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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, October 25, 2013 at 8:35 AM



By Jim Hurley

Make no mistake about it …

There’s a real-life football feel to the air these days with the autumn season in full effect but it’s hardly the time to admire the fall foliage if you’re among the nation’s top teams in College Football.

Last week we witnessed the likes of Louisville, Texas A&M and Clemson all have their national championship hopes pretty much extinguished, and you have to wonder aloud who – if anyone from this BCS Top 10 – will stub their toe on this final weekend in October.

Will #5 Missouri (7-0) manage to hold off a highly athletic/highly skilled South Carolina club?

And what about those heavy-duty favorites such as #1 Alabama. #2 Florida State and #3 Oregon … will they all win in a breeze or will a close call victory cost ‘em a spot or two in next week’s standings?

It’s all straight ahead as we present a few more NCAA Football Previews/Forecasts in this edition of Jim Sez and take note that all of the rankings below refer to the current BCS Standings:

On Saturday, it’s …

PENN STATE (4-2, 1-1 Big 10) at #4 OHIO STATE (7-0, 3-0 Big 10) – 8 p.m. ET, ABC

The Ohio State University has reeled off 19 consecutive SU (straight-up) wins since the start of last year – but there’s still plenty of things that head coach Urban Meyer and his staff must “clean up” here in this head-banger bash against Penn State:

For starters, the Buckeyes must get star RB Carlos Hyde off to a better start here one week after the ultra-physical Hyde registered 37 of his 143 rushing yards before halftime in that 34-24 non-cover win against 19-point pup Iowa.

If Hyde gets his hands on the ball 15 times in the first half alone here, it’ll serve as a double-edged sword against the Nittany Lions, who don’t have the depth on “D” to take a full-game pounding and who won’t be getting their own offense on the field often enough … and do keep in mind Penn State averages 284 passing yards a game this year behind freshman QB Christian Hackenberg (1,672 yards passing with 11 TDs).

No doubt Penn State – a 15 ½-point (and growing!) underdog here for this Big 10 prime-time tilt -- must “steal” some points along the way here if Bill O’Brien’s crew is gonna stay competitive at the end and may we recommend some gadget plays that involve speedy Bill Belton.

Spread Notes – Ohio State’s just 11-8 ATS (against the spread) overall in the Meyer Era that began last year but did you know the Buckeyes have covered six of their last nine games against Penn State and they’re 44-21-1 ATS in Big 10 action while dating back to the start of 2005?

#6 STANFORD (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) at #25 OREGON STATE (6-1, 4-0 Pac-12) – 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

So, what does the mighty Stanford Cardinal do here to combat the country’s top-ranked passing offense?

Oregon State averages a whopping 442.1 ypg through the air waves and QB Sean Mannion leads the nation with 2,992 passing yards while zipping in 29 TDs (that’s second-best in the land).

The no-brainer game plan for the 4 ½-point favored Cardinal is to run the ball (of course!) and that’s where RB Tyler Gaffney (741 yards rushing, a 5.1 ypc average and 9 TDs) comes into the picture but what will he do while facing an occasional eight-men-in-the-box look?

Hey, if Stanford isn’t able to run it as well as hoped for here than the Card defense – one that has piled up 15 QB sacks so far – must win the day or David Shaw’s squad won’t have any shot to get into that BCS title picture.

Spread Notes – Stanford has covered its last three consecutive head-to-head matchups against Oregon State including last year’s 27-23 triumph as 3 ½-point home favorites. Overall, the Cardinal is an electric 17-8-1 ATS in conference action since late in the 2010 season.

#10 TEXAS TECH (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) at #15 OKLAHOMA (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) – 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox

Go ahead and agree with us:

There’s not another unbeaten team in FBS play that receives less national attention then these 7-and-oh Texas Tech Red Raiders … right?

Forget for a moment that the Techsters average 41.1 ppg and are ranked second nationally in passing offense (416.4 ypg) – this team enters this conference clash with legit hopes of playing for all the proverbial marbles.

Now, rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s club rides high into Norman with a shot at getting nearer to that 10-0 SU (straight-up) start from just three years ago when TT games were a “must-see” in the Mike Leach Era.

Here, the Red Raiders need true freshman QB Davis Webb (36-of-50 for 462 yards and two TD passing in last weekend’s 37-27 win at 4-point dog West Virginia) to play another “clean game” and be sure that top target TE Jace Amaro (team-leading 56 receptions) is a major part of this game plan.

Oklahoma – a 6 ½-point betting fav at press time – may feel like “yesterday’s news” ever since suffering that 36-20 loss to Texas two weeks ago, but don’t sleep on the Sooners here as a ground game that averages 228 yards per game could play keep-a-way for much of this afternoon.

Spread Notes – Texas Tech has notched spread wins in five of its first seven games this year, but the Red Raiders are a composite 7-10 ATS as underdog sides dating back to the start of 2010. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has failed to cover its last three consecutive games (versus TCU, Texas and Kansas) and the OU Sooners are a sub-par 9-12 ATS as betting favorites since late 2011.


My handicappers and bloggers will have all the weekend winners and you can get NCAA Football, NFL Week 8 play and all the World Series action between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals – Game 3 is Saturday night at 8:07 p.m. ET with the series now split at a game apiece following the Cardinals 4-2 win at Fenway Park in Game 2 -- when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online at


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Here’s some of what we’ll be watching come Sunday and remember we will have more NFL Week 8 Previews/Forecasts in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez:

On Sunday, it’s ….

