The CBSSports.com college football experts make their selections for Midseason Awards, followed by the Eye on College Football Bloggers debating their selections:
|Offensive POY||Geno Smith|
|Defensive POY||Manti Te'o|
|Coach of the Year||Bill O'Brien|
|Most surprising player||Nick Florence|
|Most disappointing player||Montee Ball|
|Most surprising team||Notre Dame||New Mexico||Oregon State|
|Most disappointing team||Michigan State||Auburn||Texas|
|Best Game so far||West Virginia 70,|
|West Virginia 70,|
|West Virginia 70,|
|Most overrated team||Boise State||Georgia||Kansas State|
|Most underrated team||Kansas State||Oregon State||Mississippi State|
|BCS Title game pick||vs.||vs.||vs.|
|Offensive POY||Geno Smith|
|Defensive POY||Manti Te'o|
|Coach of the Year||Mike Riley|
|Most surprising player||Matt McGloin|
|Most disappointing player||Matt Barkley|
|Most surprising team||Notre Dame||Notre Dame||Arizona State|
|Most disappointing team||Texas||Virginia Tech||Auburn|
|Best Game so far||Texas A&M 59,|
La. Tech 57
|West Virginia 70,|
|Texas A&M 59,|
La. Tech 57
|Most overrated team||Clemson||LSU||USC|
|Most underrated team||Rutgers||Penn State||Oklahoma|
|BCS Title game pick||vs.||vs.||vs.|
|Offensive POY||Stedman Bailey|
|Defensive POY||Dee Milliner|
|Coach of the Year||Tommy Tuberville|
|Most surprising player||Mark Weisman|
|Most disappointing player||David Amerson|
|Most surprising team||Oregon State||Oregon State||Oregon State|
|Most disappointing team||Auburn||USC||Florida State|
|Best Game so far||Stanford 21|
|West Virginia 48,|
|Florida State 49,|
|Most overrated team||Clemson||Notre Dame||Michigan|
|Most underrated team||Arizona State||Texas Tech||Texas A&M|
|BCS Title game pick||vs.||vs.||vs.|
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Chris Huston: Picking Geno Smith as the offensive player of the season's first half is a no-brainer. Smith leads the nation in completion percentage, touchdown passes, passing efficiency and he's second in yardage. And tell me the last time a quarterback started a season with a 25-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. If it wasn't for Smith, West Virginia would not be ranked because it would have been blown out not once, but twice, by Big 12 foes. Luckily for the Mountaineers, Smith's eight touchdown passes against Baylor prevented that from happening. Smith is so good, he's been able to overcome the woeful efforts of a dreadful defense. What makes no sense to me is picking Stedman Bailey for this honor. Without Smith, there is no Bailey. Simple as that.
|CFB Midseason Report|
Matt Hinton: On the occasions that I've watched West Virginia, it's just as plausible to argue that Geno Smith wouldn't be where he is in the national conversation without his old high school teammate, who's been the target on 14 of Smith's 25 touchdowns (no other receiver in the nation has more than eight TD receptions) and consistently makes his quarterback look good on spectacular downfield grabs. One of the reasons Smith has been so successful on deep balls is that he clearly trusts Bailey to come down with the tough catch in traffic. With good reason.
It's no coincidence that the Mountaineers' funk Saturday at Texas Tech coincided with Bailey's departure from the game with an injury in the second quarter. Smith is a very good, efficient passer with a firm grasp on the offense. There's no way to argue that he hasn't been the nation's most productive passer. But when it comes to the explosive plays that have made him an above-the-fold headliner, he's only as good as his best target.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Tom Fornelli: I have nothing against Jadeveon Clowney, nor do I think he isn't deserving of this award. I just think that Manti Te'o is having a greater impact on his defense. Not only is he leading the team in tackles, but Te'o also has three interceptions, has broken up another three passes and has recovered a fumble. He's a one man tackling, turnover causing, havoc wreaking machine. And it's not even just what he's done as a player, it's the fact that he's the unquestioned leader of a defense that hasn't allowed a touchdown in four games. He is the heart and soul of the Notre Dame program.
Jerry Hinnen: Leading the Irish in tackles is nice, no doubt ... and still only good enough to rank 40th in the country in that statistic. Te'o's an All-American, but no defender I've seen this year fundamentally alters the dynamics of the offense he's playing against more than Jadeveon Clowney, the most physically intimidating player at any position in the country. That doesn't make him award-worthy, but combined with his 6.5 sacks and 12 tackles-for-loss -- 12th and seventh in the FBS, respectively -- Clowney's making more of an impact than even a force like Te'o.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Bryan Fischer: Mike Riley is a magician -- nobody gets more out of their players than the long-time coach in Corvallis. Oregon State has a solid, blue-collar group of players who quietly goes about their business and wins games any way they can. Despite losing starting quarterback Sean Mannion, Riley called a great game against BYU and got a 332-yard passing performance from a quarterback, Cody Vaz, who hadn't started since high school. The Beavers are undefeated and in the top 10 at the halfway point this season in a tough Pac-12 after a 3-9 campaign last year. If that doesn't deserve Coach of the Year honors, I'm not sure what does.
