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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 9:12 AM

Quick: Who's your first-, second- and third-place College Football Coach of the Year candidates if you couldn't choose the likes of LSU's Les Miles and/or Alabama's Nick Saban? Here's our choices:

#1 -- Bill Snyder, Kansas State - The professorial boss-man of the K-State Wildcats remains a "miracle-worker" as this year's club is 7-0 SU (straightup) and 6-1 ATS (against the spread) but the real story here is that the 'Cats won outright four weeks in a row with triumphs against favored Miami, Baylor, Missouri and Texas Tech and we simply can't remember the last time a major-college football team accomplished that heady feat. Now, Kansas State hosts double-digit betting favorite Oklahoma this Saturday in Manhattan and - if State ever won that one in outright fashion - we'd name Snyder the National Coach of the Year on the spot!

#2 -- David Shaw, Stanford - Talk about a guy who was truly stepping into a "no-win" situation ... and than won! The first-year boss of the Cardinal stepped into the very, very large shoes of Jim Harbaugh and not only continued to carry the baton but elevated this Pac-12 program to an even larger status with identical 7-0 SU and ATS marks while currently inhabiting the #6 spot in this week's BCS Standings. Shaw may have stepped into a "ready-made" situation but he gets an A+ for furthering this club's physical nature while getting the most from Heisman Trophy frontrunner QB Andrew Luck.

#3 -- Dabo Swinney, Clemson - The over-the-top enthusiastic head ball coach for the Tigers has this Atlantic Coast Conference club within spitting range of the top guys in the BCS Standings and don't overlook the fact he's guided them to big-time road wins at Virginia Tech and Maryland with the latter a climb back from a twin-figure deficit. Clemson's 8-and-oh start while heading into Saturday's game at 3 ½-point underdog Georgia Tech surely means these are not your big brother's Tigers and Swinney's gotta get the majority of credit for that factoid. P.S., yes it really does count for something when your team is 7-1 ATS too!

Now hear this: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will win big-time all week and weekend long as we zoom deeper into the month of October in College Football plus there's lots of winning straight ahead with NFL Week #8 play plus don't forget the World Series Game #6 is here tonight with the Texas Rangers battling the Louis Cardinals - can the Rangers wrap up their first-ever title tonight? Make sure you're all aboard for all the action right through Super Bowl XLVI on February 5th -- hey, it's gonna be a great ride for one and all! Just remember to call our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here for the NFL, NCAA Football and MLB World Series winners!

Now, here's our Top 5 Heisman Trophy candidates in all as we roll into play this coming weekend:

1 - ANDREW LUCK, QB, STANFORD - For the fifth time in as many weeks since we've been posting our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy Watch List, this 6-foot-4, 235-pound junior slinger tops our charts for the bronzed statue even though last week's overall numbers were nothing spectacular in that 65-21 roll-over win against Washington (see 16-of-21 passing for 169 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs). On the season, Luck has thrown for 1,888 yards with 20 TDs and 3 INTs and his team remains perfect all around. Can't beat that, right?

2 - TRENT RICHARDSON, RB, ALABAMA - No doubt that this 'Bama junior back is on top in many Heisman Trophy Watch Lists but he'll have to play "second fiddle" to Luck right here and right now. Still, Richardson - who only rushed for 77 yards with two scores in last weekend's 37-6 win/cover against Tennessee - will head into the LSU game on Nov. 5th (the Tide's got a bye this weekend) with 989 yards rushing, a 6.6 yards-per-carry average and 17 ground scores.

3 - ROBERT GRIFFIN III, QB, BAYLOR - Just in case you were wondering, we kept "RG3" right at #3 in our Heisman Trophy Watch List after he and his Bears were idle last weekend. Griffin's numbers are eye-catching for sure with 1,950 yards rushing with 22 TDs and 2 INTs and let's not forget his 295 rushing yards with two TDs. If Baylor (4-2) can somehow go into Oklahoma State and slay this two-TD favorite come Saturday, than Griffin could inch a little bit closer to Luck's top spot.

