Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 9:37 AM
Now wouldn't this have been a great year for a College Football Playoff?
Here we are approaching the midway point of this 2011 season and there are endless possibilities of how great things "could be" should we have an eight-team playoff in place ... doesn't a national quarterfinal game between LSU vs. Stanford or possibly Alabama vs. Boise State turn you on?
How about a couple of possible national championship semifinal games like Oklahoma vs. Alabama and/or Oklahoma State vs. LSU?
Wow, we're quite sure that we would turn down an invitation to our in-laws to stay in front of the big-screen TV and watch those great gridiron affairs.
Okay, so instead we'll settle for the announcement of the first BCS Standings this Monday and hope we get two "perfect" teams in this year's BCS Championship Game from inside the Louisiana Superdome come the night of January 9, 2012.
THE WEEKLY HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH
Now, here's our Top 5 Heisman Trophy candidates in all as we roll into play this mid-October weekend:
1 - ANDREW LUCK, QB, STANFORD - Okay, so everyone knows this dude will be the NFL's number one draft selection come next April but will he have this year's Heisman Trophy wrapped up by Halloween? The 6-foot-4 junior added to his legend with last week's 26-of-33, 370-yard, 3-TD passing performance in the Cardinal's lopsided 48-7 win against 29 ½-point pup Colorado. The Luck numbers up to this very minute now include 1,383 yards passing with 14 TDs and only 2 INTs and, BTW, Stanford is now 5-0 SU (straight-up) and 5-0 ATS (against the spread) and that's saying something when you consider the Pac-12 team has been betting favorites of 30, 21, 10, 23 ½ and 29 ½ points so far this season.
Up Next: At new-and-improved Washington State this Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET)
2 - ROBERT GRIFFIN III, QB, BAYLOR - The Bears' do-it-all signal-caller is the man most responsible for this Big 12 team being 4-1 SU (and 3-1 ATS) at this midway stage of the season and last week's showing in a 49-26 win/cover against 15 ½-point dog Iowa State was nothing to sneeze at as Griffin completed 22-of-30 passes for 212 yards with one score plus he rushed the ball 24 times for 107 yards with one TD. Griffin's numbers are, indeed, superior to the aforementioned Luck but that awful pick late against Kansas State two weeks ago really hurt - but check out the numbers and you'll see Griffin clearly belongs in second place in the Heisman Trophy hunt right now as he's thrown for 1,520 yards with 19 TDs and 1 INT to go along with 280 rushing yards with two TDs.
Up Next: Here's a real gut-check game on tap as Griffin and mates visit heavy-duty fav Texas A&M this Saturday (12 noon ET).
3 - TYRANN MATHIEU, CB, LSU - The number one player on the #1 team in the land isn't letting up his chase for the shiny Heisman Trophy even though it's tough to quantify his season in mere stats: Still, this 5-foot-9 sophomore "honey badger" registered six tackles and added and interception in last Saturday's 41-11 walk-in-the-park win against two-TD dog Florida and for the year Mathieu has two thefts and three fumble recoveries and he's been clearly the biggest impact player on the nation's numero uno team.
Up Next: The Bayou Bengals and megastar Mathieu is at Tennessee this Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET).
4 - RUSSELL WILSON, QB, WISCONSIN - We've kept our top four the same from last week's Heisman Trophy including keeping this Badgers' slinger at #4 in the race even though his Big 10 club was idle last week. Wilson's up-to-date season stats include a dazzling 83-of-111 pass completions (that's a .747 rate) with 13 TDs and only 1 INT and don't forget those 140 rushing yards with two scores. Wilson has breathed life into a run-oriented offense and do take note that Wisconsin's averaging 48.4 points a game this year through its 5-and-oh start.
Up Next: It's Homecoming Day for the Badgers this Saturday against Indiana (12 noon ET).
5 - DENARD ROBINSON, QB MICHIGAN - Okay, so in steps our fourth quarterback in this Jim Sez Heisman Trophy list and the second straight from inside the Big 10 and no wonder D-Rob cracked the elite list as he's now thrown for 1,130 yards with 10 TDs along with 720 yards rushing and 8 TDs for the 6-and-oh maize-and-blue. Robinson has been kept off the list in recent weeks mainly because he has thrown 9 INTs this year but we've hurdled him past Alabama RB Trent Richardson (and others) for the fifth spot on the "Watch" list.
