Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 14, 2012 at 9:35 AM
Hey -- before we get to this weekend's gotta-see-it NCAA Football Game Previews- a quickie word on Thursday night's 23-10 Green Bay Packers win over the Chicago Bears:
Put away the sharp objects, "cheeseheads" 'cause your favorite NFL team won't be starting off the 2012 season with back-to-back losses.
The sack-happy Packers- led by Defensive Player of the Year clubhouse leader LB Clay Matthews- extinguished the Bears at Lambeau Field as Chitown's angry QB Jay Cutler was sacked seven times while throwing four interceptions.
And who are you gonna yell at for those bad throws, Mr. Cutler?
So, all is calm in the great state of Wisconsin now that the beloved Pack has evened up its mark at 1-1 and even journeyman RB Cedric Benson (20 carries for 81 yards) seemingly is going to be a key ingredient for this Green Bay offense but can you believe that the Packers already have played 25 percent of their regular-season home games? Wow ... that went fast.
And who would have thought Green Bay's season turned around on a fake field goal? Whatta know!
Okay, so we've just gotta ask the following question:
Will this whole/entire 2012 College Football Season be nothing more than a run-up to a BCS Championship Game between Alabama and USC?
You do have to wonder if either one of these super-powers is gonna lose a single game between 'em this current campaign and so forgive us for thinking back to 2005 when Texas and USC rock-n-rolled their ways to perfect seasons before tangling in one of the greatest college football games you've ever seen ... remember? Texas 41, USC 38.
No doubt that there will be plenty of teams looking to stick a pin in the 'Bama and USC balloons this season- heck, the nation's top two teams do have to travel this weekend and anything's possible even though Alabama is currently listed as a 20 ½-point favorite at short-handed Arkansas while USC is priced right now as a 9-point road choice at Stanford- but it's already beginning to feel like one of those years where the Tide and Trojans appear headed for that inevitable collision course next January. Stay tuned.
On Saturday, it's ...
#2 USC (2-0) at #21 STANFORD (2-0)- 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox
True, the Southern Cal Trojans did slip out of the Associated Press top spot after just one week of action but might this be the week Lane Kiffin's crew leap frogs #1 Alabama?
The Men of Troy- fresh off last weekend's stormy 42-29 non-cover win against 25-point dog Syracuse in a game played in New Jersey- say there won't be any jet-lag issues here as they open up Pac-12 play and keep in mind USC has lost four of the last five games in this series including last year's thrill-a-minute 56-38 triple-OT affair that starred than-Stanford slinger Andrew Luck.
Luck's gone from "The Farm" but there is a Heisman Trophy hopeful at quarterback for the other team here and QB Matt Barkley rolls into action off a six-TD showing but the real star last week was WR Robert Woods who accounted for 200 all-purpose yards including a nifty 76-yard run off a reverse against the 'Cuse.
Look for USC to mix in some gadget plays here involving Woods and sidekick WR Marquis Lee while Stanford's best hope for the upset here is to get pressure on Barkley early and stuff the ground game- note that the Cardinal ranks 7th in the country in rush defense while allowing under 50 ground yards per game.
Spread Notes - USC has failed to cover its first two games in this here-and-now 2012 season and did you know the Trojans have gone 0-3 spreadwise out of the starting gates just once in the past 10 years (see 2010 in head coach Kiffin's debut season)? The Men of Troy are also a rotten 2-5-1 ATS (against the spread) in their last eight head-to-head showdowns versus Stanford. Note that the Cardinal enters this critical Pac-12 game having gone 27-12-1 ATS overall since the start of 2009 and that includes a spiffy 17-9-1 ATS mark in league play (a potent .654 winning mark).
#1 ALABAMA (2-0) at ARKANSAS (1-1)- 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Hey, does 'Bama really need any more help in attempting to win its seventh consecutive game while dating back to last year?
The nation's top-ranked team- and defending national champs -- figure to face either Brandon Mitchell (a quarterback-turned-tight end at the star of this season) or else redshirt freshman Brandon Allen under center this weekend after regular QB Tyler Wilson suffered concussion-like symptoms in last week's shocking 34-31 overtime loss to UL-Monroe.
No wonder Hog Nation is in a really grumpy mood these days!
On the flip side, let's not forget that the Arkansas defense ranks a lowly 98th nationally in pass defense (allowing 319.5 yards a game) and into town comes red-hot A.J. McCarron to test an injury-ravaged secondary and remember McCarron is fresh off a 14-of-19, 219-yard, four-TD showing a week ago in that 35-0 non-cover win against Western Kentucky.
