Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 1:45 PM
OUR JIM SEZ MID-WEEK REPORT TACKLES THREE KEY TOPICS
THE LATEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS, THIS WEEK’S HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH LIST AND THE NFL WEEK 11 QUICK-HITTER SPREAD STATS/OBSERVATIONS
So let’s hear it for the College Football Playoff committee folks - we say they got it right by leapfrogging TCU over Alabama for the #4 spot in this week’s rankings and we honestly don’t have a major problem having one-loss Oregon hurdle past unbeaten Florida State for the #2 spot either although that’s pretty much a moot point considering #1 plays #4 and #2 plays #3 in the upcoming playoffs.
Still, there’s plenty of hootin’ and hollerin’ going on in Tuscaloosa but - as the good folks at ESPN reminded us with the Tuesday night announcement show - if the Crimson Tide wins out then they’ll be a part of the four-team playoff with no questions asked. Let’s check out the top four:
1 - MISSISSIPPI STATE (9-0) - Naturally, this was a no-brainer for the committee folks but here’s the rub as it pertains to this weekend’s games: If Miss State happens to lose a close game at 7-point fav Alabama, then the Bulldogs will also be in that position where winning out after this SEC game would mean a spot in the final four ... trust us!
2 - OREGON (9-1) - As the committee head pointed out, the Ducks have beaten three Top 25 teams this year (Michigan State, UCLA and Utah) and so that still hard-to-explain 31-24 loss versus Arizona back on Oct. 2nd ain’t as bad as it would seem. The truth is if Oregon played Miss State on a neutral field today, we think the Ducks would be a FG favorite ... so there!
3 - FLORIDA STATE (9-0) - The committee swears that it wasn’t sending out any “messages” but gotta believe the Seminoles felt it was “message received” when dropped one spot in the CFP rankings but how can Jimbo Fisher’s crew complain when you consider the ‘Noles are 2-7 against the odds and that’s a great way to determine whether a team’s playing up to snuff or not. Maybe a double-digit win at Miami this Saturday night will silence the critics once and for all, we’ll see!
4 - TCU (8-1) - Love the fact that the Horned Frogs were rewarded for their resounding 41-20 beat-down of Kansas State last weekend while Alabama stayed put at #5 after being gifted a win by silly LSU ... do you really think the Tide deserved to win that game? Now, TCU must not only run the table with games at Kansas, at Texas and home to Iowa State but the Froggies must keep fingers crossed that when the dust settles it won’t be a pair of SEC West teams along with the Pac-12 winner (either Oregon or Arizona State) and Florida State standing tall as the final four at year’s end.
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.
In this case, call it the “song remains the same” as we have our Jim Sez Top 5 Heisman Trophy candidates exactly in the same order as one week ago:
DAK PRESCOTT, QB, MISS STATE - Note that we’ve had this Bulldogs’ stud atop our Heisman Trophy list since we started this column feature some five weeks ago but the $64,000 question is will the junior signal-caller still be numero uno after his showdown at mighty Alabama this Saturday? Prescott enters this key SEC West battle with 2,231 yards passing, 18 TDs and 7 INTs to go along with another 779 rushing yards with 11 TDs. Last week against pushover Tennessee-Martin, Prescott chucked two scoring strikes and ran for one more in a 45-16 non-cover home win.
MARCUS MARIOTA, QB, OREGON - Gotta admit it that most Heisman Trophy lists now have this Duck star on top of the heap, thanks in large part to his 2,780 yards passing, 29 TDs and 2 INTs to go with 524 ground yards with 8 scores but we’ll keep him nibbling at Prescott’s heels for now and note Oregon’s idle this week after last Saturday’s rollicking 51-27 win/cover at 10-point underdog Utah ... have y’all noticed where Mariota (239 yards passing with 3 TDs/0 INTs with 114 yards rushing/1 TD last week) has led this Pac-12 team to five consecutive pointspread wins!
MELVIN GORDON, RB, WISCONSIN - The Badgers’ junior back has been a consistent ground force this year as last week he easily exceeded the 100-yard rushing mark for a seventh straight time this year with a 205-yard (8.2 ypc average) performance in the 34-16 win/cover at 17-point pup Purdue. Now heading into Saturday’s home game against Nebraska, Gordon sports the following 2014 stats: He’s rushed for 1,501 yards with 19 TDs and is averaging a haughty 7.6 yards a pop. Hey, if Prescott’s stifled at ‘Bama and with Mariota getting a bye week, might it be that a 150-yard type game from Gordon catapults him into the Heisman Trophy driver’s seat at week’s end? Stay tuned.
