Tuesday Question - The Midseason Stuff

Posted Oct 10, 2006

Yup, we're almost done with the first half of the season. The CFNers give their choices for the best player, best coach, biggest surprise, biggest disappointment and more in this week's Tuesday Question. The Midseason Conference Roundups start today and continue throughout the week with predictions for every team. Midseason All-American Team comes Friday.

Past TQs
- The real top five ranking
- The early coach of the year is ...?
- These three teams are for real, these three aren't
- After 2 weeks, who's better, who's worse?
- 10 Greatest Quarterbacks of All-Time
- 10 Greatest Defensive Players of All-Time
- 10 Greatest Regular Season Games of All-Time
- 10 Greatest Playmakers of All-Time
- 10 Worst Heisman Winners
- 10 Greatest Bowl Games
- All-Time Offensive Team
- All-Time Defensive Team

Pete Fiutak     
The Midseason Awards ...

A: Player of the Midseason: Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma. Troy Smith has been terrific, and Garrett Wolfe has been out of this world, but Peterson has been the best college football player in America. Smith gets to operate behind a fantastic line and has a world of talent around him. Wolfe gets to run wild against the MAC. Peterson has had an average offensive line to run behind, and not enough of a passing game to take the heat off, yet he ran for over 100 yards in each of the first five games including a brilliant 211-yard effort in the loss to Oregon.

Coach of the Midseason: Jim Grobe, Wake Forest. Grobe has made his team a player in the ACC race even after losing his starting quarterback, Ben Mauk, and top running back, Micah Andrews. Clemson has been unbelievable, and Wake Forest came within some bad luck in the fourth quarter of pulling off the upset.

Biggest Surprise: Kent State.
Coming off a 1-10 season and with one winning season since 1987, Kent State was supposed to once again be the doormat of the MAC. No one thought anything after opening the season with losses to Minnesota and Army, but JUCO transfer QB Julian Edelman started playing well enough to revive the team on the way to a four-game winning streak and a 3-0 MAC start going into the home game against Toledo. The defense has been a terror at getting to the quarterback, while the rushing attack went from an epically bad season finishing dead last in the nation to averaging 175 yards per game.

Biggest Disappointment: The big games. For all the hype and all the excitement, the big games have been big, dull duds. You name the big game everyone was waiting for, and you probably took a nap watching it. 

Best Story: Garrett Wolfe, RB Northern Illinois. Your sister is bigger than the Huskie star, but Wolfe is as tough as they come and a load around the goal line. Barry Sanders' NCAA rushing record is there for the taking if Wolfe can hold up, and 3,000 yards is possible if NIU goes to the MAC title game and a bowl. He's made the NIU games must-see TV every week.

The national championship match up will be …Ohio State/Michigan winner vs. USC. It'll take a major miracle for anyone to trip up the Buckeyes or Wolverines until they meet in the regular-season ending classic. USC might not be playing at a championship level, but the schedule works out well with Oregon, Cal, and Notre Dame, the only three teams with a realistic shot at knocking off the nation's number two team, all going to L.A.

Richard Cirminiello  
The Midseason Awards ...

Player of the Midseason: Troy Smith, Ohio State – Smith’s been the best player on the best team in America, throwing 15 touchdowns passes to just two picks, while guiding the Buckeyes to huge road wins at Texas and Iowa.
2. Garrett Wolfe, Northern Illinois   
3. Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech

Coach of the Midseason: Urban Meyer, Florida – Meyer’s managed the ticking time bomb that is his quarterback situation brilliantly, getting maximum production from senior Chris Leak and Tim Tebow.  Having beaten Tennessee, Alabama and LSU over the past month, the 5-0 Gators are on the doorstep of the top spot in the country. 
2. Greg Schiano, Rutgers
3. Tyrone Willingham, Washington

Biggest Surprise: Rutgers – With a no-name defense, an undersized running back and not even a hint of a passing attack, the perennial doormat Scarlet Knights have snuck into the Top 25 with a 5-0 start to the season.
2. Missouri
3. Washington   

Biggest Disappointment: The ACC – It’s the first week of October, and the ACC is already out of the national title hunt.  Old reliables Florida State and Miami have played their way out of the polls, while the rest of the league was noticeably spotty in early season out of conference match ups.
2. Arizona football (the Wildcats and Sun Devils)
3. Fresno State  

Best Story: Michigan.  Coming off a five-loss season, the Wolverines have turned things around after getting out of September without any hiccups.  Michigan is on a collision course with No. 1 Ohio State for what could be the first meeting in 33 years between the rivals when they’re both unbeaten and untied.  
2. The resurgence of Tennessee
3. The improved play of the Big East

The national championship match up will be …Ohio State vs. Texas – The Longhorns only loss came against top-ranked Ohio State way back in Week 2.  Trips to Lincoln and Lubbock won’t be picnics, however, now that the Buckeyes and the Sooners are in the rear view mirror, Texas has a good chance to win out.  A one-loss Texas team might only be trumped by USC or Florida, which have rugged second-half schedules, and the winner of the Nov. 2 game between West Virginia and Louisville, a very interesting scenario worth monitoring.

John Harris  
The Midseason Awards ...

