Friday Bowls Previews and NFL Coaching Notes

The clock keeps tick, tick, ticking on down to the kickoff of this year's College Football Playoffs ... is there gonna be an upset out there tomorrow as both #1 Alabama and #2 Clemson remain two-TD or so betting favorites for the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl, respectively?

Well, we did a little digging here at Jim Sez and gotta tell y'all that the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide is a collective 13-0 SU (straight-up) and 8-5 ATS (against the spread) this year and in every game 'Bama was a twin-figure betting favorite. In fact, the last time this SEC squad lost as a double-figure betting favorite was at the Sugar Bowl concluding the 2013 season ... result there was Oklahoma (+ 16.5) 45, Alabama 31.

So, that was a whopping 72 games ago the last time Alabama lost the "whole game" as a big-time betting favorite. Overall, the Tide's 28-23 ATS as double-digit favs since that loss to Oklahoma in '13. Not bad, a .549 winning rate versus the vig.
What about Clemson?

Well, the Tigers are 13-0 SU and 7-6 ATS overall this 2018 season - all as double-digit betting favorites, as well - and note you don't have to go back very far to discover the last time this ACC crew flopped as a twin-figure fav as last year's 27-24 loss at 24-point pup Syracuse was a real doozy. If you happen to go back five full years - as we did with Alabama - you'll note that Clemson is a cumulative 20-22-2 ATS as double-figure betting favorites (a .476 winning rate).



MUSIC CITY BOWL - at Nashville, TN
AUBURN (7-5) vs. PURDUE (6-6) - 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
If there's gonna be any "sweet music" coming from this bowl tilt in Music City, then expect Purdue WR Rondale Moore (1,164 yards receiving and 12 TDs) to be a major noise-maker while the Auburn kids need RB JaTarvious Whitlow (777 yards rushing / 5.4 yards per carry) to bust a few moves here as the 3.5-point favored War Eagle simply hasn't seen consistency from transfer QB Jarrett Stidham (2,421 yards passing / 13 TDs / 5 INTs). Hey, did you know Purdue's a slick 16-9 versus the vig under second-year boss Jeff Brohm while Auburn's failed to cover seven of its last nine non-conference games?

#20 SYRACUSE (9-3) vs. #16 WEST VIRGINIA (8-3) - 5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Old Big East Conference buddies - remember when - collide in central Florida but don't be looking for any signs of West Virginia QB Will Grier (3,864 yards passing with 37 TDs and 8 INTs) who led the nation's third-best passing attack: Grier's "getting ready" for the NFL Draft and so he's sitting this one out and the Mountaineers say Jack Allison will steer the ship even though he attempted just 10 passes this year. The 'Cuse - who bested bowl teams such as N.C. State, Wake Forest and Boston College - counts on dual-threat QB Eric Dungey (2,565 yards passing / 732 yards rushing / 32 total TDs) but keeping him in one piece has sometimes been an issue. Syracuse banged out an 8-4 ATS mark in this '18 regular season and take note the Orange has covered all three of its bowl games dating back to the 2010 campaign. The Mountaineers, meanwhile, are 1-5 ATS in bowls under 8th-year coach Dana Holgorsen and WVU's allowed 40-plus points in three of its last four games.

ALAMO BOWL - at San Antonio, TX
#24 IOWA STATE (8-4) vs. #13 WASHINGTON STATE (10-2) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
First things first: The last four Alamo Bowl games all have been covered by the underdogs with three of the four outright upset wins ... just sayin'. If 3-point underdog Iowa State is gonna cash here, then there are two givens and that's WR Hakeem Butler (1,126 yards receiving and 9 TDs) must be a field-stretcher and this ever-improving Cyclones' defense must get some heat on Wazzau slinger Gardner Minshew (4,477 yards passing / 36 TDs). Truth is W-State was blasted by 25 points against Michigan State in last year's Holiday Bowl and so count on the Pac-12 guys to be "focused" here. Note that Washington State's an electric 9-2-1 against the odds this year and that makes 7th-year head coach Mike Leach 48-33-1 vig-wise as the Coogs' coach ... not too shabby. Meanwhile, Iowa State's spread note here is the Cyclones are 9-3 ATS away since the start of the 2017 campaign.



Go ahead and mark it down ... Week 17 will be the not-so-grand finale for the following NFL head coaches:

Arizona's Steve Wilks, Carolina's Ron Rivera, Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis, Cleveland's Gregg Williams, Denver's Vance Joseph, Green Bay's interim Joe Philbin, Miami's Adam Gase, New York Jets Todd Bowles and Tampa Bay's Dirk Koetter. Folks, that's nine "goners" or nearly 30 percent of the league's coaches will be shown the door by the end of "Black Monday" and now here's a batch of off-the-path college names that will be considered for a few of these jobs ...

Syracuse head coach Dino Babers, Fresno State's Jeff Tedford, Wake Forest's Dave Clawson and Washington's Chris Petersen. Don't be shocked if any/all of these college coaches are prowling NFL sidelines next year ...

Finally, when you're checking on the "hot sides" spreadwise as we close out NFL regular-season play, note that the Chicago Bears have covered their last three in a row, Cincinnati's covered three straight, Dallas is 5-1-1 ATS in its last seven games, the New York Giants are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven tilts and Seattle's also 5-1-1 vig-wise.