Heisman Watch & Friday College Preview


By Jim Hurley:

Here's the roll call of College Football unbeatens that are in action this Saturday- there's 15 of 'em playing in all- and you've got to wonder aloud just how many will fall on this middle weekend in October:

#1 Alabama, #3 South Carolina, #4 Florida, #5 West Virginia, #6 Kansas State, #7 Notre Dame, #8 Ohio State, #10 Oregon State, #18 Louisville, #19 Miss State, #20 Rutgers, #21 Cincinnati, #23 Louisiana Tech plus unranked teams Ohio and Texas-San Antonio all look to stay perfect this Saturday but better believe they all have huge bulls-eye targets on their backs by now ... don't you think?

Who's the most likely high-profile team to tumble this weekend?

Probably South Carolina who's at 2 ½-point favorite LSU but both unbeaten Big East teams here- that's Louisville and Rutgers- could run into major speed bumps versus Pittsburgh and Syracuse, respectively, and keep in mind Oregon State is without QB Sean Mannion who's expected to be sidelined for the next several weeks.

So, in the College Football version of the "knockout pool" these 15 teams are still standing but will anyone be shocked if the list gets trimmed to 10 (or less) unbeatens come late Saturday night?

You shouldn't!

Plenty of key College Football Previews will come your way in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez but today we get you the first installment of our weekly feature: The Heisman Trophy Watch.

Hey, unlike those other high-and-mighty network web sites, we're bringing some "D" to the table as we've got not one but two linebackers on our top five list (if you've been watching all the games this year than you know who they are!) but it's a major runaway thus far and so we begin our Heisman chatter with the leader at the halfway point and that's ...

GENO SMITH, QB, WEST VIRGINIA- This 6-foot-3 senior has been "en fuego" right from the start of this current campaign and the numbers don't lie as Smith's thrown for 1,996 yards with 24 TDs and 0 INTs through the Mountaineers' first five games. Last week Smith bombarded Texas for 268 aerial yards and four scoring strikes in what marked the biggest road win yet by any of the serious Heisman Trophy candidates. If Smith is on target against Texas Tech this weekend in Lubbock, than he just might put up insurmountable numbers for any of the other Heisman hopefuls. Could this "race" be done with before Halloween?

BRAXTON MILLER, QB, OHIO STATE- The engine that makes this Buckeyes bunch run is just a sophomore but even first-year Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer termed his quarterback "outrageous" following last weekend's showing against Nebraska: Miller rushed for 186 yards and threw for another 127 yards in that 63-38 prime-time win against the 'Huskers and for the 2012 season Miller now has 1,060 yards passing and another 763 yards rushing while accounting for 17 TDs (that's 9 passing/8 rushing). If the 6-and-oh 'Eyes run the table this year- and that could happen -- than Miller could stalk Smith right to the Heisman Trophy finish line although he and every other candidate has lots of ground to make up these days.

MANTI TE'O, LB, NOTRE DAME- At least the espn.com "experts poll" has this ND Fighting Irish superstar sixth in its current Heisman Trophy voting (we've noticed that some other sites have not even recognized Te'o among the trophy leaders and that's downright foolish) but we'll give him some bronze (for now) after an incredible start that's put Notre Dame front-and-center in the College Football world once again with that 5-0 start. Note that Te'o- who has played under great off-the-field emotional duress this year- has collected 46 tackles so far plus he's intercepted three passes two including a pair in the tight 13-6 win against Michigan a couple of weeks back. This 6-foot-2, 255-pound athletic Hawaiian native has a never-ending motor- could a perfect season by the Irish equal a Heisman Trophy for Te'o?

COLLIN KLEIN, QB, KANSAS STATE - Talk about your do-it-all quarterbacks! This 6-foot-5 senior K-State star has thrown for 887 yards and rushed for another 405 yards (on 5.5 yards per carry) for the sixth-ranked 'Cats and while his seven rushing and seven passing TDs may not wow you- especially compared with WVU's Smith- the fact is Klein is KSU's top player and one who rarely makes a mistake (see only two picks so far). Road games at Iowa State and at West Virginia these next two weekends will prove to be a major test for Bill Snyder's brainy signal-caller.

