Thursday Night College Football Preview

OUR JIM SEZ MID-WEEK REPORT – COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS/NOTES INCLUDES THE LATEST HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH LIST AND A LOOK AT THURSDAY’S MONSTER MATCHUPS INSIDE THE BIG 12 (THAT’S #10 OKLAHOMA AT #6 BAYLOR) AND THE PAC-12 (#3 OREGON AT #5 STANFORD)

By Jim Hurley

It’s the question everyone ‘round the land wants to know when it comes to this here-and-now College Football season:

How many undefeated teams are gonna be left standing following the evening of December 7th (that’s the last full day of gridiron action for the college kids before we get to the bowls)?

Right now there’s seven unbeaten squads among the FBS including #1 Alabama (8-0), #2 Florida State (8-0), #3 Oregon (8-0), #4 Ohio State (9-0), #6 Baylor (7-0), #16 Fresno State (8-0) and #18 Northern Illinois (9-0) and at least one of them (and maybe more) is going down this week/weekend.

Don’t bother to ask what’s gonna happen should we get four or five undefeated teams by the time this regular season is “put to bed”, ‘cause you know the answer and that’s the polls and computers will decide things, but we’re not quite sure that we’re on the proverbial “same page” with the media experts who think it’s pretty much a slam dunk that if everyone runs the table we’ll be seeing an Alabama vs. Oregon duel in Pasadena come the evening of Jan. 6, 2014.

Hey, the fact is there’s still a month of meaningful football still to be played – maybe those whole BCS thing will “work itself out” in the end, but we would not generally count on that happening, okay?

Lots of fantastic matchups on this early November card and we’ll get to the Thursday Night showdowns from Waco and Palo Alto shortly but first this key message:

My handicappers and bloggers have everything all scoped out and you can get all the NCAA Football, NFL Week 10 and NBA and NCAA Hoops winners this week including Thursday Night’s NFL game between the Washington Redskins at the Minnesota Vikings and all three College Football games on Thursday Night when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network.

Check with us on game days either here online or at 1-800-323-4453. Don’t miss out!

JIM HURLEY CELEBRATES TOP TEN THURSDAY NIGHT!
Sweep these games with major BCS ramifications.
Will the unbeatens stay that way? Jim Hurley's Network has charted these teams for weeks and has the answer tonight.

#10 Oklahoma at #6 Baylor
(FS1)      #3 Oregon at #5 Stanford (ESPN)

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In Thursday Night’s NCAA Football action, it’s …

#10 OKLAHOMA (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) at #6 BAYLOR (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) – 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

Can the Baylor Bears go from a team outside the Associated Press Top 25 last summer to being a BCS champion all in one fell swoop?

Well, the dream’s very much alive in this part of the great state of Texas, thanks to an uber-paced offense that averages a nation’s-best 63.9 points per game – yes, that’s more than a point-a-minute – and a defense that deserves to take some bows, too after holding five of its first seven opponents to 14 points or less.

In this clash against an Oklahoma team that has not been a twin-figure underdog since – get this – the 2005 season (a 45-12 drubbing at the hands of 14 ½-point fav Texas) the Sooners’ main game plan is to keep the ball for 35-plus minutes behind the country’s 16th-ranked rushing offense that stars RB Brennan Clay (538 yards) among a stable of breakout runners.

However, if Oklahoma’s defense can’t handle this Baylor spread-it-out passing attack starring QB Bryce Petty, who is averaging 350.4 yards passing per game – but it sure seems like he’s thrown for more per-game yards than that, right? – than the two-TD underdog Sooners will be sunk.

Petty will try to suck in Oklahoma’s safeties with a batch of between-the-tackle runs by RB Lache Seastrunk (869 yards rushing and 11 TDs) but if the Baylor slinger gets more than five “chunk plays” in the passing game (that’s 25+ yards), then Oklahoma will drop to 21-2 SU (straight-up) lifetime against Baylor.

Spread Notes – Baylor is a glittering 6-1 ATS (against the spread) this season and note the Bears are a collective 15-1 versus the vig at home since the start of the 2011 season. On the flip side, Oklahoma’s a dead-even but vig-losing 4-4 against the odds so far this season and the Sooners are an ugly 9-14 ATS in Big 12 games the past two-plus seasons.

#3 OREGON (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) at #5 STANFORD (7-1, 5-1 Pac-12) – 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

Last year the Stanford Cardinal derailed a then-No. 1 Oregon team from its “appointed rounds” with a 17-14 overtime win, and so a season-starting 10-game winning streak blew up in Eugene, and the Ducks never did get to play for another national championship for then-head coach Chip Kelly.

