Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, September 3, 2012 at 11:11 AM
Sorry, but it is time to bring down the curtain on this holiday weekend of College Football - heck, we've had 40 games played already between Thursday night and Sunday evening (and in four different time zones, no less!) - and this Atlantic Coast Conference game is chock full of meaty storylines:
First off, there's a Virginia Tech team that ain't particularly happy about starting off the season at #16 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll as Frank Beamer's crew does bring back nine starters from a defense that last year finished 10th in the country in total defense (304 ypg) and 7th in the land in scoring defense (17.6 ppg) but maybe one problem for the Gobblers is that folks watched their offense disconnect at all the wrong times in that aforementioned 23-20 loss/push versus Michigan.
Than consider the revenge angle here for Georgia Tech:
Last year Paul Johnson's club lost 37-26 as 2-point home underdogs and nobody in Yellow Jackets-land will soon forget the game's key play: A late third-quarter personal foul penalty against Georgia Tech - Jeremiah Attaochu punched VT quarterback Logan Thomas in the helmet - changed the complexion of that tilt but one positive that Georgia Tech took from that game is that QB Tevin Washington ran for three touchdowns and his ability (or inability) to make big gainers when he cuts the corner on option plays will be a major part in determining who wins here.
Two keys to watch for in this under-the-lights ACC tilt:
The Hokies need to get "Beamerball" back after blocking just one punt all of last year; If V-Tech doesn't make at least one momentum-changing special teams play here than Georgia Tech could be right there at the finish line.
Finally, Georgia Tech - the 112th-ranked passing team in the country last season - must get a big play or two in the aerial game and so watch for Washington to fling it deep on a couple of first-down plays while trying to catch VT napping.
Spread Notes - Virginia Tech staggered to a 3-9-1 ATS (against the spread) mark last year despite that appearance in the Sugar Bowl against Michigan and take note that the Hokies failed to cover all five of their home games in 2011 (after banging out a 9-3 ATS mark combined in the two prior seasons). Meanwhile, Georgia Tech's been in its own pointspread funk the past couple of seasons as the Yellow Jackets are a collective 9-13-2 versus the vig since the start of 2010. The G-Tech gang is just 5-9-2 against the odds in all ACC games these past two years.
Hey, it's almost time to "ring the bell" on the 2012 NFL season as we finally get to say lights/cameras/action on Wednesday night in New Jersey.
Okay, so the first meeting of this new season pitting NFC East rivals the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants and no doubt this has proven to be one of the most highly anticipated Kickoff Games in recent memory and - as we pointed out in a Jim Sez column here just a couple of days ago - the Giants have won/covered seven of the last nine head-to-head showdowns since that 2007 playoff game at the old Texas Stadium but now we're here to tell you that "Big Blue" merely split its six divisional games a year ago.
In fact, Tom Coughlin's club is a less-than-ordinary 12-14 spreadwise against fellow NFC East foes dating back to the very start of the 2008 campaign and that includes a playoff home loss to Philadelphia in the Super Bowl year-after back in the 2008 season ... remember?
Meanwhile, once upon a time there was this old wives tale that claimed it was highly profitable to go against the defending Super Bowl champion team in the first four games of its ensuing season - you know, there's always been a belief that Supe Bowl winners have an inevitable hangover the year after plus there's always the question about being "hungry enough" or not.
Well, we looked it up and went back the past four years - a decent cross-section of time (we believe) -- and here's what we discovered in terms of defending NFL champs and what they do the first four games "the year after":
Last year the defending Super Bowl champions - the Green Bay Packers - covered three of their first four out-of-the-box games and that included a season-opening 42-34 win/cover against 4 ½-point underdog New Orleans and covers versus host Chicago and visiting Denver.
Okay, so there's a defending SB champ that shined spreadwise at the start of the following year -- hey, note the Packers actually cranked out a 5-1 ATS (against the spread) log to start off the 2011 campaign.
Two years ago, the N'Orleans Saints were in defense of their 2009 Super Bowl title and Sean Payton's gang staggered to an 0-3-1 ATS mark (the Saints were 0-4-1 spreadwise in 2010 before finally cashing a bet). So, that "old wives tale" happened to hit the nail right on the head and included a season-starting 14-9 win/push against 5-point underdog Minnesota.
The Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl 43 back in the 2008 season and than the AFC North crew promptly lost its first three in a row spreadwise the following season en route to a 1-4 ATS start. The Steelers flopped spreadwise in their year-after opener with a 13-10 non-cover win against the 6 ½-point underdog Tennessee Titans.
