College Football Bonanza

WE TACKLE A BATCH OF KEY TOPICS INCLUDING THE LATEST PLAYOFF RANKINGS
OUR BEST UNDER-THE-RADAR COACHING JOBS
OUR TOP FIVE HEISMAN TROPHY CANDIDATES

KEY TOPICS - Latest Playoff Rankings

So now the phrase “game control” officially has come into play when we’re all discussing the College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings.

In a nutshell, “game control” signifies whether a team had control over an opponent en route to a win such as new #1 Alabama did in last weekend’s 25-20 non-cover triumph over 9.5-point underdog Miss State - true, the Crimson Tide never were threatened in terms of who was gonna win that key Southeastern Conference West game but can we ask the all-knowing committee if that was the case when Alabama bested West Virginia by 10 points on opening night or when the Tide topped 9-point pup Arkansas 14-13 back in early October?

Guess what we’re trying to say here after the latest release of the playoff rankings is that this committee has been in a pick-and-choose mode with Alabama in terms of “game control” - yet did the Tide really deserve to leapfrog four other teams to get to the numero uno spot this week or was that a bit of an overreaction by the committee guys/gals who had been doing a pretty nice job to this point.

The latest rankings has Alabama at #1, Oregon at #2, still-unbeaten and 10-and-oh Florida State at #3 and aforementioned Miss State at #4 - we’re glad the committee got that Miss State bit right, by the way - with TCU at #5, Ohio State at #6 and Baylor at #7 with committee head Jeff Long claiming not much at all separates the fourth-through-seventh ranked teams here.

Okay, so maybe we’re nitpicking ‘cause we believed Oregon should have been #1 and Alabama #2 and the truth is if both of these powerhouse teams “win out” the rest of the way they are assured the #1 and #2 spots - in either order - come the four-team playoffs and ditto for Florida State who could hurdle a spot here if either loses but it’s Miss State in a sticky situation ‘cause we continue to believe that the committee won’t choose a team that fails to win its conference/league and right now the one-loss Bulldogs are a long-shot to get that mission accomplished.

It’s gonna be a real nutcracker to decide who will be #4 assuming the top three teams keep winning - right now our money’s on Baylor over both TCU and Ohio State but a Buckeyes’ Big 10 championship could well change that particular thought process.

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BEST UNDER-THE-RADAR COACHING JOBS 

Okay, so not every one of the nation’s Football Bowl Subdivision teams is in the running for this year’s College Football Playoffs - but we’re here to say that there’s been some real dandy coaching jobs being done by some non-Top 25 teams out there ...So let’s weigh in on champion efforts:

SONNY DYKES, CALIFORNIA - Hey, it was awfully nice to “cash” last week with the Cal Golden Bears after getting down 31-2 at USC before rallying in a 38-30 loss-but-cover as two-TD underdogs but that’s not why we list this second-year Berkeley boss among the under-the-radar. The fact is Dykes has this rather rag-tag Cal club - 5-5 SU (straight-up) while entering season-ending home games against Stanford and Utah -- on the verge of a bowl berth despite a defense that ranks 124th out of 128 FBS teams. Dykes also has the Bears at a nifty 7-3 ATS (against the spread) and that goes a long way in our minds.

JIM MC ELWAIN, COLORADO STATE - The former Alabama assistant to Nick Saban is building himself a nice little empire of his own right near the Rocky Mountains as the C-State Rams (9-1, 5-1 Mountain West Conference) sports wins/covers against “Power 5” teams Colorado and Boston College (neither one of them were Colorado State home games, you’ll note) and at last check the Rams were also 7-3 versus the vig with regular-season-ending games ahead against New Mexico and at Air Force. Give McElwain a “gold star” for his work this year and pencil him in for one of the country’s bigger job openings for 2015 ... we’re thinking that Florida vacancy could look good as long as he doesn’t mind going up against ole buddy Saban.

SKIP HOLTZ, LOUISIANA TECH - Gotta say that we’ve been a major pro-Holtz backer even though admittedly he flopped badly in his three seasons at South Florida. Nowadays, the folksy Holtz heads up this Bulldogs team that is a superb 8-2 vig-wise as L-Tech (7-3, 6-0 in Conference USA play) has rattle off three consecutive twin-figure wins since late October. Maybe you think offense first with Holtz but this Tech defense ranks 22nd nationally and has held four of its last five foes to 20 points or less. Well done, Skip!

My handicappers and bloggers will bang out a slew of winners this week/weekend in NCAA Football, NFL Week 12, NBA and NCAA Hoops and that includes Thursday Night’s NFL Week 12 bash between the Kansas City Chiefs at the Oakland Raiders 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 on all the fun-n-profits!

THE HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH LIST

We’re back with the latest Installment of the 2014 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.

MARCUS MARIOTA, QB, OREGON - Folks, this is a close call right now with the Ducks’ do-it-all signal-caller getting the slightest of edges against his major challenger from the cheese state. Mariota and Oregon were idle last weekend but those year-long stats - 2,780 yards passing with 29 TDs and 2 INTs to go along with 524 rushing yards and 8 TDs - simply can’t be ignored or overlooked any longer and keep in mind that the Ducks have beaten Michigan State, UCLA, Stanford and Utah and all of the above have been/or were in the Top 25 this year.
Up Next: Home to Colorado

MELVIN GORDON, RB, WISCONSIN - In last week’s Heisman Trophy Top 5 story here at Jim Sez, we commented that if Gordon had a 150-yard type rushing game against Nebraska and if Miss State QB Dak Prescott struggled at Alabama, then we might zoom up this junior back to the top of the charts. Okay, so an NCAA single-game record-breaking 408-yard, 4-TD game in a rollicking 59-24 win/cover against the 5-point dog ‘Huskers should have done the trick, right? Well, Gordon wildly exceeded expectations last week but we’ll “go back on our word” and keep him a close second to Mariota mainly because the Badgers have two losses on the docket. The Gordon stats so far in 2014 are ... 1,909 yards rushing and 23 TDs (an 8.6 yards per carry).
Up Next: At Iowa

JAMEIS WINSTON, QB, FLORIDA STATE - We’ve inched the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner up a peg in this week’s “watch list” following last Saturday’s latest come-from-way-behind win for the Seminoles. Winston’s 25-of-42, 304-yard performance that also included one TD pass and one INT kept the ‘Noles in the heat of the playoff race and how do you not include the quarterback of a 10-and-oh team that keeps playing his best at crunch time? On the year, Winston’s thrown for 2,844 yards with 18 TDs and 12 INTs.
Up Next: Home to Boston College

DAK PRESCOTT, QB, MISS STATE - So our Heisman Trophy leader for the past five weeks in a row stumbled plenty in last weekend’s 25-20 loss-but-cover at Alabama as Prescott often looked lost while tossing three INTs but the season-long stats are still solid: There’s 2,521 yards passing with 20 TDs and 10 INTs to go along with another 861 rushing yards with 11 ground scores. Be lucky you didn’t fall out of our top five, young man!
Up Next: Home to Vanderbilt

TREVONE BOYKIN, QB, TCU - It’s the second time we’ve popped this Horned Frogs star into our “top five” list and he deserves a pop following last weekend’s come-from-behind 34-30 non-cover win at Kansas in which Boykin threw for 330 yards and a touchdown -- the season-long stats now say 3,021 yards passing with 24 TDs and 5 INTs and 548 rushing yards with 7 scores.

NOTE: Lots of NFL Week 12 goodies in tomorrow’s Jim Sez including the Thursday Night Game preview - that’s the Chiefs at the still-winless Raiders - and there’s plenty more!

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