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Jim Hurley's FREE College and NFL Selections In This Week's Issue
College Football's Hot Topics
PAC-12 Bowl Bonanza
College Football Top Ten
The NFL Weekend Blitz
Picks and Previews
COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S HOT TOPICS
Let’s zip ‘round the College Football landscape on this Thanksgiving Week with a bevy of hot topics:
SHOULD ‘BAMA REALLY BE #1? ... Let’s face it, the Southeastern Conference’s reputation (some deserved, some not so much) as the pre-eminent power in college football has helped pump up the College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings that last week included four SEC teams inside the top 10 including - of course -- #1 Alabama.
No doubt the Crimson Tide’s to be hailed for “name wins” against LSU and Miss State in recent weeks but where’s been the dominance for a team supposedly the best in the land?
A loss at Ole Miss, a one-point triumph over a then-struggling Arkansas team and less-than-impressive non-league wins against West Virginia and Western Carolina has us among the folks that believe the Tide should be either #2 or #3 in the polls - behind Oregon and in a coin flip type deal with unbeaten Florida State. We say no way ‘Bama is #1 ... agree?
Meanwhile, what about all the happenings in the Lone Star State where the Texas Longhorns (6-5 and winners of three in a row) are bowl-bound under first-year head coach Charlie Strong while Texas A&M (7-4) has fallen off the gridiron map after that 5-and-oh start.
The ‘Horns never lost their way this year despite a slew of suspensions and more than a few key injuries and all the more reason to include Strong “in the conversation” among national coaches of the year although he won’t get it over the likes of Duke’s David Cutcliffe, Miss State’s Dan Mullen and TCU’s Gary Patterson.
Our opinion? Texas will be battling for a college playoff berth next year ... you watch.
On the flip side, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has been unable to hold things together at College Station where the bickering Aggies already lost 59-0 to Alabama and blew a halftime lead in a 34-27 loss to visiting Missouri.
Sumlin’s a big-time coach and would be on most folks’ “short list” to run their programs but this is a big-time mark against ‘em that A&M has caved in with QB Kenny Hill going from Heisman hopeful to benched brat.
PAC-12 BOWL BONANZA?
Don’t look now but the Pac-12 could wind up having as many as nine teams play in either post-season bowls or the College Football Playoffs - and it could be that Oregon, UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State all could be playing in elite January bowls ... and you ain’t gonna be saying that about the Big 10 this year, right?
There’s no secret to the fact that while the Big 10’s slumped - save for Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State - the Pac-12 has soared to gaudy new heights and one reason why is the passing game that’s taken over college football has thrived mostly out west where signal-callers such as Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, USC’s Cody Kessler and Cal’s Jared Goff have shined - and we didn’t even utter a word about NCAA passing leader Connor Halliday, the now-injured star at Washington State who threw for an NCAA-best 3,873 yards this season.
And don’t forget about some of the Pac-12 coaches:
UCLA’s Jim Mora has built back up his once-faded reputation and ditto for Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez and there’s hope that former Boise State star coach Chris Petersen can have the Huskies thinking January bowls too before very long. Hey, one Pac-12-related bowl we’d like to see this winter ... how about high-octane Arizona vs. defensive stud Michigan State in the Holiday Bowl?
Extra, extra ...You’re just in time for the 30th Annual Jim Hurley’s Network Turkey Shoot that takes you from Thanksgiving Day right through Monday Night Football and there’s a whole lot of football feasting in between.
Of course, it all kicks off with Three (3) NFL games on Thanksgiving including Chicago at Detroit, Philadelphia at Dallas and the night-time tilt between Seattle at San Francisco plus don’t forget those key College Football games on Thanksgiving Night - that’s TCU at Texas and LSU at Texas A&M. Plus there’s 16 college games on Friday, another full slate on Saturday and then more NFL Week 13 action Sunday before we ever get to Miami at the New York Jets in MNF on December 1st ... wow!
If you missed it, Jim Hurley’s Network banged out a bunch of winners last weekend including the “under” in Arizona at Seattle, Cleveland, Minnesota and the New York Giants in NFL play ... so what are you waiting for? Climb aboard and get Jim’s Turkey Shoot winners right now!
THE NFL WEEK 13 BLITZ
Get the feeling that the Cleveland Browns may be “for real”? Last week’s roller-coaster 26-24 win in Atlanta may have included three awful INTs thrown by career-backup-turned-starting QB Brian Hoyer but how ‘bout a round of applause for the dude for throwing four big-time pass completions (including a 24-yard zinger to prodigal son WR Josh Gordon) on that game-winning drive capped by PK Billy Cundiff’s 37-yard field goal with no time left?
Hoyer has been a real punching bag for many Cleveland fans that wanted Johnny Manziel to get the starter’s spot but here’s the Browns heading into Week 13 with an electric 7-4 mark and very much with designs on getting to the post-season.
Did you realize the Browns entered this year at 75-to-1 to win the Super Bowl and expected to win only six games? Maybe Hoyer can get head coach Mike Pettine and Company a little perplexed with his throws/decisions but he’s been a big-time winner and so the Browns are in that crowded mix for teams battling for six AFC playoff berths ...
The story is not as sweet in Gotham City where the New York Giants dropped to 3-8 following Sunday Night’s 31-28 loss to Dallas.
Okay, so QB Eli Manning was torched on New York sports talk radio the day after the Giants’ sixth consecutive defeat but save for that one goal-line area pick the fact is Manning (338 yards passing with 3 TDs and 1 INT) played well with big help from WR Odell Beckham and his “best catch ever” score in the first half but the Giants’ defense and lack of a pass rush really killed Tom Coughlin’s club here - don’t the Giants ever make a big defensive stand anymore or was what we saw in the 2011 Super Bowl against New England truly the last time the G-men stepped it up at crunch time on “D”?