MIKE MAUTI, LB, PENN STATE - Granted, you're not gonna find this senior leader on anyone's Heisman Trophy short list ... but that's not our fault!
The chatty Mauti has been the heart-and-soul of this Nittany Lions team that was basically left for dead prior to the start of this 2012 season and instead Penn State owns "signature" wins against Illinois and Northwestern and this 6-foor-2, 233-pound senior has been a devastating tackler plus his two picks against the Illini were critically important plays. Maybe the other Heisman Trophy voters out there don't pay attention to defensive stars- but we do- and Mauti makes our initial Jim Sez Top 5 in the Heisman Trophy Watch.

On Friday Nite, it's ...NAVY (2-3) at CENTRAL MICHIGAN (2-3)- 8 p.m. ET, espn2

The football weekend gets rollin' with this clash in Mount Pleasant and we'll see what's in Navy's tank following last weekend's emotional 28-21 OT win at Air Force: Note that the Middies will bank on QB Trey Miller (110 yards rushing last week) to make the big plays here and how about the fact Central Michigan's allowed 55 and 50 points in its last two outings?

Spread Notes - Navy is 2-3 versus the vig so far this season and the Midshipmen are a shoddy 2-5 ATS (against the spread) in the game after playing a fellow service academy team. Meanwhile, Central Michigan's 1-4 versus the juice this year and did you know the Chippewas have lost eight of their last 10 spread verdicts when playing at home?




By Jim Hurley:

Hey, we're quite sure that you've noticed ...There's been a handful of College Football Games on the Saturday docket that's really moved on the Las Vegas line and so let's get into some of 'em right here and right now:

The Ole Miss Rebels have climbed from a 3 ½-point betting favorite to being a 6-point choice against SEC rival Auburn as the Tigers' swoon has convinced the betting public that "this year is over" for them.

On the flip side, Ole Miss impressed handicappers with last week's 30-27 loss-but-cover against Texas A&M plus folks have noticed how Ole Miss has covered its last three games in a row. The Rebs could wind up laying a full TD or more by kickoff ...

BYU has grown from a 3 ½-point opening line favorite to minus 6 in its home game against Oregon State and it's no secret that Beavers' slinger Sean Mannion is out for the next several weeks. No doubt he's the key figure for an Oregon State offense that's averaged 28 points a game in Pac-12 affairs against UCLA, Arizona and Washington State plus you chuck into the mix the fact BYU's defense has been stout and should be tough on a new signal-caller. The question we have is BYU's offense good enough to be laying a TD against the nation's 10th-ranked team with or without Mannion ...

inally, interesting to see that West Virginia (5-0) is being bet against late in the week in its Big 12 road game at Texas Tech.

Okay, so maybe the public's thought process here is the Mountaineers just won in upset fashion at Texas last weekend in a 48-45 thriller and may suffer a letdown but note this game was West Virginia -5 ½ and it's down to 3 points in some locales. We'll soon see if the "smart money" was so smart after all.

Now, here's the marquee matchups on this Saturday's busy College Football card:

#3 SOUTH CAROLINA (6-0) at #9 LSU (5-1) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Is this the year the "ole ball coach" wins the SEC and gets to play in a national championship game?

Don't look now but these South Carolina Gamecocks - led by their nearly 70-year-old (and still feisty) head coach Steve Spurrier -- have been absolutely dominant thus far with the club's six years coming by a per-game average of 25.8 ppg ... now that deserves a wow!

The Gamecocks merely dominated Georgia 35-7 last week - it's hard to believe now that Carolina was only favored by a single point in that one! - as DE Jadeveon Clowney and his defensive friends were all over the joint but better believe the whole speed of this game will be ratcheted up by a hungry LSU squad that lost at Florida last week and gained only 200 offensive yards in the process.

