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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 9:56 AM



By Jim Hurley:

It's truly been a fascinating first few weeks of this 2015 College Football season ...
Consider that the first four teams ranked in this week's Associated Press Top 25 - yes, not necessarily the four teams that would comprise this year's FBS Playoffs - namely Ohio State, TCU, Baylor and Michigan State are a combined 19-0 SU (straight-up) and just 5-14 ATS (against the spread).

How about a not-so-spiffy .263 winning rate spreadwise for the allegedly four-best teams in the land?

Ask us and we think the pointspread failures could "catch up" to them with a Utah or a Clemson or an LSU eventually leap-frogging one or two of the top teams here and snatching up a potential playoff berth. Hey, we remind you that last season - the first year we had a playoff system in place - there was Florida State winning games SU but bumbling badly versus the vig (the Seminoles wound up going 3-10 against the Las Vegas prices when all the dust settled) and it almost landed Jameis Winston and friends outside the four-team playoff picture despite an unbeaten SU slate.

The other thing when you're looking "big picture" is that #1 Ohio State is hosting #4 Michigan State on Nov. 21st while #2 TCU hosts #3 Baylor come the final regular-season weekend this year on Nov. 27th so those things will take care of themselves but note staggering about spreadwise en route to attempting to snatch up a playoff berth is not advisable.

Jim Hurley's Handicappers and Bloggers have everything all mapped out for a big-time winning week and it gets started with this NFL Week 5 Thursday Night game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans. Get the Side & Totals winners here plus all the other NFL and NCAA Football and all the Major-League Baseball Playoffs too when you check with us on game days either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - make this an October to remember! There's plenty on the menu this week/weekend including Saturday's college card that features such monster matchups as #23 California at #5 Utah, Miami at #12 Florida State, South Carolina now at #7 LSU (game switched from Columbia to Baton Rouge) and #2 TCU at Kansas State.


On Saturday, it's ...

GEORGIA TECH (2-3, 0-2 ACC) at #6 CLEMSON (4-0, 1-0 ACC) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Say this for the Clemson Tigers: They sure can make things exciting even when they appear to be in total control. Okay, so last weekend in rainy Death Valley there was Dabo Swinney's team mucking up a 21-3 fourth-quarter lead and needing to hold off a Notre Dame two-point conversion try late just in order to hang on for the 24-22 non-cover win but will Clemson give itself any room to breathe here against a Georgia Tech team that has lost the last three weeks in a row (to Notre Dame, Duke and North Carolina) with Yellow Jackets' boss-man Paul Johnson at wit's end with a ground game that ranks sixth in the country (311.8 ypg) but just can't seem to convert at crunch time. Is there gonna be any hangover for a team that blew a 21-zip lead to the Tar Heels in last week's 38-31 loss?
Meanwhile, Clemson QB Deshaun Watson (9 passing TDs and one rushing) powered his club off to a cat-quick 14-0 start a week ago and now Swinney will remind his uber-talented star that he must keep his foot on the pedal right till the finish line.
Spread Note - Clemson is a solid 16-10 against the odds in all home games since the start of the 2011 season and that includes a 55-31 win/cover against 10.5-point dog Georgia Tech two years ago.

MIAMI (3-1, 0-0 ACC) at #12 FLORIDA STATE (4-0, 2-0 ACC) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC
When we last left this Sunshine State rivalry back in 2014, the FSU Seminoles were barging back from a 23-7 deficit to down two-point underdog Miami 30-26, so now we'll see if the 9-point pup Hurricanes can "flip the script" here in this nationally televised, under-the-lights show. Our Jim Sez sources reveal State's game-breaker RB Dalvin Cook (hamstring) isn't close to the "50-50" odds that some Sems are claiming he is and so the TD-plus home favorites need QB Everett Golson (202 yards passing in last week's 24-16 non-cover win at Wake Forest) to shine and that means he may have to be an effective rusher as oft was the time when he played at Notre Dame.
Spread Note - Florida State's a rotten 5-13 against the odds while dating back to the end of the 2013 campaign.

#23 CALIFORNIA (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) at #5 UTAH (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) - 10 p.m. ET, ESPN
So, which headgear will ESPN's Lee Corso be wearing here at the tail-end of the College Game Day show this Saturday? There's lots of hoopin' and hollerin' about the fact that the ESPN gang will be in Salt Lake City for this battle of ranked squads but we want to know whether it's a big edge - or no advantage at all - for the Utes to be coming off a bye while California was forced to go full tilt in its 34-28 come-from-way-behind non-cover win against 17-point dog Washington State. Cal QB Jared Goff already has thrown for 15 TDs and 4 INTs while compiling four 300-yard passing games but this Utah defense is for real (allowing just 18.8 ppg and playing with great physicality) while having forced 11 enemy miscues through the first four games.
Spread Note - Utah has covered 11 of its last 16 overall games while dating back to the start of last year.


