Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, August 31, 2015 at 12:00 AM
HEY, COLLEGE KIDS, WELCOME BACK! –
NOW WE PUT EVERYONE TO AN
EARLY SCHOOL-YEAR TEST
WITH A BATCH OF KEY HANDICAPPING QUESTIONS …
THE NFL PRESEASON REPORT:
ARE THE VIKINGS (4-0 THIS SUMMER) THE REAL DEAL?
Now hear this …
Jim Hurley is ready for a slam-bang football season straight ahead!
The College Football 2015 campaign swings into high gear with a full week/weekend card scheduled for Thursday night and then going right through Labor Day evening.
Here’s a quick-hitter list of just some of this week/weekend’s nationally-televised tilts (all times Eastern):
On Thursday –
South Carolina vs. North Carolina (in Charlotte) on ESPN (6 p.m.)
Michigan at Utah on Fox 1 (8:30 p.m.)
On Friday –
#4 Baylor at SMU on ESPN (7 p.m.)
Washington at #23 Boise State on ESPN (10:15 p.m.)
On Saturday –
Virginia at #13 UCLA on Fox (3:30 p.m.)
Texas at #11 Notre Dame on NBC (7:30 p.m.)
#20 Wisconsin vs. #3 Alabama (in Arlington) on ABC (8 p.m.)
On Sunday –
Purdue at Marshall on Fox 1 (3 p.m.)
On Monday/Labor Day –
#1 Ohio State at Virginia Tech on ESPN (8 p.m.)
You want to be in the winner’s circle for all the big opening-week games and remember the NFL Preseason Week 4 is a one-night show come Thursday night – so make sure you’re with Jim Hurley -- America’s #1 Handicapper – for all the NFL, NCAA Football and Major-League Baseball winners.
And this is all you have to do:
Check in right here online at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. ET for the weeknight selections, after 11 a.m. ET for all the weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners.
Join in on all the fun-and-profits right now – sign up for the whole 2015 Football Season and bang home lots of winners!
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT –
Okay, so we’re finally ticking down the hours/minutes till we kick off this 2015 College Football Season – hope you’ve enjoyed our Conference-by-Conference Previews that filled these pages the past couple of weeks – but we’re already gonna spring an early school-year handicapping test on y’all right here and right now, so let’s go …
1 – What teams might we figure to bounce back from rotten ATS (against the spread) seasons here in 2015?
There are three teams in particular that could well strike up very profitable ’15 campaigns including Florida State, Iowa State and Washington State.
Florida State went from a 10-3 spread season in 2013 when the Seminoles won the national championship to an ugly 3-10 ATS campaign but overall Las Vegas price tags won’t be quite as high with QB Jameis Winston gone and this defense will be stout, so laying reasonable road points may be on our to-do list;
Iowa State hasn’t been to a post-season bowl game since 2012 (and has not won a bowl game since 2009) but if all the inside buzz is true that seventh-year head boss-man Paul Rhoads is “coaching for his life” than you can expect these better-than-you-think Cyclones (4-7 ATS last year) to play hard for him and be wise investments whenever latching onto points – if QB Sam B. Richardson isn’t caught looking over his shoulder all the time, the ‘Clones could be a handful;
Washington State dipped to 3-8 versus the vig last year following a spiffy 8-4 ATS campaign in 2013 but a slew of quality pass-catchers including WRs River Cracraft and Gabe Marks will make Wazzu relevant again and we’re already looking ahead to when the Cougars get a bundle of road points at California, Oregon, Arizona and UCKA.
2 – What are the opening-week Las Vegas that should surprise you/us the most?
It always catches out attention when “name teams” are grabbing big prices right out of the proverbial starting gate and so check out this week’s holiday menu and you’ll see the likes of Washington, Louisville, Texas and Wisconsin all snapping up TD-plus prices in their respective season debuts … hmm.
Sure, all of the above are playing nationally-ranked teams (see #23 Boise State, #6 Auburn, #11 Notre Dame and #3 Alabama, respectively) but aren’t novice handicapper normally quick to snap up a bunch of points?
