Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 11, 2015 at 9:00 AM
THE NFL '15 SEASON IS OFF AND RUNNING AS PATRIOTS STING STEELERS 28-21 AMIDST EVEN MORE CONTROVERSY ...
COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S WEEKEND MENU: #7 OREGON VS. #5 MICHIGAN STATE IS THE MARQUEE MATCHUP ON TAP BUT WHO SHOULD BE ON "UPSET ALERT" COME SATURDAY?
By Jim Hurley:
Let's just say winning - and controversy - always seem to follow the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
Last night's 28-21 win/pointspread "push" by the 7-point favored Pats over the Pittsburgh Steelers included major on-the-field drama as DeflateGate "winner" QB Tom Brady aired four touchdown passes and then made a mad dash to the door following his vanilla press conference while on the sidelines there was more subterfuge involving the Pats.
The visiting Steelers - specifically head coach Mike Tomlin - claimed that the coach-to-coach headsets usually utilized to allow crisp communications among Pittsburgh coaches instead carried the play-by-play game broadcast of 98.5 The Sports Hub (the Patriots' radio station) for much of the game's first half ... and Tomlin was miffed big time especially with the Steel gang down 14-3 at intermission.
So, while the Steelers saved some folks' night (and ruined others) with that QB Ben Roethlisberger 11-yard TD pass to WR Antonio Brown with two seconds left in the game to end the game with a Pats' 7-point victory the whole post-game drama surrounded the radio ga-ga moments that may or may not have aided/abetted the Patriots one mo' time.
Still, dig a little deeper into this game and you'll see that the Steelers' secondary was very much the mess experts thought it would be - after a very quiet start New England TE Rob Gronkowski wound up having a monster night with 5 receptions worth 94 yards with 3 TDs but how about the Steelers covering him once in a while?
On the flip side, the Pats' supposed defensive strength - the front seven - was pushed around for much of the evening as Pittsburgh RB DeAngelo Williams rushed the ball 21 times for 127 yards (a 6.04 yards-per-carry average) and a C Maurkice Pouncey-less offensive line really bashed holes in the Pats' front wall for much of the night.
Paging Vince Wilfork?
A game that pretty much sat on Patriots minus 7 points all week long wound up "push city" and the "under" players walked away with a win (final totals price of 51.5 points) and they can thank Steelers' K Josh Scobee (two missed FGs in the first half)!
Hey, one final pointspread note regarding this game - the Steelers are now 0-4-1 ATS (against the spread) in their last five season-opening games.
Ladies and gentlemen, Jim Hurley is ready and rarin' to go with this 2015 NFL and NCAA Football Season! Note the NFL '15 campaign rolls on with a monstrous Week 1 card come Sunday/Monday - so make sure you're with America's #1 Handicapper for all the NFL Week 1, NCAA Football and Major-League Baseball winners. Remember that Sunday's NFL Week 1 afternoon card features Green Bay at Chicago, New Orleans at Arizona and Baltimore at Denver (among other great games) and the Sunday Night game is the New York Giants at the Dallas Cowboys plus there's the now-annual season-opening Week 1 Monday Night Football doubleheader too ... this week it's Philadelphia at Atlanta at 6:55 p.m. ET followed by Minnesota at San Francisco at 10:15 p.m. ET. Plus the College kids have their own slew of really big games this weekend including #7 Oregon at #5 Michigan State, #19 Oklahoma at #23 Tennessee, #14 LSU at #25 Miss State ... and much more!
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 11 a.m. ET for all the weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND UPDATE
Turn back your desk calendar a week and you'll recall that the following teams were upset in the opening weekend of College Football:
Army, Colorado, Georgia State, Nebraska, Penn State, Stanford, UCF, Washington State and Wyoming all were somewhat healthy betting favorites that bit the dust - and now we're wondering aloud as to whether or not there will be another nine-of-so major-college teams that will be going down this second weekend in September and that's why we're talking "upset alert" in this edition of Jim Sez.
