Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 15, 2013 at 8:42 AM
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND REPORT – WE KICK OFF THE WEEKEND’S PREVIEWS/FORECASTS
WITH WASHINGTON AT #13 UCLA TONIGHT PLUS IT’S THE RETURN OF THE JIM SEZ
“SATURDAY SIX-PACK” AS WE DIG INTO THE MARQUEE MATCHUPS FEATURING #25 GEORGIA AT #7 AUBURN,
#4 STANFORD AT USC AND #12 OKLAHOMA STATE AT #24 TEXAS
By Jim Hurley
Here’s a quickie heads-up when it comes to the almighty Las Vegas numbers:
We head into tonight’s Pac-12 tilt between Washington at #13 UCLA with College Football Betting Favorites for the year at 275-248-5 with two pick ‘em games -- that’s a .526 winning rate for college chalk sides so far this 2013 season – and keep in mind that last week/weekend the NCAA Football Favs registered a 25-24 spread mark with one pick ‘em game tossed into the mix.
Most years we’ve found that the Favorites vs. Underdogs battle has been right about a 50-50 split – so right now the Betting Favorites have enjoyed a slightly better-than-average season … will that mean the pups growl this weekend? Hmmm.
Now, let’s get to the key games on this weekend menu and note all the rankings below refer to the current BCS Standings:
Tonight, it’s …
WASHINGTON (6-3, 3-3 Pac-12) at #13 UCLA (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) – 9 p.m. ET, espn2
Plenty on the line here as the host UCLA Bruins enter play a full game back of Arizona State for the top spot in the Pac-12 South (and those teams will square off next weekend in Pasadena) and note Jim Mora’s squad has beaten everyone on its schedule save for powerhouses Stanford and Oregon.
If the Uclans are gonna snag this prime-time affair, then converted LB Myles Jack must be a stat-sheet stuffer while coming out of the backfield:
Last week Jack rushed the ball for 120 yards on only six carries in a 31-26 win at Arizona, and the Bruins will lean on him here while Washington counters with stud RB Bishop Sankey, who is averaging 145 yards rushing per game and that ranks third-best nationally.
Hey, the Huskies’ balance was pretty neat in last week’s 59-7 win against Colorado as Washington rushed for 316 yards and threw for 312 yards as QB Keith Price completed 22-of-29 passes for that aerial yardage.
Is the totals price – right now it’s at 61 points – too low for this clash?
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Spread Notes – UCLA started off this here-and-now 2013 season with five successive pointspread wins but the Bruins now are just 6-3 ATS (against the spread) overall this year and 23-26 ATS overall since the start of 2010. On the flip side, Washington is 33-25 ATS overall in the Steve Sarkisian Era that began in 2009.
In Saturday’s top NCAA Football games, it’s …
#25 GEORGIA (6-3, 4-2 SEC) at #7 AUBURN (9-1, 5-1 SEC) – 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
If we had a nickel for every TV talking head who’s proclaimed to “watch out for the Auburn Tigers” in the past week, we would be living comfortably on the French Riviera!
Okay, so everyone and his brother knows this Auburn team – a shaky 3-9 SU (straight-up) a year ago – has been one of the great comeback stories in all of college football, but it remains a major stretch to think that Gus Malzahn’s crew can “run the table” and somehow find its way into the BCS Championship Game.
Still, it could happen with a variety of scenarios that begins with beating archrival Georgia here:
Note that Auburn was blasted 38-0 by the Dawgs last year at Jordan-Hare Stadium, and so this is a chance for major revenge, but can the Tigers get away with throwing the ball only 7 times as was the case on last Saturday’s 55-23 win/cover at Tennessee?
Quarterback Nick Marshall completed just three passes in that tilt, but didn’t have to air it out after the first quarter as Marshall’s 214 yards rushing and two ground scores helped deflate the Vols and now we’ll see if he can dent a Georgia defense that ranks a rock-solid 20th in the land against the rush (allowing 126 yards per game).