Ahh, all the more reason to check with Jim Hurley on game days to see if where getting involved in these high-profile games.
3 – What first-year head coaches are going to be overrated or underrated in early-season Las Vegas lines?
Florida’s Jim McElwain heads to Gainesville having gone a collective 18-9-1 ATS in his last 28 on-the-board games at Colorado State – and don’t you know the Las Vegas smarties know this? Expect the Gators to be overpriced right at the start – and note Florida’s a better than 5-TD betting favorite for its season-opener this Saturday versus New Mexico State;
Houston’s Tom Herman – last year’s star offensive coordinator/play-caller for the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes – also figures to be overrated by the numbers-crunchers because he has a quality QB Greg Ward on his side and the Coogs do come off an 8-win SU (straight-up) season;
Oregon State’s Gary Andersen gets our call as a likely undervalued first-year coach – keep in mind Andersen registered a solid 14-10-1 ATS with Wisconsin the past two seasons – as this could be a “breath of fresh air” type season for the Beavers who had grown stale under current Nebraska head coach Mike Riley.
P.S., as far as Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh – who’s won the off-season fight for headlines – we’ll reserve judgment on whether Las Vegas overrates ‘em, underrates ‘em or is merely fair with his team’s games. Note the Wolverines did go from a 4.5-point underdog to a 6-point pup for Thursday’s big debut tilt at Utah.
4 – Obviously, there’s a plethora of non-conference games that dominate the first month of play (there aren’t any league games among the 41 opening-week tilts, as a matter of fact!) but how many teams can you name that have been ATS magic in non-conference games the past couple of seasons?
Here’s a rundown of several FBS teams that have been money-earners in non-league games lately:
Colorado State’s 7-2 ATS in non-league games the past two years;
Duke has covered six of its last eight non-ACC games since the start of 2013;
East Carolina is an electric 7-1 ATS in these affairs the past two years;
Houston is 6-2 spreadwise in non-CUSA games the last two seasons;
Louisville is 6-2 ATS when playing outside the ACC the past two years;
Ole Miss is a dynamite 7-1 in non-SEC affairs the last two seasons;
Nebraska has rolled up a 6-2 ATS non-league mark (including 4-and-oh last year) the past two seasons;
Ohio State – surprise, surprise – is 7-3 ATS outside the Big 10 the last two years;
Oklahoma’s 6-2 spreadwise in non-Big 12 games since the start of 2013;
Penn State is 7-2 vig-wise outside the Big 10 the last two seasons;
And Texas State is 6-1 ATS outside the Sun Belt the past two seasons.
NFL PRESEASON UPDATE
We can hear the critics/cynics right about now:
Sure, the Minnesota Vikings finished last year’s preseason schedule a perfect 4-and-oh and then proceeded to go 7-9 SU and be on the outside looking in at an NFL playoff berth but here we go again with the Vikes exiting last Saturday’s 28-14 win at 3-point favorite Dallas with a perfect 4-0 SU mark with one preseason game left (see game at Tennessee on Thursday night).
Minnesota – also a sparkling 4-0 spreadwise in these exhibition games – can downplay it all it wants but second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater completed all seven of his aerials in that win against the Cowboys (see 7-of-7 for 76 yards) and a long-ball chuck to new WR Mike Wallace had the Minny sideline going nutso.
Maybe these unbeaten preseasons are nothing but a mirage but we will say this:
The Vikings haven’t played RB Adrian Peterson a single play this summer and yet they’ve outscored their opponents – that’s Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Oakland and Dallas – by 43 points (or better than 10 points a game) and all signs point to a major improvement by a defense that last year ranked a lowly 25th versus the rush and 18th in the league in interceptions (with just 13).
Now, if the Vikes can somehow shore up a special teams that has been shaky this summer – yet another FG miss by PK Blair Walsh and with an ankle injury suffered by P Jeff Locke – than maybe Mike Zimmer’s squad can prove a fun/profitable preseason can be translated into a monster regular season.
NOTE: We’ll have NCAA Football Thursday Nite Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez plus lots more NFL Preseason News & Notes too!