Tuesday Question - Midseason Awards
Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen
The best teams, the best players, the biggest disappointments, the biggest surprises, and more. The 2009 Midseason stuff will start to flow in over the next several days, and we start with the latest Tuesday Question.
Tuesday Question ... Oct. 13
Q: Midseason Awards...
Team of the Midseason – Notre Dame. Alabama is up
there, and Cincinnati will make a case, but Notre
Dame is the biggest story considering the pressure,
the hype, and where the team and the program were
expected to be. Did you ever think the Irish would
be going into USC week with an honest chance to win?
Offensive Player of the Midseason – Notre Dame QB
Jimmy Clausen. The nation's most efficient passer is
doing it on a banged up toe and without his star
receiver, Michael Floyd, who was lost with a
collarbone injury. He was ultra-clutch in wins over
Michigan State, Purdue, and Washington, and with
1,544 yards, 12 touchdowns, and two interceptions,
he has lived up to all the hype and all the promise.
As it turns out, he was worth the limo.
Defensive Player of the Midseason – Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh – TCU's Jerry
Hughes has been special with six sacks, 27 tackles,
and 7.5 tackles for loss, but Suh has taken his game
to a No.1 overall pick type of level. He was
fantastic before the big win over Missouri, and he
has been the glue for a strong Nebraska defensive
front that's getting better by the week. Not only
does he lead the team in sacks (3) but he leads in
tackles (32), tackles for loss (5.5), and he has a
Coach of the Midseason – Idaho's Robb Akey. Boise
State might actually have an in-state rival. After
years of doing absolutely nothing, almost overnight,
5-1 Idaho has a strong offense, the WAC's best run
defense, and it has come up surprisingly clutch on
the road with a strong win over Northern Illinois
and a win last week against San Jose State. If the
Vandals end up in the top three in the WAC and end
up in a bowl, Akey deserves praise for one of the
biggest turnarounds in college football.
Biggest Surprise – Iowa. Idaho is in the mix, and new Wyoming head coach Dave
Christensen ran a boot camp this offseason, and it's
all paying off now as his Cowboys are 4-2 with the
two losses to Texas and Colorado, but Iowa is the
biggest shocker. There's no offense, no Shonn Greene
or Jewel Hampton to run the ball, the defense is
fine, but not quite as special as it's made out to
be, and there aren't many stars. But with a win over
Penn State and a nice victory over a resurgent
Michigan, the Hawkeyes are the sleeper in the
national title hunt and are the leaders in the Big
Biggest Disappointment – The Heisman race. From Colt
McCoy being just above average, Tim Tebow's
concussion, and Sam Bradford's shoulder, the race
right now is Jimmy Clausen and a long wait for
someone else to show up. Overall, there have been
far more disappointments than surprises. Oklahoma
State, Georgia, Illinois, Ole Miss, Jevan Snead,
Florida State, the snoozer of a USC - Ohio State
game (until the end), the snoozer of a Florida - LSU
game, and Colorado.
Make One Big Call For the Second Half – Ohio State
is going to get back in the national title hunt.
America doesn't want it, Fox doesn't want it, and
even Ohio State fans this year probably don't want
it, but the ACC teams are going to start picking
each other off, Texas might have two losses coming
its way, USC doesn't look like a world-beater and
could certainly lose again, Boise State simply won't
enter the discussion, and no one will be unbeaten
from the Big East. Ohio State won't be pretty, but
it'll roll through Purdue, Minnesota, and New Mexico
State before closing out with a big finishing kick
against Penn State at Penn State, Iowa, and at
Michigan. If the Buckeyes are 11-1, they'll at least
be No. 3 in late November and will be in a great
position to face the SEC champion (sorry to sour
Your Grade For The First Half Of The Season – C.
It's hard to make excuses for why every league is
mediocre. There are three great teams, a few really
good ones, and a bunch of whatever. The conference
races need to heat up in a hurry.
Q: Midseason Awards...
Team of the Midseason – Alabama. No team has done a better job of closing the gap on top-ranked Florida than the Tide. Virginia Tech, Arkansas, and Ole Miss were getting plenty of attention in the preseason. ‘Bama has beaten them by an average score of 30-11.
