Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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THE JIM SEZ MID-WEEK REPORT:
THERE’S LOTS OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL GOODIES ON TAP AS WE TALK UP THE EARLY BOWL GAMES (THAT’S DECEMBER 19th THRU 24th) …
THE NFL RUMOR MILL: EYES ON QB CHANGES AHEAD
Okay, so the College Football Bowl list has grown to 40 games plus the January 11th National Championship Game in Glendale (AZ) and so we’ve got a lot of chattin’ to do over the course of the next couple of weeks.
We’ll tackle the first 12 Bowl Games on this holiday schedule with quick-hitter remarks with a reminder that more detailed previews will be coming straight ahead when we get closer to game days.
One other item on our board right now:
As we head into the annual Army vs. Navy game and the Heisman Trophy presentation this Saturday evening, we let you know just how College Football Betting Favorites have fared this 2015 season and here’s the skinny …
College Football Betting Favorites are 361-338-15 (with 8 Pick ‘Em games) this year for a .516 winning rate. The truth of the matter is a month ago the Betting Favs were three games below the .500 mark but three consecutive solid weeks by the chalk sides (the Betting Favs went just 6-8 on “Championship Game Weekend”) catapulted ‘em into a winning mark.
Still, as we’ve been telling you for the past 25 years or so, the norm is for Favorites vs. Underdogs to be right around .500 at year’s end and that’s pretty much the case once again.
We’ll get you some goodies on the College Bowl Games that will be played from December 19th thru December 24th (that’s 12 bowls in all, folks) in just a moment but first this key reminder:
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And cash in with NFL Week 14 action beginning with the Thursday Night Football bash between the Minnesota Vikings at the Arizona Cardinals.
COLLEGE BOWLS –
Here’s a look at those 12 bowl games from Saturday, Dec. 19th thru Thursday, Dec. 24th. We’ll have more bowl coverage in the next edition of Jim Sez as we tackle a batch of late December tilts, so keep it right here!
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19
NEW MEXICO BOWL University Stadium – Albuquerque, NM
ARIZONA (6-6) at NEW MEXICO (7-5) – 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
First bowl game for the UNM Lobos since 2007 and this will be a big deal hosting a Pac-12 team with RB Jhurell Pressley (846 yards rushing and 11 TDs) a dynamite player who could give the ‘Zona defense fits here.
Current Line: Arizona is a 10-point favorite
LAS VEGAS BOWL Sam Boyd Stadium – Las Vegas, NV
BYU (9-3) vs. #22 UTAH (9-3) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
The renewal of the old Beehive State Battle comes via a post-season bowl game and word is Virginia-bound BYU boss Bronco Mendenhall will stick around and coach ‘em up here against a Utah team that hasn’t been the same since losing RB Devontae Booker (knee).
Current Line: Utah is a 2.5-point favorite
CAMELLIA BOWL Cramton Bowl – Montgomery, AL
OHIO (8-4) vs. APPALACHIAN STATE (9-2) – 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Sixth bowl game in the past seven years for Frank Solich’s Ohio Bobcats but the player-to-watch cat here is Appalachian State QB Taylor Lamb who threw for 2,263 yards with 29 TDs and just 8 INTs.
Current Line: Appalachian State is an 8.5-point favorite
CURE BOWL Citrus Bowl Stadium – Orlando, FL
SAN JOSE STATE (5-7) vs. GEORGIA STATE (6-6) – 7 p.m. ET, CBSSN
The SJSU Spartans are one of three teams to go bowling with a losing record (ugh!) but how about these stats: San Jose State is second in the country in pass defense (153.6 ypg) and G-State ranks eighth nationally in passing offense (346.6 ypg). Hmm.
Current Line: San Jose State is favored by 3 points
NEW ORLEANS BOWL Superdome – New Orleans, LA
LOUISIANA TECH (8-4) vs. ARKANSAS STATE (8-3) – 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Arkansas State Red Wolves made four straight trips to the G Daddy.com Bowl the past four years and so this is change-of-venue stuff and all eyes will be on senior QB Fredi Knighten (19 TDs and 7 INTs) who must challenge a Louisiana Tech defense that surrendered 17 points or less in four of its last five games.
Current Line: Louisiana Tech is a 2-point favorite
MONDAY, DECEMBER 21
MIAMI BEACH BOWL Marlins Park – Miami, FL
WESTERN KENTUCKY (11-2) vs. USF (8-4)– 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
New contract for USF Bulls’ boss Willie Taggart -- and did he ever deserve it with November wins against Temple and Cincinnati but now Sunshine Staters must fend off Hilltoppers’ slinger Brandon Doughty (4,594 yards passing and 45 TDs) who is looking to cap his college career with a bang.
