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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at 12:00 AM



Okay, so we're quite sure it comes as no big surprise that everyone's #1 team in College Football - the Alabama Crimson Tide - is a perfect 3-0 ATS (against the spread) to start off this here-and-now 2018 campaign … but you might be a bit stunned to find some of the other teams that have roared their way out of the starting gate with 3-oh spread marks. Here's the rundown with some quick-hitter comments on 'em all:

ALABAMA - Consider that the defending national champions have outscored Louisville / Arkansas State / Ole Miss by a combined 170-to-28 and now with this potent offense starring lefty QB Tua Tagovailoa (see 8 TD passes / 1 TD rush) the Crimson Tide's ready/willing/able to cover bloated price tags more than ever! Hey, let's not ignore the 'Bama defense that last weekend surrendered an Ole Miss touchdown on the game's first play from scrimmage and then didn't allow another point the rest of the way. P.S., Alabama's best single-season pointspread mark under Saban was a 9-3 ATS record back in 2011 and a 10-4 mark in '16.

BOSTON COLLEGE - If you listened to college football experts this past summer, they were buzzing about the BC Eagles … and so far, that advanced hype is right-on. The ACC crew has covered UMass, Holy Cross and Wake Forest - okay, so that's no "Murderer's Row" but Boston College did cover 20.5-, 45- and 6-point lines in the process - and RB A.J. Dillon (averaging 7.3 yards per carry) has been early-season Heisman Trophy material while the unsung BC quarterbacks starring Anthony Brown have thrown 13 TDs and 0 INTs … just sayin'!

CINCINNATI - Hey, the Jim Hurley Network pounded out a great opening-week outright win with Cincy (+ 14.5) over UCLA and we half-expected the Bearcats to come down to earth after that but instead Luke Fickell's squad won/covered versus Miami-Ohio and Alabama A&M. The Cincinnati kids have allowed just 24 total points in the first three games and, folks, this defense really packs a wallop.

DUKE - Give 11th-year head coach David Cutcliffe a whole bunch of credit for keeping the Dookies playing at a high level even though they lost star QB Daniel Jones two weeks ago to a season-ending injury. The Blue Devils have snared back-to-back outright upset wins at Northwestern and at Baylor, respectively, and note there's lots of speed at the wide outs / defensive backs - maybe more than ever before in Durham.

FIU - Surprise, surprise! Butch Davis' club has dashed out to a 3-0 spread start although we admit the Golden Panthers got some help as Indiana took a knee back on opening week and didn't attempt another late-game score in that 38-28 Hoosiers' non-cover win. A Jim Hurley Network "W" we gladly grabbed.

IOWA - Make no mistake that these Hawkeyes always seem to get lost in the Big 10 shuffle but now we're about to find out what they've got beginning Saturday with a home game against an angry Wisconsin squad. So far, so good for the 'Eyes who've earned three straight non-league SU (straight-up) and ATS wins this year as this defense is yielding just 8 pgg and that includes a real defensive gem in that 13-3 win in the CyHawk game against rival Iowa State two weekends ago.

MINNESOTA - Here's another Big 10 team that has its mojo working early in the 2018 season: The Golden Gophers have covered New Mexico State, Fresno State and Miami-Ohio thus far and note WR Tyler Johnson already has 20 receptions for 283 yards (14.2 average) and 5 TDs.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have the Side /Totals winners in Thursday's New York Jets at Cleveland Browns game to kick off NFL Week 3 play plus straight ahead there's a load of College Football, NFL Week 3 and Major-League Baseball winners! Go ahead and call us at 1-800-323-4453 or get the winners right here online - just keep on cashin' all month long and note we won Sunday with Atlanta (- 5.5) topping Carolina 31-24 and Detroit (+6) getting the loot in a 30-27 backdoor cover in San Francisco. Plus 4-1 in last 5 Prime Time games including Monday's Under in the Seahawks-Bears game.

MISSISSIPPI STATE - Okay, so it's not as if these Bulldogs have played a challenging sked so far with wins/covers against S.F. Austin and UL-Lafayette sandwiching a commanding 31-10 win at TD dog Kansas State but rookie head coach Joe Moorhead (former Penn State offensive coordinator) might be most proud of his defense that's held all three foes to 10 points or less. This week's game at 9.5-point pup Kentucky figures to be M-State's stiffest test so far.

SYRACUSE - Hope you caught all that locker-room excitement following last weekend's 30-7 wipeout win against 3.5-point road favorite Florida State. Heck, 'Cuse head coach Dino Babers and Company were hootin' and hollerin' up a storm but truth is they're all a little worried about QB Eric Dungey after he suffered an eye injury in that tilt. Note the last time the Orange started off a season 3-0 versus the vig was 2009 … when current Jacksonville Jaguars' head coach Doug Marrone was in his first year on the job.

TEXAS A&M - Now we'll see if the Aggies can cover a gazillion points at #1 Alabama this week but tip of the cap to Jimbo Fisher's crew that nailed down a neat cover against Clemson two weeks ago (a 28-26 loss while grabbing up 12.5 points) while also corralling covers against a couple of no-namers (see Northwestern State and UL-Monroe). Maybe RB Trayveon Williams (399 yards rushing, 6.8 ypc average and 4 TDs) will wind up coming from nowhere to get into this Heisman conversation.

VANDERBILT - Last weekend's cover at two-TD Notre Dame really got our attention because the Commodores' earlier covers against Middle Tennessee and Nevada generally were greeted with collective yawns. Note that Vandy is a better-than-you-thought 27-20-1 ATS under fifth-year head coach Derek Mason.

VIRGINIA - Count us among the folks that believed last week's home game against Ohio University was a potential "problem spot" after the Virginia Wahoos went to the mat in a 20-16 loss-but-cover at 5-point fav Indiana the weekend before. Okay, so Bronco Mendenhall's squad is playing with some giddy-up and QB Bryce Perkins has 7 TDs and just 1 INT thus far … hooray!

WASHINGTON STATE - Way out in the Paloose, this W-State Cougars club has been banking lots of loot for their backers with consecutive covers at Wyoming, then home to San Jose State and Eastern Washington but now we're about to find out is Wazzau is "for real" as Pac-12 play begins with a road game at USC. Just thought you'd like to know that the Coogs have six players already with 10-or-more catches.


For all the folks that have been coming down hard on the NFL's first-year head coaches, guess what?

The seven new coaches are a collective 6-8 against the odds - a .428 winning rate that ain't great but not nearly as bad as one might think. True, the seven - that's Arizona's Steve Wilks, Chicago's Matt Nagy, Detroit's Matt Patricia, Indianapolis' Frank Reich, New York Giants' Pat Shurmur, Oakland's Jon Gruden and Tennessee's Mike Vrabel - all lost SU in Week 1 play and that received lots of headlines and overall this group of seven gentlemen enter Week 3 action a collective 3-11 straight-up but consider that if you had $100 per play going against these folks you'd be up only a buck-forty and you can't retire on that lump sum.

Nagy's the only one that's covered both of his first two games out of the box with Monday Night's 24-17 triumph over 5-point dog Seattle featuring more defensive fireworks (see six sacks and a very timely one pick six by CB Prince Amukamara) and not a whole lot of offense even though that's Nagy's calling card. At least the Bears didn't let a fourth-quarter double-digit lead slip away this time!

NOTE: Get more College Football updates plus NFL Week 3 goodies in the next edition.

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