Up Next: The showdown at Michigan State is on tap for this Saturday at 12 noon ET.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: THE THURSDAY NITE TV PREVIEW
USC (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) at CALIFORNIA (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12) -- 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Let's see ...USC can't go bowling this year (for a second straight season) and isn't even eligible to play in the Pac-12's first-ever conference championship game and yet the Trojans are clearly the front-and-center story here in this tilt at AT&T Park in San Francisco and that's because slick signal-caller Matt Barkley (1,587 yards passing with 14 TDs and 4 INTs and a 70.7 completion percentage) is the trigger-man for a team that is averaging 30 points a game.
The Troy Boys - a mere field-goal betting favorite for this clash against California in the Bay Area - also sport the best wide receiver in the land not getting nation-wide attention and that's Robert Woods who has nabbed 55 passes for 747 yards and 6 TDs and so it's no secret that if the host California Golden Bears are gonna win here than that pass-catch tandem must be slowed down - if not completely silenced.
One thing to watch on the Cal side: The Bears rank 19th nationally out of 120 FBS team in passing offense (averaging 300.4 yards a game) and maybe this turns out to be a "coming out" party for lefty QB Zach Maynard - the Buffalo transfer has thrown for 1,291 yards with 11 TDs and just 3 INTs and top target WR Keenan Allen (39 receptions, a 17.1 yards-per-catch average and 4 TDs) could be the speeding bullet that USC can't stop here. Stay tuned!
Spread Notes - USC enters this prime-time game at just 7-11 ATS in the year-plus Lane Kiffin Era and did you know the Trojans are a composite 17-29-1 versus the vig overall in Pac-12 games dating back to the start of the 2006 season (that's a wobbly .369 winning percentage). On the flip side, the Cal Golden Bears have failed to cover seven of their last 10 games overall and note that the Berkeley boys are just 1-5 spreadwise in their last half-dozen games against Southern Cal.
Extra, extra: 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 #6 play plus don't forget the Major-League Baseball Post-Season that roll on all month long -- and so please make sure you're all aboard for all the action right through Super Bowl XLVI on February 5th. 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 winners!
FRIDAY NIGHT PREVIEW: HAWAII (3-2, 1-0 WAC) at SAN JOSE STATE (2-4, 1-1 WAC) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Folks, this is the fourth game "on the mainland" for this year's Hawaii Warriors - they lost at Washington and at UNLV and won 44-26 at Louisiana Tech back October 1st - and now Greg McMakin's club is gunning to stay unbeaten in WAC play and QB Bryant Moniz (1,578 yards with 15 TDs and 1 INT) looks to pick on a San Jose State defense that ranks 90th overall (out of 120 FBS) in the land.
If San Jose State is gonna pull the upset here than RB Brandon Rutley (averaging 103.8 yards a game with 6 TDs) must bust loose for some 25-plus yard runs against a somewhat shaky Hawaii stop unit.
Spread Notes - Hawaii's covered three of its first five games this 2011 season but did you know the Warriors are 15-6 ATS overall while dating back to late in the 2009 season. Meanwhile, San Jose State has nabbed spread wins in four of its first six games this year and the Spartans are a tasty 6-1 ATS as underdog sides since late last season.
NFL NEWS & NOTES: TO PUSH OR NOT TO PUSH THE PANIC BUTTON WITH PHILLY, NY JETS AND ATLANTA
Have you been listening to sports talk radio in Philadelphia, New York and/or Atlanta this week?
Well, than if so than you've heard the panic, you've heard the dismay, you've heard the disgust in the respective fan base of the Eagles, Jets and Falcons but did you know this season isn't over just yet for these three teams.
Philadelphia (1-4) surely has some issues with defensive coordinator Juan Castillo - should he stay or should he go? - but the Birds have plenty of pop on offense even with a banged-up QB Michael Vick and you could see Philly win some high-scoring games the rest of the way ...
The New York Jets (2-3) come off losing three in a row on a road trip from hell but maybe now is the time for Rex Ryan's club to get its swagger back and maybe back-to-back home games against Miami and San Diego will make 'em well in a heartbeat ...
Atlanta (2-3) isn't feeling real good about itself following that Sunday Nite loss to Green Bay - blowing a 14-0 lead to the defending Super Bowl champion GB Packers has a way of making an NFL team feel sick - but there's no reason this offense can't jive but note RB Michael Turner must become his usual 100-yard per-game rushing guy for Mike Smith's squad to get right.
NOTE: Catch our College Football Key Saturday Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez including #1 LSU at Tennessee and #6? Stanford at Washington State.