Current Line: Western Kentucky is a 3-point favorite
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL Bronco Stadium – Boise, ID
AKRON (7-5) vs. UTAH STATE (6-6) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
First bowl game in the Terry Bowden Era for the Akron Zips (and first for the school since the 2005 Motor City Bowl) while Utah State skidded down the stretch with four consecutive pointspread losses in the final month of play.
Current Line: Utah State is favored by 6.5 points
BOCA RATON BOWL FAU Stadium – Boca Raton, FL
#24 TEMPLE (10-3) vs. TOLEDO (9-2) – 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
No question that Temple’s dream season had some dips (see three losses in the final six games) but at least the Owls know Matt Rhule will be coaching ‘em with a new $$$ contract while Toledo’s Matt Campbell is out the door for Iowa State.
Current Line: Temple is a 2-point betting favorite
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 23
POINSETTIA BOWL Qualcomm Stadium – San Diego, CA
NORTHERN ILLINOIS (8-5) vs. BOISE STATE (8-4) – 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Sometimes these bowl games can be “season-salvagers” and that’s the case here with the Boise State Broncos who lost outright as 30.5- and 10.5-point betting favorites against New Mexico and Air Force, respectively, late in the year. Don’t look now but Northern Illinois could be down to its fourth- or fifth-string quarterback here.
Current Line: Boise State is favored by 9 points
GO DADDY.COM BOWL Ladd-Peebles Stadium – Mobile, AL
BOWLING GREEN (10-3) vs. GEORGIA SOUTHERN (8-3) – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Bowling Green boss Dino Babers waved bye-bye after winning 18 games in his two years here (he’s off to Syracuse, of course) and the Mid-American Conference school named defensive coordinator Brain Ward as the sideline general for this bowl bash. One note on Georgia Southern: They’re #1 in the land in rushing (356 ypg) starring RB Matt Breida (1,540 yards rushing with 16 TDs and an 8.2 ypg average).
Current Line: Bowling Green is a 7-point betting fav
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 24
BAHAMAS BOWL Robinson Stadium – Nassau, Bahamas
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (7-5) vs. WESTERN MICHIGAN (7-5) – 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
Roll out the suntan lotion and get ready for lots of points in this game on the islands as Middle Tennessee State QB Brent Stockstill (the coach’s son) is a hot number with 3,678 yards passing, 27 TDs and a 66.7 completion percentage rate while WMU’s Zach Terrell is no slouch as the Broncos’ quarterback piled up 3,229 yards passing and 27 TDs for a team that covered games against Big 10 superpowers Michigan State and Ohio State … wow!
Current Line: Western Michigan is a 3-point betting favorite
HAWAII BOWL Aloha Stadium – Honolulu, HI
SAN DIEGO STATE (10-3) vs. CINCINNATI (7-5) – 8 p.m.
Is there a hotter team in the land other than #1 Clemson than this San Diego State squad? Rocky Long’s crew brings a nine-game winning streak into this Christmas Eve bowl tilt and note the Aztecs are a sizzling 7-1-1 spreadwise during this SU (straight-up) streak while Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel (2,777 passing yards) is a star but just needs to avoid those train-wreck hits in the pocket.
Current Line: Cincinnati is currently a 2-point betting favorite
THE NFL RUMOR MILL
We head into NFL Week 14 play – it all starts with Thursday night’s monster matchup between Minnesota at Arizona (see our Jim Sez Game Preview in tomorrow’s column) – with lots of quarterback talk:
CLEVELAND – On and on the Johnny Manziel nonsense goes as he’ll now be starting in Sunday’s home game against born-again San Francisco and odds are he’ll stick in the starter’s role in the Browns’ final four games providing he doesn’t get hurt or crank out another “music video” but it’s clear that this dysfunctional franchise doesn’t know what to do with “Johnny Football” or the other imposters at this quarterback position. Word to the wise … trade that first-round pick and a couple of bodies to New Orleans this off-season and get two or three good years from Drew Brees who will be on the market.
OAKLAND – Okay, so QB Derek Carr isn’t gonna be shipped anywhere soon but don’t be surprised if a potential slow start at Denver this weekend gets ‘em a seat on the bench. Carr’s been slumping badly in recent weeks (the Raiders have scored more than 20 points just once in the past four games) and so maybe watch out for a Matt McGloin appearance off the pine here in Week 14.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Matt Hasselbeck injuries in Pittsburgh now likely “speeds up” the move to get Andrew Luck back in the lineup but insiders say Chuck Pagano’s team won’t force Luck to start here in Sunday’s divisional game in Jacksonville unless he’s close to 100 percent ready … can Indy actually win with career backup Charlie Whitehurst at the helm?
NOTE: Kick off the NFL Week 14 schedule with our Vikings-Cardinals preview in tomorrow’s Jim Sez plus there’s more Bowl Coverage as well.