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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 10:06 AM

Let us ask you a question:

Are there really trades in sports that "help both teams" because that surely seems the case with yesterday's pre-NFL Trade Deadline deal between the quarterback-needy Oakland Raiders and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Okay, so the Bengals wanted to "punish" their retired QB Carson Palmer and not let him get his so-called change of scenery but that offer of a 2012 first-round draft pick along with a 2013 second-round pick that could be moved up to a first-rounder should the Raiders win a playoff game this season was just too good to pass up.

The Raiders needed/wanted Palmer after the broken collarbone suffered last Sunday by starting QB Jason Campbell and the Bengals- more than a little happy that rookie Andy Dalton has proven to be an NFL winner right away- just wanted to stockpile draft picks while building for the future.

Keep in mind that Palmer knows Oakland head coach Hue Jackson from their days together at USC and three years in Cincinnati where Jackson was the club's wide receivers coach but- and this is a big but- we fully expect Palmer to need a few weeks to get into the groove and that in itself may cost the silver-and-black their desired playoff berth.

Still, give this deal "two thumbs up" as the Raiders and Bengals both will be glad this day happened ... trust us.



TEXAS vs. ST. LOUIS- The Rangers have been installed as a better-than 3-to-2 betting favorite to win this series and, heck, owner Nolan Ryan already has predicted "Rangers in 6" but this has been one wacky post-season and so should anyone out there be shocked if the Cardinals win it all?

Note that Tony LaRussa's club entered this post-season as 12-to-1 favorites to win it all- Texas was 8-to-1 to win it all with Philadelphia, the New York Yankees, Detroit and Milwaukee all shorter-priced teams to win it all in October- and insiders will tell you that St. Louis RHP Chris Carpenter (the Game #1 starter) is the best starting pitcher still standing in a best-of-seven series that figures to feature lots more appearances by both bullpens.

If there's an underlying theme here it's this: The Cards- and specifically ace pitching coach Dave Duncan- shut down Milwaukee's one-two tandem of 1B Prince Fielder and LF Ryan Braun from Game #2 on in that set and if St. Loo can defuse CF Josh Hamilton and hot-hitting RF Nelson Cruz here than Texas will be back-to-back World Series losers and we haven't had that since the 1977-78 Los Angeles Dodgers.

One major offensive key for the Redbirds: OF Lance Berkman can expect to see plenty of good pitches here while batting behind 1B Albert Pujols and in front of LF Matt Holliday and 3B David Freese (NLCS MVP)- if Berkman drives in a batch of runs here than St. Loo will win its first crown since 2006.


Is it really possible that this long ago became a "lost season" for the likes of Florida State, Mississippi State and Utah? The above three-mentioned teams all were supposed to be key factors in this year's NCAA Football Season but they are all off the proverbial radar screen and in a moment we'll dig into some of the reasons why things have gone south for the Seminoles, Bulldogs and Utes. First, let's get you up to snuff with our College Football Week-by-Week Pointspread Breakdown Chart. Now, here's a little look at how College Betting Favorites have fared on a week-by-week basis this 2011 season:

Week #        FAVS VS SPREAD
#1                 19-19-0 (2 no plays)
#2                  24-21-0
#3                  24-23-0 (1 Pick 'Em)
#4                  22-24-0 (1 Pick 'Em)
#5                  16-35-1 (1 Pick 'Em)
#6                  32-20-0
#7                  23-26-0 (1 Pick 'Em)

Season Total      160-168-1 (4 Pick 'Em Games and 2 No Plays)

Note: College Football Betting Favorites are winning at a .488 rate thus far this 2011 campaign. As you can see, only in Week #6 was it really a profitable weekend for College Football Betting Favorites who now are down $2,480 based on $100 per-play wagers. Ouch!

