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Tuesday Question - Midseason Awards
Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen
Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen
Posted Oct 13, 2009

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

Midseason Stuff

Tuesday Questions
- 10/6 The big flops
- 9/29 Who's No. 4?
- 9/22 What's next for USC?
- 9/15 The Young QB You Want
- 9/8 Are Michigan & ND back?
- 9/1 Pick the winners
Pete Fiutak

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 pick.

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 Ten race.

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 day).

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.

Richard Cirminiello

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.

Matt Zemek

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?)