Offensive Player of the Midseason – Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen. Not only does he lead the country in passing efficiency, but he’s also led the Irish to three straight nail-biting wins by a touchdown or less.
Defensive Player of the Midseason – Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh – The main reason the Huskers are No. 2 nationally in scoring defense, he does the unimaginable for an interior lineman; ranking No. 6 nationally in passes defended, for instance.
Coach of the Midseason – Oregon’s Chip Kelly – After the Ducks lost a game and a star back in Boise, you figured they’d be 5-1, ranked, and in the Pac-10 driver’s seat by midseason. Yeah, right.
Biggest Surprise – Cincinnati. Hands down. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Bearcats, which lost 10 starters on defense. Instead, they’re No. 8 in the AP Poll, harboring a Heisman candidate, and on the periphery of the Pasadena discussion.
Biggest Disappointment – Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead – I hate to pile on an individual, but hasn’t his play been dumbfounding? Once mentioned in the same breath as Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, and Sam Bradford, Snead has been a shell of his sophomore self, throwing nine interceptions in the first half and just one touchdown in the Rebs’ two losses.
Make One Big Call For the Second Half – The North champ will beat the South champ in the Big 12 title game. Hint. Texas is a wee bit overrated and Nebraska is a wee bit underrated heading into the second half of the year.
Your Grade For The First Half Of The Season – C. The first six weeks have left me hungry for more ... a lot more down the stretch. Where were the truly memorable moments in the first half? Washington over USC. USC over Ohio State. There were a handful more, but it’s generally been a vanilla start to the season.
Q: Midseason Awards...
As has been done on occasion in the past, let's separate these awards into "big-ticket" and "small-ticket" categories, one for the elite teams and one for the feel-good stories from non-BCS conferences.
Team of the Midseason - BIG-TICKET: Alabama. New quarterback, no Andre Smith, no Glen Coffee, no problem.
SMALL-TICKET: Southern Methodist. Beating East Carolina? Two-and-oh in Conference USA? Remarkable.
Offensive Player of the Midseason - BIG-TICKET: A.J. Green, Georgia - He even helps out on special teams, too!
SMALL-TICKET: Case Keenum, Houston: Playing big against Big 12 and SEC foes.
Defensive Player of the Midseason - BIG-TICKET: Tie, Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, and Eric Berry, Tennessee. They're studs. 'Nuff said.
SMALL-TICKET: Shiloh Keo, Idaho. The safety is flying around fields, and represents one of the biggest reasons why the Vandals are 5-1 and turning heads in a sensational feel-good story.
Coach of the Midseason - BIG-TICKET: Saban, Alabama. A whole lotta "WOW!" in Tuscaloosa.
SMALL-TICKET: Robb Akey, Idaho. That's right: Idaho is 5-1. The best part of the story is that the Vandals didn't need serial carpetbagger Dennis Erickson--who treated the school like a dirty rag a few years ago--to pull off their resurrection.
Biggest Surprise - BIG-TICKET: Wisconsin. Bret Bielema knows how to win, but this year didn't seem like the time when the Badgers would return to prominence.
SMALL-TICKET: Tie, Idaho and Southern Methodist. If you said before the season that one of these two clubs would have a winning record as of Oct. 13, 2009, you'd have been referred to the nearest medical clinic. Here we are, and both teams are riding high.
Biggest Disappointment - BIG-TICKET: Tie, Illinois and North Carolina State. What.... a...... waste. Times two. Hard to identify which is worse.
SMALL-TICKET: UTEP. The 17-point win over Houston shows how much ability is being squandered in El Paso. Mike Price isn't delivering the goods anymore.
Make One Big Call For the Second Half – Back on the Oregon train, provided that Jeremiah Masoli regains health. (NOTE THE CAVEAT!) Ducks over USC on Oct. 31--put the Quack Attack in the Rose Bowl.
Your Grade For The First Half Of The Season - D-plus. The ACC is still mediocre. The Big East looks like Cincinnati and several dwarfs. The SEC isn't deep the way it used to be. The Big 12's powers are wounded. The Pac-10's big games have fizzled. The Big Ten's biggest upcoming games could all be eerily similar to last year's Penn State-Ohio State game.
As the young kids and bloggers like to say today, "Meh." (What does "meh" mean, anyway?)