Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 12:09 PM
If you happen to be waiting for some sort of major shakeup at the very top of the College Football polls, well, this probably isn't the week to hold your breath!
As a matter of fact, #1 Alabama and new #2 Oregon are each favored by 30 points right now against overmatched foes Ole Miss and Washington State, respectively, while #3 LSU is playing at home against little Towson.
Still, there's an absolute plethora of big-time games out there including a couple of tilts pitting ranked teams against one another - see #25 Baylor at #9 West Virginia and #14 Ohio State at #20 Michigan State - while the squad we termed the nation's "forgotten team" earlier this week (that's the #5 Georgia Bulldogs) are in action at home looking to buff up their mark to 5-and-oh.
Oh, we're sure to get some this weekend and it all got started on Thursday night when #8 Stanford stumbled its way to a 17-13 loss at 7 ½-point underdog Washington and now among the other ranked folks we believe should be on "upset high alert" are the likes of #17 Clemson (at Boston College), #12 Texas (at Oklahoma State - see preview below) and #19 Louisville (at Southern Miss) and so make sure there's new batteries in the remote control and send the kids outside to play ... it's a major weekend in College Football even if the kings of the sport don't figure to break a sweat.
Now, here's our Jim Sez College Football Key Weekend Previews ...
TENNESSEE (3-1) at #5 GEORGIA (4-0) - 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Forgive the Georgia Bulldogs for daydreaming about an SEC Championship Game showdown against either Alabama/LSU ... but Mark Richt's club already can taste it!
Maybe that makes the Dawgs a tad vulnerable here in a late September SEC home game against a dangerous foe that can pass the ball but may not have the folks to keep this high-powered Georgia offense out of the end zone.
In case you haven't seen, Georgia has scored 190 points in its first four games this year (a 47.5 ppg average) and QB Aaron Murray has been downright deadly (see 10 TDs and 2 INTs) while frosh RB Todd Gurley (averaging 101.5 yards rushing per game) is a real legit field-flipper.
Spread Notes - Georgia is just 9-15 ATS (against the spread) at home while dating back to the start of the 2008 season and that already includes spread setbacks "between the hedges" this year against Buffalo and Florida Atlantic. On the flip side, Tennessee is 5-11 vig-wise overall since late 2010 and the Volunteers have lost eight of their last nine spread verdicts in SEC play ... ugh!
#12 TEXAS (3-0) at OKLAHOMA STATE (2-1) - 7:50 p.m. ET, Fox
Hey, these prime-time Fox-TV tilts have been a blast so far with UCLA shocking Nebraska and Kansas State stunning Oklahoma the past couple of weeks but what would be a real jaw-dropped here is if we don't get 70-or-so points in this Big 12 battle with Texas QB David Ash (7 TDs and 0 INTs) in a red-hot mode for Mack Brown's bunch.
Oklahoma State's hoping QB Wes Lunt (leg) can go here but keep an eye peeled on State RB Joseph Randle (averaging 112 ypg rushing) and we say if he gets fed 25-or-so times here, the Pokes will win.
Go ahead and scream now, Fox's Gus Johnson!
Spread Notes - Since the start of last season, Texas is a tasty 8-3 against the odds whenever placed in the favorite's role and that includes Big 12 covers as chalk sides last year against Iowa State, Kansas and Texas Tech. Note that Oklahoma State sports a neat 4-2-1 ATS mark in its last seven hoedowns against rival Texas but did you know the Cowboys also have covered 13 of their last 17 conference games?
#14 OHIO STATE (4-0) at #20 MICHIGAN STATE (3-1) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Neither Buckeyes boss-man Urban Meyer nor Spartans general Mark Dantonio have been really pleased with their respective offenses through the first month of the 2012 season - hey, M-State dropped a truckload of passes in last weekend's 23-7 non-cover win against 31 ½-point pup Eastern Michigan - and so a defensive or special teams score could be all the difference in the world here.
Okay, so Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell did rush for a career-best 253 yards in that latest tilt but we'll be shocked if the 'Eyes surrender half that many rushing yards to 'em here ... got it?
Spread Notes - Ohio State enters this tilt on a three-game spread losing skid and you have to go back to early 2008 to find the last time the 'Eyes lost four in a row to the Las Vegas price tag. Note that Ohio State has banged out a 37-17-1 ATS log in Big 10 play since the start of 2005. Meanwhile, Michigan State has failed to cover five of its last seven head-to-head showdowns against Ohio State while tracing back to 2003 and note "Sparty" is 0-3 vig-wise at home this year after having registered a tidy 5-1 ATS home mark last year.
