Thursday NFL/College Previews & Heisman Watch

THURSDAY NIGHT NFL & COLLEGE PREVIEWS

PLUS WE'VE GOT THE LATEST HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH WITH STANFORD SLINGER LUCK STILL VERY MUCH IN THE LEAD ...PLUS GET OUR COLLEGE GRIDIRON FRIDAY NITE TV PREVIEW AS SOUTH FLORIDA INVADES THE 'CUSE

By Jim Hurley:

Don't know if you've gotten the opportunity to check deeply into this week's BCS Standings but here's something we here at Jim Sez would like to point out:

If you would like to find out what's the best conference in the land than maybe a perusal of this week's standings will help as you will discover that the SEC (starring #1 LSU) has 6 teams in the BCS Top 25 while the Big 10 has 5 teams, the Big 12 has 5 teams, the ACC has 3 squads, Conference USA has 2 teams, the Pac-12 has 2 clubs, the Big East has 1 team and the Mountain West Conference has 1 club.

In short, teams from the SEC/Big 10/Big 12 represent 64 percent - or nearly two-thirds - of the top teams in the land while the so-called power conferences from the ACC/Pac-12/Big East represent just 24 percent of the current BCS Top 25 Standings.

Maybe than they should only get one-quarter of the post-season bowl invitations this holiday season ... just sayin'!

Meanwhile, we roll on with what's now our seventh week of posting our Jim Sez Top 5 Heisman Trophy candidates and nothing's changed at the top though there's been some shuffling down below - check out this week's Heisman Trophy Watch - and keep in mind that the NFL has Thursday Night action from here on out this year and so we get a meaningful AFC West hoedown between the Oakland Raiders at the San Diego Chargers here and take note that some of the future Thursday Night games down the road include the New York Jets at Denver next week and the Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh matchup on Thanksgiving Night between San Francisco at Baltimore.

Let's get things cranked up as we near another great gridiron weekend!

THE WEEKLY HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH
Now, here's our Top 5 Heisman Trophy candidates in all as we roll into play this coming weekend:

1 - ANDREW LUCK, QB, STANFORD - Now for the seventh time in as many weeks the Cardinal hurler remains atop the leader board for the famed bronze statue one week after throwing for a modest 206 yards with three TDs in Stanford's 38-13 win/cover at three-TD dog Oregon State. Stanford enters Saturday's high-profile showdown against Oregon with a perfect 9-and-oh mark and note Luck is home for his final three regular-season games. The 2011 numbers to this point: It's 2,424 yards passing with 26 TDs and 5 INTs.

2- KELLEN MOORE, QB, BOISE STATE - The veteran lefty has moved up one spot in each of the past three weeks but he remains far back of Mr. Luck at this time. Still, last weekend Moore aired five scoring strikes in the Broncos' 48-21 non-cover win at 43-point dog UNLV and so now he's up to 29 TDs and just 5 INTs on the year along with 2,229 passing yards. If Moore can have a stat-sheet stuffing game this Saturday against the visiting TCU Horned Frogs (yes, not nearly the team they used to be) than the B-State slinger could make up some ground.

3 - TRENT RICHARDSON, RB, ALABAMA - The Crimson Tide back dropped a notch following his 23-carry, 89-yard rushing game in the 9-6 overtime loss to LSU last Saturday night. True, Richardson made two big plays in the 'Bama passing game with 80 yards worth of receptions in all but the team lost and the fact is Richardson didn't have a "signature moment" and that probably kayoed him once and for all from winning the hardware unless Luck and Moore both really bottom out in the final month of play. The up-to-date Richardson numbers while heading into Saturday's game at Miss State: He's rushed for 1,078 yards (a 6.3 yards-per-carry average) with 17 ground scores plus he's collected 23 receptions worth 292 yards.

4 - CASE KEENUM, QB, HOUSTON - The 9-and-oh UH Cougars have made quite a splash on the national scene (they're at #11 in this week's BCS Standings) and this sixth-year slinger keeps piling up the glitzy numbers. Keenum's now thrown for 3,626 yards with 34 TDs and 3 INTs this season after tossing only two scoring strikes in last weekend's 56-13 triumph at four-TD dog UAB. Next up is another Conference USA road game ... at weak sister Tulane.

5 - BRANDON WEEDEN, QB, OKLAHOMA STATE - Are we too-little, too-late here? The Cowboys gunslinger makes his first Heisman Trophy Watch List appearance in our Jim Sez space as the 6-foot-4 senior comes off a school-record 502 yards passing and four TDs in last weekend's roller-coaster 52-45 non-cover victory against 21-point pup Kansas State. Weeden's numbers now include 3,212 yards passing with 26 TDs and 9 INTs and it sure doesn't hurt that he plays for the now-#2 team in the land. Next up is Saturday's road test at Texas Tech.
 

