A Look Back at the First Half of the College Football Season
The college football season is at the half way point. Most teams have played six or seven games and the season is beginning to take shape.
Before the rest of the season plays itself out, let’s take a look back at the first half. The 2009 football season has given us a little bit everything.
So before the BCS messes up everything we love about college football, let's give out some awards at the mid-point of the season.
Each team can only win once and no one will be left out by computer rankings or by a poll. Here is our look at college football half way through.
Biggest Disappointment: Player
Players come into every season hyped as a Heisman contender or the next big thing. Some live up to the billing, some don't. These players, so far, have not.
Jevan Snead, Ole Miss, Quarterback
Snead started out the season has a Heisman contender. Through six games, Snead’s numbers include an unimpressive 49.7 completion percentage, only 12 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Still, some of the fault for Snead’s numbers lie with the weak offensive line—having given up eight sacks and affording little time for the passing game to develop.
Juice Williams, Illinois, Quarterback
Williams returned to Illinois for what many believed could have been a Rose Bowl season. Instead it has turned into a nightmare. Williams has thrown for 886 yards, four touchdowns, four interceptions and has only completed 55.9 percent of his passes for a team winless in Big Ten play.
Cody Hawkins, Colorado, Quarterback
The son of the head coach, Hawkins has been less than stellar this season. So far from stellar in fact, that he was benched when the Buffaloes won a big game over a ranked Kansas team. Hawkins stats read as follows: nine touchdowns, nine interceptions, and a 50.7 completion percentage.
The Winner Is: Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State, Quarterback
The preseason offensive player of the year in the Big Ten has not looked the part so far this season. After bursting on to the scene in 2008, Pryor is appearing to regress and has yet to resemble the number one quarterback recruit in the country. His stats this far into the season show a completion percentage 56.0, along with a mere 10 touchdowns and eight costly interceptions.
The Biggest Disappointment: Team
Each year, several teams are hyped as the next big thing in college football. Normally, by this point, they have disappointed us. Here are the contenders:
Illinois Fighting Illini
The Illini did not wait long to disappoint. Illinois dropped their first game of the year against Missouri and has not even been able to get a Big Ten win so far this season.
This was supposed to be the year the Buffaloes contended for a Big-12 North title. Colorado still has a chance but must dig themselves out of a big hole.
Florida State Seminoles
After dismantling Wisconsin last year in the Champs Sports Bowl, the Seminoles were supposed to be back. Instead, Florida State has gone winless in the ACC and could have their worst season since Bobby Bowden first took over the program.
The Winner Is: Mississippi Rebels
Ole Miss started the season with a top 10 ranking. They were an SEC West contender, had a Heisman hopeful at quarterback, a Cotton Bowl win under their belt, and a win over defending national champion Florida. The Rebels only conference win this year has come against perennial SEC doormat Vanderbilt.
Mississippi has lost to South Carolina and Alabama in the only big games they've played thus far. While other teams might have played harder schedules, or because of injury have slipped, the Rebels have no such excuse.
The Biggest Surprise: Player
Ryan Mathews, Fresno State, Running Back
Mathews broke out on national television against Boise State with 234 yards. The junior running back is currently leading the nation with 974 yards. Mathews has gained over 100 yards in every game this season, and ran for a combined 486 yards against Wisconsin, Boise State, and Cincinnati.
Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh, Running Back
The freshman has filled in nicely for the departed LeSean McCoy. Lewis has rushed for 918 yards and is second in the country in rushing yards. Lewis has broken the century mark in four of the team’s seven games.
Jacory Harris, Miami, Quarterback
Harris has raised his completion percentage from 60.8 to 64.8 from his freshman to his sophomore season. Harris has guided the Hurricanes to a 5-1 start, notably beating Oklahoma, Georgia Tech, and Florida State. The Miami quarterback has passed for 1,518 with 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The Winner Is: Tony Pike, Cincinnati, Quarterback
Except for Bearcats fans, had anyone heard of Tony Pike before this season? There is no question the rest of the country knows who Pike is now. While leading Cincinnati to a 6-0 record, Pike has thrown for 1633 yards with 15 touchdowns and three interceptions. Pike has also raised his completion percentage from 61.4 to 64.3.
Biggest Surprise: Team
In the preseason, most thought the Hurricanes would go 0-4 to start the season. Instead Miami plays four straight ranked teams to open the season and beat three of them. The Hurricanes are now in position to play for an ACC Costal title and a possible BCS game.
The Bearcats are in the mist of one of the best seasons in school history. Being a part of the Big East guarantees Cincinnati a shot at a BCS game if they can win the conference, but this team has bigger plans if they manage to win out.
