Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 12:00 AM
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?
THE COLLEGE KIDS ARE BACK ON THE FIELD
AND WE HAVE KEY POINTSPREAD
NOTES FOR MANY OF TONIGHT’S GAMES
PLUS A PAIR OF FRIDAY NITE PREVIEWS TOO …
NFL PRESEASON NEWS/NOTES:
CHECKIN’ UP ON THE COWBOYS & SEAHAWKS
Okay, so here’s what you really need to know as we head into tonight’s action that kicks off the here-and-now 2015 College Football Season:
There are 41 on-the-board games this holiday weekend beginning with 10 tilts tonight (there’s 5 tomorrow, 22 on Saturday and one game apiece on Sunday and Monday) and – right now – 24 of these 41 games sport double-digit betting favorites (that’s close to 60 percent of the games with twin-figure betting lines).
So, as often is the case on opening week/weekend of the college football season there’s lots of “cupcake” matchups for many of the nation’s big-hitter teams but there’s still plenty of tasty matchups on hand too including the one-and-only matchup between Associated Press Top 25 teams – that’s #3 Alabama versus #20 Wisconsin on Saturday night in Arlington.
Note that every single AP Top 25 team is in action this weekend and – in case you were wondering – the biggest betting favorite among ‘em right at this moment is #4 Baylor, a 36-point choice over SMU on Friday night (see preview below).
Now hear this …
Jim Hurley is ready for a slam-bang football season straight ahead!
The College Football 2015 campaign swings into high gear today/tonight with a full week/weekend card 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):
Tonight, it’s – Michigan at Utah on Fox 1 (8:30 p.m.); tomorrow – #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 with all 16 games being played tonight – so do make sure you’re with Jim Hurley 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.
TONITE’S KEY POINTSPREAD NOTES
Let’s zip ‘round the land for some key ATS (against the spread) notes on tonight’s games … see yesterday’s Jim Sez column for pointspread goodies on South Carolina vs. North Carolina (at Charlotte), Michigan at Utah and #2 TCU at Minnesota. Note we’ve attached the current Las Vegas line to each of the games below:
Tonight, it’s …
Oklahoma State (- 24.5) at Central Michigan – The Okie State Cowboys have covered their season-opening game in seven of the past eight years and note Mike Gundy’s club is a solid 17-11 spreadwise as twin-figure favorites since the start of the 2010 campaign.
Duke (- 7.5) at Tulane – Since head coach David Cutcliffe came on board in 2008, the Blue Devils are a rock-solid 15-8 vig-wise when playing non-ACC foes but notice this Las Vegas price tag’s come down from opening line of 11 to Dookies minus just 7.5 points. Maybe there is some worry about new starting QB Thomas Sirk.
UTSA at #22 Arizona (- 31.5) – The U of A Wildcats have hardly been a money-making machine as hosts during the Rich Rodriguez Era that began in 2012 as this Pac-12 team is a collective 7-11-1 ATS at home the past three years. Now, the ‘Cats are laying their biggest price under “Rich Rod” … stay tuned.
Colorado (- 7) at Hawaii – Did you realize that the gang from the 50th state is actually 8-3 ATS versus non-league foes the past three years with Norm Chow in charge. On the flip side, Colorado has failed to cover six of its last nine non-conference affairs dating back to the 2011 season.
FRIDAY NITE PREVIEWS
#4 BAYLOR at SMU – 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Baylor Bears look to continue their assembly line of standout quarterbacks – there was one-time Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III then Bryce Petty – and now it’s Seth Russell who takes command of an offense that last year averaged a whopping 48.2 points per game and 581.5 yards a game … both figures led the country in 2014. If Russell is feeling any heat it’s to cover the current 36-point price tag but if WRs KD Cannon and Corey Coleman have their ways, than this will be blowout central faster than you can say Eric Dickerson!
Note that the SMU Mustangs – now coached up by former Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris – allowed 41.3 ppg last year. Yikes!
Spread Notes – Baylor’s a tasty 14-6 against the odds whenever laying a double-digit price tag the past two seasons and that includes last year’s 45-0 win against 31.5-point underdog SMU.
