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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 1:00 PM

THE JIM SEZ WEEDKDAY UPDATE
ROLLS ON WITH MORE BOWL GAME PREVIEWS
AS WE TACKLE 11 DECEMBER TILTS …
PLUS NFL WEEK 15 KEY TOPICS/PREVIEWS

Okay, so in yesterday’s edition of Jim Sez we informed you good folks that College Football Betting Favorites – through some 700–plus on–the–board games this year while entering this Saturday’s Army–Navy game – have won just 48.4 percent of the time and we let you know that’s a little sub–par for chalk sides as the Favs. vs Dogs usually is right around the 50 percent mark for both categories.

But what about the guys in the league where they play for pay?

Well, while heading into the Thursday Night Football game between the Arizona Cardinals at the St. Louis Rams we discovered that NFL Betting Favorites thus far are 99–103–3 with 3 pick ‘em games – and that comes to a .490 winning rate for the chalk sides.

P.S., consider at this very time a year ago the NFL Betting Favorites were knocking ‘em off at a .533 winning rate, so, again, the dogs have barked loudly on the NFL scene just as they’ve done with the College kids.

What strikes us here is that according to many of the so–called experts out there in NFL–land, this has been a topsy–turvy year with a slew of alleged Super Bowl contender teams struggling versus the vig as Denver, Pittsburgh and San Diego are all 6–7 against the Las Vegas prices this year while San Francisco is 5–7–1 spreadwise with New Orleans at 5–8.

If you hitched your proverbial wagons to any/all of these above–named “powerhouses” then you’re in the dumpster, right?

My handicappers and bloggers have everything all mapped out and you can get the upcoming College Football Bowl Games plus Saturday’s Army–Navy tilt and also all the NFL Week 15 games too beginning with tonight’s bash between the Cardinals at the Rams when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network – make sure you’re all aboard for the week/weekend action online here at www.jimhurley.com or at our toll–free telephone # of 1–800–323–4453.

Plus don’t forget all the daily/nightly action on the hardwood as there’s NBA and NCAA Hoops action all winter long right here with Jim Hurley!

COLLEGE BOWLS –
Editor’s Note: We will be posting our Jim Sez quick–hitter comments on all 38 Bowl Games.
In yesterday’s column space we banged out the first 10 Bowl Games from Dec. 20th–thru–Dec. 24th and here today we take a look at the 11 bowl games being played Friday, Dec. 26st thru Monday, Dec. 29th:
We will continue with the overall Bowl Game glances next week and – as all the games draw nearer – we’ll have complete analyses/forecasts, so stay with us right throughout the holiday season for all the College Bowl action and all the College Football Playoff News/Notes:

FRIDAY, DEC. 26

HEART OF DALLAS BOWL
Cotton Bowl –– at Dallas, TX
ILLINOIS (6–6) vs. LOUISIANA TECH (8–5) – 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
If you want to know why a non–power conference team is favored by 5 ½ points over a Big 10 team than know this:
Louisiana Tech averages 37.5 points per game (that’s 13th–best in the country) while Illinois yields nearly 34 ppg (that’s 107th in the land out of 128 FBS teams) and the Illini’s biggest win this year was a Homecoming Day triumph over Minnesota. Big deal!

QUICK LANE BOWL
Ford Field – at Detroit, MI
RUTGERS (7–5) vs. NORTH CAROLINA (6–6) – 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Ninth bowl game in 10 years here for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights who were plastered by the very best of the Big 10 much of this 2014 season but here Kyle Flood’s crew is a mere FG underdog and the QB Gary Nova (2,667 yards passing with 20 TDs)–to–WR Leonte Carroo (1,043 yards receiving and 10 scores) connection gives ‘em a great shot at the mild upset in Motor City. Hope the Carolina kids didn’t bring their spray paint!

