Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 9:16 AM
Here's something worth mentioning as we soon get set to flip the calendar page to read October:
The last two Heisman Trophy winners - that's Alabama RB Mark Ingram (2009) and Auburn QB Cam Newton (2010) - both wound up starring for BCS National Championship teams and so if you happen to believe that things do indeed "happen in threes" than maybe Stanford University should be feelin' pretty good about itself these days.
After all, no matter what some of the world's so-called College Football experts say - and they are saying some wild things early on regarding this year's Heisman Trophy race - it's really safe to say that it's quite simply Stanford QB Andrew Luck's Heisman Trophy to win should his Cardinals (3-0) keep winning and should he continue to post big-time passing stats.
Maybe you might not have your proverbial socks knocked off by Luck's stats thus far (see below) but he's the clear-cut leader one-quarter way through this current College Football campaign and so everyone else has some serious catching up to do.
Got it? Now, here's our Top 5 Heisman Trophy candidates as we roll into play the final couple of days in September/early October:
1 - ANDREW LUCK, QB, STANFORD - The brilliant Pac-12 slinger has guided the Cardinal to wins against San Jose State, Duke and Arizona and along the way he's thrown for 786 yards with 8 TDs and only 1 INT as the Palo Alto gang is averaging a haughty 46 points an outing. Luck - a towering 6-foot-4, 235-pound junior who is the no-doubt-about-it #1 pick in next year's NFL Draft - challenges UCLA this weekend and in his only other league game this year he threw for 325 yards and two TDs in the 37-10 win/cover at 10-point underdog Arizona back on September 17th.
2- ROBERT GRIFFIN, QB, BAYLOR - The Bears also have rock-n-rolled their way to a 3-and-oh start this season while averaging better than 51 points a game (and keep in mind that Baylor bested Stephen F. Austin 49-0 in a game halted late in the third quarter) and this 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior has been his old dynamic self with 962 passing yards to go along with 13 TDs and 0 INTs. Throw into the mix the fact that Griffin's also rushed for 167 yards on 24 carries (a fabulous 7.0 yards-per-carry average) and his star-studded showing in a season-opening 50-48 win against TCU might wind up as one of the most important games of this College Football '10 season.
3. - KELLEN MOORE, QB, BOISE STATE - Okay, so it only seems that this lefty hurler has been around for 10 years already but the fact of the matter is the 6-foot, 191-pound senior has been in the Heisman Trophy mix in each of the last two seasons and is our "bronze" guy (you know, third place at the current time) here. Moore's stats for the 3-0 Broncos includes 995 passing yards with 12 TDs and 2 INTs and he comes into this weekend's key revenge game against Nevada fresh off a 23-of-29, 279-yard, four-TD performance in a 41-21 non-cover win against Tulsa.
4 - TYRANN MATHIEU, CB, LSU - It's not often that a defensive player leaps into the immediate discussion when it comes to the Heisman Trophy but how do you possibly leave this 5-foot-9. 180-pound sophomore star out of the mix here? Mathieu has been a game-changer in early-year victories against both Oregon and West Virginia with last weekend's six-tackle, one-INT performance helping to propel the Bayou Bengals to their 47-21 win at the 6-point favorite Mountaineers.
5 - MARCUS LATTIMORE, RB, SOUTH CAROLINA - The one-and-only running back on our Heisman Trophy hit list has been the driving force behind the Gamecocks' gaudy 4-0 SU (straight-up) start as he's rushed it 107 times for 611 yards (that's a 5.7 yards-per-carry average) with 8 TDs and don't forget that this workhorse back also has nabbed a dozen passes for Steve Spurrier's squad. Lattimore - a 6-foot, 231-pound sophomore who already has toted the ball as many as 37 times in a single game this year - scored a pair of TDs (one rushing/one receiving) in last weekend's 21-3 win against 15-point pup Vanderbilt. Up next is this Saturday's home game versus Auburn and note Lattimore and Company lost twice to the Tigers a year ago.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will win big-time all week and weekend long as we zoom into the final days in September in College Football plus there's lots of winning straight ahead with NFL Week #4 play plus don't forget the Major-League Baseball Playoffs that begin Friday -- 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 for the NFL, NCAA Football and MLB winners
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREVIEW - #16 SOUTH FLORIDA LOOKS TO STAY UNBEATEN
#16 SOUTH FLORIDA (4-0) at PITTSBURGH (2-2) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Quick question: Which of these teams has the longer bowl streak and which team has won 8-or-more games for the past five years in a row?
If you answered South Florida to both of the above questions, you win the door prize!
Now, the USF Bulls find themselves in the slightly tricky role of road favorite for this football-on-a-school-night tilt and note Pittsburgh's the team coming off a loss (see 15-12 loss-but-cover against Notre Dame last weekend) and so there is a sense of urgency here for first-year head coach Todd Graham's gang not to lose back-to-back home games within a six-day time span.
If Pittsburgh's gonna snag this mild upset win than QB Tino Sunseri must steer clear of making the wrong choices as he's been picked off four times this year (to go along with 4 touchdown passes) although he didn't get intercepted by the ND Fighting Irish last weekend.
The Panthers - winners of the past three head-to-head showdowns in this series - have their hands full with the 10th-best scoring team in FBS play this year as South Florida is averaging a tasty 45.5 points a game and veteran quarterback P.J. Daniels (1,071 yards passing with 8 TDs and 1 INTs) is really maturing into a top-flight player at this position. P.S., keep a close eye here on Bulls' sophomore WR Sterling Griffin who's nabbed a team-best 22 receptions including eight-catch games this season at Notre Dame and home to Florida A&M.
Spread Notes - The USF Bulls have covered three of their first four games this year including that season-opening 23-20 win at 11-point favorite Notre Dame. Note that South Florida is 11-5 vig-wise away while dating back to late in the 2008 campaign. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's failed to cover three of its first four games this year yet the Panthers - like South Florida - own a spread "W" versus Notre Dame (see last Saturday's 15-12 loss-but-cover as 7-point home dogs). Overall, Pittsburgh is 13-7 ATS in its last 20 Big East board games.
FRIDAY NITE PREVIEW
UTAH STATE (1-2) at BYU (2-2) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Let's cut right to the chase here: BYU had a season-saving come-from-behind 24-17 win against 2-point underdog Central Florida last Friday night in an ESPN game as Cody Hoffman returned a kickoff 93 yards for a second-half touchdown that merely changed the entire complexion of the game while QB Jake Heaps (855 yards passing but just 3 TDs and 5 INTs) continues to show off erratic signs. If Heaps can't spot up open receivers here - and note WR Ross Apo is expected to play after suffering a "mild concussion" against Central Florida - than the 7 ½-point home favored Coogs could be in for a major fistfight here. Did you know that last week BYU threw for only 133 yards in last Friday's triumph?
Utah State, meanwhile, had its "15 minutes of fame" back in a 42-38 season-opening loss at 23 ½-point underdog Auburn but now Gary Anderson's gang can make a TV statement here and RB Robert Turbin (24 carries for 115 yards rushing in last week's 35-34 double-OT loss to 13-point underdog Colorado State) must get 25-or-more touches here.
Spread Notes - Utah State has covered two of its first three games this year and the Aggies are a collective 29-18-2 ATS (against the spread) since the start of the 2007 season. On the flip side, BYU has split its first four spread verdicts this season but date back the last dozen on-the-board games and you'll see the Cougars are 9-3 versus the vig including pointspread "W's" this year against Texas and Central Florida. Note that BYU has failed to cover its last three spread decisions in a row to archrival Utah State.
NOTE: Catch our College Football Key Saturday Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.