And back in the 2008 season - yes, the last time that the NY Giants were busy trying to defend a world's championship - the NFC East crew covered three of its first four games to start the year including a 16-7 grin-'em-out victory against 4 ½-point pup Washington.
So trace back these past four years in the NFL and defending champs are a collective 7-8-1 against the odds in the first four games of their title-defending season.
Okay, so maybe that's not a total bust but the truth of the matter is defending champs have not exactly thrived either against Mr. Vig but we thought it important here before they kick things off in NFL-land to set the record straight and tell you that going against defending Super Bowl champs won't get you rich ... but, than again, betting on 'em the first month of the year won't line your pockets with greenbacks either.
One more final spread note on Cowboys-Giants here:
Dallas is 4-1 spreadwise in season-opening games the past five years; The Giants have failed to cover five of their last openers including last year when the Jints came up 28-14 losers at 1 ½-point underdog Washington.
So is going with Dallas plus the points the "percentage" move come Wednesday night?
Hey, you'll have to check back with us on game day and pleas take note: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the NFL winners this year plus - of course - there NCAA Football and MLB Winners too each/every day there are games, so climb aboard right now with America's #1 Handicapper! Check in with us on Game Days either right here online or else 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 after 1 p.m. ET for weeknight NFL, NCAA and MLB action; and than after 11 a.m. ET on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. So, let's go ahead and pile up the profits together right thru Super Bowl XLVII.
THE COLLEGE GRIDIRON WEEKEND REPORT
If you tallied it up between last Thursday and Sunday nights, than you already know that Associated Press Top 25 registered a tidy 21-2 SU (straight-up) mark but this elite group went a collective 10-13 against the odds (a .435 winning rate) and that's hardly what most folks expected following all the pomp and circumstance that surrounded the nation's most powerful teams.
Safe to say that some of the Las Vegas numbers "caught up" with the ranked favorites although we're still wondering how #5 Oregon scored 50 points in the first half of its Saturday night home game against Arkansas State and managed not to cover en route to a 57-34 win.
Plus, go figure on how the likes of #4 Oklahoma, #12 Wisconsin, #21 Stanford and #23 Florida all didn't even come at all close to covering their haughty pointspread lays - were any/all of these squads "overrated" to start of this current campaign or might the competition they played been a whole lot better than the public was led to believe?
Now, here's some other items you might not have heard about on your cable TV sports stations this past weekend when it comes to the world of NCAA Football ...
No question that West Virginia QB Geno Smith (323 yards passing and 4 TD passes last weekend) snagged plenty of headlines following the Mountaineers' 69-34 win/cover against 26 ½-point dog Marshall but did you notice WVU's ground game actually out-yarded the aerial game 331-to-324 and perhaps RB Shawne Alston (16 carries for 123 yards and two TDs) will find himself on the Heisman Trophy list. Agree? ...
The Washington Huskies allowed 67 points to Robert Griffin III and Baylor in last year's wild/wacky Alamo Bowl but there were the new-and-very-much-improved UW Dawgs holding down San Diego in a 21-12 albeit non-cover win this past Saturday night. New Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox was ecstatic with the fact the Pac-12 team forced three SDSU turnovers plus safety Will Shamburger returned a fumble 44yards for a key second-half score - and let's not forget that Aztecs QB Ryan Katz was sacked a grand total of four times and so that's a major positive step for a "D" that now gets a game at LSU this Saturday. Good luck, Mr. Wilcox and Company ...
Finally, hats off to the #25 Louisville Cardinals who smoked two-TD dog Kentucky on Sunday afternoon in the annual Bluegrass State Showdown. The U of L Cards marched 99, 85 and 93 yards on first-half touchdowns and QB Teddy Bridgewater - a sophomore who could be one of the two or three most impactful players inside the reshaped Big East Conference this year - wound up with a dazzling stat line of 19-of-21 passing for 232 yards and a couple of key pass plays to Damian Copeland and Andrell Smith dug the 'Ville out of early trouble.
Maybe Bridgewater's accomplishments fell through the proverbial cracks while the network geniuses were busy showing highlights of folks like Andy Roddick and Tiger Woods - but Bridgewater was one of Sunday's real stars, for sure.
NOTE: Catch our NFL Kickoff Game Preview - that's the Dallas Cowboys at the New York Giants - coming in the next edition of Jim Sez.