Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 9:54 AM
One strike away ... twice.
The Texas Rangers - to a man -- probably did not get much sleep following last night's 10-9, 11th-inning loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the World Series but the neat thing is the American League champs get another chance to win their first-ever Fall Classic this evening.
Will the Rangers' bullpen - once considered the team's strength but a real liability in the late innings/extra innings last night - get an opportunity top redeem itself here? The fact of the matter is all seven relief pitchers that oft-clueless Texas manager Ron Washington used in Game 6 failed and so conventional wisdom would tell you that starter LHP Matt Harrison will have to go seven innings or more tonight but maybe Washington will utilize his pen correctly here - he really failed as did closer Neftali Felix in Game 6.
And what can the never-say-die Cardinals do for an encore?
One night after 3B David Freese tripled in the game-tying runs in the bottom of the ninth inning (off Feliz) and then homered off no-name reliever Mark Lowe to end it in the home half of the 11th inning, the question looms: Can Freese deliver in the clutch again here in Game 7 and what should the Rangers do with 1B Albert Pujols when there are open bases ... walking him last night in the 10th wasn't the answer as OF Lance Berkman plunked a game-tying single.
From a wagering perspective, think about this: The Rangers were a -155-to-$100 betting favorite to win this World Series but now you can have 'em at + 130 in Game 7 against RHP Chris Carpenter. Will Texas have a full-strength C Mike Napoli and/or a close-to-100 percent RF Nelson Cruz? Check with Jim Hurley at 1-800-323-4453 or right here online and we'll end this 2011 Baseball Season with a bang!
As far as the college kids, we know the deal. For many College Football fans out there, next Saturday night can't come soon enough.
The highly-anticipated matchup of #1 LSU at #2 Alabama has only been the talk of the gridiron world for the past month (or more!) and so it's gotta feel as if this weekend's games are just the "appetizers" before the main "entrée" and yet take a longer look and you'll see that there's plenty on the line in many of this Saturday's tilts:
The Oklahoma at Kansas State winner gets the upper hand in a Big 12 Conference that - remember - no longer plays a championship game.
Then there's the Stanford Cardinal who not only are 7-0 SU (straight-up) this season under rookie boss-man David Shaw but the Palo Alto guys - as we illustrated to one-and-all earlier this week here at Jim Sez - are the only perfect team spreadwise in the land at a brilliant 7-and-oh;
Than toss into the mix the looming presence of the #5 Clemson Tigers - now who's been better than these Death Valley guys this year - and now here comes a gigantic prime-time road game at Georgia Tech to see if Clemson's indeed "for real";
And last but not least on our short list of Key Weekend Previews is the game that's no longer called "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" but you may want to drink to the Georgia Bulldogs who zoom into their annual tug-of-war game against Florida on a spiffy five-game SU winning streak and don't you just know that if Georgia runs the table in the SEC and South Carolina loses a league game somewhere along the way (maybe this Saturday at 4-point underdog Tennessee) than it's Georgia who will provide the opposition for the SEC West winner in December's SEC Championship Game. Yummy stuff!
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):
#9 OKLAHOMA (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) at #8 KANSAS STATE (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
No doubt lots of luster came off this game with Oklahoma's shocking 41-38 home loss against 29-point underdog Texas Tech late last Saturday night - why is it that Bob Stoops-coached teams somehow always find a way to stumble when it should not stumble? - but there's still plenty of the line here and keep in mind the Sooners have not lost back-to-back Big 12 games in 13 years.
Kansas State, meanwhile, is off to its best start since 1999 and to pull the shocker here as two-TD underdogs than QB Collin Klein (195 yards passing and 92 yards rushing in last weekend's 59-21 smoke-job win at Kansas - must gain some tough between-the-tackles ground yards here and it won't hurt the cause for Bill Snyder's squad should freshman WR Tyler Lockett (averaging 15.8 yards a grab this year on a dozen receptions) make a couple of long-ball snatches here against a gambling Oklahoma secondary.
Here's a key stat on Oklahoma QB Landry Jones: he's already thrown for 21 TDs this year and he is completing nearly two-thirds of his passing attempts at 65.3 percent ... now that deserves a wow or two!
Spread Notes - Kansas State is an electric 6-1 ATS (against the spread) and that includes the current six-game spread winning streak following the season-opening pointspread loss versus Eastern Kentucky. Note that the 'Cats are 4-0 ATS as dogs this year and a composite 12-6 ATS as pups since the start of the 2099 campaign. Meanwhile, Oklahoma is 4-3 versus the vig overall this 2011 season and did you know the Boomer Sooners have failed to cover three of their four Big 12 games this year with spread setbacks against Missouri, Kansas and, of course, Texas Tech.