The game plan, meanwhile, for the Georgia offense is to have veteran QB Aaron Murray move the chains with some quick-hitter passes, but injuries in the Bulldogs’ receiving corps could hurt the cause here – if Georgia is able to snag the mild upset here (Auburn’s a 3 ½-point favorite at press time) than Murray needs someone like WR Michael Bennett (24 catches in seven games this year) to become a major figure in this game.
Spread Notes – Auburn’s riding a seven-game pointspread winning streak into this SEC clash and note the Tigers are 16-8 ATS whenever in the favorite’s role the past three-plus seasons. Georgia, meanwhile, is a money-torching 1-6-1 against the odds this season with the lone cover occurring way back on Sept. 7th with the 41-30 triumph over 3 ½-point dog South Carolina … remember when?
#4 STANFORD (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12) at USC (7-3, 4-2 Pac-12) – 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Here’s what we all know:
The Stanford Cardinal is the highest-ranked one-loss team in the land.
Here’s what you may not know while heading into this Pac-12 blockbuster game from the venerable Los Angeles Coliseum:
The USC Trojans are no longer on college football’s scrap heap.
In fact, the Men of Troy are 4-1 SU and 4-1 ATS ever since AD Pat Haden kicked head coach Lane Kiffin to the proverbial curb and you do have to wonder whether Stanford’s gonna suffer some type of letdown following last Thursday’s 26-20 win against Oregon.
True, the methodical nature of the Stanford ground game – RB Tyler Gaffney rushed the ball 45 times in that tilt and enters this game with 1,043 yards (a 4.9 ypc average) and 13 TDs – might simply mean someone else is gonna have to pile up the carries as it’s doubtful Gaffney runs it more than 25 times, but could that provide USC an opportunity to steal this one with QB Cody Kessler (12 TDs and 6 INTs) showing real signs of “getting it” these days?
Spread Notes – Stanford’s covered its last three in a row (versus UCLA, Oregon State and Oregon) and the Cardinal comes into this prime-time game with a nifty 6-2-1 ATS log in its last nine games against USC. Note that the Trojans have covered their last three in a row under interim boss-man Ed Orgeron.
FLORIDA (4-5, 3-4 SEC) at #10 SOUTH CAROLINA (7-2, 5-2 SEC) – 7 p.m. ET, espn2
It’s always fun to examine a Gators-Gamecocks game because SC head ball coach Steve Spurrier will always be “connected” to the Florida program, but think he’s gonna get a little extra charge out of things here while having a chance to practically bury the bowl hopes of the Gainesville gang?
Spurrier’s club has won six of its last seven games while averaging a haughty 33 ppg and last week’s bye helped the Gamecocks who had been banged up – namely QB Connor Shaw, who has been playing with a bulky knee brace. Maybe Shaw can help the Gamecocks do better than the 1-of-11 third-down conversion rate put up in that 34-16 win against Miss State two weekends ago.
P.S., Spurrier and Company very much have revenge on their minds following Florida’s 44-11 home win a year ago when the Gators capitalized on four turnovers by Carolina (three lost fumbles and one pick).
Spread Notes – South Carolina is a sub-par 4-5 against the prices this year but the Gamecocks have covered 11 of their last 17 home games. Meanwhile, Florida is a dreary 3-6 against the odds overall this season but the Gators have covered four of their last five games when in the underdog role.
#12 OKLAHOMA STATE (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) at #24 TEXAS (7-2, 6-0 Big 12) – 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox
While everyone chats up the 8-and-oh, high-octane Baylor Bears these days what about these two teams that have combined to lose just one game in Big 12 play?
Right, don’t look now but the Texas Longhorns have designs on going unbeaten in league play – yes, Mack Brown’s bunch plays at Baylor come December 7th – and no doubt this crew has found lots of different ways to mow down its first six league opponents including a wild 47-40 OT triumph at West Virginia last week that required a last-minute-of-regulation field goal by PK Anthony Fera, who’s quietly become one of the most important Longhorns since QB Vince Young.
Fera has nailed 15-of-16 field-goal tries this season and may be an afterthought in a game in which the totals price stands at 63 ½ points right this minute, but the home-dog ‘Horns could be putting points on the board every time they get inside the opponent’s 30-yard line and that’s key here.
