Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM
COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS/NOTES INCLUDES THE LATEST HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH LIST AND A SNEAK PEAK AT WHAT’S AHEAD IN THE SEC THIS WEEKEND
THE NFL UPDATE: IT’S BROWNS-BENGALS IN KEY THURSDAY NIGHT CLASH
Let’s face it, folks: It’s fun to kick around this whole College Football Playoff (CFP) system with as many as 10 or 11 teams “still alive” for those four playoff berths at year’s end but the Southeastern Conference - the mightiest of them all - stages its own death march on a weekly basis and we’ll dig into the league’s biggest games shortly in today’s edition of Jim Sez.
But back to the CFP that last night gave us a repeat of #1-2-3 with Miss State, Florida State and Auburn holding down those respective spots but it’s Oregon that’s moved into the fourth spot vacated by now two-time loser Ole Miss ... we say the 12-person committee got it right (we might debate Miss Stave vs. Florida State in terms of #1 but that’s nit-picking) with Oregon ahead of both Alabama and TCU.
The biggest loser in Week 2 of the CFP rankings ... Michigan State which is #8 and had Kansas State leapfrog ‘em this week.
Here’s the key games involving SEC teams this weekend:
#5 ALABAMA (7-1, 4-1 SEC) at #16 LSU (7-2, 3-2 SEC) - 8 p.m. ET, CBS
The Nick Saban Era at ‘Bama has featured a tasty 6-2 SU (straight-up) record against his old pals at LSU - and now a Crimson Tide team that’s never really gotten into rhythm this year (see no back-to-back covers yet and a shabby 2-4 spread mark against fellow “power conference” teams) looks to rattle off a fourth consecutive win against the Bayou Bengals and we’re wondering aloud as to whether WR Amari Cooper (71 catches with a 15.9 ypc average and 9 TDs) has to be the “best player on the field” and will the Tide defense be able to handle a bruising LSU ground game that sports three players with between 416 and 657 rushing yards apiece with a real target on the back of LSU frosh RB Leonard Fournette - does he wear down ‘Bama by night’s end or will it be the other way around?
Spread Notes - Alabama has failed to cover seven of its last 11 pointspread verdicts dating back to last year while LSU’s a healthy 6-2-1 ATS (against the spread) this year and that includes three consecutive covers against fellow SEC foes (Florida, Kentucky and Ole Miss).
TEXAS A&M (6-3, 2-3 SEC) at #3 AUBURN (7-1, 4-1 SEC) - 3:30 p.m. ET
How’s this for a month-of-November sked for last year’s SEC champ Auburn?
The Tigers host wobbly Texas A&M this weekend, then play at Georgia and at Alabama with a “breather” in between those games with a home date versus Samford.
It’s a death march of sorts for most teams but Gus Mazahn’s crew - averaging nearly 278 rushing yards a game (that’s good for ninth-best in the nation) believes there is plenty of juice left after winning 35-31 at Ole Miss last Saturday night as RB Cameron Artis-Payne dashed free for 143 yards and one touchdown that put Auburn into the lead for good in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers are listed as a 21-point betting favorite for this affair and - in case you were wondering - Auburn’s not been that big of a favorite in an SEC game since laying 21 points to Miss State way back in 2006 ... remember the Tommy Tuberville Era?
Spread Notes - Auburn’s a dead-even but vig-losing 4-4 against the odds this year but did you know the Tigers are a collective 11-3 ATS in their last 14 conference tilts? Texas A&M enters this bash on a five-game spread losing streak ... ugh!
#20 GEORGIA (6-2, 4-2 SEC) at KENTUCKY (5-4, 2-4 SEC) - 12 p.m. ET
The Georgia Dawgs kissed away their shot at playing in this year’s first-ever CFP thanks to last week’s stunning 38-20 loss to 11-point pup Florida but Mark Richt’s team still has plenty to say about who wins the SEC East. The Bulldogs - remember - own the all-important tie-breaker against current East leader Missouri and so let’s see here if RB Nick Chubb (725 yards rushing and 6 TDs) can “hold the fort” till RB Todd Gurley returns next week from his four-game suspension.
Now, 10-point home dog Kentucky believes it can throw a monkey wrench into this division and the ‘Cats just might if QB Patrick Towles (2,235 yards passing and 204 yards rushing) can slip and slide his way past a poor tackling Georgia defense.
Spread Note - Georgia is just 7-11-1 vig-wise as betting favorites since the start of last season while Kentucky is 6-3 spreadwise this year with SEC covers against Florida, South Carolina and Miss State.