#25 BAYLOR (3-0) at #9 WEST VIRGINIA (3-0) - 12 p.m. ET, FX
On your mark, get so ... go!
Yes, on paper this looks to be the highest-scoring game of the whole weekend (note the Las Vegas totals price rose to 81 ½ points late Thursday night) and instead of spitting out volumes of offensive stats here such as West Virginia QB Geno Smith has 12 TDs and 0 INTs thus far in 2012 or that Baylor QB Nick Florence has thrown for 1,004 yards and 11 TDs in his team's first three games we'll mention the fact that this Big 12 tilt (WVU's first) pits two teams with lousy pass defenses:
Or didn't you realize that Baylor ranks 113th in the land in that category or that West Virginia ranks 103rd in pass defense?
Spread Notes - West Virginia rolls into this high noon tilt in Morgantown with a solid 8-5-1 ATS mark in all home games since late 2009 and the Mountaineers are 9-5-1 spreadwise when playing fellow BCS conference teams that past couple of years. Baylor's just 3-8 versus the vig as an underdog side since the start of 2010 and the Bears enter this conference clash at just 5-9 ATS in road games the past two-plus seasons.
WISCONSIN (3-1) at #22 NEBRASKA (3-1) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC
The rumblings from Lincoln say "Big Red" wants revenge for last year's 48-17 loss in Madison and so there won't be any pity party for the visiting Badgers in case RB Montee Ball (head) does not play here. The reports are Ball should get the green light after he was removed in the first half of last week's non-cover win against UTEP but the real key here for Wisconsin is whether or not they can put the wraps on Nebraska's run-first QB Taylor Martinez and RB Rex Burkhead - and note the latter returned from a knee injury to rush for 119 yards and two scores last weekend against Idaho State.
Spread Notes - Nebraska split its eight pointspread decisions in Big 10 play a year ago including that ugly 31-point loss at 9 ½-point fav Wisconsin. Believe it or not, the Wisky Badgers are 0-4 spreadwise out of the 2012 starting gate and note that they're actually 2-10 ATS overall dating back to the middle of last year.
HERE'S THE NFL WEEK 4 SUNDAY AFTERNOON MENU AS 49ERS-JETS AND THOSE UNBEATEN FALCONS HEADLINE THE GRIDIRON ACTION
By Jim Hurley
Hey, is that standing ovation for us?
Ohh, it's for the NFL officials who were given a rousing round of applause prior to the Baltimore Ravens' 23-16 non-cover win against the Cleveland Browns this past Thursday night and - all kidding aside - it's great to have the men in stripes back and here's hoping they are a major improvement against those clowns that helped to sabotage the pro game the past three weeks.
Let us never hear a single thing about the "Lingerie League" officials again ... okay?
While normalcy has been finally restored on NFL playing fields in terms of the above-mentioned officials, it's hardly been a normal start in the NFL wagering world:
Did you realize that following Cleveland's pointspread cover the other night that NFL Betting Favorites now are 17-30-2 ATS (against the spread) and that equates into a .362 winning rate for chalk-siders.
We've seen NFL Underdogs have their days -- and their pointspread runs too in this league where they play for pay - but we simply cannot remember a time where three-plus weeks into a regular season the pups are covering nearly two-thirds of the plays.
Here's the week-by-week breakdown in chart form so far in this 2012 NFL regular season:
|WEEK #||FAVS ATS||PCT|
Note that the Arizona Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the NFL's only teams that have covered all of their games while placed in the underdog role while the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles both are 0-3 spreadwise as betting favorites so far - and we'll keep you posted with all the key NFL Pointspread News/Notes all throughout this current campaign.
As far as this week's action, here's a look at the NFL Week 4 Key Sunday afternoon previews:
SAN FRANCISCO (2-1) at NEW YORK JETS (2-1) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Let's just say that the San Fran 49ers probably spent a bit too much time reviewing their press clippings following that fantastic 2-and-oh start that featured wins against Green Bay and Detroit.