Chip Patterson: Put down the Beaver Juice and listen up -- Mike Riley has the Beavers doing what no one expected, but Steve Spurrier has the Gamecocks accomplishing feats that have never been done in program history. I normally stay away from "lifetime achievement" awards, but the product on the field this season is the result of Spurrier changing the culture around South Carolina football. Those venomous local writers be damned, Head Ball Coach has gotten it done.
MOST SURPRISING PLAYER
Matt Hinton: In the first place, it's a surprise that Iowa running back Mark Weisman ever set foot on the field, which required no fewer than five other backs in front of him on the depth chart to fall by the wayside. Three weeks into the season, even most Hawkeye fans hadn't heard of Weisman until they realized he was the only man left standing. Since then, he's ripped off four consecutive games more than 100 yards, averaging 6.3 yards per carry with eight touchdowns. Not coincidentally, the Hawkeyes are 3-1 in those games, and they'd be 4-0 if they could recover an onside kick.
This being the Iowa backfield, of course, Weisman is a little banged up himself after the Hawkeyes' overtime win over Michigan State. No surprise there. The surprise is the fact that a sixth-string walk-on has been good enough for anyone to care.
Jerry Hinnen: Maybe it's a surprise that the Hawkeyes' surprise runner du jour happens to be Weisman himself, but this is hardly the first time Kirk Ferentz has unearthed a quality tailback in the rubble of his depth chart, is it? "Iowa tailback comes off bench, rushes for 132 yards" is a headline we've seen before. "Redshirt freshman quarterback breaks SEC single-game record for total offense, then breaks it again two games later in process of becoming conference's answer to Denard Robinson, only kinda more accurate" though, is a new one --which is why the answer here has to be Johnny Manziel.
MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER
Chris Huston: We knew what Wisconsin was going to do this season. It was going to pound Montee Ball between the tackles and, as usual, Ball was going to dominate. Well, it hasn't worked out that way. Ball has been held under 100 yards rushing three times this season. The man who scored at least two touchdowns in every regular season game in 2011 has been held under two touchdowns four times. The player who averaged over six yards per rush the last two seasons is at 4.7 yards per rush this season. And most of this has happened against the easy part of the schedule. It's a far cry from the back who rushed for more than 1,900 yards and scored 39 touchdowns on his way to becoming a Heisman finalist last year. I'm not sure that Matt Barkley is as disappointing, as he still has a chance to duplicate his numbers from a year ago with a strong finish. As for Ball, that's not going to happen.
Bryan Fischer: Ball has no doubt taken a step back, but Barkley, the cover boy when talking about USC's high preseason hopes, hasn't looked as sharp as last season despite a wealth of talent around him. He tossed a pair of costly interceptions against Stanford and had only 10 completions on 50 percent passing in a narrow win against Washington. In Pac-12 play, he has only a 6-5 touchdown-interception ratio. For one of the top picks in the draft on a team that was supposed to be an offensive juggernaut, things just haven't been there for Barkley. He might indeed wind up matching last year's numbers or having a big second half but right now, looking back at preseason expectations to how he's played so far, it's easy to call Barkley a disappointment and if you asked him, he'd probably say the exact same thing.
MOST SURPRISING TEAM
Chip Patterson: The Oregon State Beavers have gone from unranked to No. 8 in the nation, overcoming an injury to starting quarterback Sean Mannion, three one-score games, and avoiding a hurricane along the way to a 5-0 record. After seeing backup quarterback Cody Vaz -- throwing for 332 yards three touchdowns in his first game action since 2010, and Brandin Cooks -- currently leading the Pac-12 in receiving, I am not sure we have seen the last surprise from Mike Riley and the In-and-Out-loving Beavers.
Tom Fornelli: While I'm not going to sit here and say I'm not surprised by Oregon State's performance, I'm not nearly as surprised as I am with Notre Dame's start. Not only are the Irish 6-0 on the year, but they're off to a 6-0 start with a schedule that many deemed to be the toughest schedule in the country before the season started. Plus, it's not like Oregon State is a terrible program. It might have had a couple of down years, but this is still a program that was churning out 9 and 10-win seasons from 2006 through 2010.
Notre Dame on the other hand hasn't finished a season with more than eight wins since 2006. So when it comes to surprises, it's pretty clear that the Irish have been the biggest.
MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM
Jerry Hinnen: Guys, it's one thing to consider a team like Texas or Virginia Tech for this (dis)honor, but there's only one correct answer in this category, and that answer is Auburn a hundred times over. The Tigers aren't just 1-5; they're lucky not to be 0-6 after surviving overtime at home vs. ULM for their only win. They lost to Ole Miss by 21. They lost to Arkansas by 17. Their offense is ranked 120th in FBS and even that doesn't do the pain of watching it justice. And all this comes in spite of back-to-back-to-back top-15 recruiting classes and a bevy of returning starters. Where a team like Texas is concerned, I know the Red River blowout stung and all, but sitting at 4-2 with a road win over Oklahoma State isn't even in the same zip code as Auburn's all-encompassing misery.
Bryan Fischer: I doubt many would argue against Auburn being a disappointment given how bad the Tigers have looked but when factoring expectations -- they're always high with Texas -- there's a reason the Longhorns get the nod on this one. They were ranked No. 15 preseason and had many talking about how this could be a great defense. Six games in after getting blown off the field by Oklahoma, the team is pretty much out of the Big 12 race and getting to the Holiday Bowl would be a bit of an accomplishment given how good the conference is right now. Manny Diaz' defense is 103rd in FBS against the run and in the bottom half in the country in just about every defensive category. The offense has been a bit better than last year, but the fact that people are calling for Mack Brown's job right now is indicative of how this team is playing.
Tom Fornelli: So let me get this straight, Matt. You want to tell me that a game that featured 35 points, 697 total yards, five turnovers, 15 penalties and two quarterbacks managing to complete a whopping 35 of their 73 pass attempts was better than West Virginia and Baylor? I mean, all the Mountaineers and Bears did was combine for 133 points, 1,507 yards, with only one turnover and two quarterbacks that completed 74 of their 98 passes for 1,237 yards.
Nick Florence -- the losing quarterback -- threw for as many touchdowns by himself that Stanford and USC combined for as teams. Geno Smith threw eight touchdowns! And you want to tell me that Stanford slogging its way to a 21-14 win over USC was the better game? Is vanilla your favorite ice cream flavor, too?
Matt Hinton: I watched every single, white-hot snap of that Baylor-West Virginia game, and it was clear right from the beginning that touchdowns were going to be the equivalent of basketball teams trading jump shots. By the second half, they were trading lay-ups. Look at the defenses in question: West Virginia ranks 114th out of 120 in total D, Baylor ranks 120th, and both were just blown out Saturday by underdogs who somehow managed to put up huge stats on offense while also -- I know this is a difficult concept -- managing to actually cover somebody on the other team. Mountaineers-Bears was the equivalent of watching the NBA All-Star Game.
I doubt Stanford-USC is going to come in very high in this category at the end of the year (at least, I hope not), but in the absence of any other obvious, instant classics, Trojans-Cardinal is one of the exceedingly few games to date that's generated a sense of drama between two reasonably good teams throughout. There were tangible stakes (USC's standing in the polls, Matt Barkley's standing in the Heisman race) and intangible narratives (Stanford's first big game post-Luck, USC's losing streak vs. Stanford, Barkley's "legacy" after passing on the NFL, etc.) that gave the game a sense of urgency; Barkley's clutch, 4th-and-10 completion to Marqise Lee on the Trojans' final drive -- initially ruled incomplete before being overturned on review -- briefly had shades of the Leinart-to-Jarrett audible in the classic "Bush Push" game against Notre Dame. Prior to that, Josh Nunes' go-ahead touchdown pass to Zach Ertz for Stanford was a breakthrough for an offense that hadn't had anything handed to it. If it wasn't the cleanest effort, at least you had two competent, athletic outfits making things difficult for one another.
MOST OVERRATED TEAM
Chip Patterson: While the Michigan Wolverines are currently trending back up, it has been largely a credit to the individual offensive efforts of Denard Robinson. Robinson has become the Big Ten's leading rusher thanks to explosive performances in routs of Illinois and Purdue in back-to-back weeks. Shutting out the Illini and holding the Boilermakers to just one touchdown in West Lafayette are reasons for me to doubt my pick here -- and I'll probably be full foot in mouth by December -- but I'll argue that the team is riding more on Robinson and reputation than performance in the eyes of many.
Chris Huston: While I agree that Michigan might have been overrated at the start of the season, I believe the most pertinent question is: Which team is the most overrated at the halfway point? I think that answer is, without a doubt, Notre Dame. Sure, the Irish are 6-0, but they've been getting it done with smoke and mirrors. The offense is a mess and defensive weaknesses -- namely in the secondary -- have been masked by inept opponent passing games. The Irish face Oklahoma and USC in the second half and both those teams should expose Notre Dame for what it is: A good, hard-nosed team, but not a true national title contender.