No doubt it’s gonna be back-up-the-truck time for this NFC East team but while Coughlin’s a more-than-likely goner, that won’t be the case with Manning even if he occasionally throws a bad pass or makes a rookie-type mistake ...
Finally, has there ever been a more-hyped #1 draft pick who did nothing in his rookie year ... we’re talking to you, Houston OLB Jadeveon Clowney.
The former South Carolina star has been injury prone, moody and generally unproductive for Bill O’Brien’s crew this year and when he does step on the field he gets key off side penalties called against ‘em as was the case in last Sunday’s 22-13 home loss to Cincinnati.
After a modest three-tackle game against the Bengals, there was Clowney telling a Houston newspaper reporter that he’s still being effected/limited by a knee injury - don’t the Texans sure wish they would have taken a pass on Clowney and instead gone with Oakland LB Khahil Mack or maybe Dallas OG Zach Martin?
COLLEGE FOOTBALL TOP 10
- Oregon (10-1) - It’s starting to look as if the Ducks are peaking right about now.
- Florida State (11-0) - The Cardiac Kids of the college football world would be a lead-pipe cinch to be playing for all the marbles under the BCS system.
- Alabama (10-1) - No way is this team as potent or mature as Nick Saban’s recent title teams but two more wins gets ‘em in the playoff scene.
- Baylor (9-1) - The Bears still can hang half-a-hundred at any time but there is something missing here in Waco.
- Miss State (10-1) - The sloppy showing at ‘Bama a couple of weeks back prevents us from putting ‘em top four right now.
- Ohio State (10-1) - Yeah, yeah, the Buckeyes have improved more than any other top 10 team but the loss to Virginia Tech’s looking worse each day.
- TCU (9-1) - If the Horned Frogs had four or five minutes back from that Baylor loss they’d be a shoo-in for the playoffs.
- UCLA (9-2) - Forget that “soft” tag they used to hang on these Bruins as this club’s rough-and-tough and hitting its stride.
- Georgia (9-2) - Give the Dawgs a heap of credit for not packing it in this year but they’ll have to settle for another early afternoon New Year’s Day bowl game now.
- Arizona (9-2) - The 42-10 rubout win at Utah really was something special and all with starting QB Anu Solomon down for the count.
NCAA PICKS & PREVIEWS
Friday, November 28
STANFORD at UCLA: The Bruins rock-n-roll their way into this day-after-Thanksgiving tilt on a five-game SU (straight-up) and three-game ATS (against the spread) winning streak and QB Brett Hundley’s helped the blue-and-gold score 36-or-more points in four of these last five games and not sure Stanford slowish/smallish defense can withstand the heat for full 60 minutes here. UCLA 35, STANFORD 26.
Saturday, November 29
MICHIGAN at OHIO STATE: Believe it or not, the Buckeyes - a three-TD betting favorite here - has been a 17-point-or-larger fav now in four of the last seven showdowns with the maize-and-blue but will these Wolverines play hard for soon-to-be-fired head coach Brady Hoke? Check out this clash plus more when you check with us at 1-800-323-4453 as part of the Jim Hurley Turkey Shoot.
RUTGERS at MARYLAND: Year One inside the Big 10 hasn’t been a whole lot of fun for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights but like ‘em a whole lot here in College Park against a Terps team that’s been spending the past few days patting selves on the back for their Big 10 wins against Iowa, Penn State and Michigan. Expect Rutgers QB Gary Nova to dent the Maryland defense with a few scoring strikes ... this live dog is barkin’. RUTGERS 30, MARYLAND 23.
KENTUCKY at LOUISVILLE: It’s rivalry weekend for the college kids - you know -- and this one’s an oldie-but-goodie from the Bluegrass State where the UK ‘Cats hope to hang tough against double-digit fav Louisville just one week after the Redbirds won at Notre Dame - do teams have “letdowns” in rivalry games? Stay tuned as Kentucky looks to snap three-year SU/ATS losing skid to the ‘Ville.
NFL WEEK 13:
Sunday, November 30
CINCINNATI at TAMPA BAY: Okay, so the Bengals won outright at New Orleans and at Houston the first two legs of this current three-game road swing but is this trouble time now for Marvin Lewis’ squad as road favorites? No doubt the return of WR A.J. Green (12 catches for 121 yards against the Texans) was a major shot in the arm but you know what they say in “handicapping school” about teams playing three straight road games! This one’s real close, ladies and gents. CINCINNATI 21, TAMPA BAY 20.
NEW ORLEANS at PITTSBURGH: Starting to think that the Saints are “dead team walking” even though they still have a shot to win the pathetic NFC South. The three-game losing skid - all at home - included ugly 34-27 MNF loss to Baltimore that “featured” another Drew Brees pick six and don’t forget that Baltimore ran all over the wobbly N’Orleans defense - does that mean well-rested RB Le’Veon Bell has another monster game in ‘em here? Check to see if the Steelers minus a FG is the way to go as we’ll bang out a bunch of Turkey Shoot winners on this last Sunday in November when you check in at 1-800-323-4453.
NEW ENGLAND at GREEN BAY: Let the talk roll on that this could well be a “Super Bowl Preview” but fact of matter is the Patriots - averaging better than 42 ppg the past four games - might be the ones looking to “shorten the game” here against dangerous Packers’ attack that simply doesn’t turn the ball over (eight turnovers all year long) with QB Aaron Rodgers (30 TDs and 3 INTs) ready/willing/able to damage the secondary even if we do get a CB Darrelle Revis on WR Jordy Nelson head-to-head matchup here. Juicy tilt at Lambeau Field and we’re looking into the side/totals of this TV affair, so make sure you check in for game-day selections with Jim Hurley’s Network.