Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 23, 2012 at 2:39 PM
Are you still "giving thanks" today? Good - and be sure to be thankful that you're not a member of the New York Jets these days!
The AFC East club not only took it on the chin in Thursday night's 49-19 home loss to archrival New England but now they have to answer questions for the next 10 days regarding their 2012 "future" and it sure is bleak after surrendering 35 second-quarter points to the Pats in every way/shape/form.
The J-E-T-S surely were the biggest busts on Turkey Day '12 but maybe you already had that designation saved for the NFL rule folks who really/truly helped to take away the game from the Detroit Lions in that 34-31 deep-into-overtime loss to the Houston Texans.
Not gonna get into all the terminology regarding a play that gets challenged that is not "challengeable" - Lions boss-man Jim Schwartz took the bullet for that one even though the rule stinks (and will be changed for next year, according to NBC's Peter King) - but let's just say that Detroit had plenty of opportunities to KO the Texans in that wild tilt that lasted almost five full quarters in all.
Plus, who would ever think that 20-year vet PK Jason Hanson was going to miss a 47-yard field goal in the OT session (it clanked off the upright in an "iron unkind" moment) that could have snapped Detroit's eight-year Thanksgiving Day losing streak ... it's just been one of those years for the Lions.
Finally, the middle game in the Turkey Day NFL Week 12 sandwich may have been yet another coronation for Washington Redskins' rookie QB Robert Griffin III who aired four scoring strikes en route to a 311-yard passing performance in that shiny (but scary) 38-31 win in Dallas but we tend to think of big plays made here by old-man LB London Fletcher (forced key incompletion in the end zone) who made his 190th consecutive start before re-injuring an ankle and how about that ultra-clutch 48-yard FG by PK Kai Forbath who allowed the 'Skins a late-game 10-point lead and thus some much-needed breathing room?
Yup, the Lions and Jets had their playoff hopes officially doused on this Thanksgiving Day and the now 5-6 Cowboys were hurt immeasurably here - chalk up yet another wild Turkey Day and one in which the NFL home office (thanks to that bad ruling on the RB Justin Forsett TD run for Houston) really had major indigestion!
COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S KEY SATURDAY MATCHUPS
Note: The numbers that precede team names below reflect the current BCS Standings:
#1 NOTRE DAME (11-0) at USC (7-4) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Win and you're in ... the BCS Championship Game, that is, if you're Notre Dame.
Maybe easier said that done even with USC without star QB Matt Barkley as chatty freshman Max Wittek - yes, he's already put foot-in-mouth and declared the Trojans will win here - and you can be sure the first order of business for this bone-rattling Irish defense starring LB Manti Te'o will be to put heat on Wittek and take away his ability to throw deep to speedy wide-outs Marqise Lee and Robert Woods who need 250-or-so receiving yards between 'em to make ND quake here.
Meanwhile, did you realize that Notre Dame's oft-criticized attack has scored 21-or-more points in its last four games in a row and QB Everett Golson has posted three-TD games the past three weeks in succession?
It's all right there for you, Brian Kelly and Company. Grab the brass ring now - or forever hold your peace!
Spread Notes - Notre Dame is just 6-5 ATS (against the spread) this season and just 3-7 odds-wise in its last 10 head-to-head battles against USC. The Trojans, meanwhile, are an ugly 3-8 spreadwise this season.
AUBURN (3-8, 0-7 SEC) at #2 ALABAMA (10-1, 6-1 SEC) - 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
No doubt you've lost track of how many folks have come forward and claimed it's not "fair" that the 'Bama Crimson Tide is gonna get a shot at winning it all again if things happen fall right but that's the flaw in a BCS system that allows you to be a one-loss team that suffered the loss on Nov. 10th as opposed to being a one-loss team that suffered the setback one week later (see both Kansas State and Oregon).
Now, here's Alabama favored by close to five TDs against a going-nowhere Auburn bunch and who says "margin of victory" isn't important when quarterback A.J. McCarron could be chucking the ball deep while up 28-to-35 points here?
Spread Notes - Alabama has failed to cover five of its last seven head-to-head showdowns against archrival Auburn and the Crimson Tide enters this clash on a three-game spread losing skid (versus LSU, Texas A&M and Western Carolina). Note that Auburn is now 8-13 ATS in its last 21 on-the-board games.
