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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 8:00 AM

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND REPORT—
HERE’S THE TWO SUNDAY GAME PREVIEWS…

NFL NEWS & NOTES: WHAT THE PRESEASON REALLY TOLD US

By Jim Hurley

So, what’s the damage gonna be at the conclusion of this Labor Day weekend when you look at all the nation’s Top 25 teams?

We’ve already seen #9 South Carolina get obliterated this past Thursday night 52-28 by 10-point dog Texas A&M— and didn’t you love the little sound bite of Carolina head ball coach Steve Spurrier saying that if the teams played again that A&M would be a “three-touchdown favorite”!

Most of the top 25 teams that are in action this holiday weekend are hefty betting favorites whether it’s #2 Alabama favored by nearly four TDs against West Virginia or #6 Auburn, a monstrous 19-point choice against SEC rival Arkansas but you had better believe that when all the dust settles on this opening weekend of College Football there will be some movin’-and-shakin’ in the polls and we’ve always believed that a team can make its most rapid movement early on — gotta believe that Texas A&M will be inside the top 10 or close to the top 10 when the next polls come out and so their College Football Playoff (CFP) dreams just came alive just like that after one big road win.

As you know in this new format, there’s precious little room for error— maybe less room for error than in the now bygone Bowl Championship Series Era. You watch!

Extra, extra …

The College Football 2014 campaign is off and runnin’ and it really swings into high gear with a full weekend card scheduled right through Labor Day evening.

Folks, you definitely want to be in the winner’s circle for all the big opening-week tilts with the college games as the beat goes on with Saturday’s action as Clemson battles Georgia in a top 25 hoedown plus defending national champ Florida State squares off with Oklahoma State in the Cowboys Classic plus there’s 23 other exciting on-the-board games for this Saturday day/night card.

On Sunday, it’s Utah State at Tennessee and SMU at Baylor (see previews below) and then it all wraps up Monday Night with a prime-time ACC bash between Miami at Louisville!

And don’t forget the NFL 2014 season gets going on Thursday Night with the much-anticipated battle royal between the Green Bay Packers at the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks followed by a whopper NFL Week 1 card featuring Cincinnati at Baltimore, San Francisco at Dallas, the Sunday Night Game between Indianapolis at Denver and then the Monday Night Football twin-bill: The New York Giants at Detroit followed by San Diego at Arizona!

Take note that Jim Hurley -- America’s #1 Handicapper— also continues to bang out lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do to win in the NFL, NCAA Football and MLB is to check in either right here online at www.vegassportsmasters.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-888-777-4155 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for all the weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners… can’t beat that, right?

Get in on the fun-and-profits today as the Jim Hurley Network is headed to a monster Football Season… so what are you waiting for?

SATURDAY’S KEY PREVIEWS

#16 CLEMSON at #12 GEORGIA—5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
In case you were wondering, the Georgia Bulldogs enter this 2014 campaign at 18-to-1 to “win it all” while the Clemson Tigers are a 75-to-1 shot—but both teams firmly believe a win here could catapult their respective squads to a monster season, and TD-plus betting fav Georgia has plenty to prove after going a sour 7-15 SU (straight-up) against ranked teams the past five years.

If Georgia head coach Mark Richt has his way, then Heisman Trophy-hopeful RB Todd Gurley (989 yards rushing in just 10 games a year ago) must high-step his way ‘round a Clemson defense that surrendered 35, 31 and 31 points in three of its final four games a year ago when the Tigers roared to an 11-2 SU season. Keep Gurley’s longest runs here to 10 or 15 yards and Clemson will have a shot late.

The Atlantic Coast Conference crew needs new QB Cole Stoudt to pick up where Tahj Boyd left off—but don’t count on Clemson “having its way” as much as it did in last year’s season-opening 38-35 win against the Dawgs. An X-factor for the Tigers in this tilt is punter Bradley Pinion who could be a field-position whiz here.