The come-back-to-earth game happened last Sunday in Minnesota where - among other things - Jim Harbaugh's team turned the ball over three times and scored just one offensive touchdown en route to a 24-13 loss. If the Niners are not able to peck away at a Jets secondary missing mega-star CB Darrelle Revis (knee) here, than the home dogs could have a serious shot but there's plenty on the NYJ fix-it list too including get the running game healthy as RB Shonn Greene is averaging a meager 2.8 yards a carry so far and also tighten up matters along the O-line.
Who cares that C Nick Mangold and LT DeBrickashaw Ferguson are considered Pro Bowl players - they haven't looked the part the first three weeks this year!
Spread Notes - Despite last week's double-digit loss at Minnesota, did you know that San Francisco still is 14-6-1 ATS since the start of last year and the 49ers are 9-5 vig-wise as betting favorites in the Harbaugh Era. On the other hand, the J-E-T-S are 1-1-1 spreadwise so far this 2012 season and they've failed to cover six of their last eight underdog appearances.
CAROLINA (1-2) at ATLANTA (3-0) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
The NFL's unbeatens now stand at just three with the Falcons, Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans the only 3-and-oh squads out there and one thing we've all learned about this here-and-now Atlanta team is it's the "king of the AFC West" by virtue of season-starting wins against Kansas City, Denver and San Diego.
Now Mike Smith's squad gets into divisional play with NFC South rival Carolina comin' to town and keep in mind the Panthers have been stewing for more than a week following last Thursday's 36-7 blowout loss to the NY Giants and think there won't be some QB comparisons going on here?
Atlanta slinger Matt Ryan - who leads the NFL in QB Rating after three weeks -- has thrown 8 TDs and just 1 INT and last year he led a clean sweep against Carolina with 31-17 and 31-23 wins/covers.
P.S., here's hoping we see some better "body language" from Carolina QB Cam Newton whose 2-TD, 5-INT stat line thus far ain't exactly reserving him a place in this year's Pro Bowl!
Spread Notes - Atlanta's covered all three of its out-of-the-chute games this year and the Falcons are a tidy 9-4-1 vig-wise since the middle of last year. Note the Birds enter this clash with a solid 11-7 ATS mark in NFC South play the past three-plus seasons. On the flip side, Carolina is just 8-15 odds-wise when placed in thee underdog role while dating back to the start of the 2010 season. The Panthers also are just 5-9 ATS in divisional duels the past two-plus years.
NEW ORLEANS (0-3) at GREEN BAY (1-2) - 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
We know, we know. What are we doing getting you a preview of two teams with a combined 1-5 SU (straight-up) record?
Well, for one thing this just might be the last time we mention the now-hapless N'Orleans Saints who rank dead-last in the league in rush defense (allowing 215 ground yards per game) and somehow have not won a game despite averaging nearly 28 ppg.
No doubt QB Drew Brees (5 INTs) simply hasn't been himself so far but if he wants to spring the upset at Lambeau Field here than getting it to TE Jimmy Graham (4 catches for only 15 yards in last week's 27-24 OT loss to Kansas City) is an absolute must.
Meanwhile, what can you say about the GB Packers coming off that highway robbery 14-12 loss in Seattle this past Monday Night?
Head coach Mike McCarthy has told his troops to stay focused on what's straight ahead but how about the lack of production from this offense that ranks 21st in the NFL in passing and 25th in rushing ... and when is someone gonna block for QB Aaron Rodgers who was sacked eight times in the first half alone on MNF?
Spread Notes - Green Bay is 15-10 spreadwise as betting favorites since late in its Super Bowl-winning season of 2010 and did you know the Packers are 23-13-1 ATS when going outside the rough-and-tumble NFC North? New Orleans, meanwhile, not only is winless in three tries versus the Las Vegas prices this year but the Saints are just 7-12 ATS away the past two-plus seasons and they've allowed an average of 40.3 ppg in their last three trips into Lambeau Field while dating back to 2005.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the NFL Week 4 Side & Totals Winners this weekend plus there still are lots of key Major-League Baseball Winners and College Football games too and so go ahead and climb aboard right now with America's #1 Handicapper! 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 and note the check-in times are after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball Winners and than after 1 p.m. ET for weeknight NFL, NCAA and MLB action and than after 11 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays. So, let's go ahead and pile up the profits together right thru Super Bowl XLVII ... okay?
NOTE: Catch our NFL Week 4 Sunday Night Game Preview - that's the New York Giants at the Philadelphia Eagles -- in the next Jim Sez column!