No doubt the Okie State Cowboys – who have lost 23 of their 27 lifetime decisions to Texas – needs QB Clint Chelf to stay hot after he’s thrown six TDs in the past three games while winning the No. 1 job from J.W. Walsh. Look for Chelf to toss a slew of swing passes in the direction of ultra-valuable RB Desmond Roland, who has recorded 10 of his team’s 12 offensive touchdowns the past four games.
Spread Notes – Oklahoma State roars into Austin riding a four-game spread winning streak that includes covers against TCU, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Kansas and the O-State Cowboys are a collective 22-10 ATS in Big 12 games since the start of 2010. Texas is 5-4 vig-wise overall this season but the Longhorns are just 26-34-1 ATS in all games since the start of 2009.
#16 MICHIGAN STATE (8-1, 5-0 Big 10) at NEBRASKA (7-2, 4-1 Big 10) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/espn2
Hard to believe, but Big Red has won all seven games played between these Big 10 schools all-time and so – if Michigan State is gonna seize control of the Legends Division and get a shot at Ohio State in the league’s championship game next month – Mark Dantonio’s team must lean on the nation’s top-ranked defense … one that’s allowed just 44 rushing yards per game and 167 passing yards per tilt.
Michigan State LB Max Bullough heads up a unit that’s yielded 0, 3 and 6 points in its last three games – wins over Purdue, Illinois and Michigan, respectively – and it appears that State will be facing a Nebraska team without QB Taylor Martinez as Tommy Armstrong, Jr. has started five games in his absence.
Armstrong doesn’t present the same type rushing threat that Martinez does, and so the likelihood here is Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah (1,213 yards rushing this season) will be given 25-plus totes to make something happen.
Spread Notes – Michigan State is an electric 12-3-1 against the Las Vegas prices when travelling the past two-plus seasons and that includes spread covers this year at Iowa and Illinois (and a spread push at Notre Dame). Note that Nebraska’s 15-18-1 ATS overall since the start of the ’11 season.
#23 MIAMI (7-2, 3-2 ACC) at DUKE (7-2, 3-2 ACC) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Have the Miami Hurricanes run out of gas?
The once-upon-a-time 7-0 team has dropped back-to-back games against Florida State and Virginia Tech by a composite score of 83-38, and Al Golden’s crew has been a mess on special teams, has allowed too many third-down conversions and QB Stephen Morris is gimping around these days on a bad ankle that doesn’t allow him to throw the ball effectively (we thank ESPN’s Todd Blackledge for pointing out that fact in last weekend’s rainy 42-24 V-Tech win in South Beach).
Meanwhile, Duke remains one of the country’s top feel-good stories as sixth-year head coach David Cutcliffe’s crew scored three non-offensive touchdowns in last week’s 38-20 win/cover against 10 ½-point dog N.C. State as DeVon Edwards scored on a pair of late-game INTs and also raced 100 yards with a kick return, but the Blue Devils better get their quarterback situation fixed as starter Anthony Boone and back-up Bradon Connette threw the ball 34 times between ‘em last weekend against the Wolf Pack and neither threw a touchdown pass … the Dookies probably need Boone to get his passes on line here (or else!).
Spread Notes – Duke rides a four-game spread winning streak into this high-profile ACC clash and the Blue Devils are 12-6 versus the vig as hosts dating back to the start of 2011. Miami has been a real streaky spread side this year with four covers in a row followed by four straight spread setbacks. Overall, “The U” is 1-4 vig-wise in conference play this year after going 8-0 ATS in league games in 2012.
Here’s an important note …
My handicappers and bloggers will have all the weekend winners and you can get NCAA Football, NFL Week 11 play and all the NBA/NCAA Basketball action when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network at the toll-free # of 1-888-777-4155 or right here online at www.vegassportsmasters.com.
Check is any time after 1 p.m. ET today and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturday/Sunday.
NOTE: There’s NFL Week 11 Previews/Forecasts in tomorrow’s Jim Sez including the monster matchup on Sunday Night between the 9-0 Kansas City Chiefs at the 8-1 Denver Broncos … so don’t dare miss out!