Handing out midseason awards for 2021 faculty soccer season


Unpredictability is the expectation in faculty soccer. Nevertheless, this season appears to have taken that unpredictability to a different degree as we reached the midpoint of the marketing campaign.

4 groups that began within the prime 10 have misplaced twice, led by Clemson, which is watching the opportunity of lacking the School Soccer Playoff for the primary time since 2014. Alabama and Ohio State have already got dropped video games.

Oklahoma has struggled a lot whereas profitable in slender trend that it benched the quarterback that was the preseason Heisman Trophy favourite.

LSU and Southern California each began ranked among the many prime 15 and have already introduced the elimination of their coaches. Texas has misplaced 3 times after opening within the prime 20. North Carolina has carried out the identical after being within the preseason prime 10.

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These developments overshadow a few of the positives. Michigan, Michigan State and Oklahoma State all are unexpectedly unbeaten at this level. New Heisman candidates and training stars have emerged as others falter. These accomplishments are price celebrating.

So with out additional ado, listed here are the winners of our midseason awards from three of our faculty soccer consultants. The envelope, please.

Finest 4 groups

Paul Myerberg: Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma.

The primary two are apparent. Ohio State has performed nicely sufficient since dropping to Oregon to get again into the highest 4. And Oklahoma has seemed like a distinct workforce with Caleb Williams below heart and will have what it takes to run the desk within the Massive 12.

Erick Smith: Georgia, Cincinnati, Alabama, Penn State.

Little question concerning the Bulldogs being first. The Bearcats deserve the second spot off double-digit wins at Indiana and Notre Dame that have been anticipated to be their hardest exams. Alabama has been shaky in two highway video games, dropping one. The Nittany Lions have performed the most effective of any Massive Ten workforce and could be unbeaten with out Sean Clifford being injured within the first half at Iowa

Eddie Timanus: Georgia, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, Alabama.

Sure, we all know the Crimson Tide have a loss. However the Massive Ten groups at present occupying practically half of the highest 10 are about to begin beating one another, and we don’t see Nick Saban’s crew dropping one other one, not less than till they meet the Dawgs within the SEC title sport.

Georgia players celebrate after Quay Walker (middle) recovered a fumble against South Carolina at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.

Georgia gamers have a good time after Quay Walker (center) recovered a fumble in opposition to South Carolina at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.

Finest sport

Paul Myerberg: The Crimson River Shootout between Texas and Oklahoma set a report for many mixed factors in sequence historical past and had the subplot of Williams stepping in for an underachieving Spencer Rattler. If not an upset within the vein of Alabama dropping to Texas A&M, the outcome did hold OU within the playoff combine and is likely to be seen sooner or later because the second when Williams introduced his arrival on the faculty stage.

Erick Smith: Alabama at Texas A&M. This was anticipated to be the the sport of the yr within the SEC and it delivered. Whereas a few of the pregame hype was diminished with the Aggies dropping twice earlier than the showdown, they responded with an impressed effort. Zach Calzada, who began the season because the backup quarterback, performed out of his thoughts in giving A&M a 14-point halftime lead after which main two scoring drives within the final three minutes after the Crimson Tide grabbed a seven-point lead with a late landing.

Eddie Timanus: Oregon 35, Ohio State 28, Sept. 11. The primary – and to date solely – regular-season lack of Buckeyes coach Ryan Day’s tenure was the primary indicator that the 2021 season was going to be a wild trip. Sadly, the offensive star of that sport, Geese’ operating again C.J. Verdell, later suffered a season-ending damage.

Finest teaching efficiency

Paul Myerberg: Kirby Sensible has constructed the most effective workforce in faculty soccer. However past the top-ranked Bulldogs, it’s important to admire the work carried out by Michigan State coach Mel Tucker, who has the Spartans thriving in his second season after shaking up the roster with transfers. Within the period of the portal, Tucker’s displaying the best way to get it carried out. And Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson has the Demon Deacons rising up the High 25.

Erick Smith: Luke Fickell ought to be on the prime of each main opening this offseason together with his efficiency at Cincinnati. For a program not used to lofty expectations, he has managed the state of affairs of being a official Group of 5 contender for the playoff nearly completely. Too many occasions groups get too excessive on this state of affairs, nonetheless the Bearcats managed the problem of highway video games at Indiana and Notre Dame and have been emphatic of their different victories. A lot of that credit score goes to Fickell.

Eddie Timanus: Dave Clawson, Wake Forest. Getting the Demon Deacons to 5 consecutive bowl video games was already sufficient to maneuver Clawson into statue-building territory amongst Wake followers. This yr’s workforce was aiming larger although, adopting the mantra “good to nice” in preseason camp, they usually’ve delivered with a 6-0 begin. An ACC title is hardly a given, however it’s additionally not out of the query.

Heisman favourite

Paul Myerberg: It’s now centered on two SEC quarterbacks, Bryce Younger and Matt Corral. Younger has the sting in his workforce’s efficiency and bounced again from the loss to the Aggies with 4 touchdowns in a rout of Mississippi State. However Corral has the numbers and the flashy performs to be the midseason Heisman favourite.

