Midseason Awards for 2013 College Football Season

Sebastian Lena@SP7988Analyst IOctober 15, 2013

Midseason Awards for 2013 College Football Season

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    2013 has treaded Alabama quite well thus far.
    2013 has treaded Alabama quite well thus far.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    With seven weeks in the book, we can say we've officially reached the midway point of the college football season.

    We've seen upsets, letdowns and significant performances nobody saw coming. At the same time, we've seen some familiar names find their way back near the top of the polls.

    All in all, it's added for an exciting first half of action for what's shaping up to be one heck of a finish.

    But before we move forward, let's take a quick second to take a look back.

    In here you'll find some of the best this season has had to offer. The best players, teams, coaches and plays that have had us all talking.

    So without further ado, here are the midseason awards for the 2013 college football season.

Best Postgame Presser: Paul Rhoads (Iowa State)

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    Let's face it, when a head coach's postgame press conference outshines a one-point game, he must be doing something worthy of recognition.

    Following Iowa State’s controversial 31-30 loss to Texas on Oct. 3, the folks in Ames were ready to panic. But no one took the loss harder than Cyclones head coach Paul Rhoads.

    That much was made evident as Rhoads bashed the officials during his postgame remarks.

    If the inflection of his voice wasn't enough to relay that he meant business, the stern glare and swaying back and forth definitely did the trick. Not to mention, Rhoads attempted to take advantage of our emotions, asking us to envision "put[ting] an arm around a guy, and tell him it's okay, when that happens to them."

    In a class that already featured a rant from LSU’s Les Miles and the dusting off of the vocal chords from South Florida's Willie Taggart, Rhoads' rant takes the cake.

Worst New Uniform: Oregon

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    Back to the drawing board, Phil. (Bruce Ely/The Oregonian)
    Back to the drawing board, Phil. (Bruce Ely/The Oregonian)

    Year in and year out, nothing is certain in life except for death, taxes and the introduction of several outrageous uniform choices from the University of Oregon football team.

    This season was no different.

    During the Ducks' Sept. 14 contest with Tennessee, the team unveiled a highlighter-yellow uniform, complete with matching helmet. It was a getup that had the entire college football world reaching for its sun glasses.

    While traditional powerhouses Alabama, Notre Dame and Oklahoma tend to stick with what has worked over decades, Oregon has opted to go the entirely opposite path ever since Nike CEO, and Oregon alum, Phil Knight got involved.

    Sometimes, the new uniforms are a hit. But other times, such as this one, that just isn't the case.

    Just Do It? More like "Just Don't."

Best New Uniform: Washington Huskies

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    The Huskies stole the show with their "Blackout" uniforms (Azeem Victor/Twitter)
    The Huskies stole the show with their "Blackout" uniforms (Azeem Victor/Twitter)

    Following a heartbreaking loss to Stanford, the Huskies knew hosting Oregon would be a tough matchup. So the team tried to garner some excitement for the contest.

    Washington did so by dubbing the contest this season's "Blackout" game.

    But the Huskies faithful wouldn't be the only ones having fun, as the team also announced that it would be donning some sick black matte helmets along with a slick all-black uniform.

    The combination of black, purple and gold makes for an intimidating scene on the field. Not to mention, an entire stadium full of rowdy fans wearing black as well.

    Although it may not have been enough to upset the Ducks, the jersey certainly won the hearts of college football fans as one of the sickest uniforms of 2013.

Most Embarrassing Moment: Pac-12 Officials

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    During a nonconference matchup that pitted No. 20 Wisconsin at Arizona State on Sept. 14, the referees stole the show of what turned out to be a close, hard-fought battle between two undefeated teams.

    With the Badgers down two, quarterback Joel Stave had them driving with under a minute to go. Clearly in field-goal position, the sophomore appeared to give himself up and placed the ball on the field.

    But instead of setting the ball up so Wisconsin could spike it and attempt a game-winning field goal, the officials just stood in place. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils jumped on top of the ball as the clock ran down.

