Most college football teams are preparing for their seventh or eighth game this weekend, which means the season’s halftime has arrived and some have kicked off the second half.
On the calendar, the midway point is a week or two away for the 80 teams that will play in bowl games this year. More than two months remain in those seasons.
But let’s forge ahead with a first-half retrospect, and suggest some adjustments we may see in the second half.
Sept. 26, TCU 55, Texas Tech 52
Did you have the under? The Frogs led at halftime 33-28 and needed a deflected pass reception by Aaron Green with 23 seconds to play for the game-winner. “I’ve gone from one baby aspirin to two, and I may go to extra-strength Tylenol,” TCU Coach Gary Patterson said.
Most dramatic finish
Last weekend, Michigan State 27, Michigan 23
There’s company for “The Band is on the Field!,” Hail Flutie, Auburn’s Kick Six and any other unbelievable finish in the college football history. Michigan punter Blake O’Neill couldn’t control a snap and his fumble was returned for a touchdown by Jalen Watts-Jackson. Both felt the pain of the moment. Watts-Jackson suffered a dislocated hip on the play and will need at least six months to recover. O’Neill received insults and death threats on social media. His recovery may take longer.
Outside of Salt Lake City, who saw Utah coming on this strong? Not members of Pac-12 media that voted the Utes fifth in the South Division. Utah served noticed in its opener, defeating Michigan, but made its biggest statement later in the month by handing Oregon its worst home loss since 1977, 62-20.
Runner-up: Iowa, thanks to its stout defense.
Auburn entered the season ranked sixth in The Associated Press preseason poll but the first sign of trouble came in the second week when the Tigers needed to take advantage of a bad punt by Jacksonville State to avoid the monumental upset. Auburn’s quarterback issues were the early issue but the defense under new coordinator Will Muschamp ranks 93rd nationally.
Fan base most need of grief counseling
Nebraska. Some of college football’s most passionate people have had their hearts broken not once but four times in about a half-season? A Hail Mary, overcoming a 23-point second-half deficit only to lose in overtime then a pair of final ticks gut-punches in successive games. A couple of those in a season are enough for a fan base to fall into depression. But all four of your losses? That’s torture.
In the preseason, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin seemed a slight favorite, and he’s played well. But this has been the season of the running back and nobody has been better than LSU sophomore Leonard Fournette. He leads the nation at 200 yards per game and is averaging a remarkable 8.01 yards per carry. Fournette, who has 14 touchdowns, hasn’t been held under 150 rushing yards in a game this season. The Heisman is his to lose.
If the Heisman ballot had to be filled out today, Fournette would be my top choice, followed by Boykin and Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.
My midseason playoff bracket would match top-ranked Baylor against No. 4 Utah in the Cotton Bowl and No. 2 Ohio State against No. 3 TCU in the Orange Bowl.
But the projection for the final bracket includes half of those schools: Baylor and Utah.
The Buckeyes’ top two challenges come on successive weekends at the end of the schedule, Michigan State and at Michigan. The Bears play at TCU but Baylor has been more impressive this season.
The final four: Baylor vs. Alabama in the Cotton Bowl, Clemson vs. Utah in the Orange Bowl.