GEORGIA TECH (6-5) at #3 GEORGIA (10-1) - 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
Sure looks like the Georgia Bulldogs are sneaking around the chicken coop these days as wins here and against Alabama in next weekend's SEC Championship Game would catapult the Dawgs into this year's national title game - but the $64,000 question in this Peach State Showdown is can Georgia's highly athletic defense get QB Tevin Washington off the field or will this run-run G-Tech attack make things real sticky for Mark Richt's crew?
Gut feeling is Georgia QB Aaron Murray (28 TDs and 7 INTs) must get five-or-more "chunk plays" here - that's 25 yards or more in the passing game - should the Dawgs wish to cover this bloated two-TD pointspread. Agree?
Spread Notes - Georgia has notched pointspread wins in seven of its last 10 head-to-head showdowns against Georgia Tech but note the Dawgs are just 3-5 vig-wise as twin-figure betting favorites this season. Georgia Tech's covered its last three games in a row (versus Maryland, North Carolina and Duke) and the Yellow Jackets are 7-4 ATS overall this season.
#10 FLORIDA STATE (10-1) at #4 FLORIDA (10-1) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
The mystery is over as Florida ball coach Will Muschamp has announced that QB Jeff Driskel will regain his starting job after sitting out last week's rather ho-hum 23-0 win against Jacksonville but his sprained ankle and bruised psyche will get tested here and better believe the real key to this Sunshine State clash is whether or not FSU signal-caller E.J. Manuel (21 TDs and 6 INTs this season) can get this Seminoles attack in gear.
Keep in mind Jimbo Fisher's club has scored 40-or-more points in seven different games this year.
The 'Noles have tacked together back-to-back wins against the Gators - that's 21-7 in Gainesville last year and 31-7 in Tallahassee the year before - and now FSU's top-ranked rush defense (allowing only 70.6 yards-per-game) is looking to make one more big stand before next week's ACC Championship Game.
Spread Notes - Florida is just 6-5 versus the vig overall this 2012 season but note the Gators have registered a 24-10-1 ATS mark in non-SEC games while dating back to the 2004 season. Meanwhile, Florida State has covered four-of-five home games this year.
#5 OREGON (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12) at #15 OREGON STATE (8-2, 6-2 Pac-12) - 3:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
Last week's 17-14 OT loss to 19 ½-point pup Stanford not only kayoed Oregon from the here-and-now BCS title chase and snapped a 13-game winning streak but it took the luster from this edition of "The Civil War" and may have cost Ducks coach Chip Kelly a shot in the NFL - yes, the Philly Eagles have been snooping around his office for days now!
Oregon ranks fifth in the land with 313.5 yards rushing per game but one of Oregon State's many hidden strengths this year is run defense as the Beavers yield 108 ground yards a game - second-best in the Pac-12. So, we'll see who blinks first year but do keep in mind Oregon State QB Sean Mannion is back in mid-season form after airing four TDs last week in that 62-14 win against California.
Note the last time Oregon lost two games in a row was late in the 2007 season (the Mike Bellotti Era).
Spread Note - Oregon has covered five of its last six games with the exception to the rule last weekend's OT loss to Stanford and note the Ducks are 6-3 ATS in their last nine games against archrival Oregon State. The Beavers, meanwhile, are 7-3 spreadwise this season and that includes a snazzy 4-1 spread log whenever grabbing up points.
#19 MICHIGAN (8-3, 6-1 Big 10) at OHIO STATE (11-0, 7-0 Big 10) - 12 p.m. ET, ABC
Now that Ohio State's first-year head coach Urban Meyer has driven home the point that he's the best coach in college football - sorry to the likes of Nick Saban and Bill Snyder - the Buckeyes look to seal the deal on their perfecto season even if they remain all dressed up with no place to go thanks to NCAA eligibility issues.
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller - who rates on our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy Watch List - totaled 335 yards and three TDs last year but still lost the all-important Michigan game 40-34 but expect him to pressure the maize-and-blue with some deep passes early while RB Carlos Hyde tries to zap the middle of the Michigan defense.
Spread Notes - Michigan is a sub-par 5-6 against the Las Vegas prices this year and 0-4-1 against the odds in its last five showdowns against Ohio State. On the other hand, the Buckeyes roll into this game on a three-game spread winning streak and Ohio State's a collective 42-19-2 ATS in Big 10 games since the start of the 2005 campaign.
NOTE: Catch our NFL Week 12 key Sunday Previews in tomorrow's jam-packed edition of Jim Sez.