    Next thing you know, Stave and the entire Badgers offense are standing around in confusion as Arizona State and its fans break out in jubilation, celebrating the most unlikeliest of wins.

    As if we needed yet another reason to doubt the credibility of Pac-12 officiating.

Biggest Surprise: Notre Dame Defensive Decline

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    It's been a disappointing year for Kelly (center) and his defense.
    It's been a disappointing year for Kelly (center) and his defense.Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

    In 2012, Notre Dame rode one of the nation's elite defensive units to a spot in the BCS title game. After returning seven starters on that side of the ball in 2013, the defense was once again supposed to be considered a strong suit.

    Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case.

    Last year, the Irish ranked No. 2 in scoring defense (12.8 PPGA), No. 7 in total defense (305.5 YPGA), No. 11 against the run (105.7 YPGA) and No. 22 in sacks (34). This season, the unit has dropped to No. 58 in scoring (25.5 PPGA), No. 46 in total defense (374.5 YPGA), No. 23 against the run (122.3 YPGA) and No. 95 in sacks (10).

    It's been an embarrassing decline for Notre Dame's defense, one that has already been picked apart by less-than-stellar offenses from Michigan and Oklahoma in losses.

    We all expected the Irish to take a step back in 2013. However, nobody thought the defense would be the biggest reason.

Biggest Upset: Unranked Utah over No. 5 Stanford

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    The Utes upset of the Cardinal on Oct. 12 was one not many saw coming.

    Stanford was fresh off taming the upstart Washington Huskies 31-28 at home. With another showdown with UCLA on the horizon on Oct. 19, the contest against Utah was supposed to be a warm-up.

    Instead, it ended up being the trap game that may have just unraveled the Cardinal's season.

    Utes quarterback Travis Wilson threw for two 234 yards and two touchdowns and the defense withstood a furious, late-game rally from Stanford, making a goal-line stand to secure the victory.

Biggest Game-Changing Moment: Alton Howard Fumble (Tennessee)

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    Tennessee had several opportunities to put away then-No. 6 Georgia during the two team’s showdown on Oct. 5. Instead, the Volunteers' Alton Howard coughed up the ball in overtime while reaching for the pylon.

    The result of the play was a fumble and a touchback.

    After withstanding a valiant, game-tying drive from Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray that resulted in a two-yard touchdown with just five seconds remaining, the Tennessee offense didn't fold in overtime. The unit moved swiftly down to the seven-yard line. Unfortunately, Howard fumbled on the next play and the Bulldogs added a 42-yard field goal to wrap things up.

    What was shaping up to be a season-changing victory for the Volunteers merely resulted in a game-changing moment in Georgia's favor.

    Sometimes, college football can be cruel.

Best Play: SMU 2-Point Conversion

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    At 1-4, SMU won't be remembered for much this season. However, the same can't be said about the team's two-point conversion to force overtime against Rutgers on Oct. 5.

    As quarterback Garrett Gilbert was flushed out of the pocket, he began running around in circles trying to avoid the rush. He even went as far back as the 25-yard line before running up to the 10, avoiding a tackle and throwing across his body to wide-open receiver Jeremy Johnson. 

    But if that wasn't spectacular enough, Johnson's effort to get both feet inbounds was just as impressive.

    Ultimately, it was all for naught, as the Mustangs lost 55-52 in overtime. However, it is easily the best play up to this point of the season.

Best Coach: Gary Pinkel

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    Pinkel has been doing a great job with the Tigers this season.
    Pinkel has been doing a great job with the Tigers this season.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Tigers' inaugural season in the SEC couldn't have gone any worse.

    After getting off to a 3-2 start, the team dropped four of its final six games. That included a 0-5 record against ranked teams. 

    This season, Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel seems to have gotten the hang of things.

    Behind strong play from quarterback James Franklin and a strong rushing attack, the Tigers won their first five games—matching the team's win total from a year ago. But even more impressive, Missouri did so averaging over 45 points per game.

    However, many disparaged Pinkel's start, citing a lack of worthy opponents.

    His reply? A 41-26 whooping of Georgia in its own backyard.

