At the halfway point of the college football season, Alabama is the best team and has the best player. But there were plenty other great players and teams to put in the spotlight.
There is no All-Star Break, but we have hit the halfway point of the college football season and there has been no shortage of great players, teams and storylines that have dominated the conversation of the first seven weeks of the season. On the other side, there have been some players, teams and coaches who have dominated the conversation for all the wrong reasons.
Collectively, they make up the first half superlatives of the 2018 college football season. Let’s whip across the nation to identify the best and worst of the first half and take a look at what storylines will be on every fan’s mind in the second half.
Heisman: Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama, QB
Remember when there was a quarterback competition at Alabama this offseason and spring? That seems like ages ago and I don’t think it was ever any real competition because Tua Tagovailoa has been brilliant so far for the Crimson Tide. The sophomore signal-caller is on pace to shatter the passer rating set last year by Baker Mayfield. Last year’s Heisman winner and No. 1 overall pick had a 198.9 but Tagovailoa is sitting at a 248.09 rating on the strength of his 21 touchdowns, zero interceptions and a whopping 14.3 yards per pass. He is the runaway leader in the clubhouse for the Heisman with Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins in second, and with a solid chance to catch Tagovailoa down in the second half.
Best team: Alabama
This is becoming an annual tradition but Alabama is the best team at the halfway point of the season. Unlike past years, it’s the Alabama offense that’s pacing the team. The Crimson Tide offense that leads the nation with 53.6 points per game. Not that the defense has been bad by any stretch, just not up to past elite teams, and ranks seventh in scoring defense, allowing 15.1 points per game. Other candidates, Ohio State, Clemson and Notre Dame have shown signs of vulnerability in near-losses so this was an easy call to go with Nick Saban’s team.
Biggest surprise: LSU
LSU began the season at No. 25 and I thought that was awfully generous as I thought Ed Orgeron’s team had the makings of a seven-win type of season. I had questions about Ohio State transfer quarterback Joe Burrow and the running game, but all my questions have been alleviated and the Tigers have proven to be one of the best team in the country. LSU had a dominating win over Miami in the opener and followed that up with a win over Auburn and came back to upset then-No. 2 Georgia after a narrow loss at a resurgent Florida. They’ll face a good Mississippi State team this weekend, but their home game with Alabama on Nov. 3 will once again determine how successful the season ultimately is.
Biggest disappointment: Auburn
Auburn began the season in the top 10 and a win over a top 10 Washington in the season opener. Since then, Auburn has lost to Auburn, Mississippi State and gave Tennessee their first SEC win since 2016 as they’ve fallen out of the Top 25 entirely. Fans may want Gus Malzahn gone, but he just signed a seven-year extension last winter that would give him a $31 million buyout if he’s fired at year’s end. In other words, he’s not getting fired and Auburn has to lie in their bed after making it. Michigan State was in contention for this distinction, but after beating Penn State coupled with Auburn’s loss to Tennessee last week, this was an easy call.