Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 12:00 AM
OUR JIM SEZ MID-WEEK REPORT –
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS ARE OUT
AND WE WEIGH IN …
PLUS THE LATEST HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH LIST
WITH LSU’S FOURNETTE STILL ON TOP …
A LOOK AHEAD AT THE NON-POWER 5
UNDEFEATED SQUADS IN ACTION THIS WEEK …
THE NFL UPDATE:
SILENT ON TRADE FRONT BUT
LOTS OF NOISE ELSEWHERE
So, the question has been answered as to whom are the four teams to grab the spots in this year’s debut edition of the College Football Playoff rankings – and we’ve got some issues!
Okay, so last week – prior to the Halloween games – we offered up our top four and we made it Ohio State, Clemson, LSU and Stanford but the committee folks spoke up last night and said it’s …
- CLEMSON (8-0) – Can’t argue with the fact the Tigers have been a complete team for the first two months with the defense holding five foes to 17 points or less and the QB Deshaun Watson-led offense cranking out 41-or-more points five times plus the sked’s been strong (see wins against Louisville, Notre Dame, Miami and N.C. State). We can live with Clemson at #1 right now but did Dabo Swinney’s crew leapfrog both LSU and Ohio State when those teams were idle last weekend?
- LSU (7-0) – No doubt the Bayou Bengals will see their “strength of schedule” numbers rise with remaining games at Alabama, home to Arkansas, at Ole Miss and home to Texas A&M and a run-the-table approach by both Clemson and LSU likely has the Baton Rouge sitting #1 come playoff time. Don’t ‘ya think?
- OHIO STATE (8-0) – Call us old-fashioned but we don’t think the champs should fall until they lose and so here’s where we differ with the CFP gang that’s likely not respecting Big 10 wins against the likes of Indiana, Maryland and Rutgers. That’s cool but do you think Clemson and/or LSU would be a neutral-field betting favorite against Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes? We don’t.
- ALABAMA (7-1) – Okay, so we fully realize that this Saturday’s LSU at ‘Bama game likely will KO one of these two SEC powerhouses out of the top four but our problem for now including the Crimson Tide is that it’s just 3-5 against the Las Vegas prices so far (and so not exceeding anyone’s expectations) plus the conference road wins at Georgia and at Texas A&M appear less impressive based on those two team’s recent showings. We know Notre Dame and Baylor were “next up” in the CFP rankings but we would have put both of ‘em ahead of Alabama here at #4.
Lots of fantastic matchups on this early November card and we’ll get to some NFL news too but first this key reminder:
My handicappers and bloggers have everything all scoped out and you can get all the NCAA Football, NFL Week 9 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 2015 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:
- LEONARD FOURNETTE, RB, LSU – Still the comfy leader in the clubhouse even with last weekend’s momentum-stifling bye week for the Bayou Bengals. Fournette – who combines size and speed and right now looks the part of a top three pick in next year’s NFL Draft -- gets a crack at making a real national name for himself with this Saturday’s game at Alabama … on the year the sophomore star has rushed for 1,352 yards with 15 TDs while averaging an eye-popping 7.7 yards per carry and just for good measure Fournette has 7 catches for 58 yards receiving.
- TREVONE BOYKIN, QB, TCU – Hate to sound like the proverbial broken record, but four weeks into our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy Watch List it’s been Fournette/Boykin running #1 and #2 on our hit list (hey, sounds like it would make for a “winning ticket”, eh?) as this Horned Frogs mega-star is fresh off a 388-yard passing game with 3 TDs and 0 INTs in last week’s 40-10 drubbing of West Virginia. Boykin’s now thrown for 2,927 yards with 28 TDs and 5 INTs on the year plus he’s run for 524 yards and 6 scores. Up next is a road test at unbeaten Oklahoma State.
- EZEKIEL ELLIOTT, RB, OHIO STATE – Heck, with all the drama surrounding the quarterback position at Ohio State, you can see how this junior running back gets the short end of the publicity straw but we haven’t forgotten about you, Mr. Elliott. Last year’s CFP (College Football Playoff) hero exits last week’s bye with 1,130 yards rushing and 13 TDs (averaging 6.8 yards a carry) and did you know this Buckeyes’ star also has 23 receptions good for 160 yards?