    Now, there's no doubt Pinkel is deserving of all the praise. Unfortunately, he'll have to go without Frankin for the next three to five weeks, via CBS Sports' Jerry Hinnen.

Best Freshman: Jameis Winston

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    No frosh has performed at a higher level than Winston.
    No frosh has performed at a higher level than Winston.Jeff Gammons/Getty Images

    Quarterback Jameis Winston is having one heck of a season. He's led his Seminoles into the Top Five of the AP Poll while positioning himself as a front-runner for this year’s Heisman Trophy.

    Did we mention he's just a redshirt freshman?

    Through five games, Winston has racked up 1,441 yards and 17 touchdowns to just two interceptions. Furthermore, his quarterback rating of 213.9 is second behind only Baylor’s Bryce Petty.

    Thus far, Winston has yet to show signs of inexperience. In fact, over his first two games, he threw just five incompletions.

    It’s hard to find another freshman putting up numbers like Winston.

    With a trip to Death Valley to take on No. 3 Clemson on deck, it'll be interesting to see how the youngster fares.

Best Defensive Player: Vic Beasley (Clemson)

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    Beasley (left) has made life tough for opposing quarterbacks all year.
    Beasley (left) has made life tough for opposing quarterbacks all year.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The Tigers have had a better-than-expected defense this season.

    On defense, the team ranks No. 10 in scoring (16.2 PPGA), No. 21 in total defense (344.8 YPGA) and No. 18 against the pass (186.5 YPGA). Clemson also leads the nation with an average of four sacks per game.

    A large reason for that is defensive end Vic Beasley.

    Through six games, the junior has recorded 20 tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble returned. He's even found the end zone once.

    But Beasley has come up big when Clemson has needed him most.

    Against then-No. 5 Georgia, he recorded two sacks against quarterback Aaron Murray. Beasley added three more and a fumble forced in a tough 26-14 victory over North Carolina State. Then finally, he scooped up a fumble for a score to put away a pesky Boston College team last week.

    In a season where Jadeveon Clowney has filled up the headlines because of an overplayed hit, Beasley is the defender who really deserves all the recognition.

Best Offensive Player: Marcus Mariota (Oregon)

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    Nobody has been better offensively than Mariota (left).
    Nobody has been better offensively than Mariota (left).Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The Ducks are 6-0 and are cruising towards another shot at a BCS title.

    Thanks to quarterback Marcus Mariota, that's become a real possibility.

    Over six games, the sophomore has thrown for 1,724 yards and 17 touchdowns with no interceptions. He's also added another 426 yards and eight scores on the ground.

    The biggest knock against Mariota was his accuracy. However, he responded to his critics by going 24-of-31 (77.4 percent) for 366 yards and three touchdowns against a very good Washington defense last weekend.

    Week after week, Mariota has proven he can handle any challenged thrown his way.

    Nobody else can say they've been as lethal and mistake-free as he has.

Best Team: Alabama

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    Saban (center) and the Tide are no doubt the best team in the country right now.
    Saban (center) and the Tide are no doubt the best team in the country right now.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Expecting anyone else?

    The Tide are winners of two straight BCS titles and three of the last four. However, the team has been just as good this season.

    Sure, Alabama’s offense isn’t going to blow anybody out of the water. However, in a 49-42 victory over Texas A&M, the team showed it can certainly hang with the best.

    Not to mention, ever since letting Johnny Manziel and the Aggies put up 42 points and over 600 yards of total offense, the Tide defense has been nearly impenetrable.

    Over the last four games, Alabama has conceded just 16 points and 207.3 yards per game. Furthermore, the team held all four opponents to under 100 rushing yards. In fact, three of the four didn't even crack more than 60 yards on the ground.

    They say good defense wins championships and it's a motto the Tide have taken to heart.

    Oregon and Clemson have put in solid efforts to dethrone head coach Nick Saban and his squad. But until Alabama loses, it's hard to dub anyone else the best team in the nation.

    All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.

    For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on Facebook, on Twitter and via e-mail at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com