Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, September 2, 2015 at 12:00 AM
IT’S TIME TO KICK OFF THE 2015 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON! …
WE HAVE ODDS TO WIN IT ALL PLUS THURSDAY’S KEY PREVIEWS …
NFL PRESEASON NEWS/NOTES
It’s unanimous …
Everyone out there from the Associated Press Top 25 poll to the Sporting News football annual magazine editor to the local reporter in Des Moines believes the Ohio State Buckeyes are gonna win it all this 2015 college football season.
Yes, one-and-all are calling for the repeat, the encore performance, the “play-it-again Sam” season.
Now, the $64,000 question is …
Will it happen?
No doubt that Ohio State is absolutely loaded this year – note the aforementioned Associated Press poll has the Buckeyes getting all 61 first-place votes – but even with two “starting quarterbacks” in J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones there’s no guarantees but we must say the ‘Eyes don’t exactly have a daunting road schedule with conference road affairs at Indiana, Rutgers, Illinois and Michigan all following Monday night’s season-opening tilt at double-digit dog Virginia Tech.
There’ll be lots to say about The Ohio State University all season long – and lots to say about all the important news/notes from College Football – but let’s officially kick off our Jim Hurley coverage of this 2015 campaign with the Odds to Win it All.
According to one prominent Las Vegas sportsbook, here’s the latest …
COLLEGE FOOTBALL -- ODDS TO WIN IT ALL
TEAM ODDS COMMENT
Ohio State 9-4 ‘Eyes twin-figure favs every week
TCU 6-1 Snubbed last year; king this year?
Alabama 13-2 SEC West gang could be overpriced
Auburn 14-1 Jekyll or Hyde ‘15 for War Eagle?
Baylor 15-1 Could come down to TCU game
Notre Dame 16-1 Kelly’s kids loaded on “D”
USC 18-1 Men of Troy are “whole” again
Michigan St. 20-1 USA’s most underappreciated program
Clemson 22-1 Sorry, but we never trust the Tigers
Oregon 22-1 Post-Mariota Era could be painful
LSU 25-1 Bengals at M-State, ‘Bama and Ole Miss
Florida St. 28-1 Can Jimbo produce jumbo season?
Georgia 28-1 Look for a third straight Gator Bowl
Oklahoma 35-1 It’s 15 years since OU won it all
UCLA 35-1 A vogue pick to wear crown in ‘15
Note that the likes of Arkansas, Stanford and Ole Miss all are priced at 45-to-1 to win it all with Tennessee at 60-1 and Texas A&M at 70-to-1 next up on the hit list – “The Field” is priced at a bloated 85-1.
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 – Michigan at Utah on Fox 1 (8:30 p.m.); on Friday – #4 Baylor at SMU on ESPN (7 p.m.); on Saturday – Texas at #11 Notre Dame on NBC (7:30 p.m.) and #20 Wisconsin vs. #3 Alabama (in Arlington) on ABC (8 p.m.); on Sunday – Purdue at Marshall on Fox 1 (3 p.m.); and 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.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL – THURSDAY’S KEY PREVIEW
NORTH CAROLINA vs. SOUTH CAROLINA (at Charlotte) – 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
The 2015 College Football season officially swings into high gear when this high-octane game kicks off moments after 6 p.m. Eastern time but everyone wants to know if this is gonna be a swan song campaign for South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier … can we answer that one a couple of months down the line? For now we’ll tell you that Spurrier is 23-2 SU (straight-up) all-time in openers.
Here the SC Gamecocks – a 2.5-point betting favorite – looks to keep up the domination against a North Carolina team they’ve beaten in five of the last six showdowns and that includes the 2013 season opener when South Carolina snagged a 27-10 home win/cover as 11-point favorites. True, South Carolina’s going into this one with brand-new starting quarterback Connor Mitch and he’ll be looking for WR Pharaoh Cooper (69 receptions worth 1,136 yards and 9 TDs last year) to expose a Tar Heels’ defense that last year surrendered 40-or-more points on six different occasions.
The heat’s on UNC quarterback Marquise Williams (3,068 yards passing and 788 yards rushing last season) to match South Carolina point-for-point – hey, the oddsmakers have this totals price at 64.5 and that’s the highest amount on this Thursday Night ig board.
Spread Notes – North Carolina is just 9-15 ATS (against the spread) away since the start of the 2011 season while South Carolina last year failed to cover 6-of-7 games when placed in the favorite’s role.
