Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 9:24 AM
If there is a central theme for this Saturday's expansive College Football menu than it's this: There are 19 unbeaten FBS teams in action on this first day of October - many of whom are playing one another (see Alabama-Florida, Nebraska- Wisconsin, Baylor-Kansas State and Texas-Iowa State) - but most of 'em have yet to be seriously challenged so far this 2011 season.
But now that's about to change.
We don't want to make any reckless forecasts here in today's Jim Sez but don't be shocked if the ranks of the FBS undefeated gets trimmed by 8, 9 or 10 teams here and our gut feeling is by late October we'll have only a handful of unbeatens out there - yeah, by then we'll be calling those folks the "cream of the crop"but folks that's still a long ways off ... wouldn't you agree?
Okay, it's a busy edition of Jim Sez here with a batch of College Football Game Previews - we're checking out seven of the FBS unbeatens in our game looks below - plus the Major-League Baseball Post-Season swings into action after that absolutely scintillating final night of regular-season play - hey, folks are still wondering if that was the best finish of a Baseball Regular Season ever (and we say yes!).
First, this key reminder:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be winning big-time this College Football weekend starting with tonight's tilt between Utah State at BYU (it's on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET) plus there's a full slate of NFL Week #4 games too along with the aforementioned MLB Playoffs that figures to be a slam-bang profitable month ahead for America's #1 Handicapper. Hey, it's gonna be a great ride right through Super Bowl XLVI in early February. Just remember to call our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else go online right here online for the NFL, NCAA Football and MLB winners!
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SATURDAY PREVIEWS
Extra, extra: Before we get into these game previews for Saturday, take note: In Thursday Nite action a pair of underdogs won the cash as 2½-point pup Pittsburgh scorched South Florida 44-17 while 14 ½-point dog UTEP covered the bloated price tag with its 49-42 loss-but-cover against visiting Houston (Jim Hurley wisely went Over 66 points in an easy cover). So, if you happen to be keeping track of such things than note College Football Betting Favorites and Underdogs right now are knotted at 89 spread wins apiece (along with two pick 'em games and those two "no play"tilts because of weather problems back on opening weekend) and so how's that for pointspread balance through four-plus weeks of this current campaign?
Now, let's check out Saturday's top NCAA Football games with Spread Notes included in the mix ...
#3 ALABAMA (4-0, 1-0 SEC) at #12 FLORIDA (4-0, 2-0 SEC) - 8 p.m. ET, CBS
Think "The Swamp"will be rockin' here? Not only is visiting Alabama absolutely crushing their 2011 foes to the tune of 154-to-32 but here comes Nick Saban's squad looking to put the Florida Gators in their collective "place"and so expect this to be ultra-physical right from the start and you can fully expect RB Trent Richardson to get 25-or-more touches as 'Bama won't expose kid quarterback AJ McCarron to too many hits even though last week the first-year starter completed 15-of-20 passes for 200 yards and two TDs in the 38-14 win against 12 ½-point pup Arkansas.
How do the Gators counter here?
For starters, first-year head coach Will Muschamp needs his offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to be "on point"and so far, so good for this Muschamp/Weis "marriage"as Florida's averaged 40.25 points a game while swallowing up the likes of SEC rivals Tennessee and Kentucky (among others) and here RBs Jeff Demps (see 10 carries for 157 rushing yards and two TDs in last weekend's 48-10 cruise job win/cover in Lexington) and Chris Rainey must be game-breakers - last year the Gators crawled back home 31-6 losers to the Tide and there's more than a little bad blood still from that one!
Spread Notes - Alabama has copped pointspread wins in three of its first four games this season and the Crimson Tide is a dandy 15-6 ATS (against the spread) away since the start of the 2008 campaign. Meanwhile, Florida is a perfect 4-and-oh spreadwise this season with covers against Florida Atlantic, UAB, Tennessee and Kentucky. The Gators are a collective 11-4 versus the vig as underdogs while dating back to the start of the 2003 season. Note that Alabama is 3-1-1 vig-wise in its last handful of head-to-head showdowns against Florida since 2005.
#8 NEBRASKA (4-0) at #7 WISCONSIN (4-0) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Okay, so we're well aware that all the muckety mucks of College Football are making an all-too-big deal over the fact that this is Nebraska's first-ever Big 10 game (yes, it's the conference opener for both of these highly-ranked teams) but what's really/truly important here is all the remaining games on this 2011 sked for Big Red are "winnable"including road stops to Penn State and Michigan and so if Bo Pelini's guys can unleash QB Taylor Martinez (still a better runner than passer) and get him in space here than the 9-point road pups have a fighting chance in Madison.
Note that Wisky is now becoming a more balanced bunch with QB Russell Wilson pulling the trigger and here check out WR Nick Toon who comes off a career-best 155 yards receiving in last week's walkover win against South Dakota.
Spread Notes - Wisconsin's covered its last three consecutive games following a season-opening non-cover win against UNLV and so note the Badgers are an electric 10-1 against the odds dating back to the middle of last year. Overall, Wisky's a rock-solid 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games against conference foes. On the flip side, Nebraska has failed to cover three of its first four spread verdicts so far this 2011 season but note that Big Red is a snazzy 14-6 ATS in away games since the start of the 2008 season.