Of course, we get it started with Saturday's biggest game:
#7 OREGON (1-0) at #5 MICHIGAN STATE (1-0) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC
The good folks in the desert - a/k/a Las Vegas - have installed host MSU Sparty as just a 3.5-point betting favorite for this prime-time bash and remember this one comes with a whole lotta revenge talk after Oregon smacked State 46-27 in Eugene last September.
The good news for the Ducks is that new QB Vernon Adams, Jr. says he feels fine after getting whacked in the head during last weekend's 61-42 non-cover win against old school Eastern Washington and if the slippery signal-caller can juke-and-jive his way past a Michigan State defense that surrendered 365 passing yards in last Friday's 37-24 non-cover win against Western Michigan than the Big 10 home favs could be in a boat-load of trouble.
Our Jim Sez sources tell us that the Spartans have really gone hard in practice with QB Connor Cook (just 15-of-31 passing last week) simulating work against a tall group of pass rushers - note the Ducks start D-linemen that are 6-feet-4 and taller (see 6-foot-7 DE DeForest Buckner).
Spread Notes - Despite last week's pointspread loss to Eastern Wash, the Oregon Ducks are 9-2 ATS overall in their last 11 games. On the flip side, Michigan State's just 9-8-1 versus the vig in all non-league games the past four-plus seasons.
Who else is on "upset alert" this Saturday? Let's try on these three games for size with a pair of Big 10 squads and an unranked SEC team all being warned to keep their "heads up":
MINNESOTA (0-1) at COLORADO STATE (1-0) - 3:30 p.m., CBSC ET
The line's crept up here from an opening price of Minnesota minus 4.5 points to 6.5 points but keep in mind the favored Golden Gophers are coming off an emotionally-charged 23-17 loss against then-#2 TCU last Thursday night and pedestrian QB Mitch Leidner (don't be fooled by his 197 passing yards last week 'cause many of them came on the final drive) generally isn't a guy bettors can trust when there is something on the line.
Spread Note - Colorado State is 15-9-2 ATS at home since the start of the 2010 and new head coach Mike Bobo's team struck for 65 points last week in a win/cover versus Savannah State.
IOWA (1-0) at IOWA STATE (1-0) - 4:45 p.m. ET, Fox
Believe it or not, the I-State Cyclones have scored upsets against archrival Iowa in three of their last four meetings including last year's 20-17 shocker as 13-point road underdogs. Now, Iowa State's fifth-year QB Sam B. Richardson - who started slowly but came on strong with 233 yards passing with two TDs and no INTs in the 31-7 win/cover over Northern Iowa last Saturday - is taking aim at a Hawkeyes defense that wasn't exactly challenged last week by Illinois State (see Iowa 31, Illinois State 14).
Spread Note - Iowa is 14-18 versus the vig as betting favorites while dating back to the 2010 season while Iowa State enters this shut-down-the-state showdown having covered eight of its last 11 non-league affairs.
KENTUCKY (1-0) at SOUTH CAROLINA (1-0) - 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network
There's 10 different Southeastern Conference teams residing in this week's Associated Press Top 25 - but none of 'em are named Kentucky nor South Carolina! Still, this is an intriguing game from Columbia as the host SC Gamecocks - who opened as a 9.5-point betting favorite and it's dropped to 7 points only - may have some major quarterback issues with QB Connor Mitch who completed just 9-of-22 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown in last Thursday's mistake-filled 17-13 hang-on-for-dear-life win against 1.5-point dog North Carolina. Mitch - who was erratic for much of this game - also sustained a fourth-quarter hip injury that we here at Jim Sez has limited his practice reps this week.
Spread Note - Kentucky failed to cover the bloated 17-point price tag in last week's 40-33 win against UL-Lafayette as RB Mikel Horton's 12-yard scoring run with just less than a minute remaining won it but did you know the UK Wildcats are just 7-18 ATS away the past five-plus seasons? Still, it's upset alert time 'cause Carolina has to deal with a pro-type passer here in QB Patrick Towles who aired three scoring strikes a week ago.
NOTE: Get our NFL Week 1 Previews in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.