MICHIGAN at UTAH – 8:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
Maybe you’ve heard …
Awright, so this Jim Harbaugh-to-Michigan story has been detailed to death the past few weeks but now it’s finally here and we’ll see what the maize-and-blue do as 6-point road underdogs against a Utah team that is fresh off a 9-4 SU season that included wins against UCLA, USC and Stanford (all bowl game winners last year).
One thing the Utes did quite well last year was rush the quarterback – Utah’s 55 sacks was best among all FBS teams and here DE Hunter Dimick (14.5 sacks in 2014) will be coming full speed ahead at either/both Michigan QBs Jake Rudock (an Iowa transfer) and/or Shane Morris. No doubt that Harbaugh has challenged a below-average Wolverines’ offensive line to answer the bell here – remember Utah beat Michigan 26-10 as 3-point road dogs a year ago.
Spread Notes – Michigan is 13-20-1 ATS as underdog sides since the start of the 2008 season. Utah, meanwhile, is an electric 9-1 vig-wise when playing non-league foes the past four years.
#2 TCU at MINNESOTA – 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
In case you were wondering, the TCU Horned Frogs have been “taking some money” in terms of national championship wagers – they were 8-to-1 or 9-to-1 just a few weeks ago and now are down to the above-mentioned 6-to-1 odds price tag – but what’s interesting from a pointspread perspective here is Gary Patterson’s club is a 14.5-point fav at press time and even last year champion-to-be Ohio State was “only” an 11-5-point fav for its 31-24 non-cover win at TCF Bank Stadium.
In reality, TCU may be as loaded as any team in the land – yes, including the top-ranked Buckeyes – as 10 starters are back on this offense that averaged a whopping 46.5 points per game with Heisman Trophy hopeful QB Trevone Boykin (3,901 yards passing with 33 aerial TDs last season; 707 yards rushing with 8 ground scores) ready/willing/able to blast his way out of the 2015 starting gate.
The Minny Golden Gophers – who lost 30-7 as 18-point road dogs against TCU last September – are keeping fingers crossed that QB Mitch Leidner plays better than he did in last year’s showdown with the Frogs when Leidner aired three INTs and the Big 10 guys turned the ball over five times in all.
Spread Notes – Minnesota has covered nine of its last 12 home games dating back to the start of the 2013 season while TCU comes off a 10-2 spread season that included road covers at Baylor and Texas along with that 42-3 blow-out win against Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl.
NFL PRESEASON NEWS & NOTES
The NFL Preseason Week 4 games – as everyone knows – are nothing more than glorified scrimmages and so we’ll bypass any “game previews” here and instead get you what we think are the most pressing issues/topics as the calendar page flips to read September:
Quickie question: Do you think the Philadelphia Eagles are gonna keep up this torrid offensive pace right into regular-season play?
The Birds have scored a grand total of 115 points in preseason blowout wins against Indianapolis, Baltimore and Green Bay and under-the-microscope head coach Chip Kelly loves the team’s summertime rhythm with QB Sam Bradford fresh off a 10-of-10, 121-yard, 3-TD performance in last weekend’s 39-26 win in Green Bay (yes, the Las Vegas line moved significantly from Eagles plus 3 points to Eagles minus 6.5 points as reports were confirmed that Green Bay would not even suit up QB Aaron Rodgers).
Our Jim Hurley sources say Kelly’s itching to prove critics wrong that his players/his system will work and we’ll note that Philly scored 25 first-quarter points against the Packers’ first-string defense minus a couple of players …
Carolina WR Corey Brown may be one of the most important players in the NFC South – but if he doesn’t learn to hold onto the football then the Panthers are gonna have to look elsewhere for downfield production in the passing game. Brown – who is expected to be Carolina’s #1 wide out now with the season-ending injury to WR Kelvin Benjamin – has dropped five passes the past two games (including two that would have been touchdowns) and so the defending NFC South champs could be scouring the cut list real soon …
Last year’s Buffalo Bills’ defense ranked fourth in the NFL in points allowed (18.1 ppg) and, with first-year head coach Rex Ryan aboard, most in-the-know folks (including us!) believe the Bills’ defense will be even better but CB Ronald Darby could turn out to be a real liability as last weekend he was toasted on a 67-yard TD pass by the Pittsburgh Steelers and he also was flagged twice for pass interference. Note that Darby’s slated to play plenty especially if CB Stephon Gilmore (shoulder) misses any time at the start of this season.
NOTE: Get more College Football Game Previews plus lots more in the next edition of Jim Sez.