#6 STANFORD (7-0, 5-0 Pac-12) at USC (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Let's see...The 2011 Stanford Cardinal has the leader in this year's Heisman Trophy race in QB Andrew Luck (see 1,888 yards passing with 20 TDs and 3 INTs), a ground game that last week churned out 446 yards rushing in last weekend's 65-21 win against Washington and a defense that's held five opponents to 14 points-or-less this season. Oops ... almost forgot that Stanford enters this prime-time affair on a nation's-best 15-game winning streak.
So right here and right now who could be faulted for wanting a BCS Championship Game that would feature Stanford against either LSU or Alabama ... now that would be delicious stuff, right?
In this tilt in LA-LA land, Stanford needs the ground game that's averaging a haughty 219.4 yards a game to crank out big first downs thus keeping USC signal-caller Matt Barkley (2,006 yards passing with 19 TDs and 4 INTs) on the sidelines plus look for an under-the-radar key here to be what SC receivers other than WR Robert Woods (72 receptions and 8 TDs this year) can make some big field-flipping plays here.
Spread Notes - Stanford not only has covered all seven of its games this '11 campaign but the Cardinal now enters this road clash having covered 10 of its last 12 away games dating back to late in the 2009 season. Note that USC's 4-3 versus the vig so far in 2011 and the Men of Troy are a ridy 9-6 against the odds as dogs dating all the way back to the 2006 season.
#5 CLEMSON (8-0, 5-0 ACC) at GEORGIA TECH (6-2, 3-2 ACC) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Here's something about the 2011 Clemson Tigers that you might not have known: They have scored less than 35 points in a game just once this year - see the 23-3 win at 7-point favorite Virginia Tech back on October 1st - after last year scoring more than 35 points only once all year long (a so-what 58-21 triumph over Presbyterian).
No wonder everyone's going ga-ga about Clemson's attack this year that is averaging more than 40 points and 482 yards a game behind ace QB Tajh Boyd who has thrown for an eye-popping 2,379 yards with 24 TDs and 3 INTs. If Boyd and Company can get in a play-a-minute here against sagging Georgia Tech, than keeping Dabo Swinney's squad from scoring 35-plus points again ain't gonna be easy.
Note that Clemson had lost four in a row in this ACC series prior to last year's 27-13 home win/cover as 4-point betting favorites and it's worth noting that Georgia Tech has only split its eight ACC games SU ever since.
Spread Notes - Clemson's covered its last six consecutive games en route to a 7-1 ATS mark this year and did you know the Tigers have covered seven of their last 11 showdowns with Georgia Tech? Note that the GT Yellow Jackets have been a real Jekyl and Hyde team spreadwise with four consecutive covers to open the 2011 season but now they're 0-3-1 vig-wise the past four weeks.
#22 GEORGIA (5-2, 4-1 SEC) vs. FLORIDA (4-3, 2-3 SEC) - (at Jacksonville) 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
The Georgia Bulldogs have heard the whispers - you know, the ones about how Mark Richt's club has beaten four SEC teams that have a combined 1-15 SU mark in conference play. No matter.
The fact is a win here by Georgia would be the team's sixth in a row and put 'em in a solid spot to play for the SEC Championship come December 3rd - could the Dawgs beat either LSU or Alabama, hmmm - and no doubt much of the story here is how does Dawg QB Aaron Murray perform one week after throwing for a career-high 326 yards with 3 TDs in a 33-28 non-cover win at 13-point pup Vanderbilt.
Meanwhile, Florida welcomes back QB John Brantley (942 yards passing with 5 TDs and 3 INTs this year) after he's been out since an Oct. 1st ankle injury suffered against Florida - hey, the not-so-mighty Gators are looking to avoid the program's longest losing streak in 23 years as Will Muschamp's guys have dropped their last three in a row.
Spread Notes - Georgia is a money-burning 2-6-1 against the odds in their last nine head-to-head battles with Florida though note the Dawgs have covered four of their last five games this year including SEC covers against Tennessee, Miss State and Ole Miss. On the flip side, Florida started off the current campaign on a four-game ATS winning streak but the Gators have failed to cover their last three in a row.
Folks, Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be winning big-time this College Football weekend starting with tonight's BYU at TCU clash from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington plus there's a load of NFL Week #8 games too along with - of course - the World Series Game #7 between the Texas Rangers at the St. Louis Cardinals. Just remember to call our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else go online right here for the NFL, NCAA Football and MLB winners!
NOTE: Get our NFL Week #8 Key Sunday Previews - that's including the New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers hoedown -- in tomorrow's ultra jam-packed edition of Jim Sez.