With the first half of the college football season behind us, it’s now time for a review of what was a fantastic first half filled with plenty of excitement and drama.
While some teams, games and players may have been a surprise to some, one thing is for sure. The Southeastern Conference is still king.
With the first Bowl Championship Series poll released, the SEC has seven teams in the top 25, as well as four in the top 10. Atop the poll at No. 1 and 2 are the University of Alabama and the University of Florida, respectively.
While it would be impossible for these two teams to finish the season undefeated (they would play each other in the SEC championship game as they are in separate divisions within the conference), the possibility of another SEC matchup in the BCS national championship game is not out of the realm of possibility.
With that, let’s look at the first half highlights.
Biggest Surprise: The University of Notre Dame
I must admit, I did not see this coming. For years, the Fighting Irish have been an afterthought in the college football world, a far cry from their days as a college football powerhouse. This season, ND has been getting it done with its stout defense and right now looks like the dark horse candidate for the national championship.
However, much work still is to be done if their ascent out of the doldrums is to be complete, as they still have road games against fellow top 25 opponents such as the University of Oklahoma and the University of Southern California.
Honorable Mention: Oregon State University, Kansas State University and Duke University.
Biggest Disappointment: Big Ten Conference
When it rains, it pours in the Big Ten this season, as the power conference is having one of its worst seasons ever.
As of now, only two teams are ranked in the Associated Press top 25 poll, one being the postseason-ineligible University of Ohio State and the other No. 23 University of Michigan. In the poll’s seventh week, the Big Ten was entirely absent from it for the first time since its inception in 1950. The conference also has zero teams in the initial BCS poll. As of right now, it is almost anybody’s game as to who will win the conference championship. All in all, this is turning into a season to forget for the entire conference.
Honorable Mention: University of Arkansas, Michigan State University and Virginia Tech University.
Heisman Leader: Senior quarterback Geno Smith, West Virginia University
Going into the season, it seemed the surefire choice for the Heisman Memorial Trophy was USC senior quarterback Matt Barkley, but a new superstar has emerged in the first half, and that is Smith.
Through the first six games, Smith has thrown for 26 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Until this past week, which saw his Mountaineers lose 49-14, Smith seemed unstoppable, but now some doubt has started to creep in. He’s still the clear favorite, but don’t sleep on players like the Kansas State University senior quarterback Colin Klein, or even Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o.
Honorable Mention: Klein, Te’o and Ohio State sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller.
Biggest Upset: North Carolina State University 17, Florida State University 16.
In a game I’m sure no one saw coming, the Wolfpack scored a late touchdown to shock the then undefeated No. 3 Seminoles. The loss almost assuredly knocked FSU out of the national championship race, as well as going to show that the ACC still does not have an elite team.
Honorable Mention: University of Louisiana-Monroe 34, Arkansas 31 (OT); Texas Tech University 49, West Virginia 14; Stanford University 21, USC 14.
Best Game: West Virginia 70, Baylor University 63.
While this game might not have the most impact on the college football standings, it was by far the most entertaining to watch. In a game that featured almost no defense, this was also Geno Smith’s coming out party, with the QB throwing for 656 yards and eight touchdowns. The game also featured two 300-yard receivers. This game was as close to a video game as college football games get.
Honorable Mention: Louisiana State University 23, University of South Carolina 21; Notre Dame 20, Stanford 13 (OT), West Virginia 48, University of Texas 45.
Lastly is my mid-season prediction for the BCS national championship.
I’m sticking with the most likely scenario of Alabama versus the University of Oregon.
These two teams have been the most dominant thus far, and have the inside track to run the table to season’s end. The thought of Alabama’s ironclad defense against the lightning fast-paced offense of Oregon should produce a game for the ages. Although going against the grain, I pick Oregon as my national champion, winning 24-21.