4 - KELLEN MOORE, QB, BOISE STATE - Okay, so we've bumped up the Broncos' lefty slinger one spot in our "Watch List" following last weekend's showing that included 23-of-29 passing for 281 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT in a hard-fought 37-26 non-cover win against Air Force. The Moore numbers on the year: That's 2,010 yards passing with 24 TDs and 5 INTs for a 7-and-oh Boise State squad.

5 -- CASE KEENUM, QB, HOUSTON - Welcome back, Mr. K. Two years ago this UH Cougars gunslinger was atop our Heisman Trophy list for weeks before a fast fade down the stretch but now he's taken the other approach of "laying in the weeds" in this Heisman chase and now getting into our Top 5. Keenum - who is on the tube this evening with a Fox Sports Net game against Rice - comes off a 376-yard, 6-TD game against Marshall last weekend and on the 2011 campaign now Keenum's thrown for 2,685 yards with 23 TDs and 2 INTs.


THE THURSDAY NITE TV PREVIEWS ( Note that the ranking below reflects the current BCS Standings)

VIRGINIA (4-3, 1-2 ACC) at MIAMI (4-3, 2-2 ACC) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Nope, it's not the good ole days for the Miami Hurricanes who've already been beaten this year by the likes of Maryland, Kansas State and Virginia Tech but at least Al Golden's guys haven't chucked in the white towel as last weekend's 24-7 triumph over 3-point underdog Georgia Tech proved that "The U" still has special teams skills and proved they can win even without a big game from QB Jacory Harris (see eight total completions in that conference home win).

Harris - who has thrown for 12 TDs and only 4 INTs this season - watched the video of N.C. State's 28-14 mild upset win at 3 ½-point fav Virginia last week and he discovered one thing: There sure were a whole lot of wide-open receivers although State dropped a slew of passes and could have won that clash in Charlottesville by 25-to-30 points. Here, if the Wahoos (a two-TD underdog at press time) are gonna hang tough than WR Kris Burd (a team-leading 34 receptions but zero TDs) must dent the end zone a couple of times ... or else!

Spread Notes - Miami is 4-3 against the odds so far this season but the Hurricanes still are 20-32 ATS in ACC games since the start of the 2005 season. Meanwhile, Virginia's a horrid 2-5 spreadwise this season and the Cavaliers have failed to cover five of their seven away games during the 1-plus year era of head coach Mike London.

RICE (2-5, 1-3 C-USA) at #17 HOUSTON (7-0, 3-0 C-USA) - 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Network
Don't look now but the Houston Cougars are climbing the charts in a hurry and now they're attempting to match the best start in the school's rich football history - perhaps it's time we added QB Case Keenum to our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy Watch List?

Keenum - who has thrown for 973 yards with 7 TDs and 2 INTs in his three career games against Rice - enters this under-the-lights clash with 2,685 passing yards with 23 TDs and 2 INTs on the 2011 season and here WR Tyron Carrier (a team-leading 46 catches) figures to be targeted plenty against a Rice defense that's allowed 34-or-more points in four different games this year.

Spread Notes - As you can see by our College Football Team-by-Team pointspread chart above, the Houston Cougars are one of 15 FBS teams with a snazzy 5-2 ATS mark this year and note that Kevin Sumlin's club has covered four-of-five games this year when laying twin-figure prices. Rice, meanwhile, is 5-1-1 ATS in its last seven head-to-head games against the archrival Coogs.


BYU (6-2) at TCU (5-2, 3-0 MWC) - at Arlington, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
It's Friday Night Lights in the great state of Texas and it's an opportunity for the Horned Frogs to bag a third straight foe following wins at San Diego State and New Mexico State - but this does seem like a whole different season for a TCU team that went a combined 36-3 SU from 2008-thru-2010 but now is sitting there with two losses and needs WR Josh Boyce (38 catches and 5 TDs this season) to make a big splash here against a BYU defense that has held five foes to 17 points or less.

    Spread Notes - TCU is a dead-even but vig-losing 3-3-1 against the odds this year and the Horned Frogs are 24-16-1 spreadwise as chalk sides since the start of 2008. BYU, meanwhile, has split its first eight spread verdicts this season and is 11-6 ATS away the past two-plus seasons.

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