Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 9:38 AM
Got your popcorn ready? Is there enough ice in your cold beverage?
Good ... 'cause #1 LSU at #2 Alabama is gonna be a great show and you might not wish to leave your favorite easy chair from 8 p.m. ET till about 11:30 p.m. or so on this first Saturday night in November.
No doubt that we've hyped this #1 versus #2 showdown all week long right here in Jim Sez - hey, how did we do, CBS? - and now we're all ready for some football but a quickie note here that LSU-Alabama isn't the only game in town (although it may seem that way!) as we will spend a few moments checking out College Football's other "cream-of-the-crop" clubs and so we've got a few words here on the games being played this weekend by #3 Oklahoma State, #4 Stanford, #5 Boise State and #6 Oklahoma. Enjoy!
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL KEY SATURDAY PREVIEWS
Now, let's check out some of Saturday's top NCAA Football games with Spread Notes included in the mix (note that all rankings reflect the current BCS Standings):
#1 LSU (8-0, 5-0 SEC) at #2 ALABAMA (8-0, 5-0 SEC) - 8 p.m. ET, CBS
It's heeeeere! The super showdown of this 2011 College Football has arrived in style with grand build-up and even a nickname being used for this prime-time clash: Judgment Day.
Hey, we like it but who's gonna lay down the law in this battle of SEC West titans and who's gonna show more true grit here: #1 LSU or 4 ½-point home favorite Alabama?
Naturally, we've spelled out lots of keys during the week and so let's get to this in "Readers Digest" style here:
LSU ranks 13th in the nation in scoring at 39.3 points per game but take note that the Tigers rank only 81st nationally in total yards and just 101st nationally in passing offense - in short, LSU needs its defense and special teams to put points on the board here if Les Miles' crew is gonna steal this one in Tuscaloosa and so expect more all-out blitzes on passing downs by the Bengals' defense and don't be at all surprised if the Tigers attempt a fake field goal and/or a fake punt here.
Heck, that kind of stuff is almost expected with these Miles-led teams!
Meanwhile, here's Alabama coming into this fray averaging 39.4 points a game (that's 12th-best in the land) and clearly with the game's best offensive player in Heisman Trophy hopeful RB Trent Richardson (see 989 yards rushing, a sensational 6.6 yards-per-carry average and 17 ground scores) and so call it common-sense football that 'Bama boss Nick Saban wants to get the ball in Richardson's hands at least 25 times here as either a rusher/receiver. Short of getting that done, the Crimson Tide might well struggle for points against an LSU defense that is among the best tackling teams in the land - and Alabama ain't far behind in that department.
Most folks believe that the quarterbacks are gonna have to make some plays here - but we don't think they are essential to getting a "W". Naturally, Alabama QB AJ McCarron (1,664 yards passing with 10 TDs and 3 INTs) is considered an excellent "game manager" who keeps his mistakes to a bare minimum and let's go on record to state that the most important thing for McCarron here is not to "blow up" in red zone situations.
When the Tide gets inside LSU's 20-yard line, get points or else.
Meanwhile - and we've been saying this all week long - LSU will play both starter Jarrett Lee (1,250 yards passing with 13 TDs and 1 INT this season) and part-time QB Jordan Jefferson here but look for Jefferson to get in on some "trickerration" plays here and don't be surprised if he's employed as a second QB on the field a couple of times - either as a decoy or a guy who can take a handoff and than chuck it deep.
It's blood-and-guts football here for this SEC battle royale:
All things being equal, Alabama should win but if LSU's gadget plays work and/or if the Tigers score at least 10 points off defense/special teams work than #1 might just be staying put at #1.
Spread Notes - LSU is 6-2 ATS (against the spread) so far in this 2011 campaign and the Bayou Bengals are a collective 6-3 spreadwise on the SEC road tracing back to early in the 2009 season. Alabama is an electric 7-1 ATS this season and did you know the Crimson Tide's 29-14 versus the vig as betting favorites since the start of the 2009 season (that's a .674 winning rate). Note that in the past 10 head-to-head meetings between these squads, LSU is 4-4-2 spreadwise against the Tide and that includes last year's 24-21 outright upset win by the 6 ½-point home dog Tigers.
#14 KANSAS STATE (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) at #3 OKLAHOMA STATE (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN
Are you getting the feeling that the Oklahoma State Cowboys may be somewhat of an uninvited guest to this BCS title game chase?