Now, Oregon enters this football-on-a-school-night tilt a couple of spots back in the rankings but with the same exact dreams they had last November – beat Stanford and look to play in the BCS Championship Game in a couple of months.

Let’s just say if the Ducks are gonna be successful here – and you’ve no doubt seen the pointspread shift that’s seen Oregon go from an 8 ½-point betting favorite to 10 ½ points at last glance – then first-year boss Mark Helfrich’s club not only needs QB Marcus Mariota (our new Jim Sez Heisman Trophy leader) to put up eye-popping numbers, but the roadsters need to hang onto the ball.

Note Stanford’s defense has forced a turnover in each of its last 33 games, and this Cardinal defense heads into action here a bit banged up – is that why Oregon RB De’Athony Thomas claims the Ducks should hang 40 points on ‘em here? – but the key will be preventing Mariota from tucking it down and running for chain-moving plays that often have a way of demoralizing opposing defenses.

One X-factor component here with underdog Stanford:

Can WR Ty Montgomery (team-leading 39 catches and 5 TDs) match the big plays made by Oregon wide outs here, or will he become a non-factor if hot-and-cold QB Kevin Hogan (13 TDs and 5 INTs) can’t get the time to set up and chuck it to ‘em deep.

Spread Notes – Oregon enters this under-the-lights game with an electric 5-1-2 ATS mark that includes pointspread wins against Tennessee, Washington and UCLA. The Ducks own a 7-3 ATS log in their last 10 head-to-head games against Stanford. Note the Cardinal is 4-4 against the Las Vegas prices this season and overall Stanford is 7-3 spreadwise as underdog sides dating back to the start of the 2009 season.

THE JIM SEZ HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH LIST

We’re back with the latest Installment of the 2013 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:

1 – MARCUS MARIOTA, QB, OREGON – We have a new leader on the Heisman Watch List … and this dude didn’t even play a game last weekend! Mariota had been running in second place in this column space the past two weeks, but a slight fall-off by Florida State’s Jameis Winston (yes, even in a 41-14 win against Miami) elevated this 19-year-old to the top spot, and he’ll enter the aforementioned game against Stanford with 2,281 yards passing with 20 TDs and 0 INTs along with another 511 yards rushing with 9 TDs.

2 – JAMEIS WINSTON, QB, FLORIDA STATE – The nation’s newest fab frosh completed 21-of-29 passes for 325 yards with one touchdown in last Saturday’s runaway win against “The U”, but he did toss two bad picks and only rushed for 27 yards on six carries, so despite the high-profile win he dipped a bit in this race and we’ll place him a whisker beneath Mariota at the start of play this week. Note that Winston has thrown for 2,502 yards with 24 TDs and 6 INTs with another 153 rushing yards with 3 ground scores.

3 – JOHNNY MANZIEL, QB, TEXAS A&M – The question here isn’t whether or not “Johnny Football” gets an invitation to New York City for next month’s Heisman Trophy celebration (he clinched that weeks ago), but whether he can do enough damage in his club’s final three games to pass by these top two contenders and thus snag a second consecutive Heisman award (paging Archie Griffin!). Manziel has thrown four TDs in each of his last three games and sports a 26-to-8 TD-to-INT ratio this year with 2,867 passing yards (and 564 rushing yards with 8 scores) while heading into Saturday’s home game against Miss State.

4 – BRYCE PETTY, QB, BAYLOR – The Bears’ junior slinger has loads of “sick” numbers this year including an 18-TD-to-1 INT ratio along with 2,453 aerial yards as Baylor’s shot out to this 7-0 start in which the team’s scored 60-or-more points on five different occasions. Could Petty rise up on this Heisman chart with a monster showdown against Oklahoma on this first Thursday in November? You betcha!

5 – JORDAN LYNCH, QB, NORTHERN ILLINOIS – Let’s give some love to this versatile senior, who last week threw for 160 yards and rushed for 119 yards in a 63-19 romp over four-TD home dog UMass. Check out Lynch’s numbers right now entering the Nov. 13th home game against Ball State and you’ll see he’s thrown for 1,711 yards and rushed for another 1,031 yards while accounting for a staggering total of 26 TDs.

NOTE: Catch all our NCAA Football and NFL Week 10 previews/forecasts in the coming days right here at Jim Sez!

 

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