ST. PETERSBURG BOWL
Tropicana Field – at St. Petersburg, FL
N.C. STATE (7–5) vs. UCF (9–3) – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Maybe more folks will come out for this game than they do for Tampa Bay Rays home games … zing!
No question that UCF peaked at year’s end with four consecutive pointspread “W’s” closing out regular–season play and watch for WRs Breshad Perriman and J.J. Worton – they combined for 1,420 receiving yards and 14 TDs for the Knights – as they could bust an N.C. State defense that surrendered 56 points on two different occasions this season.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 27

MILITARY BOWL
Navy–Marine Corps Stadium – at Annapolis, MD
CINCINNATI (9–3) vs. VIRGINIA TECH (6–6) – 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
Will this wind up being the swan song game for V–Tech head coach Frank Beamer?
Truth is the Hokies are just 4–6 SU (straight–up) in their last 10 bowls overall and this weakling 2014 squad sported a top 20 defense (allowed 20.4 ppg) but very little else while Cincy rolls into this not–so–neutral setting with a 6–0–1 ATS (against the spread) mark in its final seven regular–season games.

SUN BOWL
Sun Bowl Stadium – at El Paso, TX
#15 ARIZONA STATE (9–3) vs. DUKE (9–3) – 2 p.m. ET, CBS
Maybe the best of the pre–New Year Eve bowls as both of these teams were – in reality – just one win/loss away from getting a January bowl berth and major question mark here is will Arizona State head coach Todd Graham switch back–and–forth with QBs Taylor Kelly and Mike Bercovici (12 TDs and 4 INTs) or will he let Kelly (20 TDs and 5 INTs) “call the shots” for this whole game?
Duke WR Jamison Crowder (78 receptions for 942 yards) closes out a brilliant college career – don’t be surprised if he’s a 10–to–12–catch guy here with some key punt bring–backs here too.

INDEPENDENCE BOWL
Independence Stadium – at Shreveport, LA
MIAMI (6–6) vs. SOUTH CAROLINA (6–6) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC or espn2
Fun matchup in Cajun Country where “ole ball coach” Steve Spurrier gets to duke it out with the Miami Hurricanes – remember that Miami vs. Florida (Spurrier’s old stomping ground) didn’t take place all that often in the Spurrier years so better late than never, right?
The SC Gamecocks were one of the country’s major disappointments this season – the SEC East crew lost outright as favorites against Texas A&M, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee – while Miami really fell apart after that well–documented meltdown loss to Florida State.
Will Miami RB Duke Johnson (1,520 yards rushing, a 7.0 ypc average and 10 TDs) take total control of this bowl bash?

PINSTRIPE BOWL
Yankee Stadium – The Bronx, NY
BOSTON COLLEGE (7–5) vs. PENN STATE (6–6) – 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Two one–time/long–time Eastern powers battle it out at The House that Jeter Built but these clubs ain’t what they used to be as Penn State’s six–loss season is the club’s worst since the 4–7 SU campaign back in 2004 while the BC Eagles have thrill–a–minute QB Tyler Murphy (1,526 yards passing and 1,079 yards rushing) running the show but did you realize the New England team hasn’t won a bowl game since 2007 … remember the Jeff Jagodzinski Era?

HOLIDAY BOWL
Qualcomm Stadium – San Diego, CA
NEBRASKA (9–3) vs. #24 USC (8–5) – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Marquee matchup at “The Q” but Bo Pelini won’t be around to coach it as Big Red axed the oft–controversial figure following day–after–Thanksgiving OT win at Iowa (assistant Barney Cotton will serve as the coach before Mike Riley and staff rolls into Lincoln) and count us as surprised that “totals” price is just 61 points right now ‘cause Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah (1,523 yards rushing and 18 TDs) is one–man wrecking ball while USC wide–out Nelson Agholor (97 receptions and 11 TDs) could go off at a moment’s notice.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 29

LIBERTY BOWL
Liberty Bowl – at Memphis, TN
TEXAS A&M (7–5) vs. WEST VIRGINIA (7–5) – 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
There were a few FBS teams that took major nosedives this year (see Notre Dame, Miami and Ole Miss) as the back half of their year weren’t quite as shiny as the first half–dozen games but what about the A&M Aggies who actually failed to cover seven of their final eight regular–season games and had QB Kenny Hill Jr. go from a Heisman Trophy candidate to a backup?
Maybe West Virginia WR Kevin White (102 receptions for 1,318 yards) will bust this game open with his YAC (yards after catch) jaunts.

RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL
Florida Citrus Bowl – at Orlando, FL
OKLAHOMA (8–4) vs. #17 CLEMSON (9–3) – 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Stay tuned to see if Oklahoma star frosh RB Samaje Perine (FBS–record 427 yards rushing versus Kansas this year) gets green–lighted for this bash after suffering game–ending injury against Oklahoma State last week – otherwise this has been bum year (again) for Sooners head coach Bob Stoops and Co. while Clemson claims kid QB Deshaun Watson will play here despite what could be a torn ACL. No doubt the Tigers are geeked when Watson’s in the lineup; not so geeked when Cole Stoudt is at the helm.

TEXAS BOWL
NRG Stadium – at Houston, TX
ARKANSAS (6–6) vs. TEXAS (6–6) – 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
One of college football’s great rivalries from yesteryear is renewed here in the Lone Star State and hats off to both Hogs boss Brett Bielema and Longhorns’ first–year coach Charlie Strong for not allowing their respective squads to “give up” on the season.
Texas is a 5–point dog at press time but the ‘Horns can win here if QB Tyrone Swoopes (2,352 yards passing and another 294 yards rushing) makes magic happen on third down while Arkansas – 99th nationally in passing offense – isn’t great at coming from behind and so RBs Jonathan Williams (1,085 yards rushing) and Alex Collins (1,024 yards rushing) must be chain–movers against gang–tackling Texas “D”.

NFL WEEK 15 KEY TOPICS/PREVIEWS
The mess in/around the Washington Redskins could wind up having a real domino effect come this off–season – consider that the ‘Skins likely will make every effort possible to deal off on–again/off–again starting QB Robert Griffin III (it’s possible they’ll find a match with the Buffalo Bills or Tennessee Titans) and we might even see another case next spring where Washington trades up – if it needs to – to the very top of the NFL Draft in order to land Oregon QB Marcus Mariota.

Wonder what that’ll cost Washington in terms of future draft picks? …

No doubt there’s turmoil around teams that are staggering to the finish line this year but no place is worse now than the San Francisco 49ers. Not only is soon–to–be–gone head coach Jim Harbaugh worn down – did you see his presser following last weekend’s 24–13 loss at 8 ½–point dog Oakland? – but QB Colin Kaepernick isn’t exactly holding things together with a batch of screaming matches with friends/foes alike.
This appears to be a meltdown of epic proportions for the Niners and so all the more salutes to teams such as the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons who never did “tune out” their respective head coaches …

What QB is most on the hot seat in these NFL Week 15 games?
It’s not new Cleveland Browns starter Johnny Manziel but rather Philadelphia Eagles slinger Mark Sanchez who could get yanked in Sunday Night’s game against Dallas should he falter early on – the Nick Foles Era may be back providing that broken collarbone has healed.

Here’s a couple of NFL Week 15 games we’ll be tracking this Sunday …

GREEN BAY (10–3) at BUFFALO (7–6) – 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Gotta believe that the GB Packers have lots of folks angry with them for not covering Monday Night’s 43–37 win against 13 ½–point pup Atlanta – after all, the Pack nearly frittered away a 31–7 halftime advantage and so now QB Aaron Rodgers (35 TDs) looks to keep the pedal to the floor here against a Bills’ bunch that’s surrendered 20 points or less on seven different occasions.

Hey, the Green Bay O–line has been brilliant this year while giving Rodgers oodles of time but will he have a “clean pocket” all the time here while facing Buffalo’s Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes and Marcell Dareus who’ve combined for 31.5 sacks?

SAN FRANCISCO (7–6) at SEATTLE (9–4) – 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Now that the Seattle Seahawks have regained their Super Bowl form with these back–to–back–to–back wipeout wins against Arizona/San Fran/Philadelphia the past three weeks, you get the sense that Pete Carroll’s squad – once again – is the “team to beat” in the NFC even if there’s all sorts of love–fests going on for the Green Bay Packers.

If the ‘Hawks are gonna put the brooms to the hated Niners here, than it’s the usual suspects that must shine and that’s Seattle CB Richard Sherman shutting down buddy WR Michael Crabtree but don’t overlook these born–again Seattle wide outs who made some big plays in last week’s 24–14 win at Philly – how about five catches for 97 yards and one TD for Doug Baldwin!

NOTE: There’s NFL Week 15 Game Previews plus this weekend’s Army vs. Navy preview and our final Heisman Trophy Watch List column in the next edition of Jim Sez!

 

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