- COREY COLEMAN, WR, BAYLOR – Here’s the third player in our top four Heisman that comes off a bye week but we’ll refresh your memory and let y’all know that this junior wide-out has scored a whopping 18 TDs to go along with his prodigious 20.5 yards-per-catch average – on the year Coleman’s snagged 47 receptions worth 962 yards and he gets a crack at an overworked Kansas State defense on Thursday night (see quick-hitter preview below).
- CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY, RB, STANFORD – We’re keeping this do-it-all Cardinal back at #5 on our Heisman Trophy hit list despite a rather pedestrian 22-carry, 107-yard, no-TD performance in last weekend’s 30-28 non-cover win at 10-point underdog Washington State. On the year, soph McCaffrey has registered 1,060 yards rushing with six TDs and he’s added 25 receptions for 310 yards. We’re giving McCaffrey the slight edge for this fifth spot over Alabama RB Derrick Henry (1,044 yards with 14 TDs).
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
Here’s what is happening this weekend with the country’s non-Power 5 undefeated teams in the FBS …
On Saturday, it’s …
HOUSTON (8-0, 4-0 AAC) – The Cougars could well be that “outsider” team that threatens the integrity of the College Football Playoffs by year’s end but right now it’s Homecoming Night versus Cincinnati and maybe Houston QB Greg Ward, Jr. (1,955 yards passing with 11 TDs/2 INTs and 710 yards rushing with 16 TDs) tosses his hat into the Heisman Trophy ring! The Coogs – 6-2 ATS (against the spread) this season -- are 8.5-point betting favorites.
MEMPHIS (8-0, 4-0 AAC) – Can the Tigers remain focused on 9-point underdog Navy this weekend and not look ahead to that Nov. 14th tilt at Houston? Coach of the Year candidate Justin Fuente’s team ranks 6th in the land in total offense and QB Paxton Lynch (2,709 yards passing with 18 TDs and 1 INT) is making pro scouts sit up and take notice.
THE NFL REPORT –
There were a whole lot of trades that NFL fans wanted to see come yesterday’s Trade Deadline – such as Carolina snapping up a top-flight wide receiver such as Detroit’s Calvin Johnson or maybe Oakland looking to acquire a top-shelf running back such as Washington’s Alfred Morris – but generally it was quiet on the let’s-make-a-deal front save for Monday’s move of TE Vernon Davis from San Francisco to Denver that also involved a bevy of late-round draft picks.
Still, it was far from quiet overall on what’s generally considered an “off day” for NFL teams, players, coaches:
The Tennessee Titans axed second-year boss Ken Whisenhunt following a 2-14 SU (straight-up) mark a year ago that’s been followed by a 1-6 SU start this year. Sure, it didn’t help his cause that rookie QB Marcus Mariota is hurting these days (he missed last weekend’s 20-6 loss at Houston) but gotta say this was simply not a good fit from the proverbial get-go and may we be the first to submit a name for the Titans’ head coaching job this off-season – note journeyman head coach Mike Mularkey is the interim boss but has virtually no shot at being the boss come 2016 – and that’s New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael.
Okay, so everyone knows that’s really head coach Sean Payton’s offense but Carmichael’s been there for five-plus seasons and would be a perfect mentor to Mariota with the Drew Brees-like quick-strike passing offense. You can be sure Mariota’s pal from his Oregon days – Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly – will be getting plenty of attention when it comes to this job opening but the Titans should “start fresh” and skip Kelly …
Finally, word became official that the San Francisco 49ers (2-6) would start Blaine Gabbert at quarterback over the slumping Colin Kaepernick this Sunday against the visiting Atlanta Falcons.
P.S., this is not the end of the Kaepernick Era in San Fran – even though he is being benched for a guy with a putrid 5-22 SU mark as an NFL starter – despite the ineffective play and rumors that Kaepernick is not a unifying force in the team’s locker room. Something tells us we’ll see Kaepernick sometime this month and perhaps with a renewed vigor to his game, so stay tuned.
NOTE: Catch all our NCAA Football and NFL Week 9 previews/forecasts in the coming days right here at Jim Sez!