JAMEIS WINSTON, QB, FLORIDA STATE - In case you lost count, this is the fourth consecutive week in which we’ve placed last year’s Heisman Trophy winner either fourth or fifth in our “watch list” ... and frankly we don’t understand anyone that is still keeping Winston out of their top five (are you listening, ESPN?). Last week’s now-typical come-from-behind 34-20 win against 20.5-point dog Virginia included another slow/ugly start for the Seminoles’ slinger but when the night ended Winston had 261 yards passing and one touchdown and so the season-long stats now feature 2,540 yards passing with 17 TDs and 11 INTs but the not-so-little footnote is FSU’s 9-and-oh SU (straight-up) and lusting for another national championship shot - next up is a major challenge at Miami and don’t you happen to think Winston and Company are “short favorites” at only minus 1.5 points?
AMEER ABDULLASH, RB, NEBRASKA - Note that we’ve included this ‘Husker star somewhere in our top five all five weeks we’ve been running this feature ... and why not? Abdullah has fallen off the radar lately as he injured his foot and came out after six carries in a 35-14 non-cover win against Purdue two weeks ago and last Saturday the Big Red was idle but we’ve kept ‘em in the conversation thanks to his flashy 1,250 yards rushing (6.7 ypc) with 17 ground scores (and three receiving TDs to boot). If Abdullah can’t be a major factor against Wisconsin this weekend, then we’ll kayo ‘em from our list ... okay.
We’ll dig into the Thursday Night Football games as the Buffalo Bills are at the Miami Dolphins in NFL Week 11 play while there’s three College Football tilts including Cal at USC when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online. Get all the NCAA Football (there’s games every night this week continuing with a pair of Mid-American Conference tilts on this Wednesday evening, plus there’s NFL Week 11 and NBA/NCAA Basketball winners too as we plan on dashing right through the month of November with another major hot streak.
NFL WEEK 11 SPREAD STATS/OBSERVATIONS
It’s been a slow-and-steady climb for the NFL Betting Favorites this year ... once upon a time (okay, following Week 3 play) the league’s chalk sides stood at a wobbly 21-25-1 ATS (against the spread) with one pick ‘em game tossed in but now entering Thursday’s AFC battle between the Bills at the Dolphins, the favs are 74-68-3 with two pick ‘em games chucked in and so that means chalk-eaters are a solid 53-43-1 ATS the past seven weeks.
Okay, not great but a major improvement over those first three weeks, right? In today’s Jim Sez, we’ll examine the “hot favorites” and what’s on their plate here in Week 11 play:
ARIZONA - Okay, so everything pertaining to these here-and-now Cardinals is “hot” except for maybe their karma as QB Carson Palmer is out for the year with a bum knee but ‘Zona enters Sunday’s game against small dog Detroit having covered its last three in a row as betting favs (versus St. Louis, Oakland and Washington) and one major reason why the Redbirds have shined as point-layers is because they’re plus 11 in INTs and note new/old starter Drew Stanton has thrown 93 passes this year without a single pick.
DENVER - Maybe the “real Broncos” finally have stood up as John Fox’s club has covered five of its last six games when in the favorite’s role after having started off the current campaign 0-3 ATS overall (0-2 ATS as favorites). No secret that the Broncos continue to pile up the points behind Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning - Denver’s averaging 35.2 points per game the past six games - but check out this NFL-best rush defense (67 ypg) and fifth-best overall “D” that already has 10 INTs and 24 sacks (including nine by LB Von Miller and eight by DE DeMarcus Ware). This week the Broncos are laying 9.5 points in St. Louis on the third and final leg of a three-game road swing - is that too much or will this sack-crazy defense take care of business one mo’ time?
GREEN BAY - The buzz word in/around the cheese state has got to be R-E-L-A-X because ever since Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers spelled that out in a tweet following a Week 3 loss in Detroit this Mike McCarthy-coached club has gone a ridiculous 5-and-oh against the odds whenever in the favorite’s role. Now, Green Bay guns for six straight chalk covers this Sunday against Philadelphia - note the Eagles are a 5.5 -point pup at press time despite that 45-21 win/cover against Carolina - and if you’re looking for something g a little less obvious than the fact Rodgers is having a Hall of Fame season (see 2,407 yards passing with 25 TDs and just 3 INTs) than how about the fact the Pack’s a plus 10 in the turnover margin category and OLB Julius Peppers has three fumble recoveries, six pass deflections and five quarterback sacks ... and a partridge in a freakin’ pear tree!
NOTE: Catch all our NCAA Football and NFL Week 11 previews/forecasts in the coming days right here at Jim Sez!