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October 10, 2007

SCS.comWell after another week of upsets (sorry USC and Wisconsin), weíve reached the midway point of the season, and things are following suit exactly as the experts expected. Well, sort of. LSU is the number one team in the land, not a total shocker since they were one of the preseason favorites to win it all. A Big Ten team is ranked in the top five, but most were expecting to see a Wolverine, not a Buckeye. Clearly everyone knew that a Pac-10 team would be riding high at number two, but most people outside of the Berkley area probably werenít expecting to see Cal sitting in that position. Of course Boston College and South Florida at four and five are the real surprises in the polls right now. But with all that said, itís time to hand out some halftime hardware and present the awards for the first half of the season.

Best Team: LSU

Itís kind of hard to pick against the unanimous (thatís right at 65 AP votes) number one team in the country. While the offense has been strong, averaging 38 points and 432 total yards of offense behind a steady passing game and a two-headed rushing attack, it is the defense that has been the heart of this team. The Tigers have allowed seven touchdowns in five games. Seven! They have played three top fifteen teams in Virginia Tech, South Carolina and Florida, and have outscored them 104-47. LSU is still holding opponents to single digit scoring, allowing just 9.3 points per game. Opponents are averaging less than 200 total yards of offense per game. LSUís defense has been so good, that there offense doesnít have to be that great, but it has. This is a scary team, and as unlikely as it looked earlier in the year for any SEC team to run the table, the Tigers might be good enough to pull it off.

Most Disappointing Team: Notre Dame

This one wasnít the easiest of picks, but Michigan is at least getting some votes from the AP poll again. The offensive numbers have been absolutely abysmal. The Irish are averaging 186 total yards of offense, just 33 on the ground, and a paltry 11 points per game. Even in their upset win over UCLA, Notre Dame only managed 140 total yards, and they were the beneficiaries of seven Bruin turnovers. If not for a total breakdown of UCLA protecting the football, the Irish would likely be 0-6. The defense hasnít looked great either, giving up nearly 30 points per game, and with Boston College and USC up next, donít expect that number to get lower any time soon.

Surprise Team: Missouri

This was a very, very tough call to make. South Florida is ranked fifth in the country which is unbelievable, but they were a lot of peopleís sleeper team in the Big East this year. Cincinnati of all teams is 6-0 after beating Rutgers and ranked eleventh. Missouri, however, has beaten better teams this season. A week one win over Illinois is looking more impressive each week as the Illini climb the polls themselves, but this weekís 41-6 thrashing of Nebraska closes the deal. The Tigers are averaging over 550 yards of total offense per game, and are ranked 4th in the country in that category. Quarterback Chase Daniel simply canít be slowed down, averaging over 300 passing yards and 3 touchdowns per game. The biggest test for Mizzou comes this week on the road against Oklahoma.

Best Player: Tim Tebow

Is there anyone more fun to watch right now than this guy? If there is, I havenít heard of him. Tebowís numbers look like ones you would see in a video game. Heís third in the country in passing efficiency and has thrown for nearly 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns in six games. That alone would be enough to put him as a top five player in the country. But of course with Tebow you also have to mention the additional 500 yards and 9 touchdowns heís accumulated running the football. The kid is on pace for nearly 4,000 yards of total offense and over 40 total touchdowns. Pretty standard you might say. What makes Tebow so much fun though is how he plays the game. Sure heís a great passer and all, but when he runs itís like watching a fullback or a really big tailback. There couldnít be a better player to run Urban Meyerís high powered offense in Gainesville.

Best Newcomer: Michael Crabtree

Yikes this kid is good. Texas Tech would be completely thrilled for a freshman wide receiver to start from day one and finish the season with 70 receptions for 1,028 yards and 17 touchdowns. But to put up those numbers in his first six games? At 6í3Ē and 222 pounds, Crabtree is a big, strong receiver who has been absolutely tearing up every secondary he has come across. Heís caught three touchdown passes in four out of five games, and already has two games where he has topped 200 receiving yards. Whether or not Crabtree will stay on his current pace of 140 catches for 2148 yards and 34 touchdowns is yet to be seen, but the freshman from Dallas is certainly making himself known quickly.

Best Coach: Jim Leavitt

Now South Florida will get their due. Sure they were a sleeper team this year for a lot of people, but who in their right mind expected to see them ranked fifth in the country? The Bulls havenít been blowing anyone out (their biggest win is by 17 over UNC), they just simply win games. Their two big wins over Auburn and West Virginia rank up there with any two quality wins in the country. There is still plenty of stiff competition left on the schedule, but Leavitt has to be commended for the job he has done building this program into a winner this season.

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