Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 9:33 AM
Have you taken a couple of minutes to check out what's on this week's menu for College Football's Associated Press Top 10 teams?
If not, then let us be the first to tell you that more than half of the Top 10 teams are playing no more than glorified scrimmages this weekend:
Here's the rundown of the expected blowouts ...
#1 Alabama is a 39.5-point betting favorite at this very minute against Colorado State;
#4 Ohio State is listed as a 50-point fav against Florida A&M;
#7 Louisville is currently a 42-point favorite versus Florida International;
#8 Florida State is a hefty 40-point choice over Bethune-Cookman;
#9 Georgia is a 33-point betting favorite against North Texas;
And #10 Texas A&M right now is a 28-point fav against "rival" SMU.
We'll get you our quick-hitter comments in a moment but first here's some football-on-a-school-night action:
On Thursday Night, it's ...
#3 CLEMSON (2-0) at N.C. STATE (2-0) - 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The BCS Standings won't be out for a few more weeks but how about this poll fact: The Clemson Tigers - who've beaten both Georgia and South Carolina State out of the proverbial starting gate - started off this current campaign at #8 in the aforementioned AP poll and they've climbed all the way to #3. Not a bad start, eh?
Dabo Swinney's club - like N.C. State, coming off a bye week - has been feast or famine the past two meetings against the Wolfpack with last year's wild 62-48 win following up a dreary 37-13 loss in Raleigh two years ago.
Note that last year's dizzying win included five touchdown passes and three TD runs by Clemson QB Tahj Boyd who also aired five scoring strikes in that above-mentioned 38-35 win against Georgia back on August 31st.
If Boyd gets time to survey the field here against a State defense that ranks just 73rd nationally against the pass, then two-TD favorite Clemson will be tough to handle even in enemy territory but take note the Tigers suffered an off-week injury as WR Charone Peake (torn ACL) is out here and so who helps opposite star WR Sammy Watkins is a key question to be answered on game night.
If N.C. State has serious designs on snagging the upset win, then Colorado State transfer QB Pete Thomas (0 INTs and 3 INTs so far) must step it up for first-year head coach Dave Doeren's team.
The Pack's beaten Louisiana Tech and Richmond thus far but note State turned the ball over four times in that 23-21 white knuckler non-cover win against Richmond two weekends ago.
Spread Notes - Clemson is an electric 13-4 ATS (against the spread) in ACC action since the start of the 2011 season and the Tigers are a solid 13-8 spreadwise as betting favorites the past two-plus seasons. Meanwhile, N.C. State is a collective 22-13-1 ATS as an underdog side since the start of the 2008 campaign.
Now, let's take a sneak peek at the other AP Top 10 teams with a quick-hitter comment on each game this Saturday:
COLORADO STATE (1-2) at #1 ALABAMA (2-0) - 7 p.m. ET, espn2
There's a sentiment going 'round that Alabama head coach Nick Saban will "take it easy" on old friend Jim McElwain (former Crimson Tide assistant coach) but if that's the case why has this Las Vegas line climbed from 36.5 points to 39.5 points?
#2 OREGON (3-0) - Bye Week; Next vs. California (Sept. 28)
FLORIDA A&M (1-2) at #4 OHIO STATE (3-0) - 12 p.m. ET, Big 10 Network
Keep in mind the O-State Buckeyes have beaten three teams (that's Buffalo, San Diego State and Cal) with a combined 2-6 SU (straight-up) mark and so this hasn't exactly been "Murderer's Row" for the Big 10 guys who will open conference play next weekend at home against wounded Wisconsin.
#23 ARIZONA STATE (2-0) at #5 STANFORD (2-0) - 7 p.m. ET, Fox
Now that the Sun Devils were "gifted" that 32-30 win against Wisconsin last Saturday night, will the Pac-12 officials not cut 'em a single break here?
Stanford's guy-to-watch is RB Tyler Gaffney who's rushed for 236 yards in his two games (a 5.9 ypc average) with 3 TDs. Sure looks like it all adds up to a twin-digit win here - and note Stanford's "only" laying 7 .5 points at the moment.
AUBURN (3-0, 1-0 SEC) at #6 LSU (3-0, 0-0 SEC) - 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
Prime-time hootenanny in Death Valley but did you know the LSU Bayou Bengals have beaten "War Eagle" by a combined 76-to-20 score in the last two meetings in Baton Rouge? If LSU slinger Zach Mettenberger (797 yards passing with 9 TDs and no INTs) is salivating here, who can blame 'em as Auburn has country's 99th-best pass defense. Ugh!
