Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 11:29 AM
OUR JIM SEZ MID-WEEK REPORT TACKLES THREE KEY TOPICS: THE LATEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS, THIS WEEK'S HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH LIST, AND QUICKIE PREVIEWS FROM NCAA & NFL WEEK 10 WEEKEND ACTION
First things first ...The latest College Football Playoff rankings has things looking like this:
1. Clemson (9-0
2. Alabama (8-1)
3. Ohio State (9-0)
4. Notre Dame (8-1)
5. Iowa (9-0)
6. Baylor (8-0)
And there were more than a few storylines coming from last night's announcement of the latest College Football Playoff rankings but - to steal a quote made last year by Green Bay Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers - everyone should just R-E-L-A-X.
The Big 12 folks are fretting because 8-and-oh Baylor has not budged from that #6 spot despite last Thursday's win at Kansas State; and Oklahoma State (9-0) only climbed from #14 to #8 even though the Cowboys socked TCU 49-29 last Saturday in Stillwater.
Again, the Big 12 sked is "back-loaded" to the hilt and so when everything shakes out we'll see if there's an unbeaten team here in the mix and then we'll trust that either Baylor or Oklahoma State - if still undefeated - will be part of the four-team playoff mix.
Safe to say the Big 12 is not getting any benefit of the doubt, so one-loss teams from this league need not bother to think they'll be part of the CFP this year.
Meanwhile, we have no qualms with the first four teams here - they are exactly as how we predicted in Monday's edition of Jim Sez - but we do question Iowa getting into the fifth spot over Okie State but keep in mind the Hawkeyes still have a road game in Nebraska and - most likely - a Big 10 Championship Game to play and so their arrow could be pointing down soon enough.
Finally, here's what the good folks at ESPN didn't tell you last night:
The fact that Clemson is entrenched pretty good at #1 - and why not with a one-loss Alabama team behind 'em following that twin-figure win against LSU - could well mean the Tigers might be able to "afford" a loss in the ACC Championship Game and still get one of the playoff berths.
Now, did anybody give that thought when forecasting potential rise in the rankings by the likes of Stanford and those aforementioned Big 12 teams?
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.
COREY COLEMAN, WR, BAYLOR - Hey, we have a new leader entering this weekend's games and many folks inside the world of college football believe he just so happens to be the best "pound-for-pound" player in the sport. The junior wide-out made the leap from fourth place in our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy all the way to #1 following last Thursday's 31-24 non-cover win at Kansas State when Coleman nabbed 11 passes for 216 yards with two TDs. So, that brings Coleman's season stats to 58 receptions for 1,178 yards (that's a 20.3 yards-per-catch average) and 20 TDs. Up Next: Big prime-time, national TV tilt against Oklahoma.
LEONARD FOURNETTE, RB, LSU - Our Heisman Trophy frontrunner for each of the first four weeks in these Jim Sez pages took a major hit to his campaign with last Saturday's 30-16 loss at Alabama. True, we had Fournette way out in front of this race prior to that disappointing tilt and so we're choosing not to KO this Bengals back from the top five but he drops a spot after rushing for a meager 31 yards and one score. Fournette's yearly stats are 1,383 yards rushing with 16 TDs and a spiffy 7.1 ypc average. Up Next: LSU hosts archrival Arkansas this Saturday.
DERRICK HENRY, RB, ALABAMA - Last Saturday night's dynamic 210-yard, 3-TD performance in the Crimson Tide's aforementioned 14-point win over LSU catapulted this hard-driving junior back right smack into the midst of our Heisman chase but we've chosen (unlike some other Heisman Watch Lists) not to put Mr. Henry at the very top of the charts ... but he has the most "momentum" of any candidate right now. Up Next: Henry and the Tide are at Miss State this Saturday and another 200-yard rushing game likely will get 'em to numero uno.
EZEKIEL ELLIOTT, RB, OHIO STATE - We've had this energized Buckeyes back in third place for the first four weeks of our Heisman Trophy race but we drop 'em one spot with the sudden elevation of Henry into the upper crust. True, Elliott has been a major consistent force as he comes off a 14th consecutive 100-yard rushing game (he ran for 114 yards and one score in last weekend's 28-14 non-cover win against Minnesota). Up Next: At Illinois this Saturday.