Erick Smith: There is not any candidate that can have extra alternatives to impress voters than Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud. The redshirt freshman began slowly, however the Buckeyes are main the nation in whole offense and are second in scoring. If they’ll sustain that tempo with vital video games in opposition to Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and certain Iowa, then he stands to be in the most effective place to win the award.

Eddie Timanus: Matt Corral, Mississippi. Truthfully, there isn’t a transparent favourite at this juncture for the primary time in latest reminiscence. Corral is banged up and might need to overlook a while, and he was outshone by Alabama’s Bryce Younger of their head-to-head showdown. However his numbers will probably be unimaginable to disregard if he can hold placing them up in opposition to the remainder of his SEC opponents. Then once more, we wouldn’t be shocked if a completely completely different candidate emerges within the second half of the season.

Mississippi quarterback Matt Corral carries the ball against Tennessee during their game at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.

Mississippi quarterback Matt Corral carries the ball in opposition to Tennessee throughout their sport at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.

Largest shock

Paul Myerberg: The Massive Ten has 5 groups within the playoff hunt and can outline the second half of the common season with a round-robin slate of video games involving the most effective within the East division. Whereas the SEC stays the category of the FBS, the Massive Ten could have the most important impression on the ultimate playoff prime 4.

Erick Smith: In its 9 earlier seasons because the program was born, Texas-San Antonio has managed greater than seven wins as soon as. That was eight in 2012, the primary season for the Roadrunners that noticed them play three groups exterior of the Bowl Subdivision. UTSA is already at seven wins after an unbeaten begin that has them ranked for the primary time.

Eddie Timanus: To say seventh-ranked Michigan State was below the radar at first of the marketing campaign is one thing of an understatement. The Spartans weren’t even on the map, receiving no votes within the preseason coaches ballot. They’re probably about to get a actuality examine as they attain the meat of the Massive Ten East schedule, however contemplating the place the MSU program was simply a few years in the past, even a 9-3 or 8-4 end could be a major achievement for Mel Tucker’s program.

Largest disappointment

Paul Myerberg: Clemson heads into Saturday’s sport at Pittsburgh dealing with the opportunity of holding two ACC losses and three losses general earlier than Halloween. It’s been greater than a decade because the Tigers have seemed this beatable. What’s incorrect? It’s higher to ask what has gone or goes proper for Clemson, and the quick reply is nothing.

Erick Smith: There’s actually not a method to sugercoat going from Heisman favourite to the bench within the span of six weeks. That, sadly, is what occurred to Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler. Whether or not it was distractions or excessive expectations or worries concerning the NFL, every part was off for the junior because the Sooners offense floundered. The revitalization with Caleb Williams below heart solely underscores that Rattler was holding them again.

Eddie Timanus: Washington is not the one Soccer Bowl Subdivision workforce to have been tripped up by a member of the Soccer Championship Subdivision this yr. However their ugly 13-7 loss to Montana on opening evening was a transparent indication their No. 21 preseason rating was misplaced. Issues haven’t gotten significantly better on the offensive facet for U-Dub, which has dedicated 12 turnovers and is averaging simply 5.2 yards per play.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley talks to quarterback Spencer Rattler during the team's game against Texas at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley talks to quarterback Spencer Rattler in the course of the workforce’s sport in opposition to Texas on the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

Finest defensive participant

Paul Myerberg: Georgia defensive deal with Jordan Davis is essentially the most dominant lineman within the nation and the linchpin of a protection that’s incomes accolades as the most effective to return via faculty soccer in a decade or extra. His excessive degree of play has Davis getting into into the Heisman dialog.

Erick Smith: Nice defensive gamers are disruptors. There is not any one higher than Alabama linebacker Will Anderson. The sophomore leads the nation with 15 tackles for loss and is second with seven sacks, together with 4 final week in opposition to Mississippi State. Anderson additionally makes performs after the road of scrimmage, rating second on the workforce with 45 stops.

Eddie Timanus: Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame. It’s onerous to pick only one man on Georgia’s lights-out defensive unit. So we’ll give the nod to the veteran Preventing Irish free security who’s arguably the participant his workforce may least afford to lose. The mainstay of the Notre Dame secondary has picked off three passes, damaged up 4 extra, and ranks second on the workforce with 33 whole tackles.

Finest true freshman

Paul Myerberg: Georgia tight finish Brock Bowers leads the Bulldogs in catches (25), yards (416) and touchdowns (six). In final weekend’s win in opposition to Kentucky, he cracked the 100-yard mark for the second time and had a number of touchdowns for the third time in seven video games. With JT Daniels sidelined, Bowers has helped Georgia’s offense keep afloat behind backup quarterback Stetson Bennett.

Erick Smith: Coming into the SEC as a defensive lineman, it is sudden {that a} true freshman will be capable of have a direct impression. LSU’s Maason Smith, nonetheless, has lived as much as the expectations of being one of many prime gamers in his class. He has contributed 18 tackles and ranks second on the workforce in sacks with 4 whereas switching between defensive deal with and finish.

Eddie Timanus: TreVeyon Henderson simply enrolled at Ohio State in January however the operating again has shortly turn out to be a key cog within the Buckeyes’ offensive machine. He leads the workforce in dashing with 612 yards, with 766 yards from scrimmage and 11 whole touchdowns.

This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: School soccer midseason awards: Finest groups, gamers in 2021 to date



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