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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, November 26, 2015 at 12:00 AM

Jim Sez for Thursday, November 26 …


Really, does it get any better than this?
Not only is Thanksgiving Day a food feast but it’s a football feast too – combine ‘em with Jim Hurley’s 30th Annual Turkey Shoot and you get a slice of heaven on earth.

Well, we take a moment to remind you good folks that last year Jim Hurley banged out a bunch of winners during his Turkey Shoot including Thanksgiving Day winners in the NFL with both Philadelphia over Dallas and Seattle over San Francisco, so don’t just sit there and pass Uncle Charlie the sweet potatoes … go ahead and pile up the “W’s” today and all holiday weekend long.
Here’s the lowdown

Note that my handicappers and bloggers have everything all mapped out for this year’s Thanksgiving Day games as part of Jim Hurley’s Annual Turkey Shoot when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online at

Note that we banged out a batch of NFL Week 11 winners this past Sunday as Indianapolis (+ 3.5) roared back to beat Atlanta 24-21, Houston (+ 4) toppled the New York Jets 24-17 and Dallas (- 2) held off the rain and the Miami Dolphins in a 24-14 triumph. Plus, we bagged the “under” in Denver at Chicago too and went “under” in Monday’s 20-13 New England win against Buffalo (totals price was 47.5 points)!
And there’s lots more where that came from, folks!

Here’s what’s straight ahead when it comes to the top six teams in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings with all games on Saturday unless otherwise specified below …

#1 CLEMSON (11-0, 8-0 ACC) – at South Carolina, 12 p.m. ET on ESPN
Head coach Dabo Swinney’s spent a whole lot of time dancing on the playing fields after Tiger wins this year – if you find ‘em dancing three more times than it means Clemson’s the king of all college football!

Last weekend’s 33-13 non-cover win against Wake Forest featured three more scoring strikes thrown by QB Deshaun Watson but just check out margin-of-victory and you’ll see this Clemson club is winning games by an average of 20 ppg. The College Football Playoff folks kept these ACC on top of the pack for a fourth consecutive week and we think they got this one right (but we’ve got more to say about the newest rankings, for sure!).

Here against a South Carolina team that has merely disintegrated this year, the Tigers are nearly 17-point road betting favorites and in order to cover that hefty price tag then Watson must steer clear of picks (he threw two of ‘em against Wake Forest) and PK Greg Huegel must bang home a couple of long-range FGs (he’s 20-of-22 this year).

It’s all hands on deck here for the orange gang after last week resting some key players in the secondary and along the O-line.

#2 ALABAMA (10-1, 6-1 SEC) – at Auburn, 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
This Iron Bowl matchup comes with a bit more pressure than usual on Nick Saban’s squad … after all, the Tide’s a hefty two-TD betting favorite and so ‘Bama may need some “style points” to maintain its #2 spot in the CFP rankings (they’ve been at #2 for three straight weeks now) and gotta believe nothing-to-lose Auburn will be playing loosey-goosey and so Alabama better be prepared to handle some gadget and gimmick plays on this November afternoon.

No doubt that Alabama RB Derrick Henry is ready to roar – he only played the first half in last week’s blowout over Charleston Southern – but will Saban put the ball in Henry’s hands 30-plus times here or show a little confidence in QB Jake Coker who has been a bit hot-or-miss as the starter this season?

Alabama sports the nation’s third-ranked defense and second-ranked rush defense and so gotta believe Auburn boss Gus Malzahn will have his quarterbacks throwing it 50-or-so times providing they can get RB Henry off the field and their War Eagle offense on the field.

#3 OKLAHOMA (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) – at #11 Oklahoma State, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
A whole lot of folks are squawking about the fact the Oklahoma Sooners barged into the third spot in this week’s CFP rankings and – well – they’re right!

Consider that Bob Stooops’ crew barely escaped with their lives in last week’s 30-29 win against 19-point underdog TCU and it doesn’t quite make sense although we admit we’re part of the “old crowd” that remembers how the traditional polls work but still reward a team for nearly losing outright (see TCU’s failed two-point conversion try late) to a near three-TD dog? Hmmm.

In any event, if Oklahoma wins here – and remember there’s no Big 12 Championship Game – and wins by a twin-figure margin you gotta believe that Boomer Sooner will indeed be part of the eventual four-team playoff mix but let’s see how QB Baker Mayfield (33 TDs and 5 INTs) holds up after getting whacked around last week and so the no-brainer game plan figures to be lots of runs for RBs Samaje Perine (1,160 yards rushing and 13 TDs) and Joe Mixon (613 yards rushing and 5 ground scores).

