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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 2, 2011 at 11:02 AM

WE'RE GETTIN' YOU UP-TO-DATE WITH SATURDAY'S KEY GAMES
(THAT'S #3 OREGON VS. #4 LSU AND #5 BOISE STATE VS. #19 GEORGIA)
PLUS QUICK-HITTER NOTES ON #1 OKLAHOMA AND #2 ALABAMA …
NFL PRESEASON POINTSPREAD UPDATES

Don't roll away the barbecues just yet – there's some real cookin' to do this Labor Day Weekend and much of 'what's hot' is on the College Football gridiron!

Heck, it's not often that we rocket our way out of the starting gates with the above-mentioned matchups of a #3 versus #4 – Oregon versus LSU at the now-annual 'Cowboys Classic' figures to be a major doozy even with the suspensions of key LSU players that has driven this Las Vegas betting line from pick 'em just a handful of days ago to now seeing the Oregon Ducks favored by 4 points.

And what's not to like about #5 Boise State invading the jam-packed Georgia Dome for a Saturday Nite showdown against #19 Georgia? The Broncos blew any/all shot at playing in the BCS National Championship Game a year ago when they misfired on a couple of field-goal tries late against Nevada and now they're back to see if they can be perfect from start to finish.

As long as we're talking numbers, note that Boise State's a 3 ½-point betting favorite at this very moment and we thought it might be important to note that B-State is an electric 15-4-1 ATS (against the spread) in away games since the start of the 2008 season and that included covers at Oregon back in '08, versus TCU in the Fiesta Bowl in the '09 campaign and last year in the season opener against Virginia Tech (at Landover) … not too shabby, right?

We'll delve into Saturday's two blockbuster games plus get you some ditties on #1 Oklahoma (the Sooners are hosting in-state foe Tulsa) and #2 Alabama (the Crimson Tide's a monstrous favorite against visiting Kent State) but first this key reminder:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are gonna win plenty of greenbacks this 2011 College Football Season and so make sure you get it all jump-started with this weekend's action right through Labor Day Monday and then, of course, right through the BCS National Championship Game in January.

Plus, make sure to get all the final NFL Preseason Week 4 game tonight (that's the Oakland Raiders at the Seattle Seahawks) plus all the Major-League Baseball Winners too each and every day and this is all you have to do to get all the Winners: Just remember to call our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here at www.jimhurley.com for the NFL, NCAA Football and MLB winners! The calling/check-in times are after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays/Sundays/Holidays;

Anytime after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday afternoon action; And than anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the Monday-thru-Friday weeknight action.

SATURDAY'S KEY COLLEGE PREVIEWS

#3 OREGON vs. #4 LSU (at Arlington) – 8 p.m. ET, ABC national
Naturally, the biggest news heading into this marquee matchup concerns who isn't playing here and that's LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson who was arrested last week on felony second-degree battery charges stemming from a bar fight and so go ahead and plug in Jarrett Lee (18 career TDs and 18 career INTs) as the Bayou Bengals' starting slinger here. Throw in the fact LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard (33 receptions last year) also is suspended here for violating NCAA rules and now you know why this game went from pick 'em the middle of last week to Oregon being listed right now as a 4-point betting favorite.

You might also be interested in knowing that Oregon QB Darron Thomas also had some off-the-field issues this past summer as he was a passenger in teammate CB Cliff Harris' car while it was racing at 118 mph – there was some talk that Thomas might be suspended here (there was alleged marijuana odors coming from the vehicle) but Oregon boss-man Chip Kelly suspended Harris and not Thomas for this lid-lifter tilt that's also known as the 'Cowboys Classic' as it will be played on the home field of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.

Now, Ducks RB LaMichael James (a nation's-best 144.3 yards rushing per game in 2010 to go along with 24 total TDs) gets the main spotlight here and gut feeling is the Pac-12 team wins/covers providing James gets his mitts on the football 25-plus time here as a rusher/receiver. We'll see.

Spread Notes – Believe it or not, Oregon comes into the 2011 season sporting eight consecutive .500-or-better pointspread campaigns including last year's 7-5-1 ATS log. The Ducks – who are 10-6 vig-wise in non-conference affairs the past four years – have notched spread wins in five of their last six season openers including last year's 72-0 blowout over 35-point pup New Mexico. Meanwhile, LSU has suffered through four successive spread losing seasons since 2007 and that includes last year's 6-7 ATS mark. The Baton Rouge guys are a dead-even but vig-losing 5-5-1 as underdogs since the start of the '07 season.

#5 BOISE STATE vs. #19 GEORGIA (at Georgia Dome) – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Okay, so we've all been down this road before:

The Boise State Broncos start off the year with a nifty ranking (see #3 last season) and than try to show any/all football critics that they are 'for real' over the course of a 13- or 14-game season. The Broncos – as stated earlier -- topped Virginia Tech to start off 2010 but the night-after-Thanksgiving Day loss at Nevada sunk any/all hopes of playing in the BCS National Championship Game – and now here Chris Petersen's club will start all over again but this one's no walk in the park … for sure!