NFL WEEK 10 - THE THURSDAY NITE PREVIEW

OAKLAND (4-4) at SAN DIEGO (4-4) - 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Let's just say that things are slip-sliding away for both of these AFC West teams: The Oakland Raiders were - once upon a time - 4-2 SU (straight-up) but before/after bye-week divisional home losses to both Kansas City and Denver really have damaged playoff hopes and now star RB Darren McFadden (sprained right foot) will miss a second consecutive game and so that heaps even more pressure on QB Carson Palmer who has already been intercepted six times in just six-plus quarters of action ... really.

Than there's the San Diego Chargers who won four of their five games before a Week 6 bye - and they haven't won since!

Norv Turner's team flopped against the NY Jets, KC Chiefs and Green Bay Packers these last three weeks and error-prone QB Philip Rivers now has tossed 14 INTs to go along with his 11 TD strikes. Hey, the Chargers are 26-6 SU in the second halves of the last four NFL seasons but can someone splash water on their faces here and wake 'em up?

Spread Notes - San Diego is just 2-6 against the odds so far in this 2011 season and the Chargers have failed to cover their last four consecutive spread verdicts against Oakland. On the flip side, the Raiders are 4-3-1 ATS (against the spread) this season and note that the silver-and-black is 4-1 spreadwise as an underdog this season. Note that the Raiders have notched spread wins in seven of their last nine AFC West affairs.
 

THE THURSDAY NITE TV PREVIEW
Note the numbers below reflect the current BCS Standings:

#10 VIRGINIA TECH (8-1, 4-1 ACC) at #21 GEORGIA TECH (7-2, 4-2 ACC) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Of course it's a battle for first place in the ACC's Coastal Division - but it's a lot more than that! It's an opportunity for Frank Beamer's here-and-now Virginia Tech Hokies to keep climbing up the BCS charts as they shoot for a fifth consecutive SU (straight-up) victory with RB David Wilson - the nation's leading rusher with 1,185 yards and 7 TDs - sure to get his mitts on the ball 30-or-so times here against a Georgia Tech defense that's surrendered more than 30 points juts once this year (see the 45-35 win/push against N.C. State back on Oct. 1st).

On the flip side, the GT Yellow Jackets zoom into this prime-time affair averaging a haughty 328 yards rushing per game and in the 31-17 upset win against 3 ½-point Clemson back on Oct. 29th (note both Techs had a bye last weekend) there was QB Tevin Washington reeling off a season-high 176 yards rushing on some 27 carries.

Keep a stopwatch on this game as it could be done in two-and-a-half hours if everything stays on thee ground.

Spread Notes - Virginia Tech is an ugly 2-7 ATS (against the spread) this year and the Hokies have failed to cover each of their last three head-to-head showdowns versus Georgia Tech. Note that the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are 5-3-1 vig-wise overall this season and keep in mind G-Tech's covered four-of-five home games this year.

Get on board for Jim Hurley's top plays of Thursday night for just $15

FRIDAY NITE PREVIEW

SOUTH FLORIDA (4-4, 0-4 Big East) at SYRACUSE (5-4, 1-3 Big East) - 8 p.m. EST, espn2
It's the "only game in town" unless you happened to be in the mood to check out a busy College Basketball card on this second Friday night in November (see North Carolina vs. Michigan State on that aircraft carrier along with a neat interconference tilt between Oregon at Vanderbilt) and what stands out here is the fact the USF Bulls have come apart at the seams with four consecutive SU losses following a nifty 4-and-oh start.

The Bulls' offense has scored 17 points or less in three of these recent losses but quarterback B.J. Daniels (12 TDs and 5 INTs) has pretty good numbers.

Spread Notes - Syracuse is just 3-6 versus the vig overall this season and note that three of the Orange's five home games this year have gone into overtime (wins versus Wake Forest and Toledo and a twin-OT loss to Rutgers). South Florida, meanwhile, started off this current campaign on a three-game ATS winning streak but the Bulls have failed to cover their last five in a row. Overall, South Florida is a rollicking 5-1 against the odds in its six head-to-head showdowns with the 'Cuse since 2005.

NOTE: Get all the key Saturday College Football Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez. And the Hurley Network has an outstanding 5-Day Winfest ahead that starts tonight and goes all the way through Monday. Get on board for all our top plays!

18
Nov

Today’s Hot Plays