Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, October 3, 2014 at 12:40 PM
Lots to get to in today’s Jim Sez football column and we’ll begin with a trio of NCAA Football Previews/Forecasts and we’ll follow them up with some NFL Week 5 goodies.
First, a quickie house-keeping item here as NCAA Football Betting Favorites enter this brand new week/weekend with a pointspread record of 107-117-5 for a .478 winning rate. Note that last year at this very time the NCAA Betting Favorites were hitting ‘em at a .530 winning rate, so the dogs have really turned the beat around.
Note that last week’s chalk sides cranked out a 23-27-2 spread mark overall – a .460 winning rate. Just thought you’d like to know that!
On Friday, it’s …
LOUISVILLE (4-1, 2-1 ACC) at SYRACUSE (2-2, 0-0 ACC) – 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
What’s the lesser of two evils here?
The fact that Louisville likely must start freshman QB Reggie Bonnafon (30-of-52 passing for 357 yards and 0 INTs this year) for an injured Will Gardner here or that Syracuse is coming off a disjointed 31-15 loss to Notre Dame and may have left lots of emotions on that MetLife Stadium field last Saturday night?
The Orange failed to take advantage of those multiple Irish turnovers (Notre Dame QB Everett Golson was responsible for 4 turnovers by himself!) as Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt scored his team’s lone offensive touchdown on the night via a seven-yard scoot and now Hunt and Company must improve that shoddy 3-of-15 third-down conversion rate here … or else.
Spread Notes –Since 2005, the Syracuse Orange has covered six-of-eight head-to-head pointspread verdicts against Louisville.
Note that the ESPN Friday Night “night-cap” is Utah State at BYU – the host Cougars are 4-0 SU (straight-up) with two wins already against “Power 5” conference teams (beat Texas 41-7 and topped Virginia 41-33) and take a look at BYU’s sked and you might start to think it could be a College Football Playoff (CFB) “buster” here in 2014.
On Saturday, it’s …
#4 OKLAHOMA (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) at #25 TCU (3-0, 0-0 Big 12) – 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox
Here’s the facts, folks: Oklahoma enters this conference clash in Fort Worth averaging a haughty 44.8 points per game thus far while the TCU Horned Frogs are tops among Big 12 defenses while surrendering a per-game average of just 218.7 yards.
In the something’s-got-to-give department, it would appear that Oklahoma’s many weapons including freshman star RB Samaje Perine (242 yards rushing in that 45-33 win/cover at West Virginia two weeks ago) will be too much for the Froggies but remember that TCU has some ammo of its own with veteran QB Trevone Boykin (858 yards passing with 8 TDs and 1 INT) heading up a greatly improved aerial attack for Gary Patterson’s gang.
Spread Notes – Oklahoma’s covered its last three consecutive games after that season-opening non-cover triumph over Louisiana Tech. The OU Sooners are just 16-15 versus the vig as betting favorites while dating back to the middle of 2011. TCU, meanwhile, is a perfect 3-and-oh against the Las Vegas prices this year but the Horned Frogs are just 7-11 ATS at home the past three-plus seasons.
P.S., this is one of six matchups pitting Top 25 teams against one another … now here’s a look at an under-the-lights Top 25 bash from the Big 10.
#19 NEBRASKA (5-0, 1-0 Big 10) at #10 MICHIGAN STATE (3-1, 0-0 Big 10) – 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Okay, so we know it’s early but you might want to reserve a spot at this year’s Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York City for Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah – that’s if he can conquer the Michigan State defense that allowed 46 points to Oregon back on Sept. 6th and a combined total of 35 points in Sparty’s other three games.
Last week Abdullah rushed for 190 of his 208 yards in the first half against Illinois (he also finished with three TDs) – can he find the creases in M-State’s defense here or are the TD-plus favored Spartans gonna make Big Red throw the ball in order to snag this Big 10 upset in East Lansing?
One note on Michigan State’s offense:
The Spartans are averaging 45.4 ppg so far – the most through four games by any State team in its storied gridiron history. So there!
Spread Notes – Michigan State is a snazzy 13-5-1 against the odds while dating back to late in the 2012 season and note Sparty has notched covers in three of its first four games this year. Nebraska is 4-1 vig-wise to start off the 2014 season and Big Red is 5-1 ATS away since the start of last year.
NFL WEEK 5 PREVIEWS
On Sunday, it’s …
HOUSTON (3-1) at DALLAS (3-1) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS
How ‘bout them Cowboys is right! Okay, so America’s Team was supposed to be amongst the dregs of the NFL this year – the Las Vegas folks had dropped Dallas to 7.5 wins minus 160 right on the eve of s here-and-now season – and yet one-quarter through the 2014 campaign here’s a team with wins at Tennessee, at St. Louis and home to New Orleans and getting “all the action” on the wagering board this week as the Cowboys are up to a 5 ½-point favorite at press time!
No doubt the real shockeroo is that Dallas leads the NFL in rushing (165 ypg) as RB DeMarco Murray (a league-leading 534 rushing yards and 5.4 ypc average) and this O-line have been brilliant and now we’ll see if the visiting Texans (only ranked 23rd in the NFL in rushing defense) can slow down Murray and mates here.
Still, if there’s an X-factor at work than it’s what can Houston expect from RB Arian Foster who was a DNP two weeks ago in the 30-17 loss at the New York Giants and then last week contributed a miniscule six yards rushing on 8 carries in the 23-17 win/cover against Buffalo. Yes, we’d expect to see lots of Foster if he’s healthy but otherwise much will fall onto the shoulder pads of up-and-down QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (268 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs last Sunday).
Spread Notes – Dallas is shooting for a fourth consecutive pointspread win following ATS triumphs against the Titans, Rams and Saints. Note the Cowboys are an ugly 10-26-1 ATS as favorites since the start of 2010. Houston is 4-9 spreadwise away overall since late in the 2012 season.
ARIZONA (3-0) at DENVER (2-1) – 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox
The Broncos got their bye between tough games versus NFC West squads – and now we’ll see if QB Peyton Manning (814 yards passing) and Company can finish the job it couldn’t finish in that recent 26-20 OT loss in Seattle.
Hey, we know that Denver never got the ball in that extra session – Manning should have called “heads”, right? – but one major change we expect here is for the Broncos to not be so darn conservative on those third-and-long plays. Maybe John Fox’s crew showed too much respect for the Seahawks’ defense in that Week 3 clash but now Manning must prove he’s unafraid of challenging this hyped Arizona secondary starring CBs Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie.
The conversation on the other side of the ball continues with ‘Zona playing career backup Drew Stanton – yes, Carson Palmer is claiming his neck is feeling better but look for Stanton (244 yards passing and two scoring strikes to speedy WR John Brown in that Week 3 comeback win against San Francisco) to get the nod here and we’d like to see more magic between Stanton and WR Larry Fitzgerald who only has 10 receptions through the team’s first three games.
Spread Notes – Denver is winless in three pointspread tries so far this year and the Broncos are now 12-8-1 ATS at home since the Manning Era started in 2012. Arizona, meanwhile, is now 12-6-1 in the Bruce Arians Era that started last year and did you know the Redbirds are 15-7-1 ATS as underdogs the past two-plus seasons?
Note: Get more NFL Week 5 Previews in the next Jim Sez.