We are at the mid-season point and after watching eight weeks of football, I am ready to look at the best at this point.
Power Five1. Mississippi State
2. Ole Miss
Has there been a more impressive team in the country so far this season than Mississippi State? Not only is it my top SEC school, but it would get my vote for the No. 1 team in the country right now. Mississippi State is scoring on offense, their front seven is among the best in the country, and it has proven it can play at a high level in consecutive weeks. The Bulldogs are a legit national championship contender.
Ole Miss is not far between and what an Egg Bowl it could be if both, the Rebels, and the Bulldogs run the table up until November 29. That may be a big if with the tough road in the SEC West for each school, but Ole Miss is 6-0 behind a defense surrendering just under 12 points per contest so far. The defense swarms to the ball, it is fast, it is physical, and if Bo Wallace handles the offense, we know the defense will do its part.
Auburn and Alabama three and four are like Ole Miss and Mississippi State at one and two – very tight. Auburn’s offense is better, Alabama has a slightly better defense, but the edge goes to the Tigers at No. 3 at this point in the season. The Crimson Tide has yet to beat a ranked team this season.
The SEC East is not the SEC West – It’s not even close, but Georgia is still 5-1, and it is coming off an impressive 34-0 shutout at Missouri. The Dawgs check in at No. 5. It is still unknown if the Dawgs will get former Heisman frontrunner Todd Gurley back this season, but there schedule is manageable, they control their own destiny, and they are on track to face the SEC West champion in Atlanta early in December.
Coach of the Year
Can it be anyone other than Dan Mullen? Okay, maybe Hugh Freeze, but after six games, Mullen has Mississippi State at a perfect 6-0, and over the past three games, he took his team to Baton Rouge, La. to win convincingly, he dominated Texas A&M for four quarters, and then his team jumped on Auburn 21-0 early, and controlled that game from start to finish. Mullen has only signed two top 20 recruiting classes over the past four cycles, but he has an older team, his coaches have developed players nicely, and he has the Bulldogs playing at a consistent high level through the first half of the 2014 season.
Offensive Player of the Year
Dak Prescott is the guy here. You see a pretty common them here early – very strong Mississippi State presence. Prescott is leading his team first of all, he is playing under control, and he is still undefeated this season. He has made some mistakes, but he has made many more positive plays in big moments than negative. He has thrown for just under 1,500 yards, he has run for 576 yards, and he has 22 total touchdowns this season. Prescott is likely leading the Heisman Trophy race at this stage too.
Defensive Player of the Year
Many players were considered here – Vernon Hargreaves from Florida, A.J. Johnson from Tennessee, Myles Garrett from Texas A&M, Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt from Ole Miss, and many others, but Preston Smith (pictured), another player from Mississippi State is the one through six games. He has really improved over the last two seasons and at the midway point, he has 19 tackles, over half a dozen tackles for loss, four and a half sacks, two interceptions, and one defensive touchdown. He is setting the edge for the Bulldog defense, and he has grown into an NFL prospect the last two seasons.
Offense: Top Freshman
Just a year ago, he was the No. 2 prospect in the country on Scout, and now he has started every game as a true freshman at Alabama at left tackle – that is Cameron Robinson. What a start for the former five-star out of Louisiana. He is the left tackle for Nick Saban, the team runs behind him in crucial situations, he anchors the Tide’s offensive line, and like expected, Robinson looks to be one of those three-and-out type of players. He has gotten comfortable the last few weeks, he has yet to allow a sack, and he is has played at a very high level.
Defense: Top Freshman
Myles Garrett has put on a show this season. He is showing why Scout had him as the No. 5 overall prospect in the 2014 class. Garrett is the Aggies top defensive player and he is a true freshman. He is explosive off the edge, he is often in the backfield, and he has already amassed seven and a half sacks this season. Some teams are already double-teaming the freshman and he is still making plays. If he is not knocking the quarterback down, he is hurrying him to get rid of the football. His best football is still ahead of him too.
Looking ahead to the second half of the season is about as exciting as it gets - especially in the west. There will be upsets, there will be some games down to the wire, and there still could be an undefeated team come out of the west. How crazy would it be if Ole Miss and Mississippi State still had unblemished records on November 29?
It is going to be a wild finish, so hang on.