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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, December 24, 2014 at 7:00 PM

With no football on the Christmas calendar this year, we’re going to speed ahead to Friday’s Quick Lane Bowl featuring Rutgers and North Carolina. That game serves as the official “green light” to major conference football…as it’s the first bowl of the 2014-15 slate matching two teams from Power 5 conferences!

Only three non-mid majors played before Christmas…Utah of the Pac 12 in the Las Vegas Bowl, and independents Brigham Young in the Miami Beach Bowl and Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl. (Illinois of the Big 10 kicks Friday off very early against Louisiana Tech). Now, the big boys are about to go head-to-head…to the degree you can call Rutgers and North Carolina big boys. At least the countdown is closer to the sport’s true elites!

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats suggest about who will be going fastest in the Quick Lane, a bowl played indoors at Ford Field in Detroit.


Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)

Rutgers: 7-5 (#47 schedule in USA Today)

N. Carolina: 6-6 (#33 schedule in USA Today)

You can’t complain too much about strength of schedule. Jeff Sagarin’s computers rankings at USA Today say both played top 50 slates. If you approximate what they’d do against the same slate, you get a dead heat because of Carolina’s consideration for the slightly tougher challenge.



Rutgers: 5.8 on offense, 6.5 on defense

N. Carolina: 5.6 on offense, 6.4 on defense

Wow…horrible numbers for both teams, suggesting neither is really “bowl caliber” regardless of what the win-lost records day. Both of these teams should be in the slow lane! North Carolina did play better than those numbers in the second half of the season, scoring victories over bowl bound Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, and Duke. If not for a poor 35-7 loss to NC State in their season finale, Carolina would have been on a 6-1 ATS tear. So, “in the moment” North Carolina is bowl caliber. Rutgers? The Scarlet Knights only went 2-5 vs. teams playing in bowls, with the wins coming over Navy and Maryland.


Turnover Differential

Rutgers: -4

N. Carolina: +2

Another strike against Rutgers, as Carolina was slightly better at judging the risk reward ratio. And, that performance came against the tougher schedule. Neither team particularly sparkled though, which leaves the door open for a wild afternoon. So far, everything is coming up Tar Heels for the most part.


Market Performance

Rutgers: 7-5 ATS

N. Carolina: 5-7 ATS

Rutgers was a better buy for backers this season because they played some naibliters vs. teams in their own class. Carolina started the season horribly. Remember that humiliating 70-41 loss to East Carolina? We already told you that NC’s form was better down the stretch. They turned an 0-5 ATS start into 5-7 ATS for the year with a 5-2 ATS finish. Still, Rutgers was the better value side overall…and the posted line in Las Vegas might be giving them value again.


Current Line: North Carolina by 3, total of 66.5

The market is showing Carolina respect for that strong finish by making them a field goal favorite. Handicappers will have to determine if their results down the stretch suggest the line should be even higher. Remember that the game is being played indoors on a fast track, which could favor the better athletes of the ACC side rather than the Big 10’s more plodding approach. If Carolina hadn’t no-showed so badly in their rivalry game with NC State…that line might have been as high as -5 or -6. Can you trust the Heels to show up for Rutgers when they didn’t show up for that game? Will the Scarlet Knights ability to hang close vs. its own class keep them in this one until the end?

JIM HURLEY will be working closely with his on-site sources and full team of experts to make sure you get the best side and total options in all three Friday bowl games. The best from this game, the Heart of Texas Bowl (Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech) and the St. Petersburg Bowl (NC State vs. Central Florida, which we’ll preview for you tomorrow) can be purchased early Friday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the office Friday morning at 1-888-777-4155.

Bowl coverage continues tomorrow. Here’s what’s ahead in the NOTEBOOK…

Friday: St. Petersburg Bowl Preview…North Carolina State vs. Central Florida

Saturday: Holiday Bowl Preview…Nebraska vs USC

Sunday: NFL TV Preview…Cincinnati at Pittsburgh Sunday Night on NBC

Monday: Texas Bowl Preview…Arkansas vs. Texas on ESPN

Tuesday: Early Look…#6 TCU vs. #9 Ole Miss in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on ESPN

Wednesday: Early Look…#2 Oregon vs. #3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl

New Year’s Day: Sugar Bowl Preview…#1 Alabama vs. #4 Ohio State

The Quick Lane Bowl will transition into THE FAST LANE down THE ROAD TO RICHES when you sign up with JIM HURLEY! Hook up now and fasten your seat belts.

The full team at JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK wishes you A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! Enjoy the day with your loved ones. See you bright and early Friday when football resumes!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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