Now, back to three of the biggest disappointments in FBS play this year

FLORIDA STATE (3-3, 1-2 ACC)- It's hard to believe that the 'Noles went from being the #6 team in the Preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll to looking up at both Clemson and Wake Forest in the ACC's Atlantic Division. Say what you will regarding injuries here- quarterback EJ Manuel missed time and yet Florida State still ranks 12th in the nation in passing offense (311 yards per game) but it's the once old-reliable defense that showed major cracks while yielding 35 points apiece to aforementioned Clemson and Wake Forest in recent FSU road losses. Last weekend's 41-16 smash-down of Duke surely helped the mind set of wounded Florida State players/coaches- Manuel threw for 239 yards and two scores in that road romp- but the fact of the matter is just one more loss likely will cost the Seminoles a shot at playing in a January bowl game and so Jimbo Fisher's second year on the job sure looks a lot like the final days of the Bobby Bowden Era ... remember him?

MISSISSIPPI STATE (3-4, 0-4 SEC)- Believe it or not, the M-State Bulldogs began this current campaign ranked #20 in the Preseason AP poll but they've plummeted badly while currently landing in the SEC West basement. Maybe third-year head coach Dan Mullen- the toast of the conference the past two years while his Starkville lads were busy rebuilding the mess left by Sylvester Croom- can be blamed for a number of items here but the biggest problem is Mullen simply didn't trust original QB Chris Relf (4 TDs and 5 INTs) who was benched for last weekend's 14-12 loss-but-cover against 3-point road fav South Carolina. Maybe Relf was never gonna remind folks of Roger Staubach but blame Mullen for keeping "handcuffs" on the senior slinger in recent games against Louisiana Tech and Georgia and than blame a veteran defense for not showing enough willpower while surrendering key scores in a batch of recent games. Did you know Miss State's defense ranks 20th in points allowed nation-wide (out of 120 FBS teams) but they didn't make key stops in a slew of games including that 41-34 loss at Auburn back on September 10th.

UTAH (3-3, 0-3 Pac-12)- Weren't the 2011 Utah Utes supposed to be the vogue pick to win this year's Pac-12 South Division? Well, that ain't gonna happen after the former Mountain West Conference members lost back-to-back-to-back conference games in the first five weeks of the season. Utah's been beaten in Pac-12 play by USC, Washington and Arizona State and the really shocking thing here is Kyle Whittingham's crew has lost these league games by a collective 47 points (or nearly 16 points a game). The Utah offense has been a major mess this year- the Utes rank 84th nationally in passing (201.5 yards a game), 82nd nationally in rushing (129.3 yards a game) and a dismal 82nd in the land in scoring (see 24.8 points a game) and Utah's been plugging leaks at a lot of different positions for weeks now- QB Jordan Wynn is out and Jon Hays has stepped into the starting role and, to be fair, last week's come-from-behind 26-14 win at 6-point fav Pittsburgh could help to turn the beat around but the horse was out of the barn long ago in this '11 campaign.



UCLA (3-3, 2-1 Pac-12) at ARIZONA (1-5, 0-4 Pac-12)- 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
It's a new era (of sorts) for the Arizona Wildcats who recently fired oft-clueless head coach Mike Stoops in favor of defensive coordinator Tim Kish but can a team on a five-game SU (straight-up) losing skid suddenly put the brakes on bad play just like that?

The 'Cats are counting on the pass-catch combo of QB Nick Foles-to-WR Juron Criner to ignite an offense that's exceeded 31 points only once the past five games. Foles (2,255 yards passing with 15 TDs and 4 INTs) and Criner (26 catches and 3 TDs) are looking to extend Arizona's four-game winning streak in head-to-head action with UCLA. Note the Bruins have QB Kevin Prince (14-of-23 passing this year with 4 INTs) back in the saddle after Richard Brehaut broke his leg.

Spread Notes- UCLA has lost five of its first six pointspread verdicts this season and the Bruins are a collective 5-13 ATS (against the spread) since the start of last year. On the flip side, Arizona has notched spread wins in three of its last four head-to-head showdowns with UCLA while dating back to 2007. Plus, the U of A Wildcats are 4-8 vig-wise as betting favorites since late in the 2009 campaign.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will win big-time all week and weekend long as we zoom deeper and deeper into this month of October in College Football plus there's lots of winning straight ahead with NFL Week #7 play plus don't forget the World Series here for the next week-plus as the Texas Rangers take on the underdog St. Louis Cardinals. 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 MLB winners!

NOTE: Lots more in the next edition of Jim Sez including the Heisman Trophy Watch as Stanford QB Andrew Luck still leads the charge but find out who has moved back into the picture!

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