CFB at the half: Can Urban Meyer flip the Buckeyes’ switch?
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Fourteen of the teams in the new AP Top 25 poll have played six games, otherwise known as half of their regular-season schedules. That makes this as good a time as any for some first-half review and second-half preview.
Team of the first half
It has to be Utah, which has gone from unranked heading into the season to fourth in the current poll. The 5-0 Utes handed Michigan its only defeat, went on the road and devastated Oregon by six touchdowns and, Saturday night in Salt Lake City, took down unbeaten California.
Teams of the second half
1. Ohio State: The top-ranked Buckeyes, oozing with talent and championship experience, have slogged through the weaker half of their schedule, struggling on both sides of the ball. It’s as though they’re simply biding their time until the matchups with Michigan State and Michigan the last two weeks of November. What’s the deal with these guys?
2. Baylor: Second-ranked Baylor hasn’t had to break a sweat yet, but the schedule the rest of the way — with anywhere from three to six legitimately losable games, depending on your point of view — is no joke.
3. Notre Dame: If the 5-1 Irish win out, they’ll triple-dog-dare the College Football Playoff committee not to include them. On the other hand, there are no assurances the Irish won’t go bad in the second half as they did in 2014.
Player of the first half
If we’re talking about the Heisman Trophy race here, the far-and-away leader is LSU running back Leonard Fournette. Forget all those fancy-pants quarterbacks — this 230-pound monster is averaging 204.4 yards per game on the ground, or 46 more than the next guy.
Players of the second half
1. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU: The Horned Frogs are a playoff-or-bust group, and Boykin is their leader and best player. He’s as clutch as they come, too.
2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: The No. 11 Seminoles are a quiet 5-0, with a real shot to win out and return to the playoff. They’ll ride Cook, perhaps the most dynamic offensive player in the country.
3. Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, Ohio State: Will the Buckeyes’ quarterback play be as good as it should’ve been all along?
Coach of the first half
In six weeks, first-year coach Jim McElwain has completely remade Florida’s performance and reputation. The Gators were punch lines under Will Muschamp. Now they’re 6-0 and in the top 10.
Coaches of the second half
1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State: Flip that switch already, would you?
2. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan: You’d better believe Meyer and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio are more than a little concerned about their visits to Ann Arbor.
3. Dabo Swinney, Clemson: The fifth-ranked Tigers are led by perhaps the most fired-up guy in the sport.
Game of the first half
Not sure if either Ole Miss or Alabama will even win the SEC West, but the Rebels’ 43-37 victory in Tuscaloosa was a championship-level event. The teams combined for five fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Games of the second half
1. Florida State at Clemson, Nov. 7: The ACC is a two-horse race, at least where the playoff is concerned.
2. Michigan State at Ohio State, Nov. 21: For now, this is still the baddest Big Ten matchup on the docket.
3. Baylor at TCU, Nov. 27: If all goes according to plan, this’ll be a playoff play-in game.
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