Boise State may have QB Kellen Moore who's an astounding 38-2 SU (straight-up) as a college football starter – yes, he figures to wind up his career as the winningest quarterback in the sport (Texas QB Colt McCoy won 45 games in his illustrious career) – but here there may be an equal on the other sideline as Georgia soph QB Aaron Murray is a true diamond-in-the-rough after throwing for 24 TDs and just 8 INTs a year ago.

If Murray can just get a semblance of a decent ground game here from the Bulldogs' backs (and all eyes will be firmly planted on prep star Isaiah Crowell who already has folks making comparisons with Herschel Walker) than 3 ½-point pup Georgia could spring the early-season mild upset – and thus KO Boise State for all this BCS Championship talk before it really ever gets off the ground.

Spread Notes – Boise State's fresh off last season's 9-4 ATS campaign that included a season-opening 33-30 win versus 1 ½-point home/neutral favorite Virginia Tech. Overall, the Broncos are 17-8-1 versus the vig as chalk-eaters while dating back to late in the 2008 season. On the flip side, Georgia is coming off a crummy 5-8 ATS campaign that 'featured' an 0-4 ATS log when placed in the underdog role. Note the Dawgs are a collective 3-8 ATS as pups the past three years.

In other College Football Games we're watching for this first Saturday in September, it's …

TULSA at #1 OKLAHOMA – 8 p.m. ET, FX
What makes watching the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners so much fun is that they never – ever – let their foot off the accelerator when they have the ball: Okay, so maybe beating Iowa State 52-0 and walloping Colorado 43-10 last year didn't exactly enthrall their opponents who have hinted the Sooners do indeed like to 'run it up' and that clearly must be the thinking here as Vegas installed Oklahoma as a 20-point favorite for this clash and it's steadily risen in recent days to -24 ½ points – might QB Landry Jones (4,718 yards passing with 38 TDs last season) get a head-start here on his Heisman Trophy campaign?
Spread Notes – Oklahoma is 39-27-1 ATS overall the past five years and that includes a tasty 21-8 spread log in Norman (that's a .724 winning rate, folks)

KENT STATE at #2 ALABAMA – 12:20 p.m. ET
It's been a long time between football games for the tornado-ravaged area in/around Tuscaloosa and so maybe a good, old-fashioned butt-kicking is in order and the home team is a resounding 38-point betting favorite (up from an opening price tag of 33 ½ points) but does 'Bama boss-man Nick Saban show some mercy to his alma mater?

Yes, the hard-driving Saban – who is 29-22-1 ATS in his four-plus year career with the Tide – did witness his club cover a bloated 39 ½-point price in last year's season-opening 48-3 win/cover against San Jose State.

Spread Notes – Alabama is a nifty 12-6 versus the vig whenever playing non-SEC foes since Saban's arrival back in 2007 and that includes last year's perfect 5-and-oh spread log that included non-conferences covers against San Jose State, Penn State, Duke, Georgia State and Michigan State (in the Capital One Bowl).

Extra, extra: The College Football Season swung into action on Thursday night and the verdicts spreadwise turned out to be a split right down the middle of the evening's six on-the-board games. Here's the SU results and spread prices, in case you missed 'em (and note home teams are in CAPS and the 'W' or 'L' at the end of the line refers to whether or not the SU winning team covered the Las Vegas price tag):

WINNER    SPREAD LOSER  SCORE
WISCONSIN - 34.5  UNLV   L 51-17
Miss State  - 30.5 MEMPHIS  W 59-14
SYRACUSE - 6     Wake Forest  W 36-29 (ot) 
Bowling Green + 5.5  IDAHO    W 32-15
FLORIDA INT'L - 13    North Texas  W 41-16
Kentucky   - 17   Western Kentucky  L 14-3

No doubt that the 'bad beat' of the night went to folks who wagered on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons who blew a 29-14 fourth-quarter lead and had the terrible misfortune of missing a PAT, allowing a Syracuse two-point conversion play to work and – worst of all for WF bettors – saw a 32-yard chip-shot FG by the Orange get blocked with less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Heck, if just one of those three things works in Wake's favor, than you cover the 6-point price. Ouch!

NFL PRESEASON POINTSPREAD UPDATE

Let's chuck in a couple of NFL Preseason Pointspread nuggets here in today's Jim Sez column: Following Thursday's NFL Preseason Week 4 results – note that 30 of the league's 32 teams wrapped up their exhibition schedule on the night of September 1st – NFL Betting Favorites this week sport a 5-10 ATS mark and thus the summer-long stats look like this …NFL Preseason Betting Favorites are 37-25-1 ATS while heading into tonight's Oakland at Seattle game (that's a still-nifty .597 winning rate)

Meanwhile, notice to NFL Preseason Totals Players: The 'Overs' on Thursday night finished 7-8 versus the vig thus making the summertime results read 31-29-3 in favor of 'Over' players (that's a .517 winning rate).

Stay tuned for NFL Spread News all season long here at Jim Sez … got it?

 

NOTE: Catch our College Football Sunday Game Previews (and more) in the next edition of Jim Sez – remember it's Marshall at West Virginia (3:30 p.m. on ESPN) and SMU vs. Texas A&M (7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Network) as we continue the Labor Day Weekend romp of 40 College Games in Five (5) Days!

 

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