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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 22, 2013 at 8:57 AM



By Jim Hurley

The New Orleans Saints got their season sweep over Atlanta with last night’s 17-13 non-cover win at the Georgia Dome – but even with five sacks of Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan and yet another 100-yard receiving night for all-pro TE Jimmy Graham (that man’s a beast!) there were the 7 ½-point home dogs hanging tough deep into the final quarter of play.

Don’t look now but the Saints (9-2) now have failed to cover four-of-five road games this season and next up is that Week 13 Monday Night Football bash in Seattle … maybe QB Drew Brees and friends have glitzy stats but they sure are making their financial backers stone-cold broke when the team packs a bag!

We’ll have lots more NFL Week 12 goodies in tomorrow’s Jim Sez column but in NCAA Football action on Saturday, it’s …

#12 TEXAS A&M (8-2, 4-2 SEC) at #22 LSU (7-3, 3-3) – 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Hey, did you ever think you would see an LSU game in which the “totals” price is 71 ½ points … and rising?

No doubt that offense fully expects to take center stage in this high-profile Southeastern Conference duel, but instead of just tossing you the stats for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (okay, he’s thrown for 3,313 yards and 31 TDs so far this year) and LSU signal-caller Zach Mettenberger – he’s thrown for 2,733 yards and 20 TDs – maybe it’s best to acknowledge the fact that LSU’s scored 35-or-more points in seven games this season while the A&M Aggies have cranked out 41-or-more points in all 10 of their games … yowie!

Both clubs come into this bash off a bye and no doubt the home folks tuned up a ground game that ranks a pedestrian 52nd nationally (184.8 ypg) as Les Miles’ crew looks to play keep-a-way with Mr. Manziel here.

Spread Note – The LSU Tigers are just 2-5-1 ATS (against the spread) since mid-September and overall the Bengals are 5-8-1 versus the vig in SEC play since the start of the 2012 season.

#17 ARIZONA STATE (8-2, 6-1 Pac-12) at #14 UCLA (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) – 7 p.m. ET, Fox

Don’t tell these Pac-12 South teams that they’re eventually gonna serve as “sacrificial lambs” in the conference championship game next month against either Oregon or Stanford:

As far as red-hot Arizona State is concerned, there’s real reason for dreaming about a Rose Bowl berth this year and that’s something the Sun Devils have not experienced since January 1, 1997. Here, second-year head coach Todd Graham will ask his defense to batten down the hatches against LB-turned-RB Myles Jack (see four rushing TDs in last Friday’s 41-31 win/cover against Washington) and note the Tempe team has won five consecutive Pac-12 games with opponents averaging 18.8 ppg in these tilts and with A-State registering 18 sacks and 10 INTs.

If Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly can stay in an upright position here (yes, he’s been sacked eight times in the past two games) then the 2 ½-point road favs should rise to the occasion once again.

Spread Note – UCLA owns a nifty 8-2 pointspread advantage in its last 10 head-to-head showdowns against rival Arizona State and that includes last year’s wild 45-43 win as 6 ½-point road underdogs.

Here’s an important note …

My handicappers and bloggers will have all the weekend winners and you can get NCAA Football, NFL Week 12 play and all the NBA/NCAA Basketball action when you check with us here at the Vegas Sportsmasters toll-free at 1-888-777-4155 or right here online at

Check is any time after 1 p.m. ET today and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturday/Sunday.

Also on the Saturday menu, it’s …

#8 MISSOURI (9-1, 5-1 SEC) at #24 OLE MISS (7-3, 3-3 SEC) – 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN

It’s the age-old question here of just when is it the right time to re-insert a star player:

The Mizzou Tigers are popping QB James Franklin back into the starting lineup here – he hasn’t started the last four games but did see relief action two weeks ago in a 48-17 win against Kentucky – but 13th-year head coach Gary Pinkel will sit Maty Mauk, and look for Franklin to keep the Tigers on the path to a possible berth in the SEC Championship Game.

On the flip side, note that Ole Miss – winners of its last four in a row while averaging a hefty 42.8 ppg – again relies on QB Bo Wallace (averaging 266.4 yards passing per game to rank fourth among SEC quarterbacks) to shine with the occasional input of effective back-up QB Barry Brunetti.

Can Ole Miss protect its quarterbacks here from a Missouri team that leads the conference with 34 sacks and 17 picks … we shall see!

Spread Note – Missouri is a riveting 8-2 against the Las Vegas price tags this season and the Tigers have covered all four of their road games this year (at Indiana, Vanderbilt, Georgia and Kentucky).



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So who’s been piling up the most profits on the College Football scene lately?

Here’s a quick-hitter look at the hottest spread sides in the land …

*Auburn rolls into next weekend’s Iron Bowl bash against Alabama riding a tasty eight-game spread winning streak and – sure that deflected pass to beat Georgia was the latest pointspread “W” – but mainly this club’s quietly done it on defense where five of Auburn’s last seven foes have scored 23 points or less.

*Duke guns for its sixth consecutive pointspread win when it takes on host Wake Forest this weekend, and did you know the Blue Devils have beaten these last five foes by a per-game average of 16 points? Note that the Dookies have exceeded the 30-point mark on seven different occasions this year and the Blue Devils are 6-1 ATS when doing so.

Hey, don’t look now but the Minnesota Golden Gophers have reeled off four straight spread wins while heading into Saturday’s home game against rival Wisconsin. If you wish to credit acting head coach Tracy Claeys for all the miracle work with this Minny team, then go right ahead but the stats show this Big 10 team ranks 20th in the country in rushing (averaging 218.5 ypg) and the oft-overlooked defense has held eight-of-10 foes to 24 points or less … good stuff!

North Carolina – maybe the unlikeliest teams on this hottest spread sides list – has cranked out five consecutive covers despite the fact this club’s playing a backup quarterback and started off the year at 1-5 SU (straight-up) and basically left for dead. All hail head coach Larry Fedora, who not only saved his own job but might have put himself into the discussion for bigger/better positions (did someone say Florida?).

Northern Illinois snagged a fifth straight spread win with Wednesday night’s 35-17 triumph at 2-point pup Toledo and while QB Jordan Lynch remains the numero uno reason to believe in these Huskies we’ve gotta say “hats off” to a defense that’s allowed 20 points or less in five of the team’s last six games.

Oklahoma State’s roaring into the Saturday night showdown against Baylor riding a five-game ATS winning streak and let’s give a round of applause to ninth-year head coach Mike Gundy who’s more than simply that YouTube sensation from years ago. The Cowboys can “ball” and Gundy gets credit for finally settling on the best of all possible quarterbacks in Clint Chelf.

Temple may have been last week’s version of the heartbreak kids with that 39-36 home loss against UCF, but did you realize in the process the Owls covered their sixth game in a row? Now, Temple’s laying points this weekend against UConn and that’s the first time Matt Rhule’s team is the chalk side since late September. Just sayin’!

Wisconsin has banged out six straight spread wins since that 41-20 non-cover triumph over 22 ½-point dog Purdue way back on Sept. 21st and while the potent ground game has been the key the truth is Wisky sports the nation’s sixth-ranked defense … so there!

NOTE: There’s NFL Week 12 Previews/Forecasts in tomorrow’s Jim Sez including the monster matchup on Sunday Night between the Denver Broncos at the New England Patriots … so don’t miss out!


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