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (0-3) at #7 LOUISVILLE (3-0) - 12 p.m. ET, ESPN Game Plan
Okay, so Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater is putting up Heisman Trophy-like stats - he's 62-of-88 passing for 1,002 yards with 10 TDs and just 1 INT - but this early-season sked's been a joke with wins against Ohio, Eastern Kentucky and at Kentucky. Maybe the first time we'll really know if Bridgewater and the U of L Cardinals are "for real" is the Oct. 18th home game against UCF. So just be patient!
BETHUNE-COOKMAN (3-0) at #8 FLORIDA STATE (2-0) - 6 p.m. ET
Probably not a whole lot of folks lining up to wager on a near six-TD favored Florida State crew here - not with seven consecutive ACC games on tap including FSU's conference clash at Boston College next weekend - but thought it might be a good time to let you know Sems' freshman QB Jameis Winston is the proud owner of the following stats: He's completed 40-of-45 passes for 570 yards with 6 TDs and 1 INT.
Wait, another frosh Heisman Trophy winner?
NORTH TEXAS (2-1) at #9 GEORGIA (1-1) - 12:21 p.m. ET, SEC-TV
This is rare early-season breather for the Georgia Dawgs who've lost to Clemson, beaten South Carolina and have a date with mighty LSU on deck. So, do does that mean Mark Richt's team "relaxes" here? Looks to us like a well-coached North Texas team - remember Dan McCarney (former Iowa State boss) - could give the Bulldogs some major fits.
SMU (1-1) at #10 TEXAS A&M (2-1) - 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Don't count out "Johnny Football" as a potential back-to-back winner of the Heisman Trophy after that stirring 464-yard, 5-TD performance in last week's 49-42 loss-but-cover versus Alabama. If the tempo is stepped up on both sides here, then Manziel should throw the ball a minimum 50 times.
Now hear this ...My handicappers/bloggers will blast Las Vegas and the off-shore books all week/weekend long beginning with the Thursday Night Football Sides & Totals winners when the Kansas City Chiefs play at the Philadelphia Eagles in NFL Week 3 action while it's #3 Clemson at N.C. State in NCAA Football prime-time play - and we'll keep winning right through this September weekend! Check with the Jim Hurley Network right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-888-777-4155 after 1 p.m. ET on week days and any time after 10 a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday. Plus get all our down-the-stretch Major-League Baseball winners too! The MLB Playoffs are just two weeks away!
NFL NEWS & NOTES
Hey, one of the real neat stories so far in this 2013 NFL season is the fact the Miami Dolphins have started off things at 2-and-oh both SU and ATS - and the Fish have exploded onto the here-and-now scene with road wins/covers against the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts. In case you were wondering, only five NFL teams have won/covered back-to-back season-opening road games the past 10 years and here's the roll call with what those teams eventually did:
DENVER - In the 2003 season, the Broncos bashed hosts Cincinnati and San Diego right out of the starting gate with 30-10 and 37-13 winners. The end result: The '03 Broncos were one-and-done in the playoffs, thanks to a 41-10 loss at 3-point fav Indianapolis.
MIAMI - In 2010, the Tony Sparano-coached Dolphins won 15-10 at 3-point underdog Buffalo in a Week 1 game and then followed it up with a 14-10 triumph at 5.5- point fav Minnesota. So, history does - sometimes - repeat itself! The end result: Those '10 Dolphins finished 7-9 SU and, obviously, didn't even land a playoff berth.
MINNESOTA - The 2009 Vikings won/covered in Cleveland and Detroit in the opening two weeks of play with 34-20 and 27-13 wins as 4- and 10-point favorites, respectively. The end result: The '09 Vikes won 12 regular-season games and beat Dallas 34-3 in an NFC Divisional Playoff Game but then had their season ended with a 31-28 loss-but-cover in OT at eventual Super Bowl champ New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game.
NEW ORLEANS - The 2006 Saints won/covered season-opening games at Cleveland and Green Bay and that was before the highly-emotional Monday Night Football home opener win before Atlanta in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the year before. The end result: New Orleans won 10 regular-season games and one playoff tilt before having its year finished with a 39-14 loss in Chicago in the NFC Championship Game.
SEATTLE - The 2004 Seahawks nabbed back-to-back season-starting wins/covers at New Orleans and Tampa Bay and note that Seattle defense allowed a grand total of 13 points in those games. The end result: The '04 Seattle team went 9-7 SU and was kayoed in the first round of the playoffs with a 27-20 home loss against St. Louis.
NOTE: More College Football and NFL Week 3 Previews coming your way in tomorrow's Jim Sez ... including the much-hyped NFL Thursday Night game between Kansas City at Philadelphia!