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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 7:00 AM

We begin our 2014-15 college football bowl previews in the Big Easy as this Saturday’s New Orleans Bowl between Nevada and Louisiana Lafayette gets the parade started. Tomorrow will take a look at the New Mexico Bowl, with the Las Vegas Bowl preview running later in the week.

We won’t be able to cover each and every game because important NFL action will still be very much in the mix. But, you will definitely get a big taste of the bowl experience on these pages from now through the National Championship game in January.

Our standard indicator stats from JIM HURLEY will be in play. All numbers are from publicly available sites, including the strength of schedule rankings from Jeff Sagarin at USA Today. Our in-house data is proprietary, and must stay under wraps as we continue to help NETWORK clients find BIG, JUICY WINNERS!


Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)

Nevada: 7-5 (#75 schedule in USA Today)

La-Lafayette: 8-4 (#119 schedule in USA Today)

Lafayette had the better record, but against the much easier schedule. Clearly if you flip schedules, Nevada is going to win more games. The trick in this bowl is determining how much home field advantage you give Louisiana-Lafayette. They’ll definitely have home crowd, and limited travel. Nevada could fall prey to the party atmosphere rather than keeping its eye on the ball. And, we have a bad body clock game here as well with the game starting so early in the day for a team from the Mountain West.



Nevada: 5.5 on offense, 5.9 on defense

La-Lafayette: 5.9 on offense, 6.0 on defense

Nevada had the worse differentia against the tougher schedule. Once again, if you flip schedules, It probably sends the Wolfpack up to near even while Lafayette falls further off the pace. Neither defense was particularly good by college standards, which could matter indoors on a fast track. Will the offenses be awake for this early Saturday kick?!


Turnover Differential

Nevada: +11

La-Lafayette: +3

Huge advantage for Nevada against the tougher schedule. That difference was keyed by their defense. The Wolfpack had 26 takeaways compared to just 16 for Lafayette. That could prove to be important because Lafayette’s passive defense isn’t a good for dome football. Ask the New Orleans Saints about that! Some handicappers believe that turnovers are mostly due to luck. Our studies show that is NOT the case. It’s about defensive pressure on defense and execution on offense. Edge here to Nevada. Is it enough of an edge to counteract the site and body clock?


Market Performance

Nevada: 7-5

La-Lafayette: 6-5-1

Both teams were slightly underrated by the markets this season. Neither made a fortune for their backers, but they were value teams. No edge to speak of here in terms of oddsmakers being out of synch or misreading one team or the other.


Current Line: Louisiana Lafayette by 1, total of 60

The line opened at Nevada -3 because the raw stats showed them being the better team on a neutral field once you accounted for strength of schedule. Situational sharps jumped in quickly because of the potential home crowd value for Lafayette and the other issues we discussed earlier. The line did finally stop moving at Lafayette -1. So, bandwagon support was about “getting points” rather than “winning big.” Nevada is still seen as the better team in neutral conditions. Early sharps decided these weren’t neutral conditions.

JIM HURLEY will be working with his scouts, his sources, his statheads, his computer programmers, and his Wise Guy connections all through the bowl season to make sure his clients get the best side and total options. Some of the biggest pointspread winners every year come in these lower profile early bowls. The New Orleans Bowl is one of FIVE games on the first Saturday of the postseason. Information from on-site sources could loom large in ALL of them!

Selections for bowl ignition will either go up late Friday or early Saturday here at the website. You can always purchase BEST BETS online with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to ask about combination packages that include early season basketball and all NFL through the Super Bowl. Even though the bowls don’t start until Saturday…we’ll be cashing tickets every night until then!

Here’s the schedule for what’s ahead this week in the NOTEBOOK. It’s a FOOTBALL FRENZY!

Wednesday: Early Look…Utah State vs. UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl

Thursday: NFL TV Preview…Tennessee at Jacksonville on the NFL Network

Friday: Early Look…Utah vs. Colorado State in the Las Vegas Bowl

Saturday: NFL TV Preview…San Diego at San Francisco on CBS

Sunday: NFL TV Preview…Seattle at Arizona on NBC

Monday: NFL TV Preview…Denver at Cincinnati on ESPN

The bowls will pick up again on Tuesday, as we build up to the best games involving the teams you’ve been watching on TV all season. The final week of the NFL season could be a real thrill given the tight playoff races. And, the playoffs could be something special given the number of marquee teams aiming for the Lombardi Trophy.



Be sure to follow:

Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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