Spread Notes —Georgia finished just 3-8-1 ATS (against the spread) overall last year and that included the season-opening 38-35 loss to 1½-point underdog Clemson. The ACC Tigers are 9-3 versus the vig away the past two years and note Clemson’s 19-10 ATS as point-grabbing sides since the start of the 2005 season.

#13 LSU vs. #14 WISCONSIN (at Reliant Stadium/Houston)—9 p.m. ET, ESPN
In a perfect setup, these two “Power 5” teams would tuck an easy win under their belts against the likes of some non-conference patsy but instead the LSU Tigers and Wisconsin Badgers will collide at the home of the NFL’s Houston Texans and there is really is no room for error:

The Big 10 boys make no secret of their desire to “pound the rock”, but we want to know whether Heisman Trophy-hopeful RB Melvin Gordon (1,609 rushing yards last year) will tire out after 30-plus totes, while the $64,000 question on LSU’s side is who exactly will be running the show at crunch time… soph Anthony Jennings or freshman Brandon Harris?

If the Tigers lean on super-frosh RB Leonard Fournette, than nobody will blame ‘em, but what happens when this highly regarded RB gets stuck right there at the line of scrimmage?

The oddsmakers have LSU favored by 5½ points (it opened at four points) but keep in mind Wisky’s won 16 consecutive openers straight-up.

Spread Notes —The LSU Tigers are a meek 3-7-1 ATS away the past two years and note the Bayou Bengals are just 51-54-8 ATS in the Les Miles Era that dates back to ’05. On the flip side, Wisconsin is a decent 8-5-1 spreadwise as pups the past five years but the Badgers have failed to cover their on-the-board opener in five of the last six seasons.

#1 FLORIDA STATE vs. OKLAHOMA STATE (at Cowboys Stadium/Arlington)—8 p.m. ET, ABC
Repeat after us: the Florida State Seminoles will repeat as national champions this year providing Heisman Trophy QB Jameis Winston finds a true No. 1 target right from the start of this ’14 season, and WR Rashad Greene (76 catches for 1,128 yards and 9 TDs last year) is the easy choice, but Oklahoma State figures to blanket Greene at every turn and so let’s see here if Winston turns and runs more or counts on sure-handed TE Nick O’Leary to be his security blanket.

The ‘Noles are up to a 19-point betting fav at press time and that means Okie State’s only real hope of covering this price tag is having Florida State score less than 35 points… so Cowboys RB Desmond Roland (811 yards rushing last year) must chew clock/yards and hope FSU’s physical and fast defense doesn’t wear him down.

Spread Notes —Florida State cranked out a 10-3 ATS mark en route to last year’s national championship season, and did you realize the Seminoles are a respectable 20-14 vig-wise as double-digit betting favorites under fifth-year head coach Jimbo Fisher? Meanwhile, Oklahoma State’s 33-17 ATS overall the past four years (a sizzling .660 winning rate) and the Cowboys are a collective 61-44-3 spreadwise under 10th-year head coach Mike Gundy.

#2 ALABAMA vs. WEST VIRGINIA (at Georgia Dome/Atlanta)—3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Let the record state that the ‘Bama Crimson Tide have played in three of the last five BCS Championship Games (winning ‘em all, we might add) and those Nick Saban-led squads didn’t exactly have Joe Namath at quarterback, and so all this hullaballoo regarding who gets more time here under center—novices Jake Coker or Blake Sims—has been getting far too much “pub” in the days leading up to this SEC vs. Big 12 clash in Atlanta.

What’s really gonna be important in terms of whether or not Alabama covers the hefty-sized 26½-point spread here is can West Virginia’s offense starring QB Clint Trickett (7 TDs and 7 INTs last year) move the ball against a Tide defense playing without LB Trey DePriest, who has been suspended for a “minor violation”… if the WVU Mountaineers score more than 14 points here than it’s a moral victory of sorts.

Spread Notes —Alabama is 50-37-1 ATS overall in the Saban Era that started back in 2007 (that’s a .575 winning rate) and note the Crimson Tide’s 16-12 ATS versus non-SEC foes during this time span. West Virginia enters this season-opening bash in Atlanta with a solid 17-10 spread log as point-takers dating back to the start of the 2005 season. The ‘Neers, however, have failed to cover seven of their last 11 away games.