WASHINGTON at #23 BOISE STATE – 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
True, a couple of weeks back we raised our eyebrows here at the Jim Hurley Network when we saw the growing number on this game – it went from 10.5 to 11.5 and right now the host Boise State Broncos are a 12.5-point betting favorite – but it’s all beginning to make sense when you consider the quarterback questions that current Washington/former Boise State head coach Chris Petersen has these days (three players are listed as “co-starters” for this game but our money’s on junior Jeff Lindquist to get the nod over frosh K.J. Carta-Samuels and top recruit Jake Browning).
Meanwhile, the Broncos know they’ll be starting soph Ryan Finley here and you know there will be some trick plays on tap – wonder if Petersen knows ‘em all? – but keep in mind Boise State’s a healthy 7-3 SU but just 5-5 ATS when playing Pac-12 teams the past nine years. Watch for explosive plays from this Boise State attack that returns nine starters from a year ago and averaged nearly 40 ppg.
Spread Notes – All this talk about the “blue turf” at Boise State but the reality is the Broncos are 9-16 ATS as hosts the past four years. Meanwhile, Washington enters this national TV tilt at 3-7 ATS in its last 10 openers and the Huskies have covered all three of their head-to-head battles with Boise State since 2007.
There are three college football head coaches who will be laying points in their debut this Saturday including Florida’s Jim McElwain, Tulsa’s Phil Montgomery and Nebraska’s Mike Riley.
McElwain – the former Colorado State boss – and the Gators will be laying more than 5 TDs in Saturday’s home game against New Mexico State;
Montgomery and the Golden Hurricane right now is laying a full TD against visiting Florida Atlantic;
And Riley – the twice-over head coach at Oregon State and one-time NFL head coach with the San Diego Chargers – will take his Nebraska Cornhuskers against 7-point pup BYU this weekend in Lincoln …
Finally, what teams are getting so pumped up by the media, etc. that they could feel the pressure of having to cover big pointspreads?
Count Tennessee and UCLA among possibly a couple of others, so just hear us out:
The Tennessee Volunteers – right now a 3-TD betting favorite against Bowling Green (game will be played in Nashville, not Knoxville) – are sitting there at #25 and getting loads of local/national pub as the “next SEC East champ” but this could be a bit of a “trap game” at the start, especially with Oklahoma on deck?
Then there’s the UCLA Bruins who opened as 17-point betting favorite against Virginia and now the price tag has been bumped up to 20 points – like Tennessee, the Uclans have been a “flavor of the month” type team and have major expectations here in 2015 but covering a three-TD price with a new starting quarterback and with some dogged off-the-field issues (see alleged robbery and indefinite suspension of CB Ishmael Adams) may not be so easy.
NFL PRESEASON NEWS/NOTES
Is it possible that the Dallas Cowboys will be the ones having the “last laugh” when it comes to rookie DE Randy Gregory (Nebraska)?
You’ll recall how Gregory slipped out of the first round in last spring’s NFL Draft after some off-the-field mishaps but so far this preseason he has registered a sack in all three of Dallas’ games. Remember that the Cowboys last year finished with just 27 sacks to rank 28th in the league – if this pick #60 can team with DE Greg Hardy (suspended for the season’s first four games) then the ‘Boys might be a serious contender to play in Super Bowl 50 …
Finally, the two-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks talked all spring/summer long about getting more of the “hidden yards” and maybe Kansas State rookie Tyler Lockett is gonna answer their prayers. Lockett’s preseason has been a blast with a 67-yard punt return for a score in last week’s 16-15 non-cover win at 3.5-point underdog San Diego and remember he raced 103 yards for a TD on a kick bring-back in the preseason-opening 22-20 loss versus Denver.
Lockett’s a third-round pick who will give the Seahawks insurance at the wide receiver positions but don’t look for too many NFL teams to give him opportunities to return kicks/punts early this year – if they can help it! Hey, he could play a part in making more Seattle games go “over” the totals prices.
NOTE: There’s College Football Previews straight ahead in the next edition of Jim Sez.