Lots of fantastic matchups on this early November card and we’ll get to the Thursday Night showdowns from Cincinnati in NFL Week 10 play and the college clash between Clemson at Wake Forest but first this key message:
My handicappers and bloggers have everything all scoped out and you can get all the NCAA Football, NFL Week 10 and NBA and upcoming NCAA Hoops winners including Thursday Night’s NFL game between the Cleveland Browns at the Cincinnati Bengals plus all the College Football week-night games when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network. Check with us on game days either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Don’t miss out!
THE JIM SEZ HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH LIST
We’re back with the latest Installment of the 2014 Heisman Trophy Watch List where we offer up our top five weekly contenders for college football’s most coveted individual award ... now here’s how we see things shaping up as we get set to head into another big-time gridiron week/weekend:
DAK PRESCOTT, QB, MISS STATE - Here’s our Heisman Trophy leader (even if everyone else has dropped him from the top spot) who was far from perfect in last Saturday’s 17-10 non-cover home win against Arkansas. Prescott threw for 331 yards with one TD and 2 INTs in that SEC tilt for the 8-and-oh Bulldogs and his yearly stats now include 2,025 passing yards with 16 TDs/7 INTs to go along with 725 yards rushing (5.3 ypc average) and 10 TDs.
Next: A Homecoming Game against Tennessee-Martin
MARCUS MARIOTA, QB, OREGON - Last year at this very moment we had Mariota atop our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy list only to lose out to Florida State QB Jameis Winston ... so maybe this year the Ducks’ superstar will flip the script and win the coveted award. All we know is Mariota finally exorcised those Stanford demons last weekend with his 258 yards passing with two TDs and 1 INT plus he added 85 rushing yards with a pair of ground scores. For the 2014 campaign, Mariota’s thrown for 2,541 yards with 26 TDs and 2 INTs and he’s run for 410 yards (a 5.8 ypc average) with 7 TDs.
Next: At Utah
MELVIN GORDON, RB, WISCONSIN - Here’s our personal memo to Mr. Gordon ... our bad! We kayoed the Badgers’ back from our top five a week ago after a somewhat modest 122-yard rushing performance versus Illinois but he’s back in the running here following last Saturday’s 128-yard, two-TD showing in the rainy 37-0 win at 12 .5-point dog Rutgers. Gordon averaged a healthy 6.7 yards a tote in that tilt and for the year he’s rushed for 1,296 yards (a 7.5 ypc average) with 12 TDs.
Next: At Purdue
JAMEIS WINSTON, QB, FLORIDA STATE - Don’t understand the folks that keep leaving out last year’s Heisman Trophy winner from this year’s race as even that silly one-game suspension versus Clemson didn’t kayo his chances. Winston’s leading an 8-0 Florida State team and his ability to roar back from deficits is supernatural as evidenced by last Thursday’s 42-31 win at 3.5-point underdog Louisville. Winston threw for 401 yards with 3 TDs (and, yes, 3 INTs) there and he’s thrown for 2,279 yards and 16 TDs on the year and stays in our top five.
Next: A Homecoming Game versus Virginia
AMEER ABDULLAH, RB, NEBRASKA - Last weekend this senior star left after six carries for one yard with a knee sprain but he stays in our top five thanks to the following lofty numbers: 1,250 yards rushing with a 6.7 ypc average and 17 rushing TDs.
Next: At Wisconsin (Nov. 15th)
THE NFL WEEK 10 REPORT
CLEVELAND (5-3) at CINCINNATI (5-2-1) - 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network
There’s more than just state-of-Ohio pride on the line in this Week 10 tilt ... how about the winner will sit alone (for the time being, at least) in first place?
The Browns have not won a divisional road game since the 2008 season - that’s 17 in a row - and in order to pull the upset here against 6 ½-point favorite Cincinnati then Cleveland has to figure out a way to run the ball effectively as it is no secret that since Pro Bowl C Alex Mack went down with a broken leg back on Oct. 12th the likes of RB Bern Tate (65 total rushing yards the last three weeks) and others have been silnced.
Meanwhile, the Bengals welcomed back top-flight WR A.J. Green to their lineup last Sunday in the 33-23 win/push against Jacksonville and the game plan here should figure to inclu8de 6-to-8 downfield chucks against a somewhat overrated Browns secondary.
Want an X-factor to check out here?
Try some trick plays from this Bengals’ offense with WR Mohamed Sanu getting in on the act as both a passer and a runner.
Spread Notes - Cincinnati is 4-3-1 versus the vig this year and the Bengals enter this prime-time clash at just 3-6-1 ATS in their last 10 tilts against the rival Browns. Note that Cleveland’s 4-3 spreadwise this season and the Browns are 14-20-1 ATS away since the start of the 2010 season.
NOTE: Catch all our NCAA Football and NFL Week 10 previews/forecasts in the coming days right here at Jim Sez!