NEVADA (1-2) at #4 BOISE STATE (3-0) - 2:30 p.m. ET, Versus
Can you say major revenge? The Boise State Broncos last year probably were not gonna get their shot at playing for a BCS National Championship - powerhouses Auburn and Oregon stayed unbeaten in regular-season play and so that was going to shut B-State out of the proceedings in any event - but that night-after-Thanksgiving 34-31 overtime loss to 14 ½-point underdog Nevada wrecked the Broncos' 2010 campaign and so now let's see if there is hell to pay for the Wolf Pack.
Note that this is no longer a conference game as Boise State's moved to the Mountain West Conference (for now!) but you could make the case that this is the single-most important game on the Broncos schedule and Heisman Trophy hopeful QB Kellen Moore (995 yards passing with 12 TDs and 2 INTs this year) figures to come out whipping the ball around here - we won't be shocked if better-than-you-think WR Tyler Shoemaker gets 10-or-12 receptions and a few scores as Boise State's a healthy four-TD betting fav here.
Spread Notes - Believe it or not, Boise State's 79-46-2 ATS since the start of 2001 (that's a ridiculous .632 winning percentage) and note that includes a tidy 18-10-1 ATS mark as double-digit betting favorites dating back to early 2008. Nevada - which is 3-0-1 ATS in its last four head-to-head showdowns against Boise State - enters this matinee clash on the blue turf at just 12-19 versus the vig away the past four-plus seasons and that includes pointspread failures this year at Oregon and at San Jose State.
#13 CLEMSON (4-0, 1-0 ACC) at #11 VIRGINIA TECH (4-0, 0-0 ACC) - 6 p.m. ET, espn2
This one might be getting swept under the radar screen from a national standpoint but we'll be taking notes as Virginia Tech's back to its old tricks on defense (allowing a grand total of 40 points so far in its first four games this year) while Tech RB David Wilson (152 yards rushing in last Saturday's 30-10 win at Marshall) could be a 1,500-yard running back when all the dust settles on this 2011 season.
Spread Notes - Virginia Tech has dropped its last three straight pointspred verdicts (versus East Carolina, Arkansas State and Marshall) but overall the Hokies are 18-11-1 ATS since the start of the 2009 season. The Techsters covered both of their head-to-head showdowns against Clemson back in the 2006 and '07 seasons while it's worth noting the visiting Tigers are 3-1 ATS this season and 13-7 spreadwise as underdogs while dating back to the 2005 campaign.
THE MLB PLAYOFFS
Here's the up-to-date "Odds to Win the World Series":
|New York Yankees||4-to-1|
|Tampa Bay Rays||9-to-1|
|St. Louis Cardinals||12-to-1|
The American League Division Series open up today and tonight in Arlington and The Bronx and here's some quick-hitter thoughts on both best-of-five sets (note regular-season records are included below):
TAMPA BAY (91-71) vs. TEXAS (96-66) - The September swoon by Boston really is what got the T-Bay Rays into the post-season via the wild card route and now the question is can manager Joe Maddon's team kick it into another gear even though ace lefty David Price (13-14) staggered for much of the season? The Rays rode a two home-run game by 3B Evan Longoria in last Wednesday's come-from-way-behind 8-7 win in 12 innings against the Yankees and the truth is Longoria needs some long-ball help from his mates here - especially when playing in homer-friendly Texas.
The Rangers, meanwhile, may be the most overlooked defending league champion in recent memory but here Ron Washington's club is counting heavily on his 1-2 lefty tandem of C.J. Wilson and Derek Holland to "hold serve"in Games #1 and #2 this weekend (beginning with today's 5:05 p.m. ET game) and remember last year that Texas won the first two games of the ALDS in St. Pete before needing a decisive Game #5 win there to wrap up that series.
ALDS Odds: Tampa Bay + 150; Texas - 170
DETROIT (95-67) vs. NEW YORK YANKEES (97-65) - There are gonna be a gazillion folks telling you that 24-game winner RHP Justin Verlander must win his starts in this series if the underdog Tigers are going to survive-and-advance ... but why aren't they saying the say thing about the Yankees and ace CC Sabathia (a 19-game winner)?
Everyone knows that starting pitching beyond Sabathia is "iffy"for the Yanks who don't want to be down one game-to-none with rookie RHP Ivan Nova going in Game #2. We know Nova's been watching old Andy Pettitte video but that doesn't necessarily mean the kid will pitch like a seasoned vet with everything on the line come Saturday night.
The Tigers - who sport the league's most feared hitter in 1B Miguel Cabrera (the AL batting champ with a .344 average along with 30 HRs and 105 RBI) also did get 103 RBI from DH Victor Martinez this year and he'll need to bang in the big runs here ... or else.
ALDS Odds: Detroit + 130; New York Yankees - 150
NOTE: Get our NFL Week #4 key Sunday Previews in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez along with a check of the National League Division Series between Arizona-Milwaukee and St. Louis-Philadelphia.