LSU slinger Zach Mettenberger completed just 11-of-25 passes for 158 yards and one INT against the Gators and the question is when do the Bayou Bengals get to see the "real" Mettenberger at work?

Did You Know? - The SC Gamecocks have covered their last five consecutive games this year following that season-opening spread loss to Vanderbilt.

#17 STANFORD (4-1) at #7 NOTRE DAME (5-0) - 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
The good news for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is this: They matter again!

The bad news? If they're not careful, Brian Kelly's club could get picked off in any one of its next three games - that's here against Stanford, home to BYU and than at Oklahoma - and so let's hold off on all that BCS Championship Game talk for now, okay?

Consider that Notre Dame's defense - starring LB Manti Te'o - has held its last three foes (Michigan State, Michigan and Miami) to a combined 12 points but now they have to deal with a born-again Stanford QB Josh Nunes who threw for 360 yards and two TDs (along with three rushing scores) in a wild/gut-wrenching 54-48 OT win against Arizona last weekend. If Nunes is feeling more confident, who can blame him but note Stamford here will be without one of his top targets as WR Ty Montgomery (18 catches) has a lower body injury.

Did You Know? - Notre Dame is a dead-even but vig-losing 10-10-3 ATS (against the spread) as betting favorites under third-year head coach Brian Kelly and that includes chalk covers this year against Navy, Michigan and Miami.

#5 WEST VIRGINIA (5-0) at TEXAS TECH (4-1) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC regional
Let's just say the WVU Mountaineers loved their first-ever Big 12 road game as last week's aforementioned triumph at Texas was fun stuff all the way around as QB Geno Smith aired four scoring strikes and the nation's second-ranked passing game (now averaging a haughty 407 yards a game) made plenty of big plays even though the 'Neers wound up throwing for "only" 268 yards in that clash.

Now, West Virginia looks to maul a Texas Tech team that figures to have trouble handling that one-two wide receiver tandem of Tavon Austin (10 catches for 102 yards last week) and Stedman Bailey (8 receptions worth 75 yards against Texas).

If you're wondering what's a good/sound strategy here for T-Tech, it's this: Control the ball with a short, ball-control passing game directed by QB Seth Doege (1,392 yards passing with 15 TDs and 6 INTs) and let RB Kenny Williams - averaging 6.2 yards a pop - dent the interior of the West Virginia defense with lots of draws/traps. Maybe you can keep Mr. Smith off the field for 40 minutes of game clock here, you never know!

Did You Know? - West Virginia's covered six of its last eight away games while dating back to the start of last year.

#15 TEXAS (4-1) at #13 OKLAHOMA (3-1) - 12 p.m. ET, ABC
Gotta believe the OU Sooners will be feeling pretty good about themselves following last weekend's 41-20 win at 4 ½-point pup Texas Tech with Bob Stoops' crew boasting the country's ninth-ranked passing defense (allowing just 160.5 aerial yards per game) and so let's see if Texas QB David Ash - a Heisman Trophy candidate on some lists these days - has success against Oklahoma's stop unit here.

Hey, Oklahoma will be dealing with a slinger that sports 11 TDs and just 1 INT (and a snazzy QB Rating of 180.1) while the flip side of this Red River Rivalry Game story is Sooners QB Landry Jones already has thrown for 1,037 yards with 7 TDs and 2 INTs and it seems he learned his lesson well about ball security deep in his own end (see Kansas State fumble a few weeks back).

Did You Know? - The team laying points is 6-3-1 spreadwise in the last 10 games in this rivalry tilt and that includes the Sooners' 55-17 win/cover last year as 11-point favorites.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the NCAA Football, plus NFL Week 6 and - of course - the Major-League Baseball Playoff winners just for you and so go ahead and climb aboard right now with America's #1 Handicapper! Make sure to get all this week's key gridiron games and the MLB Divisional Series winners and be sure to check in with us on Game Days either right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winners. So, let's go ahead and pile up the profits together right thru Super Bowl XLVII ... okay?

NOTE: Get our NFL Week 6 Key Previews in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez!


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