After all, with all the plaudits pouring in for #1 LSU and #2 Alabama - and, sorry, but no way do we see a rematch of this game in the BCS Championship Game even if might play out along those lines - and with the likes of Stanford, Boise State and Oklahoma gettin' lots of love you do get the sense that Mike Gundy's guys would be party-crashers in New Orleans on the night of January 9th.
In this Big 12 hoedown, the Cowpokes look to match the best start in school history and all eyes will be riveted to WR Justin Blackmon who last week hauled down 13 passes for 172 yards in that rollicking 59-24 triumph over 14 ½-point pup Baylor.
Spread Notes - Oklahoma State enters this Big 12 clash on a seven-game spread winning streak and the Cowboys are an astounding 17-4 versus the vig since the start of last season. On the other hand, Kansas State's covered six of its first eight games this season and the Wildcats are a solid 12-7 against the odds in the underdog role dating back to the start of the 2009 season.
#4 STANFORD (8-0, 6-0 Pac-12) at OREGON STATE (2-6, 2-3 Pac-12) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
There are some folks who believe last week's thrilling 56-48 win by Stanford at 8-point dog USC was Luck-y ... get it?
Junior QB Andrew Luck awoke from a sluggish start to rally the Cardinal to that key road win and how about the way he responded after his "pick six" gave USC the lead late in the fourth quarter?
Here, things figure to be a tad easier - Stanford's listed as a 21-point betting fav at press time - but what we want to see is how the Cardinal defense responds after surrendering a season-worst 432 offensive yards to the Troy Boys.
P.S., Oregon State's scored a league-worst 18 offensive touchdowns so far this season.
Spread Notes - Stanford is a nation's-best 7-0-1 against the odds this year and the Cardinal is 26-15-1 ATS overall since late in the 2008 season. Note that Oregon State is just 3-5 against the Las Vegas prices this year and did you know that the home teams have covered six of the last nine games in this conference rivalry game?
#5 BOISE STATE (7-0, 2-0 MWC) at UNLV (2-5, 1-1 MWC) - 10:30 p.m. ET
Don't let the B-State Broncos hear you say there's no way they get a shot at a national championship even if they're only one of two undefeated teams in the land!
The soon-to-be Big East team - and still the star member of the Mountain West Conference - has beaten its seven foes this year by a per-game average of 27.1 points and now lefty QB Kellen Moore (2,010 yards passing with 24 TDs) really is gonna have to get things cranked up to cover this ultra-bloated 41 ½-point road price. Note that a "W" here makes Moore the winningest quarterback in NCAA history.
Spread Notes - Boise State is 4-3 versus the vig this year and the Broncos are a collective 81-48-2 ATS since the start of the 2001 season (a .628 winning percentage) and that includes 12 pointspread wins in the team's last 13 away games ... really! On the flip side, UNLV is 3-4 versus the vig this year and 11-20 ATS overall dating back to the start of the 2009 campaign.
TEXAS A&M (5-3, 3-2 Big 12) at #6 OKLAHOMA (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/espn2
Can the OU Sooners climb back into this year's BCS picture? You betcha your last Boomer Sooner wagon, they can!
Last week's 58-17 win at 12 ½-point pup Kansas State elevated Oklahoma back onto the elite scene as QB Landry Jones threw for a school-record 505 yards but will the season-ending loss of RB Dom Whaley (fractured left ankle) come back and bite Bob Stoops' crew sometime between now and the end of the season? Note that Whaley had 664 yards rushing and 9 TDs this year.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M blew another twin-figure lead in last weekend's 38-31 overtime loss to 10 ½-point dog Missouri ... can QB Ryan Tannehill (18 TDs and 7 INTs this season) now bounce back here from last week's shaky showing that included a pair of picks?
Spread Notes - Oklahoma is 5-3 versus the vig this year and the Sooners are 23-10 spreadwise as hosts since the start of the 2006 season. Meanwhile, Texas A&M is a rotten 2-6 spreadwise this season and the Aggies are 9-17-1 ATS as underdogs since the start of the 2007 season.
Extra, extra: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to win big-time all week and weekend long as we bolt into November with out TNT Program with lots of great College Football action plus there's lots of winning straight ahead with NFL Week #9 action. Go ahead and make sure you're all aboard for all the action right through Super Bowl XLVI on February 5th. Just remember to call our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here for the NFL, NCAA Football and upcoming NCAA Basketball winners!
NOTE: Get our NFL Week #9 Key Sunday Previews - that's including the unbeaten Green Bay Packers at the San Diego Chargers -- in tomorrow's ultra jam-packed edition of Jim Sez.