On Sunday, it's ...
SEATTLE (2-2) at CINCINNATI (4-0) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox

There's still a half-dozen NFL teams without a loss (and one of 'em - Carolina - is gonna stay that way with a Week 5 bye) but who out there in gridiron-land would have thought it would be the Bengals with a spotless mark while the two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks have had to scratch-and-claw just to get to .500? No doubt that Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch (hamstring/ankle/back) - who played sparingly in that 26-0 home win against Chicago two weeks ago and then watched this past Monday's 13-10 controversial non-cover win against Detroit from press box heaven - must suit up here if the 'Hawks really want to nab the mild upset. Our Jim Hurley Network insiders claim Cincinnati's better-than-you-think defense (allowing 19.3 ppg) will have Seattle dual-threat QB Russell Wilson in its cross-hairs with major "spy" action, so don't expect lots of tuck-the-ball-and-run big gainers here.
Spread Notes - Cincinnati is a perfect 4-0 versus the vig so far this year and the Bengals are 14-4-1 ATS at home since the start of the 2013 season. Seattle's covered 10 of its last 12 games when placed in the underdog role since the start of 2012.

NEW ENGLAND (3-0) at DALLAS (2-2) - 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
Ready, set, fire! Legendary QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are delivering a weekly message to NFL teams and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ... don't dare get us angry or we'll blow you to bits! The Pats - who have outscored their first three foes this year 119-to-70 - had their bye last week and word is Brady (1,112 yards passing with 9 TDs and 0 INTs) has been studying film of Dallas' reshuffled LB and DB corps and so expect TE Rob Gronkowski (16 catches, 4 TDs) and WR Julian Edelman (team-best 30 receptions) to work their way into isolation plays where Brady's looking to blow up one-on-one coverage. The Cowboys - still reeling from last Sunday's painful 26-20 OT loss in New Orleans (when that reshuffled LB/DB corps was not set for the game-winning TD toss by Saints' slinger Drew Brees) - need a monster pass rush and note Brady has been sacked six times this season plus Dallas is welcoming DE Greg Hardy following his four-game league suspension.
Spread Notes - New England is 2-0-1 spreadwise out of the gate this year and the Patriots are 12-5-1 ATS when playing non-AFC East foes since late in the 2013 season. Dallas, meanwhile, is a nifty 12-5 spreadwise as underdogs the past two-plus seasons.


The American League Division Series swings into action - yes, on the 59th anniversary of that perfect game thrown by New York Yankees RHP Don Larsen against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series - and so let's get you some ALDS thoughts:

TEXAS (88-74) at TORONTO (93-69) - Game 1, 3:37 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
The North of the Border crowd - the top run-scoring team in the AL this year (891 runs) - has been installed as a -220-to-$100 betting favorite for this best-of-five series ... and why not?
Toronto has Cy Young candidate LHP David Price (18-5, 2.45 ERA) lined up to pitch both Game 1 and Game 5 (if necessary) and how exactly is this somewhat pedestrian Texas pitching staff with a composite 4.24 ERA (12th-best in the league) gonna navigate its way through a lineup starring 3B Josh Donaldson (41 HR and 123 RBI and the lock to win the league's MVP) and RF Jose Bautista (40 HR and 114 RBI) - the Rangers are banking on Game 2 starter LHP Cole Hamels (13-8 overall with 215 Ks in 212.1 innings) to at least nab a split in these first two games in "Oh Canada" but this could be bombs-away time with a handful of Jays capable of "yard work". A real player-to-watch here for the underdog Rangers is roaring-hot RF Shin-Soo Choo who hit better than .400 in the month of September.

HOUSTON (87-76) at KANSAS CITY (95-67) - Game 1, 7:37 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
Now that the majority of the baseball world has declared Kansas City's slumbering September as a "sign of what's to come" you're getting all sorts of "pundits" expecting the young-and-spunky Astros to win this best-of-five set ... will Houston's long-ball threats such as DH Evan Gattis (27 HRs and team-best .463 slugging percentage), OF Coby Ramus (25 HRs), 3B Luis Valbuena (25 dingers) and stud SS Carlos Correa (22 HR in just 387 at-bats) be able to jack some bombs against this scintillating bullpen that now has RHP Wade Davis (17 saves in 18 opps) at the back end of the bullpen also starring RHP Kelvin Herrera (1.12 WHIP)? Folks, everyone got a taste of the Royals last post-season when tremendous defense/clutch hitting catapulted Ned Yost's team all the way to Game 7 of the World Series but here's a prediction that if KC is gonna get back to the Fall Classic - it is, after all, the 30th anniversary of the one-and-only championship for this franchise - than the likes of Kendrys Morales (22 HR and 106 RBI both were team highs) must be over his recent quad injury and we're gonna have to see some speed-ball played by CF Lorenzo Cain who "only" stole 28 bases this season.

NOTE: Plenty of NFL Week 5 Previews/News/Notes in the very next edition of Jim Sez.

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