Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 9:46 AM
EVERYONE'S PLAYING CATCH-UP TO STANFORD CARDINAL QB LUCK
Here's a little sports history to throw your way:
On Saturday - that's October 8th - it will mark the 55th anniversary of the only perfect game thrown in the World Series as New York Yankees hurler Dan Larsen was "perfecto" in a 2-0 win against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Not for nothing but some College Football fans believe there's perfection on display each and every weekend when it comes to Stanford QB Andrew Luck.
Heck, there's already some NFL scuttlebutt that teams with awful records come December will "tank" games so that they can get the #1 draft pick come April (a thought that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell may have to address later on down the line in this here-and-now 2011 season) but the fact remains this kid is a pro's pro on the college level these days and he continues to lead the pack in terms of this year's Heisman Trophy.
Now, here's our Top 5 Heisman Trophy candidates in all as we roll into play this early October weekend:
1 - ANDREW LUCK, QB, STANFORD - Let's see: His Pac-12 team is 4-0 SU (straight-up) and 4-0 ATS (against the spread) with wins/covers against the likes of San Jose State, Duke, Arizona and UCLA while the machine-like Cardinal is averaging nearly 46 points a game and now we tell you that this junior hurler has thrown for 1,013 yards with 11 touchdowns and only one interception plus he's added 58 yards and one score on the ground (while averaging 5.3 yards a carry to boot). Last weekend's 45-19 win against 23 ½-point underdog UCLA featured a 23-of-27 passing game for Luck for 227 yards and 3 TDs - in other words, just another day at the office.
Up Next: Luck is home for a game against new Pac-12 member Colorado and note the Buffaloes have surrendered 31-or-more points in four of their first five games this 2011 season.
2 - ROBERT GRIFFIN III, QB, BAYLOR - Not about ready to KO this star signal-caller from the #2 spot in our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy race just because his Bears came up short in last Saturday's 36-35 loss at Kansas State.
True, Griffin - a/k/a RG3 - threw a costly pick in that tilt in Manhattan but his numbers in that Big 12 game still were scintillating as he completed 23-of-31 passes for 346 yards with 5 TDs and so Griffin's up-to-date stats include 1,308 passing yards with 18 TDs and that single INT and, yes, he's only thrown 20 incomplete passes on the year (see 93-of-113) ... wow!
Up Next: Griffin's back home this weekend with a Saturday showdown against 15-point underdog Iowa State and note the Cyclones have allowed 41 points to Iowa and 37 points to Texas in a couple of earlier-season tilts.
3 - TYRANN MATHIEU, CB, LSU - We've elevated this ultra-active defensive back from #4 in last week's Heisman Trophy Watch to #3 and why not? The sophomore Mathieu last week scored his second touchdown this year on a 23-yard fumble return in LSU's 35-7 non-cover win against Kentucky and on the year he sports a team-leading 35 tackles with 4 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries. Mathieu also is averaging nearly eight yards a punt return thus ranking him inside the top 40 nation-wide in that stat category ... simply put he's the best player on the best team in the country.
Up Next: LSU is set for its 3:30 p.m. ET tilt against the visiting Florida Gators this Saturday and if recent history is any indication than Mathieu will make a big play - and maybe a scoring play - sometime in the game's first 15-to-20 minutes, so stay tuned.
4 - RUSSELL WILSON, QB, WISCONSIN - There's a new entry into our Heisman Trophy Watch Top 5 list as this former N.C. State gunslinger has charged onto the scene following last Saturday's 14-of-20, 255-yard, two-TD performance in the Badgers' painfully easy 48-17 home win against 10-point underdog Nebraska.
Note that Wilson - who also rushed for a touchdown in the victory against the newest Big 10 member 'Huskers - now has thrown for 1,391 yards with 13 TDs and just 1 INT for a Wisconsin team that is 5-0 SU and a sizzling 4-1 versus the vig.
Up Next: The #5 Badgers have a bye this weekend and will return to action on October 15th with a home game against weakling Indiana.
5 - TRENT RICHARDSON, RB, ALABAMA - The lone running back to make our Heisman Trophy Watch list is another new entry (we kayoed Boise State QB Kellen Moore and South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore from our debut list of a week ago) but this 'Bama back surely deserves some love after rushing 29 times for 181 yards in last Saturday's 38-10 triumph over 4-point home dog Florida.
