The current college football narrative (at least until Florida State and Oregon lose and we're left with an Alabama-Ohio State championship game that the Tide win by 50) is one that pits the explosive Ducks against the equally-dominant Seminoles. Not much separates the two teams thus far in terms of resume or eye test; FSU has the more impressive single game with their win over Clemson, but the combo of Oregon's decisive wins over UCLA and Washington state their case. It will take the rest of the season, and perhaps not even then, to determine which of these teams is the best in the country. There is also a battle between the two current Heisman front-runners, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Winston currently leads in flash, accuracy, and yards per attempt, and Mariota leads in rushing, lack of interceptions, and Total QBR.
Marcus Mariota has 5 more games until the Heisman voting. Jameis Winston has 6 games left. There's so much football left. Winston could hit a rough patch in his first full year of college football, lose a game, and fall out of the race. Mariota could put up some weak numbers against a good Stanford defense, and never recover. Either one could get hurt. Literally anything could happen between now and the Heisman voting, and it's incredibly pointless to be talking about it now.
But you, dear reader, are reading things on a college football website, and not curing cancer, volunteering in the community, or running for public office with no help from special-interest groups. I'm betting big-picture, real world points are not high on your priority list today. You're probably gonna have something from Trader Joe's for lunch today. And you're gonna poop at work. Super productive.
So let's hand out some midseason awards, huh?!?
The Midseason Heisman Trophy, aka "The Heisboy" - Marcus Mariota, QB Oregon
Oregon football is to the point that exciting has become passé. Oregon beats a Top 15 team by four touchdowns, and the story is how UCLA hung with the Ducks for three quarters. Mariota and the Oregon offense scored 28 points in fifteen minutes in the second half, against a defense with NFL-quality talent, and made it look pedestrian. We've reached a gateway-drug levels of amazing with the Oregon offense, where regular old amazing no longer looks amazing, and we crave more and more of it, continuously unsatisfied by new heights of astounding. Byron Marshall needed five straight 100 yard games to finally get some national attention. In the five games since De'Anthony Thomas sprained his ankle, Oregon is averaging 608 yards of offense, and 52 points per game. None of that happens without Marcus Mariota running the show, who is without a doubt the most exciting "aw shucks" player ever to walk the earth. Here's what he's on pace for:
3709 yards passing, 64% completion rate, 33 touchdowns, 0 picks, 830 yards rushing, 9.1 ypc, 15 touchdowns
Just tryin' to help the team. Wanna win some games. Marcus Mariota probably likes bran flakes, and doesn't put salt on ANYthing. What a maniac.
The Midseason Doak Walker Award, "The Doak Crawling and Can Kinda Stand Up, But Mostly is Adorable-er" -
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Lot of worthy candidates here, including the Pac-12's Bishop Sankey and Ka'Deem Carey (and Byron Marshall), and Baylor's Lache Seastrunk . But Gordon gets my nod for doing more with less. Gordon currently sits 5th in the country in yards with 1012, and has scored 11 touchdowns. And he's done it while sharing the backfield with James White. Gordon, thanks in part to three runs of 70+ yards, is averaging 9.5 yards per carry. Nine. Point. Five. That's almost a first down per touch. Makes me wonder what Wisconsin did to lose two games if football is just that easy for Melvin Gordon.
The Midseason Biletnikoff Award, "The Ballsnodrop" - Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
I scored a ticket to Cal-Oregon State a couple weeks ago. (It wasn't hard, there were dozens of Cal students using them as bookmarks. I traded a Chemical Engineering major a Peet's coffee receipt for one. And by traded, I mean I switched it while he wasn't looking. She did not notice.) And I got to see Brandin Cooks in person for the first time ever. In a game featuring the Oregon State defense, and the Cal everything, he was literally the only football player of value on the field. And he was operating on a different plane of existence. He's the only viable offensive option on that team, literally the only guy that opposing defensive coordinators have to game plan for. And he's STILL putting up stupid numbers. Honorable mention to Paul Richardson, Jordan Matthews, and Allen Robinson, who are all in the same boat, and 95% as amazing.
The Midseason Bednarik Award, "The Cribnarik" - Michael Sam, DE Missouri
The Tigers have been one of the surprises so far this season, knocking off Georgia and Florida in consecutive weeks. Despite dropping last week's game to South Carolina, Missouri still controls its own destiny in the SEC East, and one of the big reasons for that is a defense that is leading the SEC in sacks, tackles for loss, and interceptions. And Michael Sam is a monster of a pass rusher, leading the country with 16 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.
The Midseason Thorpe Award, "The Short" - Terrance Mitchell, CB Oregon
I took my homer glasses off, and Oregon still has the best secondary in the country. 13 interceptions, all against teams from BCS conferences. Sure, Oregon has given up passing yards, but the Ducks have seen the third-most pass attempts in the country, and are holding opponents to 5.3 yards per pass attempt, third-best in all of college football. Last year it was Ifo Ekpre-Olomu getting the attention after Mitchell had a breakout freshman year. After Ifo's stellar 2012, the heat is back on T-Mitch. He's responded by picking off four passes in eight games, including a highlight-reel pick-six against Washington State. Is Mitchell on the actual Thorpe semifinalists list? Of course not, because that's how these things work. Ifo is on the semifinalists list, and hopefully will accept the real award on Terrance's behalf.
The Midseason Coach of the Year Award, "The Stuffed in the Overhead Bin of the Year" - Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
First year head coach, starting a true freshman in his opening game, expected to be a low-tier bowl team at best. Nope. Kaptain Chisled Chin led his team to a 7-0 start to the year, and took Oklahoma to the limit in Norman. The Red Raiders have a tough November ahead with games against Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Texas still to come. A 9-3 record would be a heck of a season. Also considered: Art Briles, Gus Malzahn, Gary Pinkel, Mark Helfrich, and Jimbo Fisher.
The Midseason Lou Groza Award, "The Lou Hasn't Grownza" - For the love of all that is holy, anyone but Alejandro Maldonado