West Virginia Mountaineers
The Mountaineers were supposed to take a step back last year after Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan. This year the team was surely going to take a step back after Pat White left for the NFL, but so far, all West Virginia has done is post a 5-1 record and has gotten themselves deep into the Big East title hunt.
The Winner Is: Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa might not look pretty and may not be very explosive on offense, but they have beaten every team they have faced. The Hawkeyes have gone to Penn State to get a win and held off a good Michigan team at home. Iowa can change the perception of the Big Ten if they can get to a BCS game and win it.
Coach on the Hottest Seat
College football, much like the NFL, is all about what you have done lately. These coaches have not done much lately.
Bobby Bowden, Florida State Seminoles
Bowden built the Florida State program into a national power and, at one point, the road to the national championship went through Tallahassee. Unfortunately, in 2009 the Seminoles are having one of the worst seasons in the last 30 years.
Charlie Weis, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Weis might need nine wins to save his job. The coach has not beaten USC in all of his time in South Bend and has played just about every game down to the wire. The Irish have broken their losing streak at home to Michigan State. Beating Boston College to break another losing streak could take some heat off Weis.
Dan Hawkins, Colorado Buffaloes
Hawkins’ team has lost to Colorado State and Toledo. The Buffaloes were spanked on the road against West Virginia, but did play Texas close for two and half quarters. Hawkins got a much need big win over Kansas that has calmed the fire slightly.
The Winner Is: Ron Zook, Illinois Fighting Illini
Everyone knows Zook can recruit, but whether or not he can coach is the real question. Illinois was supposed to contend for the Big Ten title this season. The Illini have yet to beat an FBS team this season and is 0-4 in Big Ten play. Zook really needs to turn things around in the second half to keep his job.
Coach Doing the Most To Save His Job: Al Groh, Virginia Cavaliers
Groh is the only one in contention for this award this year. After starting the season 0-3 the Cavaliers have won three straight to pull to 3-3. Virginia is 2-0 in ACC play as well. Groh’s job might be safe if he can lead the Cavaliers to a bowl game this season.
Best Coaching Jobs So Far
Steve Sarkisian, Washington Huskies
Sarkisian has done a lot during his first year in Seattle. He has broken the schools losing streak and has beaten a top five team in the form of USC. Washington’s 3-4 record is a result of the new energy Sarkisian has brought to Washington.
Robb Akey, Idaho Vandals
Akey has built a team that might finally steal some headlines from Boise State. The Vandals have a 6-1 record and are 3-0 in conference play. The only Idaho loss this season was against Washington in Seattle. If Boise State and Idaho can keep winning it will set a huge showdown to end the season.
Worst Officiated Game of the Season
*Actually this goes to one officiating crew.
LSU vs. Georgia and Florida vs. Arkansas
There are games every year where the officials make bad calls and possibly cost a team a game. It is rare though to see the same officiating crew have a hand in two badly called games.
This crew flagged A.J. Green for excessive celebration after catching a touchdown that gave Georgia a 13-12 lead over LSU with a 1:09 left in the game. The penalty allowed a good run-back on the kickoff that helped LSU score with 49 seconds left to win the game 20-13. To be fair, Charles Scott was also flagged for the same penalty after he scored.
This was the same crew from the Georgia/LSU game. In this game, Arkansas was flagged 10 times for 92 yards. Florida, on the other hand, was flagged only three times for just 16 yards.
The Razorbacks were flagged twice on the same drive as the Gators drove down the field to tie up the game at 20-20. The first penalty was a 15-yard personal foul and the second was 10-yard pass interference call.
After the pass interference penalty, the Gators scored to tie the game. The Gators were able to win the game with nine seconds left after Florida kicked a 27-yard field goal to win 23-20.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of College Football
The return of Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, and Sam Bradford for the 2009 season, a healthy Jake Locker for Washington, Michigan’s fantastic freshman quarterbacks Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson, Miami back as a power, and small schools and non-traditional football powers making a case for the national championship.
Injures to Sam Bradford, Matt Grothe, Tim Tebow, Darren Evans, Robert Griffin, and a score of other good and great players, Florida State’s fall from grace, Ball State, Miami (OH), and Rice still winless, USC loss to another weaker conference team.
LeGarrette Blount’s meltdown after the Oregon loss to Boise State in which he punched a Bronco and tried to storm the stands. On a night when two top 25 teams met to open the season the game was ruined by Blount’s actions.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly has said Blount might return after receiving a season long suspension. To his credit, Blount has apologized for his actions and has done everything asked of him to return back to the field.
The college football season is far from over and for any team to accomplish their goals they will have to keep winning. This is only a small look at the first half of the season and only a few highlights of a season with many more to come.
I hope you enjoy the second half of the season. I hope your team goes bowling. I also hope you enjoyed this look back at the mid-way point of the college football season.
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