Spread Notes- Alabama has split its first two pointspread verdicts so far this 2012 campaign but the Crimson Tide's a dynamic 35-18 ATS overall since the start of the 2008 campaign (and that's a .660 winning rate). Note that 'Bama has covered three of its last four games against Arkansas and the Tide is 8-2 vig-wise in its last 10 away games. The heavy-duty underdog Hogs enter this SEC clash without a spread win in two tries this year and Arkansas is a so-so 7-6 ATS as pups since the start of 2009.
#20 NOTRE DAME (2-0) at #10 MICHIGAN STATE (2-0)- 8 p.m. ET, ABC
All the talk this week has been about Notre Dame moving to the ACC in all sports but football but there will be a heavy accent on playing ACC teams in the coming gridiron years ... so does that perhaps mean this rivalry game with Michigan State might get dunked sometime in the next three or four years?
The here-and-now fact is that the Irish -- a six-point dog for this prime-time clash in East Lansing- will start soph Everett Golson at quarterback here even though junior Tommy Rees "saved their bacon" in last week's 20-17 last-minute home win against Purdue. If third-year Irish head coach Brian Kelly thinks Golson is overmatched here against Sparty, he'll tab Rees to come in relief.
Meanwhile, Michigan State's looking for its third 3-and-oh (or better) start under sixth-year head coach Mark Dantonio and it'll be interesting to see how much Dantonio "trusts" QB Andrew Maxwell here one week after he threw for 275 yards with two TDs and 0 INT in a 41-7 rollover win at Central Michigan. Hey, RB Le'Veon Bell did tote the ball an amazing 44 times in a season-opening non-cover win against Boise State and we won't be shocked if Bell gets 30-plus carries here ... will you?
Spread Notes- Notre Dame is just 12-13-3 against the odds in the Brian Kelly Era that started in 2010 and the ND Fighting Irish is just 3-3-1 spreadwise under their current head coach when playing Big 10 foes. Overall, Notre Dame is 7-3 ATS as a point-grabber while dating back to the start of the 2009 season. Meanwhile, Michigan State's covered 10 of its last 13 board games while dating back to early last year and the Spartans are a healthy 20-12-2 ATS as betting favorites the past four-plus seasons.
#18 FLORIDA (2-0) at #23 TENNESSEE (2-0)- 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
It may not be the "marquee matchup" inside the mighty SEC on this day (see aforementioned Alabama at Arkansas) but this clash at Rocky Top will be a hoot nonetheless and pay special attention to Vols WR Justin Hunter who's already bagged 17 receptions worth 219 yards and three scores in early-season win against N.C. State and Georgia State.
Spread Notes- Florida owns a 6-3-1 pointspread mark against archrival Tennessee while dating back the past 10 years but did you know the Gators are a money-toasting 7-16-2 ATS in conference games since the start of the '09 season? Tennessee heads into this SEC bash having covered nine of its last dozen games when placed in the favorite's role and the Volunteers are looking to make a statement here after having gone a wobbly 1-7 vig-wise against fellow SEC teams a year ago (the lone conference cover was a 27-21 win against 1 ½-point road dog Vanderbilt).
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the NCAA Football and NFL Week 2 Winners this weekend plus there's lots of key Major-League Baseball Winners too every day -- so go ahead and climb aboard right now with America's #1 Handicapper! Make sure to get all this week's key gridiron games including Saturday's nationally ranked prime-time showdown between #20 Notre Dame at #10 Michigan State plus all the Sunday goodies including Baltimore at Philadelphia and the NBC prime-timer between Detroit at San Francisco Check in with us on Game Days either right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winners.
Extra, extra ...This weekend's best "under-the-radar" game will be played between Mid-American Conference rivals Bowling Green (1-1) at Toledo (1-1).
Last year Toledo hung on for the 28-21 road win but the BGs may be one of the best teams you don't know about as Dave Clawson's club hung tough in a season-opening 27-14 loss at four-TD fav Florida and Falcons QB Matt Schilz has thrown for 487 yards this year and won't be phased by playing in a hostile environment here.
Toledo- which bounced back from its season-opening 24-17 overtime loss at 10-point fav Arizona to best host Wyoming 34-31 last weekend in Laramie- features its own do-it-all quarterback Terrance Owens (5 TD passes and 0 INTs so far) plus all eyes will be on talented Toledo WR Bernard Reedy (15 catches foe 166 yards and one TD this season). It may not get front-and-center coverage on your late-night SportsCenter highlights but this in-state rivalry game could be a real doozy.
NOTE: Get our NFL Week 2 Key Previews in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez as we bring you Baltimore-Philadelphia, NY Jets at Pittsburgh and the prime-time battle between Detroit at San Francisco plus a whole lot more!