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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, September 5, 2015 at 12:59 PM




By Jim Hurley:

The Las Vegas folks were asking both #4 Baylor and #5 Michigan State to chop down some "tall cotton" on Friday night - and neither elite club was able to get "mission accomplished".

Baylor - a bloated 36.5-point betting favorite at SMU - scored the game's only 28 second-half points and yet that still wasn't enough to get the pointspread "W" in that 56-21 triumph but gotta admit that Bears' QB Seth Russell (five touchdown passes, one TD rushing) sure popped his name into the early race for this year's Heisman Trophy as Baylor averaged a school-record 10.48 yards per offensive play against the gritty Mustangs ... yowie!

Meanwhile, Michigan State failed to cover the 16.5-point price at Western Michigan en route to that 37-24 victory on Friday night - the Spartans' own Heisman Trophy candidate QB Connor Cook (15-of-31 passing for 256 yards and two TDs) was off the mark more often than not as the Big 10 visitors failed to build on a 27-7 second-quarter lead. Don't look now but Michigan State has a home date against Oregon next weekend and - dare we suggest - if M-State plays that below-average type game then it could be curtains for any/all national championship hopes in East Lansing (and please don't remind us that a loss against the Ducks would still keep Michigan State alive - it probably won't!).

Hey, the other part of the problem for Michigan State is that usual air-tight defense sprung some leaks versus the forward pass as Western Michigan QB Zach Terrell completed 33-of-50 aerials for 365 yards with two TDs and one of his INTs was a brutal end-zone pick late when a Broncos' touchdown would have really tightened the screws on this game.

So, through the opening two nights of the here-and-now college football season, #2 TCU, #4 Baylor and #5 Michigan State all were unable to cover double-digit road pointspreads - could this be a sign of the times where the elite clubs can't cash against such monster prices or is this just something out of the starting gate that has piqued our handicapping interests? Hmmm.

One last thing - Oklahoma State also didn't cover the 21-point price at Central Michigan on Thursday night, yet another "name" team or Power 5 side that couldn't get the pointspread job done against a juiced-up, heavy-duty underdog.

On Sunday, it's ...PURDUE at MARSHALL - 3 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
Here's one of those cases where a non-Power 5 team is a prohibitive favorite against a Power 5 bunch - but consider that mighty Marshall is 23-5 SU (straight-up) the past two years including double-digit bowl wins against Maryland and Northern Illinois while not-so-mighty Purdue is a collective 4-20 SU under third-year boss Darrell Hazell. True, Marshall's said bye-bye to the QB Rakeem Cato Era that last year produced 45.6 ppg (third-best among all FBS teams) but James Madison transfer Michael Birdsong comes into this game with rave reviews and the Purdue defense promises to bring many blitzes here.
If Marshall TB Devon Johnson (1,767 yards rushing and a FBS-best 8.58 yards a carry) gets really rollin' here, than the Thundering Herd could be in a name-your-score mode.

Spread Notes - Marshall is a solid 15-10-1 ATS (against the spread) overall the past two seasons and that includes a rollicking 8-2 spread log at home. On the flip side, Purdue covered four-of-five road games a year ago but the Boilermakers are just 6-10-1 spreadwise in non-Big 10 games the past five years.

Jim Hurley is headed to a slam-bang football season straight ahead! The College Football 2015 campaign is in high gear this holiday weekend - we already cashed Thursday night with "under" 44 points in the Michigan at Utah bash and we had Minnesota (+ 16) in its cover against TCU (and "pushed" with Western Kentucky minus a deuce against Vanderbilt) and there is daily action here 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 Saturday it's 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 2015 Season gets rolling Thursday with the Pittsburgh Steelers at, yes, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the Kickoff Game followed by a full Week One card that features such tilts as Green Bay at Chicago, Baltimore at Denver and the prime-timer between the New York Giants at Dallas next Sunday along with the now-annual Monday Night Football season-opening twin-bill - that's Philadelphia at Atlanta followed by Minnesota at San Francisco. So make sure you're with Jim Hurley for all the NFL, NCAA Football and Major-League Baseball winners all month and all season long! And this is all you have to do: Check in right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. ET for the weeknight selections, after 10a.m. ET for all the weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners. Better yet - why not sign up today for the entire 2015 NCAA and NFL Football Seasons and get the early-bird discount prices ... call us for all the info.

Sorry, we're not gonna waste a heckuva lot of space in today's weekend edition of Jim Sez to either defend or castigate the NFL for its role in the now-deceased DeflateGate issue but let's just say that if Commish Roger Goodell would have issued a mere two-game suspension of New England QB Tom Brady a few months ago, this whole thing might have been settled - it wouldn't have been as heavy-handed as need be and, let's face it, Pats owner Robert Kraft was "willing" to go along with less-strenuous punishment.

So, time to play ball - but we think it funny that one TV broadcaster reported that Brady''s "fantasy league" stock went from the #24 overall quarterback to #6 overall following the announcement that the suspension had been vacated by Judge Richard Berman plus ticket prices for the Brady games rose by 25 percent too according to those folks who handle NFL game ducats.

In other NFL News & Notes ...

The New York Giants will "welcome back" defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul this week after his now-infamous Fourth of July fireworks accident that shot off at least one finger but it's anyone guess when Pierre-Paul will return to play - if we were the Giants we'd have taken away his contract offer once he failed to cooperate with the franchise weeks after the accident ...

Finally, there are some - believe-it-or-not - under-the-radar guys at quarterback in the NFL this year as not everyone is named Brady or Peyton Manning or Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota. So, don't be surprised if the likes of Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton and Kansas City QB Alex Smith enjoy solid 2015 seasons (now they could be fantasy-league steals if you haven't yet done your draft!).

True, Dalton dinged up his neck last week but he has lots of weapons including a now-healthy TE Tyler Eifert while Smith - who was deadly accurate this summer - knows WR Jeremy Maclin will greatly help the team's cause plus TE Travis Kelce is a superstar in waiting.

Look for the Bengals and Chiefs both to make the post-season this year - we think both teams will win divisional titles, in fact - with Dalton and Smith real stars.

NOTE: We'll preview #1 Ohio State at Virginia Tech plus lots of news/notes in the next Jim Sez.

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