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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 26, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Network 3-1 Overall on Thursday Night winning with Giants and the OVER in the pros, and splitting in college, winning with UCLA crushing ASU, and just missing with OSU against Texas Tech.

WE ROCK-N-ROLL THROUGH A BATCH OF KEY SATURDAY MATCHUPS AND ASK ABOUT THE “HOT SEAT” AT MICHIGAN

We’re winding down the month of September but even we gotta admit there’s some strange things when you look at this weekend’s NCAA Football menu:

There’s only 16 teams among the current Associated Press Top 25 in action here (okay, so #24 Oklahoma State, #11 UCLA and #15 Arizona State have games to play tonight) and there are no head-to-head Top 25 games at all and so that means that’s lots of good/competitive games on this docket but no one blockbuster tilt on the menu.

What you also have this weekend is the continuing “hot seat” drama involving Michigan head coach Brady Hoke who – we must say – appeared a bit lost in an earlier-week presser in which he spent many moments fending off the array of media second-guessers who are wondering why the maize-and-blue is just 2-2 SU (straight-up) so far this year and truly anemic when playing big-time teams (see zero points versus Notre Dame in a 31-0 loss and then last week’s 26-10 home loss to Utah).
Now, Hoke and Company are prohibitive favorites for Saturday’s home game against Little Brown Jug rival Minnesota – note the Las Vegas spread opened at 8 points and the Wolverines have shot up to be a 12-point choice at last check – and if Michigan somehow was to lose this game to the Golden Gophers, all hell is bound to break loose in Ann Arbor where in-the-loop folks want Hoke gone even before Year Four is completed and the hot names we’re hearing include time-tested winners elsewhere such as TCU’s Gary Patterson and BYU’s Bronco Mendenhall.

Let’s just say that a .500-type season and a minor bowl game in the Texas Bowl (for example) ain’t gonna cut it for Hoke who these days is battling with his own coordinators and unsure how to proceed with his troubled quarterback position. It’s a mess for Big Blue.

Jim Hurley’s Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to torch Las Vegas and the off-shore books with loads of NFL and NCAA Football winners this week and that includes a daily dose of pigskin on Friday night, with Middle Tennessee State at Old Dominion (8 p.m. ET on Fox 1) and Fresno State at New Mexico (8 p.m. ET on ESPN). Then it’s a full Saturday card (see top games below) and the pros are back at it come Sunday with the New Orleans at Dallas prime-time game sure to be among our selections this weekend. Check with the Jim Hurley Network right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 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 days away now with wild card games slated for Tuesday/Wednesday!

NCAA PREVIEWS

On Saturday, it’s |
#7 BAYLOR (3-0, 0-0 Big 12) at IOWA STATE (1-2, 0-1 Big 12) – 8:20 p.m. ET, Fox

Maybe you wish to scoff at the competition so far as the Baylor Bears have beaten the likes of SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo by a composite score of 178-to-27 but here’s now the fourth straight season-opening game in which Art Briles’ club is at least a three-touchdown betting favorite and note Baylor’s bringing back some injured wide outs including Antwan Goodley who led last year’s Fiesta Bowl team in receptions with 71 catches worth 1,339 yards and 13 TDs.

If the now-15 day break between games did anything for Baylor, it healed ‘em up on offense where QB Bryce Petty is getting closer to 100 percent after having two cracked bones in his back on opening day.

If Iowa State is gonna deliver the shockeroo upset here – and note the Cyclones barely fell short to 12-point fav Kansas State 32-28 back on Sept. 6th and then did win as 13 ½-point pups at Iowa on Sept. 13th – then PK Cole Netten might have to bag a whole bunch of field goals here!

Spread Note – Baylor has charged out of the starting gate with a 3-0 ATS (against the spread) mark this year and overall the Bears are 28-11 versus the vig since the start of the 2011 campaign.

TENNESSEE (2-1, 0-0 SEC) at #12 GEORGIA (2-1, 0-1 SEC 12) – 12 p.m. ESPN
The Georgia Dawgs should have only one real strategy for this SEC clash between the hedges: Get the ball to superstar RB Todd Gurley as often as possible – how about 25-to-30 carries and another 4 or 5 pass receptions as a bare minimum! – and then see where the proverbial chips fall

No doubt that Georgia head coach Mark Richt heard plenty about not getting the ball to Gurley in that goal-line area series against South Carolina two weeks ago but that won’t be a “talking point” here. Note the Vols have a banged-up wide receiver corps and so here extra attention must be paid to Tennessee’s starry soph WR Marquez North (14 catches for 173 yards and two TDs this year).

Spread Note – Georgia has failed to cover six of its last eight head-to-head pointspread verdicts against Tennessee.

MISSOURI (3-1, 0-0 SEC) at #13 SOUTH CAROLINA (3-1, 2-1 SEC) – 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Turn back the clock to a year ago and you’ll recall the Missouri Tigers were flying high at 7-0 SU and in serious contention for the BCS championship game but a twin-OT home loss to South Carolina crushed those elite dreams  -- and don’t forget that the Gamecocks came back from a late-game 17-point deficit to snag the 27-24 victory.

Now, Steve Spurrier’s club – already playing here its fourth league game of the season (say what!) – hope to string together a fourth straight win following that 52-28 season-starting home loss to Texas A&M and it’ll be up to QB Dylan Thompson (22-of-34 for 237 yards passing and 3 TDs in last week’s 48-34 non-cover win at 21 ½-point pup Vanderbilt) who must steer the ship against a Missouri defense that’s allowed just 20.8 ppg this year but simply did not make the big stand in last week’s 31-27 loss to two-TD dog Indiana.

Can QB Maty Mauk and the Tigers now gain a little revenge after last year’s collapse against Carolina? Stay tuned.

Spread Note – South Carolina is just 4-8 vig-wise as betting favorites since the start of last year and that includes pointspread setbacks as the chalk this year against Texas A&M, East Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Meanwhile, in keeping with our season-long pointspread stats, here’s what the NCAA Football Favorites vs. Underdogs categories look like the first four weeks of play:

NCAA FOOTBALL 2013

WEEK #

FAVS

PCT

#1

20-18-0

.526

#2

19-25-0

.432

#3

22-25-2

.468

#4

24-21-1

.533

Total

85-89-3

.489

In other NCAA News & Notes …

Hey, we talked about the Top 25 in today’s Jim Sez but what about the fact that the likes of Virginia Tech, Michigan, Texas, Clemson, Miami, Louisville and Penn State are all NOT Top 25 teams as we write this mid-week column. Hmmm …

Finally, when you begin to think – and yes, we know it’s early – about possible Coach of the Year candidates, do not overlook East Carolina’s Ruffin McNeill who has his Pirates at 3-1 (and ranked #23 in the latest AP poll).

McNeill has a high-flying offense starring QB Shane Carden and one of the most exciting players in the land in WR Justin Hardy. IF ECU is the “playoff-buster” out there among non-Power 5 conference teams, than they’re liable to build a statue of McNeill by New Year’s Day!

NOTE: Plenty of NCAA/NFL Previews and Notes in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez.

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