HERE’S SUNDAY’S KEY PREVIEWS

UTAH STATE at TENNESSEE— 7 p.m. ET, SEC Network
The Tennessee Volunteers won’t ever be calling the past three years the “good ole days” as the SEC gang has gone 5-7 SU (straight-up) in each the 2011, ’12 and ’13 campaigns and if things are gonna get better than the pass-catch combo of QB Justin Worley-to-WR Marquez North must get their act cranked up here against a dangerous Utah State squad that welcomes back QB Chuckie Keeton who suffered the 2013 season-ending knee injury last October 4th.
Keeton’s dual-threat abilities makes these underdog Aggies a real pain to play but can Utah State spring the upset— an upset a whole lot of folks are predicting this weekend— if Tennessee keeps Keeton exclusively in the pocket here?

Spread Notes — Tennessee is 4-8 ATS (against the spread) at home the past two years and that includes pointspread setbacks against non-SEC foes Akron, Troy and South Alabama. Note the Vols also are 13-20 ATS overall since the start of the 2011 campaign. Utah State, meanwhile, is 31-16-2 versus the vig as underdog sides since the start of the 2007 season.

SMU at #10 BAYLOR— 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox 1
It’s the dawn of a new era at Baylor— no, seventh-year head coach Art Briles is back with that ever-dynamic pass-first offense— but the opening of the spanking-new McLane Stadium along the Brazos River is ready for a really grand opening and you don’t think Briles and Company will disappoint the hearty Bears fan, do you?

Baylor is a hefty betting fav for this clash and QB Bryce Petty— our "Jim Sez" choice to finish third in this year’s Heisman Trophy race— would like to better last year’s silly stats that included 4,200 yards passing, 32 touchdown passes and only 3 interceptions.

If SMU doesn’t cover downfield than Petty might well surpass Texas A&M’s Kenny Hill (511 yards passing against aforementioned South Carolina) single-game mark this young season while heading into the weekend… and he might do it by mid-third quarter, to boot!

Spread Notes — Baylor’s 25-11 ATS overall the past three seasons and did you know the Bears are a collective 16-1 ATS at home since the start of the 2011 season? Meanwhile, SMU— a 33-point underdog at last glance— has failed to cover its season-opening game the past three years in a row and the Ponies are 6-10 ATS in non-league affairs the past four years.

NFL NEWS & NOTES
In case you were wondering, NFL Preseason Betting Favorites wound up going 27-32-4 with two pick ‘em games for a .458 winning rate— while “over” players took a major summertime bath with a 24-40-1 spread mark (that’s a .375 winning percentage)…

Always like to see “what we learned” in a summer filled with NFL Preseason games and one thing we did learn was it sure was important for Minnesota Vikings’ first-year head coach Mike Zimmer to establish a winning feel to his organization as Minny won all four of its preseason games— now we’ll see if that translates to the regular season and right away the Vikes “catch a break” as they’re at the Sam Bradford-less St. Louis Rams next Sunday for Week 1 action…

Also learned that you can talk all you want about how “competition” makes players better but do you really think either QB Brian Hoyer or rookie Johnny Manziel looked great this summer while “fighting” for the team’s starting signal-caller spot? Maybe it would have been wiser for the Browns to say the competition was “wide open” because maybe neither Hoyer nor Manziel would have been able to lay claim to the starting spot. Ugh…

Finally, do Dallas Cowboys have any reason to feel encouraged by this upcoming regular season?

Not only did Jason Garrett’s club lose all four of his exhibition games— and by a total of 56 points (or by 14 ppg)— but you would be hard-pressed to find any area of strength and we will say the tackling was every bit as bad as last year when the ‘Boys were among the NFL’s worst defensive sides.
Now you know why Dallas’ over/under wins total for the year is 7 ½ and you have to lay -200 if you wish to wager the “under”!

NOTE: More College Football in the next Jim Sez including Monday Night’s ACC bash between Miami at Louisville plus there’s NFL News/Notes too.

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