss as 3-TD home favorites back on Oct. 2nd. Mariota has accounted for a Pac-12 single-season record with 48 TDs (36 passing, 11 rushing and 1 receiving score) and gotta believe that Ducks will fly providing they hold onto the ball (see six Mariota turnovers in the past three meetings with U of A). See what gives in this prime-time clash when you check with Jim Hurley online or call us at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 on game-day afternoon.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 6
** UPSET SPECIAL ** UPSET SPECIAL **
HOUSTON at CINCINNATI— Consider the visiting Coogs “live” here after roaring back with their day-after-Thanksgiving 35-9 win at SMU as slippery QB Greg Ward Jr. (233 total yards and three TDR) starred and now it’s revenge time after Cincy won 24-17 at Houston last year. Hey, we gave you an “Upset Special” winner with Rutgers over Maryland last week— time to cash with a strong pup again!
BIG 10 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME— at Indianapolis
WISCONSIN vs. OHIO STATE— All eyes on Buckeyes’ backup-turned-starting QB Cardale Jones who’s subbing for the injured J.T. Barrett and so $64,000 question is does coach Urban Meyer decide on run-first attack with RB Ezekiel Elliott (17 carries for 121 yards in non-cover win against Michigan last weekend) … and will that mean “under” is the way to go here? Get all the best Championship Side/Total plays online or 1-800-323-4453 on game-day morning after 10 a.m. ET.
NCAA BASKETBALL QUICK HITTERS
Two teams that last weekend wrapped up holiday tournaments— that’s Washington (6-0) and Ole Miss (5-1) -- aren’t exactly considered Top 25-type teams right now but both deserve some of your hoops attention.
Washington snagged the eight-team Wooden Legacy field by besting 3-point fav UTEP 68-65 as Andrew Andrews scored 20 points and the Huskies finally drained some free throws while Ole Miss nabbed the eight-team Emerald Coast Classic— note the Rebels beat 5-point fav Creighton and 1 ½-point favorite Cincinnati along the way as junior G Stefan Moody (17 of his career-high 26 points after halftime versus Cincinnati) was a savior for the Rebs …
Is this gonna be a “long year” at Florida?
Billy Donovan’s team made it to last year’s Final Four and— despite the Gators’ current ranking at #24— this year’s club has lost half of its first six games and scoring’s been a problem for a team ranked 134th in points so far.
In fact, only G Michael Frazier II is averaging more than 10 ppg on this Florida squad (note Frazier’s at 15.2 ppg) but Donovan believes some early-season games against the likes of Miami, Georgetown and North Carolina are toughening up his team. We’ll see come January …
Finally, the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll has the “usual suspects” from non-power conferences popping into the mix as #8 Gonzaga (6-0), #10 Wichita State (4-0) and #14 San Diego State (5-1) all are ranked but you may want to keep an eye out for gritty Northern Iowa (7-0) which— for now— remains on the outside-looking-in at the Top 25 despite a pair of 19-point wins over power conference teams Northwestern and Virginia Tech. Forward Seth Tuttle’s the main attraction for the Panthers as he’s averaging 16.4 ppg and 6.7 rebounds per game.
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THE NFL WEEK 14 BLITZ
When you’re busy sorting through those jumble of AFC playoff-hopeful teams that have somewhere between 6 and 8 wins right now— that’s 11 AFC teams in all, folks!— you may wish to check out the all-important schedules and here’s some keys:
Baltimore (7-5) hosts Jacksonville and Cleveland in the last quarter of this 2014 season and the road trip to Houston in Week 16 isn’t brutal— perhaps the AFC North will be theirs?
Kansas City (7-5) hasn’t won at an AFC North site since 2010 and so that Week 16 game in Pittsburgh could be a season-buster for the now-fading Chiefs.
And Miami (7-5) gets to play three of its final four games at home— versus Baltimore this Sunday and then Week 16 and 17 against Minnesota and the New York Jets, respectively— and so don’t automatically toss out the Fins as (dare we say) AFC East champs.
Worst-looking sked among the slew of 6-to-8 win teams in the AFC? Try Buffalo (7-5) which plays three of its final four games on the road— at Denver, Oakland and New England— with the lone home game against Green Bay. Go shovel your way out of that finish, guys!
NFL WEEK 14 PICKS & PREVIEWS
Sunday, December 7
PITTSBURGH at CINCINNATI— First of two head-to-head meetings in final four weeks of this ’14 season and all eyes on Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger and his banged-up throwing hand— will “Big Ben” be effective here and what can we all expect from hot-and-cold Cincy QB Andy Dalton? Get this AFC North bash when you check with us game-day morning at 1-800-323-4453 or here online.
BUFFALO at DENVER— In case you’re wondering, the Broncos are a solid 5-3 spreadwise when laying a TD-or-higher price tag this year but can this banged-up O-line protect QB Peyton Manning here against fierce Bills’ pass rush or will this be another ground-and-pound game for John Fox’s team (see 45 runs and 34 passes in last Sunday’s 29-16 win in Kansas City)?
** PREFERRED PICK ** PREFERRED PICK **
SEATTLE at PHILADELPHIA— The Seahawks have strung together back-to-back 19-3 wins the past two weeks versus Arizona and San Fran and so defense is coming in full bore here and that means QB Mark Sanchez and RB LeSean McCoy get stopped in their tracks. Don’t be surprised if Seattle becomes the betting favorite (right now it’s Eagles minus a point) … but don’t fret any line move. Seattle 28, Philadelphia 20.
AFC Sunday Night Showdown
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Last Sunday the Chargers claimed a last minute win in Baltimore and climbed to within a game of Denver in the AFC West. As for the Patriots, they play their second in a row away from Foxboro after dropping a tough one in Green Bay last week. Jim Hurley says this is his SPOTLIGHT WATCH & WIN PRIMETIME SUNDAY GAME OF THE MONTH and wants everyone involved so is releasing this possible AFC Championship preview plus afternoon bonus action to build the bankroll for ONLY $20...FINISH THE DAY WITH THIS BIG SCORE.