|Worth jumping for: Oregon State wide receivers Markus Wheaton (left) and Brandin Cooks are both on our Pac-12 midseason all-conference team. (US Presswire)|
Oregon State has not only been one of the biggest surprises in the Pac-12 this season, it's been one of the biggest surprises in the country. So it shouldn't surprise you to see that the Beavers lead the way on our midseason awards list and midseason all-conference team.
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Matt Scott, Arizona. Scott is the Pac-12's leading passer and 17th leading rusher. He's a true dual-threat QB who fits perfectly into coach Rich Rodriguez's system. In an Oct. 6 loss to Stanford, Scott threw for 491 yards, while setting the Pac-12 record for completions (45) and pass attempts (69).
Defensive Player of the Year: Will Sutton, Arizona State. Sutton has terrorized opponents this season for the 5-1 Sun Devils. The junior defensive tackle is fourth in the country in both sacks (7.5) and TFLs (13).
Coach of the Year: Mike Riley, Oregon State. Arizona State coach Todd Graham was also considered, but he doesn't take his team to In-N-Out Burger after wins like Riley does. The Beavers are off to a 5-0 start for the first time since 1939.
Most surprising player: Brandin Cooks, Oregon State. The Pac-12 is loaded with receivers who were named preseason All-Americans by various publications, but none of those guys -- Robert Woods, Keenan Allen, Marqise Lee, Marquess Wilson -- are leading the conference in receiving at the midway point. Cooks is leading the conference in receiving with an impressive 131.8 yards per game.
Most disappointing player: Matt Barkley, USC. Expectations were so high at USC going into 2012, that anything less than 6-0 at the midway point has to be considered disappointing. Barkley has already thrown six interceptions this year after throwing only seven all of last season. The USC passing game has seemed out of sync at times, too; Barkley has thrown for under 195 yards three times in six games this year, something he did only twice in 12 games last season.
Most surprising team: Oregon State. What Riley has done with the Beavers is nothing short of breathtaking, and a testament to small-town sensibilities. Not the loss of starting QB Sean Mannion nor even a hurricane could derail Oregon State's season. The latter just delayed it. The Beavers have bought in, and Riley has bought cheeseburgers. A lot of them.
Most disappointing team: USC. The Trojans have only lost once, but when they've won it hasn't been altogether impressive. The chock-full-of-talent offense, with more stars than the Milky Way galaxy, ranks 57th nationally in total offense. Heritage Hall is still hopeful, but the national title aspirations have been dampened.
Best game so far: Stanford 54, Arizona 48 (OT). The Oct. 6 matchup was one of the best aerial displays since Wilbur and Orville Wright swapped high fives at Kitty Hawk. Only this time, it was Scott and Cardinal QB Josh Nunes swapping touchdowns and glory in Palo Alto. Scott broke the records, but Nunes got the win.
Most overrated team: Utah. With QB Jordan Wynn's shoulder made of wishbones and crossed fingers, the Utes offense has turned into just a shell of its former self. What's more surprising, the defense has not been the typically stout unit, even with stars across the board. A surprising lack of discipline on both sides has Utah at 2-4.
Most underrated team: Arizona State. Despite a 5-1 start, the Sun Devils have seemed to slip through the cracks on a national level. But they're a four-point loss to Missouri away from an undefeated opening to the Todd Graham Era, and they've outscored opponents 115-51 in three Pac-12 games.
BCS Championship Game pick: Alabama vs. Oregon
Midseason All-America Team
QB: Matt Scott, Arizona
RB: Kenjon Barner, Oregon
WR: Marqise Lee, USC
WR: Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
WR: Markus Wheaton, Oregon State
TE: Chris Coyle, Arizona State
OT: Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
OG: Sam Brenner, Utah
OG: David Yankey, Stanford
C: Khaled Holmes, USC
DE: Morgan Breslin, USC
DT: Will Sutton, Arizona State
DT: Star Lotulelei, Utah
LB: Marquis Flowers, Arizona
LB: Dion Bailey, USC
LB: Chase Thomas, Stanford
CB: Jordan Poyer, Oregon State
CB: Terrance Mitchell, Oregon
S: TJ McDonald, USC
S: Jared Tevis, Arizona
P: Sean Sellwood, Utah
K: Andrew Furney, Washington State
KR: Ty Montgomery, Stanford
PR: Keenan Allen, Cal
All-Purpose: De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Jon Gold contributed to this report.