MOST UNDERRATED TEAM
Tom Fornelli: It's been a tough year for Penn State, obviously. The season started with a close loss at him to Ohio -- who hasn't lost since mind you -- and was followed by a loss against Virginia, which only happened because Penn State missed multiple field goals -- field goals it probably doesn't miss if its starting kicker doesn't transfer to Texas before the season. Since then, however, the Nittany Lions have reeled off wins against Navy, Temple, Illinois and a Northwestern team that was ranked at the time and is currently 6-1 on the season. Now, I'm not saying that Penn State deserves to be ranked in the top 10 or even 15 for this, but the Nittany Lions have only gotten one vote the last two weeks. One. Does that seem right to you? You can't honestly tell me that a team that actually is ranked right now is more underrated than a team that's only showed up on one voter's ballot this season, Chip.
Chip Patterson: Maybe. And I could just be overawed by Johnny Manziel. But I'm beginning to believe that Texas A&M is one of the 15 best teams in the country. There was arguably a hint of complacency during the second half against Louisiana Tech, so I'll take the first half toughness and other recent performances to project that Kevin Sumlin's squad will finish the season 9-3 -- pulling off a victory over Mississippi State in Starkville and possibly tying for third place in the SEC West.
BCS TITLE GAME
Matt Hinton: I'm infinitely more comfortable analyzing what's already happened than predicting what's going to happen, and I've been around long enough (and made enough failed predictions) to know that those two subjects are not always related. Come November, the best bet is usually chaos.
That said, it's fair to say Alabama has been the most consistent, most dominant team through the first seven weeks, and it obviously helps, prediction-wise, that Alabama has also been the most consistent, most dominant team over the last four years. The only caveat with the Crimson Tide right now is that their big early wins over Michigan and Arkansas have been diminished by the Wolverines' and Razorbacks' subsequent mediocrity. But of the remaining undefeated teams, the Tide are the least likely by far to suffer a random letdown or simply get outplayed by an equal, because it's not clear there are any equals.
USC is a tougher sell: The Trojans have already been beaten once, at Stanford, and have sleepwalked through less-than-dominant wins over Cal, Utah and Washington in the meantime. They have not played like a would-be champion. Of the plausible national contenders, though, USC still has all of the individual pieces that made it a frontrunner in the preseason, and a schedule that presents it with big opportunities to move up in the polls (Oregon on Nov. 3, Notre Dame on Nov. 24) without becoming a grueling weekly gauntlet. The Ducks and Fighting Irish both come to SoCal, and though Oregon has clearly been better than USC so far, that will not necessarily be the case in three weeks. Last year, essentially the same group of Trojans hit their stride over the last month, culminating in an unexpected carpet-bombing in Eugene that left the Ducks' national ambitions in ruin. That's still Oregon's only loss at home in three-and-a-half years under Chip Kelly, and its only conference loss in the last two-and-a-half years. If they could do it then in Autzen, I don't see why they can't do it again in Los Angeles, with the accompanying ascent in the polls.
Chris Huston: Anyone who claims to know which two teams will be in the BCS title game in January is probably high on glue. College football has this funny way of destroying even the strongest certitude. When in doubt, predict chaos. Well, while I don't claim to have all the answers, I don't claim to be totally in doubt, either. Let's call it half-doubt with this prediction.
I think we'll see a general chaos in the SEC, with enough teams knocking each other off to eliminate the conference champ from title contention. That will clear the way for Florida State to crawl its way back up into the rankings after it first knocks off Florida and then captures the ACC title. Meanwhile, Oregon will hold onto the top spot in the BCS after sweeping its way through the Pac-12. The Ducks will make short work of USC and Oregon State in the regular season and then crush USC in Autzen to make it to its second BCS title game in three seasons. The clash between FSU and Oregon will satisfy those out there who want anything but an SEC team to win another title, but it might not make for the best possible matchup, which means we're sure to get the usual cry that some other team has been shafted. Such is college football.
Jerry Hinnen: Those are fine scenarios as far as they go, guys, but why not opt for both chaos and SEC hegemony? The way Florida is playing right now, the Gators have both the swarming defense and rock-solid running game necessary to upend Alabama in the Georgia Dome and rob the Tide of their foredestined spot in Miami. You guys yourself said that things in college football don't usually go according to plan ... and then you pick the team that's No. 1 and won last year's national championship to do it again. Do you believe in chaos or not?
As for the Gators' opponent, Matt, any team that has the kind of trouble USC has had with the likes of Stanford and Washington ain't beating Oregon no matter where the game is held.