Thurday Preseason and College Conference Previews

Here's a little warning to the wagering world ... No longer is NFL Preseason Week 3 always a "dress rehearsal" as it used to be. Now, many NFL teams won't even suit up their starters for this third exhibition game (or fourth exhibition game if you're Denver or Atlanta) and in many cases you're only gonna see starting players in for a single series before getting yanked.

Meanwhile, the 2019 NCAA Football Season swings into gear this Saturday with Florida vs. Miami (in Orlando at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN) and then it's Arizona at Hawaii (10:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network), then there's a full-fledged card the following week for the college kids beginning with half-a-dozen on-the-board games on Thursday, August 29th.

Here's some of what we'll be checking out here in NFL Preseason Week 3 action 'round the league ...

There's six games on Thursday night to get this next-to-last preseason week in gear but there's major quarterback questions regarding a couple of teams in action on Thursday night - are the Washington Redskins gonna hand over the keys to greenish rookie QB Dwayne Haskins who has been terribly erratic in his first two games or will they come to their collective senses and allow veteran Case Keenum to take the wheel in time for the season-opener at 9.5-point fav Philadelphia? The 'Skins are 3-point betting favorites here in Atlanta on Thursday night.

And what's gonna happen in Miami? The Dolphins - who host 3-point underdog Jacksonville also on Thursday night - claim veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will start here against the Jaguars. Fitzpatrick's only 5-of-14 passing for 40 yards through Miami's first pair of preseason affairs while Josh Rosen threw for 102 yards last week against Tampa Bay but Rosen was sacked three times and brand-new Fish head coach Brian Flores clearly believes Rosen holds onto the ball too long and takes too many hits / sacks. Ask us and we're going with Rosen on opening day as 5.5-point home dogs against the Baltimore Ravens ...

Keep a close eye on Arizona's game in Minnesota on Saturday: Rookie QB Kyler Murray figures to face some Vikings' blitzes here and - if he has trouble handling 'em - the Redbirds could consider starting Brett Hundley for the Week 1 bash against now 2.5-point fav Detroit. There's also battles for backup quarterback in Pittsburgh, in Cincinnati, in San Francisco and in Seattle ...

Finally, note that NFL Preseason Betting Favorites enter Week Three at 14-15-3 ATS with one Pick 'Em game tossed into the mix.

 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL CONFERENCE REPORTS - CONFERENCE USA, MID-AMERICAN AND SUN BELT


CONFERENCE USA ...

THE CONTENDERS - Florida International and North Texas are forecasted to win the East and West Divisions, respectively, but Marshall is a real "player" here if the Thundering Herd gets some defense to go along with a loaded backfield.

THE DARK HORSE - Never count out a Skip Holtz-coached Louisiana Tech team that won its Hawaii Bowl game by 17 points last year.

BEST PLAYER - QB Mason Fine, North Texas. This senior stud threw for 3,793 yards and 27 TDs with just 5 INTs in 2018.

CIRCLE THE DATE - Nov. 9, North Texas at Louisiana Tech. First team to 50 wins? This one should be a barrel of fun.

 

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE ...

THE CONTENDERS - Toledo has a favorable schedule and something to prove after going just 7-6 SU (straight-up) / 6-7 ATS (against the spread) last year but both Ohio and Buffalo could swipe the MAC if their defenses mature in a hurry.

THE DARK HORSE - Western Michigan. Third-year head coach Tim Lester is just 13-12 SU after replacing P.J. Fleck following that brilliant 13-and-1 season in 2016 but these here-and-now Broncos bring back their entire O-line and WRs Jayden Reed (797 yards, 8 TDs last year) and D'Wayne Eskridge (20 yards per catch in '18) arev dynamite.

BEST PLAYER - Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo. Last year's freshman star (1,013 yards rushing, 14 TDs) piled up these stats for a pass-first Bulls' offense.

CIRCLE THE DATE - Oct. 5, Western Michigan at Toledo. Keep in mind Toledo slugged WMU 51-24 as 4-point road dogs last season.

 

SUN BELT CONFERENCE ...

THE CONTENDERS - The really legit conference championship squads all reside in the East as Appalachian State, Troy and Georgia Southern all have designs on getting to this year's New Orleans Bowl.

THE DARK HORSE - UL-Monroe. Last year's team won six games but didn't get a bowl invite, so maybe coach Matt Viator's crew plays with a chip on its shoulder in '19.

BEST PLAYER - WR Corey Sutton, Appalachian State. True, App State slinger Zac Thomas is the headline-maker on this Mountaineers' team but Sutton - the former Kansas State transfer - averaged 17.6 yards a catch with 10 TDs a year ago.

CIRCLE THE DATE - Oct. 31, Georgia Southern at Appalachian State. Trick or treat, this one figures to decide the East Division champ and this is major revenge for App State after losing 34-14 as 11-point road favorites in 2018. Yikes!

NOTE: Catch more NFL Preseason Week 3 news / notes in the next Jim Sez.