Going for it on Fourth: Midseason Awards

Updated: October 23, 2015
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Midseason Awards

We have just passed the halfway point in this electric college football season, and it’s only going to get better and be more chaotic with the first College Football Playoff rankings coming out in the next couple of weeks. First, let’s handout some midseason awards to the players and teams who have been impressive so far.

Best Offensive Player: Leonard Fournette, LSU: – I don’t know how you could argue with this pick. If there has been a more explosive player who has helped carry his team to a 7-0 start, let me know.

Best Defensive Player: Carl Nassib, Penn State – Nassib leads the country in three separate defensive statistics, sacks (11.5), tackles for loss (15.5) and five forced fumbles. It looks like this former walk-on has a future in the NFL.

Coach of the Year: Justin Fuente, Memphis – After a 10-3 record last season, the Tigers were expected to compete in the American Athletic, but not be this good. Thanks to Fuente and quarterback Paxton Lynch, the Tigers have a chance to do some real damage this season.

Most disappointing team: Oregon – Injuries at the quarterback position forced the Ducks to start three different guys under center. Vernon Adams is finally healthy, but it seems too late to get back to the top for Oregon.

Most surprising team: No. 3 Utah – Similar to TCU last year, the Utes started the season outside of the polls and have risen to the top — thanks to their defense and running back Devontae Booker, who is averaging almost 5.0 yards per carry.


Pay Attention to the AAC

One of the best games last week was the upset of Ole Miss by the Memphis Tigers, which was also my “Upset Alert” last week (pats self on back). But the American has provided a lot of other notable games this season.

Week 1: Temple beat Penn State, 27-10

Week 2: Houston beat Louisville, 34-31

Week 4: Cincinnati beat Miami (FL), 34-23

Week 7: Memphis beat No. 13 Ole Miss, 37-24

Three teams from the AAC are currently ranked in the AP Top 25, No. 18 Memphis, No. 21 Houston and No. 22 Temple. One of these teams could make a splash in one of the New Year’s six bowl games.

There are more games on tap this season where teams from the American are on the big stage. Temple faces No. 11 Notre Dame next week, and Memphis squares off against Houston on Nov. 14 to possibly decide the American West.


Upset Alert: Kansas State at Texas

It should feel weird calling Texas the favorite to win a game with the season head coach Charlie Strong and the Longhorns are having. Both of these teams have played Oklahoma State, TCU and Oklahoma — in that order. Bye weeks and the round-robin schedule of the Big-12 has allowed that to happen.

Against those teams, Texas is 1-2 while Kansas State has lost three straight. The Wildcats are fresh off a 55-0 beat down by the Sooners, who lost to, yes, Texas the week before.

Although his team is struggling this season, Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder is 8-3 against the Longhorns since 1998 and has won four of the last five. With that track record and the Wildcats being the more balanced team on offense, I like them to go to Royce-Texas Memorial Stadium and make it even harder for Texas to become bowl eligible after this one.


Game of the week: Washington at No. 10 Stanford

Headlines going in: Stanford is one of the hottest teams in the country right now, scoring 45 points per game since their opening loss in Week 1 to Northwestern. Washington is a team that has competed in every ballgame this season, including a close loss last week to Oregon, 26-20.

One positive for the Huskies has been true freshmen quarterback Jake Browning and his performance this season. Browning is questionable for Saturday with a shoulder injury. He has been great at getting everyone involved, as five receivers have double-digit catches. If Browning is on the field Saturday, look for him to keep Washington in this ballgame.

What it will come down to: This one will come down to the performance of Kevin Hogan. He has been throwing the ball down field a lot more this season and that has been the difference for Stanford’s offense. His yards per attempt have increased from 7.93 in 2014 to 9.53 this season. That number increases to 11.13 when playing teams in the Pac-12.

The Huskies’ defense will have to slow down not just Hogan, but Christian McCaffrey as well. McCaffrey has been on a tear, averaging 180 yards in his last four games. I think the combination of Hogan and McCaffrey will work their way up and down the field on Washington’s defense to win this one.

Prediction: Stanford 24, Washington 20

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