Note that Richardson's been piling up the numbers here in his junior year with 622 rushing yards (a hefty 6.5 yards-per-carry average) with 10 TDs and don't forget the fact he's added 11 receptions for 148 yards (a 29.6 yards-per-reception average).
Up Next: Alabama is nearly a 30-point betting favorite for this Saturday night's home game against Vanderbilt.
THE THURSDAY NITE TV PREVIEW
CALIFORNIA (3-1) at #8 OREGON (3-1) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
One question that's been making the rounds in/around Eugene is what do the Oregon Ducks have to accomplish in order to get back into the conversation regarding this year's BCS Championship Game?
The Ducks - who were there last year but lost to Auburn 22-19 - probably figured they were "toast" following this year's season-opening 40-27 loss against mighty LSU but consider the possibilities that Oregon could "run the table" in the Pac-12 (the Ducks' toughest remaining regular-season game is that showdown at Stanford on November 12th) but if Chip Kelly's crew wins 'em all and then cops the Pac-12's first-ever conference championship game than it's possible they could be the highest-ranked one-loss team in the land - and remember somebody's gotta lose that LSU at Alabama game on November 5th and maybe that gets Oregon back in the proverbial mix ... we'll see.
In this prime-time clash in the great Northwester, look for Oregon RB LaMichael James (averaging a nation's-best 153.3 rushing yards a game) to get the ball in a variety of ways - he'll be placed at wide receiver at times and could get some reverse action in here - but do keep in mind that California ranks 9th nationally in rush defense while yielding a mere 78.3 yards a game.
If the visiting - and 24-point underdog - Cal Golden Bears are gonna hang tough here than lefty QB Zack Maynard must be on target as he was for much of the time in the 31-23 loss at 1-point underdog Washington back on September 24th: Maynard - a transfer from Buffalo - threw for a career-high 349 yards in that game but he was unable to get the Berkeley boys into the end zone, however, with four plays after starting off with a first-and-goal late.
Spread Notes - Oregon has split its first four pointspread verdicts this year but note the Ducks are a solid 18-12 ATS (against the spread) when laying twin-figure prices since the start of the 2006 season. Meanwhile, California is 5-10 vig-wise as underdogs the past six-plus seasons.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will win big-time all week and weekend long as we zoom further into October in College Football plus there's lots of winning straight ahead with NFL Week #5 play plus don't forget the Major-League Baseball Playoffs that roll on all month long (we swept 2-0 Tuesday night, and 1-0 with 'Zona on Wednesday!) -- and so please 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 online for the NFL, NCAA Football and MLB winners!
FRIDAY NITE TV PREVIEW
#5 BOISE STATE (4-0) at FRESNO STATE (2-3) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Last week was a good news/bad news time for the Boise State Broncos: The bad news was that they dropped a spot in the AP poll following their 30-10 non-cover win against four-TD dog Nevada but the good news was the ground game came alive as RB Doug Martin romped free for 126 ground yards and two scores - yes, it had head coach Chris Petersen excited afterwards, for sure.
Now, the Broncos will try to get their rushing and passing game in sync at the same time against 21-point home underdog Fresno State and keep in mind the aforementioned QB Moore now has thrown for 1,137 yards with 14 TDs and 4 INTs but he comes off a so-so performance last week when he completed just 19-of-33 passes for 142 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs.
The best way for Pat Hill's Bulldogs to hang tough here is to play keep-away with RB Robbie Rouse (600 yards rushing this year and note he's topped the 100-yard rushing mark in four straight games now) getting 30-or-so touches.
Spread Notes - Boise State has only split its first four pointspread verdicts this year (covers against Georgia and Toledo and spread setbacks versus Tulsa and Nevada) but note the Broncos are a collective 28-16-1 ATS at home since the start of the 2004 campaign. On the flip side, Fresno State's alternated spread losses and wins thus far this season but did you know the Bulldogs have failed to cover nine of their last 10 head-to-head showdowns against the Boise State bunch?
NOTE: Catch our College Football Key Saturday Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.