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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 9:15 AM


Let’s face it ...College Football fans have been blessed with a slew of Top 25 matchups the past couple of weeks and now you turn around and there are five - count ‘em, five - showdowns this Saturday pitting Top 25 teams against one another but only one of those games is getting marquee coast-to-coast attention ...

Welcome to all the hub-bub regarding #5 Notre Dame at #2 Florida State - now it’s gonna be our turn here at Jim Sez to chuck in our two cents’ worth on this prime-time Saturday night battle. We shall get to Notre Dame vs. Florida State in a moment but let’s start off our plethora of previews with tonight’s TV action:

On this Thursday Night, it’s ...
VIRGINIA TECH (4-2, 1-1 ACC) at PITTSBURGH (3-3, 1-1 ACC) - 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

This one boils downs to two things: Will V-Tech QB Michael Brewer (10 TDs and 11 INTs) make the big throws ... or the bad decisions as he’s been prone to both in this rather spotty start for the Hokies who are looking for their third straight win after suffering back-to-back defeats to East Carolina and Georgia Tech.

And will Pittsburgh’s sledgehammer RB James Conner (874 yards rushing, a 5.6 yards per carry average and 9 TDs) batter the Tech front wall here or will the Panthers’ recent O-line problems cause him to get bottled up?

Spread Notes - Pittsburgh’s a dead-even but vig-losing 14-14-1 ATS (against the spread) under third-year head coach Paul Chryst. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech is 8-15-1 ATS away the past three-plus seasons but note the Hokies have covered both away games this year at Ohio State and North Carolina.

#20 UTAH (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) at OREGON STATE (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) - 10 p.m. ET, Fox 1 Sports
The Utah Utes moved up four spots in this week’s Associated Press poll - and they didn’t even play a game last weekend!

Kyle Whittingham’s crew - coming off that 30-28 upset at two-TD favorite UCLA on Oct. 4 - had a bye last weekend and still climbed to the #20 spot in the polls and it’s really starting to look like a special season for this club that’s gone on the road to beat Michigan and the Uclans and don’t forget that RB Devontae Booker currently ranks fifth in the Pac-12 with 102.6 yards rushing per game this year and he’s piled up 334 rushing yards in his last two outings.

The Oregon State hopes hinge on slowing down Booker - the Beavers, remember, have yielded a conference-worst 11 rushing TDs - and getting veteran QB Sean Mannion heated up. The senior slinger threw for 443 yards and five touchdowns in last year’s 51-48 OT upset win in Salt Lake City.

Spread Notes - Oregon State is just 1-3-1 versus the vig so far in this 2014 campaign but did you know the Beavers are 38-25-2 ATS in conference play since the start of the 2007 season? Utah has covered four of its first five games out of the chute this season and the Utes are 11-18 spreadwise the past three-plus years in Pac-12 play.

On Friday, it’s ...
FRESNO STATE (3-4, 2-1 MWC) at BOISE STATE (4-2, 2-1 MWC) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

There’s a long way to go in this Mountain West Conference season and - right now - both Fresno State and Boise State are looking up at their respective divisional leaders but either one of these teams could take charge of matters with a prime-time win here:

The layout for Boise State here is simple: Make sure RB Jay Ayayi (709 yards rushing, 5.0 ypc and 8 TDs) gets his mitts on the ball at least 25 times - ‘cause QB Grant Headrick (10 INTs, 7 TDs) has been a general menace to his own club for the better part of the season’s first six games with a batch of really bad tosses.

Meanwhile, Fresno State - coming off last Friday’s 30-27 OT loss at UNLV - simply can’t be digging itself such a big hole as the Bulldogs had to roar back from a 17-0 halftime deficit last week and then failed to convert in the extra session.

Fresno State QB Brian Burrell (25-of-44 for 310 yards passing with 3 TDs and 2 INTs a week ago) has run hot-and-cold all year long - can he shine against a Boise State team that’s allowed 35 and 46 points in games against Ole Miss and Nevada?

Spread Note - Boise State has covered four of its first six games this season and overall the Broncos are a sub-par 18-20 ATS as betting favorites since the start of the 2011 season. Fresno State’s 3-4 ATS so far in this ’14 season but the Bulldogs are a respectable 14-10-1 ATS in their last 25 away games.

Important Note:
My handicappers and bloggers have everything all scoped out and you can get the NFL Week 7 winners beginning with tonight’s game between the New York Jets at the New England Patriots when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network (click here for my special 5-day Gold Key Weekend Package) and then keep rollin’ in the green all week/weekend long with all the NCAA Football, the NFL and the on-going MLB Playoffs.
Check with us on game days either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - make this an October to remember!

Hey, we saved the best for last as here’s the marquee matchup on this weekend’s college menu. On Saturday, it’s ...

#5 NOTRE DAME (6-0) at #2 FLORIDA STATE (6-0) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Sound the alarms ... Notre Dame football is officially back. Okay, so the Fighting Irish did play in the BCS Championship Game in the 2012 season but last year’s 9-4 SU (straight-up) mark pretty much pushed Notre Dame from any title conversations.

And if recent history is any sort of barometer, it’s not as if the Irish should be taken all that seriously here as Notre Dame’s lost eight consecutive games to top five teams and the Irish is a sickly 1-16 SU against top 5 teams since 1999.

What has the South Bend folks thinking upset here is this: Florida State QB Jameis Winston - who is expected to play despite all the new swirling controversies regarding a 2012 sexual assault charge and his recent memorabilia pay scandal -- could finally get distracted by all the mess (all of which is his creation) and let’s see if a Notre Dame defense that ranks a middling 61st nationally against the pass (allowing 238 yards a game) can slow down last year’s Heisman Trophy winner.

Right at this moment the good folks in Las Vegas have taken down the line for this game based on the question of whether or not Winston will play here ... but you’ll soon see a price reflective of him being in the lineup.

Also, keep in mind the Seminoles have scored in 28-of-29 red-zone trips and Winston’s thrown for 1,605 yards with 11 TDs and 5 INTs on the year and remember that he missed the thrilling 23-17 OT win against Clemson with a one-game suspension.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame QB Everett Golson - who has won 16 of his last 17 starts dating back to 2012 - has thrown 16 TDs and 4 INTs this year but it’s been that more-than-occasional turnover that has been unsettling for the Irish (see four-turnover game against Syracuse on Sept. 27th).

Spread Notes - Florida State is a wobbly 1-5 against the odds so far this season after going a spiffy 10-3 ATS in last year’s championship campaign. Note that the ‘Noles are 9-5 spreadwise at home the past two-plus seasons. On the flip side, Notre Dame has notched pointspread wins in four of its first six games this year and the Fighting Irish own a solid 10-6 spread mark as pups under fifth-year head coach Brian Kelly.

NOTE: Lots more NCAA and NFL Week 7 Previews ahead in the next Jim Sez column. We’ll preview all of the other College Football Top 25 matchups - that’s #21 Texas A&M at #7 Alabama, #14 Kansas State at #11 Oklahoma, #15 Oklahoma State at #12 TCU and #23 Stanford at #17 Arizona State - so don’t miss out!

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