DALLAS (4-3) at DETROIT (4-3) – 1 p.m. ET, Fox

No doubt that two of the main headline-makers here are Cowboys QB Tony Romo and Lions’ slinger Matthew Stafford, and how symmetrical that these guys head into the Week 8 game with each having thrown 15 touchdown passes … but Romo must evade the likes of DT Ndamkung Suh (team-leading 3 ½ sacks) while it’s still uncertain as to whether Dallas pass-rushing star DE DeMarcus Ware (strained right quad) will play at all. Ware’s streak of 134 consecutive games ended in last week’s 17-3 win at Philadelphia in a game that saw Dallas’ defense stop the Eagles cold (see 4-of-18 on third-down plays).

Romo – who threw for 317 yards against the Eagles last week – really has been making major hay with both WRs Dez Bryant (8 catches for 110 yards last Sunday) and Baylor alum Terrance Williams (6 catches for 71 yards and a TD against Philly), and if both are stat-sheet stuffers here, the ‘Boys will still be sitting alone at the top of the NFC East come day’s end.

Spread Notes – Dallas has reeled off a spiffy 6-1 ATS log this year that includes a current three-game spread winning streak (covers against Denver, Washington and Philadelphia) while Detroit’s 4-3 against the odds overall this year but only 16-23-1 ATS since the start of the 2011 campaign.

NEW YORK JETS (4-3) at CINCINNATI (5-2) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Betcha did think “New York Jets” and “playoffs” would ever appear in the very same sentence this season, but here’s the green gang nearly at the halfway point of the 2013 campaign and there’s folks in Gotham City starting to believe that they could somehow be the host team in Super Bowl 48.

Okay, not so fast … right?

But the Jets – who are fresh off that controversial 30-27 overtime win against New England last week and who enter this road tilt ranked second in the league in rush defense (77.7 ypg allowed) and 9th in pass defense (yielding 225 yards per game) – could be the real deal and the main topic here is will we see the good QB Geno Smith or the bad one?

Smith sports a 93.7 QB Rating in his team’s four wins – and a 51.6 QB Rating in the club’s three losses, and one major factor here is will Smith continue to find his new favorite top target WR Jeremy Kerley on key third-down plays?

The elusive Kerley – who has been restricted a bit in practice this week with a balky hamstring – had eight grabs for 97 yards and a score against the Pats last Sunday at MetLife Stadium and note five of those catches were on third-down plays turned into first downs.

On the flip side, the Bengals finally are believing their hype with back-to-back road wins in Buffalo and Detroit the last two weeks as PK Mike Nugent (a one-time Jet, by the way) booted home game-winners from 43 yards out to win in an OT thriller against the Bills and then powered through a 54-yard kick at the gun last week to down the Lions 27-24.

One piece of strategy here: The Jets may want to “pick on” Cincinnati CB Dre’ Kirkpatrick or whomever replaces veteran corner Leon Hall, who is gone for the year with a right Achilles tendon tear.

Spread Notes – Cincinnati is 4-2-1 vig-wise overall this year but the Bengals are just 11-20-2 ATS as chalk sides since the start of the 2009 season. Meanwhile, the NY Jets are a solid 5-2 against the Las Vegas price tags so far this year but they’re just 10-15 ATS playing outside the AFC East the past two-plus seasons.

WASHINGTON (2-4) at DENVER (6-1) – 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

Now that the Broncos have proven to one-and-all that they are human – last Sunday night’s 39-33 loss at Indianapolis exposed a few more warts for the AFC West team – we’ll see if John Fox’s guys can show a bounce-back nature but all eyes will be on QB Peyton Manning (ankle), who missed some practice time this week but says he now is A-OK.

Manning leads the NFL in passing yards (2,565 yards) and TD passes (25) but if his patched-up and oft-leaky offensive line doesn’t provide better protection here then Manning could have to scramble a bit on the bad ankle and that might not be a pleasant sight.

Gut feeling is you’ll see the Redskins turn up the defensive heat (and especially with a pair of injured safeties) – remember Washington has 18 sacks this year but could unleash guys off the edges here – and Manning will flick lots of quickie passes in the general direction of slot WR Wes Welker and RB Knowshon Moreno.

Tell us what these dudes with their YAC (yards after catch) and we’ll tell you how much Denver wins by here as 11 1/2-point home favorites (but note the Las Vegas price tag was as high as 13 ½ points just two or three days ago).

The Redskins rank fourth in the NFL in rushing (averaging 141.5 ypg) and if RBs Alfred Morris and Roy Helu, Jr. (a combined 136 rushing yards in last week’s wacky 45-41 home win against Chicago) can’t tilt it between ‘em for a buck-fifty or more ground yards then the return to the Mile High City for Redskins coach Mike Shanahan won’t prove to be a whole lot of fun … agree?

Spread Notes – Believe it or not, Denver enters this tilt on a three-game spread losing streak, but note the Broncos have covered four of their last five games played against NFC competition. On the flip side, Washington’s just 2-4 vig-wise this year and that includes an 0-3 mark as dogs one year after the ‘Skins finished with a dapper 7-3 ATS log as pups.


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