A. The Player of the Midseason is ... Ohio State QB Troy Smith.  He just continues to put up one brilliant performance after another.  Behind his leadership, the Buckeye offense dismantled Texas’s fine defense and obliterated Iowa – both on the road.  I do have to give honorable mention to Garrett Wolfe from Northern Illinois, who has been unbelievable this season.

Coach of the Midseason – (tie) Lloyd Carr, Michigan and Urban Meyer, Florida – Carr was my choice a few weeks ago, but the Gators have played exceptionally well throughout this season and deserve acclaim.  Honorable mention goes to Missouri’s Gary Pinkel whose team has been…

Biggest surprise – Missouri – Pinkel’s Tigers have gotten consistent effort from every offensive weapon has been effective and the defense has played exceptionally well all season long.

Biggest Disappointment – Florida State and Miami – It’s not the same.  It just isn’t.  The days of these two dominating the ACC or even the national landscape are done.  This week will be the first week both of them are out of the top 25 in, like, forever.

Best Story – Instant replay – no, just kidding.  The best story of this season has been the NCAA allowing a trust fund to be set up for Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey.  On-the-field stories just don’t seem to have developed this season, yet, but the way the Clemson community rallied around this young man and his 11 year old brother has been a story from which we can learn about family and giving.

The national title matchup will be ... Ohio State and USC and in an unprecedented move, the game will move to Pasadena for an old fashioned Big Ten/Pac-10 “Rose Bowl” National championship.  Sorry, I’m just a traditionalist.

Matthew Zemek     
The Midseason Awards ...

A: Player of the Midseason - Garrett Wolfe. 353 reasons and then some to say so.

Coach of the Midseason - Urban Meyer. Plainly put, he's ahead of schedule in Gainesville. (Yes, Jim Tressel deserves a lot of credit for what's going on at Ohio State, but Troy Smith was expected to be a stud.)

Biggest Surprise - Arkansas. I actually had the Razorbacks finishing second in the SEC West (ahead of LSU) in my preseason picks, but after the lopsided loss to USC, it seemed that 2006 would be a complete disaster in Fayetteville. Moreover, Vanderbilt had a game-winning pick-six clang off a linebacker's hands in week three of the Arkansas season. That play was followed by a game-winning Commodore field goal attempt that was blown short (by a gust of wind, so the story goes). Houston Nutt's team then stared down a couple of potential game-winning field goals against Alabama, but lived to tell about it. All those events turned what had been a looming train wreck into a solid season. But now, after thumping Auburn by 17 on the road, the Hogs--if they can merely win two out of three against South Carolina, Tennessee and LSU--will march to Atlanta to play the SEC East champ, likely Florida or (perhaps) Tennessee. That would be a huge surprise indeed. (Honorable mention: Washington, Missouri, BYU.)

Biggest Disappointment - Arizona State. Yeah, Colorado's winless, but that's a transition year for Dan Hawkins without a pure passer at quarterback.

Sure, Michigan State has collapsed, but no one was going to anoint Sparty as a legit title contender in the Big Ten. It's Dirk Koetter's Sun Devils who were legitimately loaded (just witness the way they pushed USC last season) and able to contend for a conference crown, but who flat wilted when they first got punched in the mouth at California. The Devils then oh-so-predictably quit when Oregon jumped them in the Desert the week after.

Gutless team, horrible coaching, nonexistent leadership... all at a rudderless program overseen (horribly) by clueless Athletic Director Lisa Love. Abysmal.

Best Story - Hmmm... why pick just one? Many stories deserve mention in a sport played by kids, but without overcrowding this list, here are two worthy selections:

1) Rice thumping Army after the death of Owl defensive back Dale Lloyd.

Poignant story in which a team shed the tears but then played with supreme inspiration.

2) On a more season-long basis, it's gotta be Ty Willingham's triumph in Seattle with Washington. What total vindication for someone who had to endure such shabby treatment from Notre Dame, and had his reputation besmirched by a lot of bitter people. The Huskies are a solid, well-coached football team that has made real progress with a lot of the same players who had been scuffling in previous seasons. That's a testament to the kind of coach Willingham is, and thank goodness America is seeing this in the post-Notre Dame years.

The national title matchup will be: Ohio State versus Louisville. Admittedly, this is a fragile pick, but let me tell you why I'm making it:

Pat White of West Virginia is the best running quarterback in America, but Rich Rodriguez (maybe he's saving something in the playbook--who knows?) is simply not giving him many passes to throw. When West Virginia goes to Louisville, White will need to be a profoundly better passer, and I'm not sure White will have enough polish to pull out a win. West Virginia struggles in the first half of road games, even against mediocre competition--see East Carolina and Mississippi State. WVU will need a big, bad, bold first half at Papa John's Stadium, and the more I watch, the less certain I become about the Mountaineers, my preseason pick to face the same Buckeyes in Glendale.

The winner of the WVU-UL game will be in Glendale because every other BCS conference unbeaten (except the Buckeyes, of course) will lose, in my opinion. Too many teams are currently playing too close to the vest to remain unbeaten for the entire season. USC is the one team that has the toughness to continuously withstand close shaves, but the Trojans are still human and mortal beings who could one day fall off the edge. In the end, the Big East champ--especially if it's Louisville--will survive the season unbeaten and square off with Ohio State on January 8.