TREVONE BOYKIN, QB, TCU - We know the hue-and-cry is to evict this Horned Frogs star right out of the top five but we ain't doing it! Boykin's rotten four-INT showing in last weekend's ugly 49-29 loss at Oklahoma State was major bummer material for both he and his team but a player that sat in the #2 spot in our Heisman Trophy list for the first four weeks drops down three pegs here but - for now - doesn't lose his seat at New York City's mid-December ceremony. The up-to-the-minute stats for Boykin include 3,373 passing yards with 29 TDs and 9 INTs to go along with 597 yards rushing and 8 TDs. Up Next: Home to weakling Kansas this Saturday.
We'll dig into the Thursday Night Football games as the Buffalo Bills are at the New York Jets in NFL Week 10 play while there's key Thursday/Friday College Football tilts including Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech (Thursday) and USC at Colorado (Friday) 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 - and remember there's games every night this week continuing with a pair of Mid-American Conference tilts tonight plus there's NFL Week 10 and NBA/NCAA Basketball winners too as we plan on dashing right through the month of November with another major hot streak.
NCAA & NFL KEY PREVIEWS
Let's zip through a few key games as we peer ahead to this weekend's action. On Saturday, it's ...
#4 ALABAMA (8-1, 5-1 SEC) at #17 MISS STATE (7-2, 3-2 SEC) - 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
The Las Vegas oddsmakers have the 'Bama Crimson Tide as a solid 8-point road favorite here - Nick Saban's crew covered both of its away games when favored this year against Wisconsin and Texas A&M - and the $64,000 question is will RB Derrick Henry get another 38-or-so carries here after running roughshod over LSU last week to the tune of 210 yards (okay, he started off slowly but really revved up)?
Head-to-Head Spread Note - Alabama has failed to cover three of its last four games played in Starkville including a Miss State cover as a 23-point pup in a 20-7 'Bama win.
ARKANSAS (5-4, 3-2 SEC) at #9 LSU (7-1, 4-1 SEC) - 7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Do the LSU Tigers still have a shot at this whole playoff thing? Sure do providing the Bengals stay the course, get Alabama to lose somewhere along the line and win the SEC Championship game next month in Atlanta ... and you had better believe head coach Les Miles has spelled it all out for his team but let's see if RB Leonard Fournette (19 carries for 31 yards rushing last week in Tuscaloosa) can shake-and-bake his way to a big game against an Arkansas side that's already played in three different overtime games.
Head-to-Head Spread Note - LSU is an awful 2-8 versus the vig in its last 10 showdowns against Arkansas and that includes last year's 17-0 Hogs win as 2-point home favorites.
We'll hold off on our previews involving the NFL's three undefeated teams (Carolina, Cincinnati and New England) for another time this week here at Jim Sez, so let's check out ...
KANSAS CITY (3-5) at DENVER (7-1) - 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
The Broncos were unceremoniously bounced from the ranks of the NFL unbeaten with last week's 27-24 loss at Indianapolis and you couldn't blame it all on QB Peyton Manning (though he did suffer two more INTs) but here we'll see if Kansas City resembles those NFL post-bye teams that are 13-5 versus the vig this year. Keep in mind the 6.5-point underdog Chiefs come off back-to-back wins/covers with QB Alex Smith piling up key rushing yards and the defense really answering the call the past four weeks when Andy Reid's defense has surrendered just 18, 16, 13 and 10 points ... might Denver be on the ropes here in this divisional "payback" game for the Chiefs?
Spread Notes - Denver's 4-2-2 against the odds so far this year but did you know the Broncos have covered eight of their last 11 head-to-head tilts against Kansas City and that includes the 31-24 win as 3-point road dogs back in Week 2? Note that the Chiefs are 0-3 ATS (against the spread) as underdogs this year with spread setbacks against Green Bay, Cincinnati and Minnesota.
NOTE: Catch more previews including tomorrow night's Buffalo Bills at New York Jets bash - a/k/a The Rex Ryan Bowl - plus lots more in the next Jim Sez.