We know the “strength of schedule” is very much on Oklahoma’s side but an unimpressive win – as it just did to Notre Dame – could hurt OU’s place in the CFP rankings.

#4 IOWA (11-0, 7-0 Big 10) – at Nebraska on Friday, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Short week plus travel for Kirk Ferentz’s still-perfect team that copped the Big 10 West Division last week with a 40-20 non-cover win against Purdue while Wisconsin was busy gagging it up against Northwestern. One thing about this Iowa team is that it goes the conservative route but doesn’t beat itself and QB C.J. Beathard (three scoring strikes last week) hasn’t been looking over his shoulder all year while the defense could use another effort like last week when the Boilermakers converted on just 4-of-18 third-down plays.
The CFP committee folks got it right by getting Iowa inside the top four teams and, as the ESPN experts said on Tuesday night if the ‘Eyes win here and then win the Big 10 Championship Game they’re in … no questions asked!

#5 MICHIGAN STATE (10-1, 6-1 Big 10) – at Penn State, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Last week’s rain-filled 17-14 win at Ohio State really pumped up Sparty in the CFP rankings and good for them! Mark Dantonio’s team showed a really mental toughness without star QB Connor Cook but how does M-State prevent a letdown here? Again, a 3- or 4-point win against double-digit dog Penn State won’t wow anyone but the truth is the Spartans simply have to get into the Big 10 title tilt, beat Iowa and then wait to find out whether it’s going to the Cotton Bowl or Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve. You know that “destiny in their own hands” thing, my friends!

#6 NOTRE DAME (10-1) – at #9 Stanford, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Don’t want to hear any crying by the ND Fighting Irish who turned the ball over five times in last week’s ugly 19-16 non-cover win against Boston College: The mission is simple now and that’s stop Stanford mega-star RB Christian McCaffrey and then hope the Notre Dame wide outs can hang onto the damn football.

Don’t count Notre Dame out of this whole shindig – a win at a high-quality power conference team would do wonders especially if one or two of the teams above ‘em lose this holiday weekend. Not having any conference affiliation hurts but consider that a SEC Championship loss by ‘Bama or a loss this weekend by Oklahoma with a Notre Dame “W” would catapult Brian Kelly’s club right back into the elite four.

Here’s a taste of what’s ahead on Sunday’s NFL Week 12 card – lots more to come in the next couple of editions of Jim Sez:

MINNESOTA (7-3) at ATLANTA (6-4) – 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Both teams come off a Week 11 loss but the disheartening part of Minny’s 30-13 setback against archrival Green Bay is that the Vikings simply didn’t open any holes for RB Adrian Peterson (13 carries for 45 yards) and didn’t protect QB Teddy Bridgewater (see six sacks for 48 yards and numerous other hits/hurries). If Atlanta chucks a whole lot of blitzes at Bridgewater here, then Minny better have “max protect” or the kid could get smothred alive.

On the flip side, the Falcons gagged up a 21-7 lead at home en route to a 24-21 loss to Indianapolis – and when is QB Matt Ryan gonna stop throwing so many red-zone picks? Expect WR Julio Jones (9 catches for 160 yards last Sunday) to see the ball up to 15 times here and we’ll see how well this Minnesota secondary covers (and tackles).

Spread Notes – Minnesota has covered eight of its first 10 games this season but did you realize the Vikings are an ultra-tasty 13-3 ATS (against the spread) in non-NFC North games since the start of last season? Atlanta, meanwhile, covered its first four games this year and then has failed to cover its last six consecutive games thus making the Falcons 18-26-1 ATS overall since late 2013.

ARIZONA (8-2) at SAN FRANCISCO (3-7) – 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox

A little history lesson here:
The ‘Zona Cardinals already spanked San Francisco once this year with a 47-7 thumping way back in Week 3 and you’ve gotta believe that QB Carson Palmer will be entering this game feeling good after a slow-start, fast-finish in last Sunday Night’s 34-31 non-cover win against Cincinnati. No doubt WR Larry Fitzgerald – two big catches on that game-winning drive against the Bengals – is always a “player to watch” but don’t sleep on born-again WR John Brown while the 10-point home underdog Niners need a healthy WR Anquan Boldin (5 catches for 93 yards in last Sunday’s 29-13 loss to Seattle) to make noise against a banged-up CB Patrick Peterson.

Spread Notes – Arizona is 6-4 versus the vig overall this season and the Cardinals are 14-7-1 ATS away since the start of the 2013 season. San Francisco, meanwhile, is 4-6 against the odds this season and that means the Niners are 10-16-1 ATS since late in the ’13 campaign.

NOTE: More NFL Week 12 previews in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez plus our quickie recaps of the Thanksgiving Day/Night games too!


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