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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, December 27, 2019 at 12:00 AM











Not bad, not bad at all.

This year’s College Football Playoffs feature a quartet of teams that registered a 51-and-1 SU (straight-up) mark this season – shame on you, Oklahoma Sooners! – and as we told y’all a few days ago the combo of LSU, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma produced a pointspread won / loss mark of 32-19-1 this year, good for a nifty .627 winning percentage.

But let’s toss all that in the trunk for now and move on – after all, it’s Playoff Time.

We’ll dish out our game previews in this final football Saturday for 2019 in just a moment, but first this key reminder …


Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have the College Football Playoff winners plus more Saturday bowl action and there’s NFL Week 17 winners on Sunday too along with the NBA and College Hoops – just call us on game days at the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here at and also cash in with NBA / NCAA hoops.



On Saturday, it’s …

PEACH BOWL – at Atlanta, GA

#4 OKLAHOMA (12-1) vs. #1 LSU (13-0) – 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

Guess all that’s really left to do for the LSU Tigers is to win two more games and be crowned this year’s national champ, right?

The SEC champs already sport this season’s Heisman Trophy winner in QB Joe Burrow (4,715 yards with 48 TDs and 6 INTs) and remember this is an offense that has scored 42+ points on – get this – 10 different occasions and keep in mind LSU’s a hearty 6-3-1 against the odds whenever scoring that many points. True, the Tigers could be without RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (1,290 yards rushing with 16 TDs) who suffered a hamstring injury last week in practice. Expect LSU boss-man Ed Orgeron – our Jim Sez College Football Coach of the Year – to have Burrow go pedal-to-the-medal here and chuck it 55-plus times.

Conversely, Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts – the actual runner-up to Burrow for this year’s Heisman Trophy award – needs to make some action plays with his legs here as Hurts has rushed for 1,255 yards with 18 TDs to go along with 3,634 passing yards and 32 scores. If Oklahoma – a near two-TD underdog – is gonna hang tough in this playoff game, then Hurts can’t turn it over – not even once.

Spread Notes – LSU enters this clash at 8-4-1 ATS (against the spread) overall this season and the Bayou Bengals have covered 14 of their last 19 away games these past three years; Oklahoma’s the only playoff team with a sub-.500 spread mark at 5-8 ATS but did you know the Boomer Sooners have covered seven of their last 11 games against non-Big 12 foes?


FIESTA BOWL – at Glendale, AZ

#3 CLEMSON (13-0) vs. #2 OHIO STATE (13-0) – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Let’s take a look at some of the numbers connected to this prime-time clash:

The Clemson Tigers enter this playoff semifinal on a 28-game SU winning streak and take note that this ACC powerhouse is 20-7-1 ATS in these games (a rollicking .741 winning rate) and now Dabo Swinney’s squad is a 2-point betting favorite here – even though Ohio State finished first in the country in scoring offense (48.7 ppg) and even though the Buckeyes have beaten the likes of Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan by a combined 71 points!

One other number-related note: The ‘Eyes sport the nation’s fifth-ranked offense and second-ranked defense and QB Justin Fields (our Jim Sez runner-up to LSU’s Burrow for this year’s Heisman) weighs in here with a season-long stat line of 2,953 passing yards with 40 TDs and 1 INT. So, is the right team favored here? Hmmm.

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence (3,172 yards passing with 34 TDs and 8 INTs) has overcome a shaky start to this 2019 campaign and he’s now playing with major confidence again but it says here that the real key for the Tigers is whether or not RB Travis Etienne (1,500 yards rushing with 17 TDs and an 8.2 yards-per-carry average) can bust off some big gainers against this O-State defense – if he can’t then Lawrence won’t be so effective against a pass rush starring DE Chase Young (16.5 sacks) and friends.

Spread Notes – Clemson is 10-3 ATS overall this year and note the Tigers have chalked up a sizzling 6-1 spread mark in all playoff games since 2015; On the flip side, The Ohio State University is 9-4 odds-wise this season and the Buckeyes are a collective 14-2 ATS as underdogs the past 10-plus seasons.


In the other Saturday Bowl Games, it’s …

COTTON BOWL – at Arlington, TX

#17 MEMPHIS (12-1) vs. #10 PENN STATE (10-2) – 12 p.m. ET, ESPN

The number’s stayed pretty steady here – the Penn State Nittany Lions have been a full TD betting favorite since jump street and that’s interesting stuff considering the Big 10 team has lost three of its last four bowl games and offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne is off to Old Dominion where he’ll be the Monarchs’ next head ball coach. So, is there reason to think Penn State will be out of sync here behind QB Sean Clifford (2,521 passing yards with 22 TDs) and just how potent will this Memphis offense be after finishing regular-season play with the country’s 10th-best offense?

If Tigers’ QB Brady White (3,560 yards passing with 33 TDs) can heat up, then this AAC gang could win its eighth game in a row but we say an X-factor here is Memphis RB Kenneth Gainwell (averaging 151 scrimmage yards per outing) against that Penn State LB corps “out in space”.

Spread Notes – Penn State’s just 5-6-1 ATS this year and the Nittany Lions are a modest 39-36-3 ATS under sixth-year coach James Franklin; Memphis is 7-5-1 versus the vig this ’19 season but note the Tigers have failed to cover each of their last four bowl games;  



#15 NOTRE DAME (10-2) vs. IOWA STATE (7-5) – 12 p.m. ET, ABC

Better believe that there’s been plenty of Notre Dame fans / alumni / players that have been bitchin’ over the fact that this team isn’t playing in one of the big bowl games … losses at Georgia and at Michigan sabotaged an otherwise rock-solid season and you wonder if the ND gang is gonna be “psyched” for this showdown in central Florida. There’s a strong chance Iowa State – coming off an underachieving campaign that includes five losses by a total of 21 points – will be emotionally charged but the $64,000 question is can State slinger Brock Purdy (3,760 yards passing with 27 TDs and 9 INTs) find enough creases in the Irish secondary to make hay here?

Spread Notes – Notre Dame is 8-4 ATS overall this year and that features two different four-game ATS winning streaks … really! The ND Fighting Irish has managed to cover just three-of-eight pointspread verdicts in bowl games under 10th-year head coach Brian Kelly; Iowa State is a dead-even and vig-losing 6-and-6 against the Las Vegas prices this season and the Cyclones are 20-7 ATS as underdog sides since the start of the 2016 campaign.



Let’s zip ‘round the league for a bit and get you some straight-hitting spread facts in games that have playoff and /or playoff-seeding implications:


Pittsburgh at Baltimore – The Ravens don’t “need” the game but note John Harbaugh’s crew has covered six-of-seven games since the team’s Week 8 bye; the Steelers are a sub-par 7-8-2 spreadwise when playing fellow divisional foes the past two-plus seasons.


Green Bay at Detroit – The GB Packers are 10-5 ATS in head-to-head showdowns versus the Lions in recent years and that’s also the spread mark overall for first-year boss-man Matt LaFleur. Hear, hear!


Miami at New England – The Patriots have covered seven of their last 10 tilts against the Fish but did you realize that New England’s 206-144-9 ATS under 20th-year head coach Bill Belichick (and that’s a fancy .589 winning rate)?



NOTE: Catch NFL Week 17 quick-hitter previews in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez and cash all holiday season long at 1-800-323-4453.


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