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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 9:49 AM


Let's take a look into our "crystal ball" here and look at the big picture ...

And the big picture says the #1 Oklahoma Sooners probably have no more than three really challenging games on the remainder of their 2011 schedule (that's the Oct. 8th duel in Dallas with the hated Texas Longhorns, the Nov. 5th home date against dogged Texas A&M and than the regular-season finale at Oklahoma State) and keep in mind the now-depleted Big 12 Conference won't be playing a conference championship at year's end ... that could be a big benefit to an Oklahoma team that very possibly will be unbeaten come the first Saturday in December.

On the other hand, #2 LSU and #3 Alabama will settle it "like men" when they square off in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5th - naturally, one or both of these SEC powerhouse squads could lose before this showdown or after it but let's just assume they'll buck helmets that day/evening with perfect records and keep in mind the SEC still does play a conference championship game.

It's all food for thought as we head into the final days of September - a month in which we've seen the likes of Associated Press Preseason Top 25 teams #3 Oregon and #6 Florida State already lose while also witnessing BCS-buster and Preseason #14 TCU already get, well, busted at Baylor.

There's a long road ahead - of course - but nobody should be shocked right now should Oklahoma stay put on top of the polls all year long while a handful of monster teams that also includes #4 Boise State (the Broncos are still better than most folks think), #5 Stanford (with QB Andrew Luck in charge this Pac-12 team probably could score 50-plus points on most game days) and #6 Wisconsin (but note there's four road games ahead for Bucky's Badgers).
Now, here's a list you DON'T want to find yourself on this 2011 College Football Season as we detail the dozen teams that have yet to cover a Las Vegas pointspread through three full weeks of action:

Akron The Zips have been outscored 142-17 while getting bamboozled by the likes of Ohio State, Temple and Cincinnati. Ugh!
Arizona State Just when you thought the Sun Devils were gonna have a breakout year comes financial hardships to their backers right at the start
Boston College Count us among the folks that truly believe third-year head coach Frank Spaziani never was cut out for the top job
Central Michigan Once upon a time the "Chipps" were a football stronghold under boss-man Brian Kelly but that's a long time ago now
Colorado State Go back a little further and you'll see the CSU Rams are a horrid 6-15-1 spreadwise overall since mid-2009 season
Connecticut It's been a case of so-close and yet so-far for these Huskies who've lost tough back-to-backers to Vandy and Iowa State
Kent State Road game "payouts" at Alabama and Kansas State put money into the school coffers but this club's been in over its head in 2011
N.C. State Maybe QB Russell Wilson meant a bit more to this program than head coach Tom O'Brien wanted to let on, right?
Nebraska The Big Red's been "in the red" so far and note all three 'Huskers spread losses came in their own backyard in Lincoln
Penn State Joe Paterno's been staying up in the press box these days while Nittany Lions backers keep running to their local ATMs!
Pittsburgh Gee, how about the fact that these Keystone State squads - that's Penn State and Pitt - are a combined 0-for-6 against the odds?
UCLA Even Bruins alum/current head coach Rick Neuheisel knows you gotta cover a Las Vegas price tag once in a while!

Extra, extra: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will win big-time this College Football week/weekend starting here with Thursday's N.C. State at Cincinnati clash on ESPN (8 p.m. ET kickoff) plus there's NFL Week #3 action too along with the final regular-season week of Major-League Baseball and so please make sure you're all aboard for all the action right through Super Bowl XLVI on February 5th. Hey, it's gonna be a great ride! 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!


N.C. STATE (2-1) at CINCINNATI (2-1) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
It's football on a school night in the Queen City and no question both of these clubs are searching for a "signature win" this young season: The visiting N.C. State Wolfpack last won a really "meaningful" game when they crushed West Virginia 23-7 in last year's Champs Sports Bowl and so the Atlantic Coast Conference guys head into play here with a real sense of urgency after snagging so-what non-cover wins against Liberty and South Alabama with a 34-27 loss at 1-point home dog Wake Forest tossed into the mix.

No doubt the off-season loss of aforementioned QB Wilson first to baseball and than to Wisconsin's gridiron team has come back to haunt the Pack who these days are counting on QB Mike Glennon (745 yards passing with 8 TDs and 1 INT) to put up the points on this team. Here, look for Glennon to throw lots of screen passes to RBs Curtis Underwood, Jr. and James Washington - those fellas have combined for 390 yards rushing and 4 ground scores thus far - as Cincinnati's ultra-aggressive defense figures to blitz early and often here.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati's still trying to get its footing under second-year head coach Butch Jones who has not exactly endeared himself to the natives (see lots of empty seats in home games against Austin Peay and Akron so far in 2011) and folks simply want Jones to have veteran QB Zach Collaros cut it loose - the tough-minded Collaros has 7 TDs and 0 INTs while throwing for 521 yards this season but the potential is for bigger/better things from this offense that also stars wide receiver D.J. Woods (15 catches and averaging a nifty 15.5 yards a grab).

Spread Notes - As you can see, N.C. State is on our list of sad-sack spread losers this season with back-to-back-to-back pointspread defeats to start off this current campaign and note back in head coach Tom O'Brien's debut season in 2007 the Wolf Pack failed to cover its first four on-the-board games. Overall, however, State's a solid 16-9 ATS (against the spread) in away games since the start of the O'Brien Era. On the flip side, Cincinnati has covered two of its first three games this year with spread "W's" versus Austin Peay and Akron and that painful 45-23 loss at 4-point fav Tennessee back on Sept. 10th. The Bearcats are just 7-11 spreadwise in non-conference affairs since the start of the 2008 campaign.

NOTE: Get some early-bird looks at the NFL Week 3 games in the next edition of Jim Sez.

By Jim Hurley

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