As we reach the midway point of the 2019 season, theScore highlights the teams and players defining the campaign so far.
Best team: LSU
If there's one team that's checked every box so far this season, it's LSU. The Tigers have looked dominant and exciting - for a change - with an offense ranking behind only Oklahoma and Alabama in yards per play. The roster is loaded with future NFLers, including rising quarterback Joe Burrow. With wins at Texas and at home against Florida, LSU also has a slightly better resume than the other contenders for this award.
Most improved: SMU
The Mustangs haven't been this good since the days of Eric Dickerson and Craig James. SMU is 6-0 for the first time in 37 years and owns a win at TCU. The offense, led by Texas transfer Shane Buechele, is averaging 44 points per game. And to think this team was picked to finish fourth in the AAC West in the preseason.
Most disappointing: Nebraska
This was supposed to be the year Scott Frost's program returned to prominence, right? Frost worked magic in his second year at UCF, but it hasn't been so easy in the Big Ten. Nebraska blew a big lead at Colorado and was embarrassed at home against Ohio State and on the road versus Minnesota. Injuries haven't helped. Thought to be Big Ten contenders, the Cornhuskers would settle for a bowl berth right now.
Best offense: Oklahoma
Who else? Lincoln Riley's program continues to lap the field. Oklahoma is averaging 9.6 yards per play (first nationally) and 4.14 points per drive (third). Amazingly, the Sooners' offense is actually operating at a slightly higher level than it was last season despite losing its second Heisman Trophy quarterback (Kyler Murray) in as many years.
Other nominees: Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Washington State
Best defense: Wisconsin
Wisconsin's defense has been historically good in the first half of the 2019 season. Last week, the Badgers pitched their fourth shutout in six games, becoming the first team to do so since 1967. If you need further proof of their dominance, consider that the defense has scored as many touchdowns (four) as it's allowed.
Best player: Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
There are at least five players with strong cases for the midseason Heisman, but Hurts has been such a major factor in Oklahoma's offense that he edges the competition for the nod. The difference? In addition to his work as a passer (293 yards per game, 17 touchdowns), Hurts leads the Sooners in rushing. He's averaging 105 yards per game on the ground while no Oklahoma running back is averaging more than 62.2.
Coach of the year: Matt Rhule, Baylor
There are a few coaches of undefeated teams - Sonny Dykes at SMU, P.J. Fleck at Minnesota, and Eliah Drinkwitz at Appalachian State - who deserve recognition for their programs' successes so far. But after inheriting a mess, Rhule's managed to lead the Bears to a remarkable turnaround. Two seasons after his first team went 1-11, Rhule helms a 6-0 squad that's already defeated Iowa State, Kansas State, and Texas Tech to begin Big 12 play.
Other nominees: Paul Chryst, Wisconsin; Sonny Dykes, SMU; P.J. Fleck, Minnesota; Scott Satterfield, Louisville
Breakout player: Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State
It's difficult to define what exactly constitutes a "breakout player," but for this exercise, we're focused on players who were in backup or complementary roles a season ago. Under those conditions, no player defines "breakout" like Hubbard, the former track star who leads all FBS running backs with 1,094 yards; no one else has hit 850 yet. The Canadian already has three games of 200-plus yards and received a shoutout from Wayne Gretzky this week.
Best defensive player: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
There's a reason people tout Young as a top-10 pick in next year's draft, and he's showing it on the field this season. Young's 8.5 sacks are tied for second in the country, and he has at least a half-sack in all six of the Buckeyes' games.
Most memorable game: UCLA 67, Washington State 63
When Pac-12 After Dark goes off the rails, there's nothing more fun in college football. That's precisely what we got on Sept. 21. Washington State had a 49-17 lead late in the third quarter - then watched it evaporate as UCLA scored 50 second-half points. If you stayed up, you saw the Bruins take the lead for good with 66 seconds left on a touchdown pass from Dorian Thompson-Robinson to Demetric Felton. Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon threw nine touchdown passes as the Cougars produced 720 yards of offense in a loss.
Craziest moment: Hugh Freeze coaches from a hospital bed
There have been some weird moments this season, but nothing will top Liberty coach Hugh Freeze beginning his tenure by coaching from a hospital bed against Syracuse. The images are still astonishing: Freeze held a play card while sitting in a bed set up in the coaches' booth. In lieu of a postgame handshake, Syracuse coach Dino Babers pointed toward Freeze's window as he walked across the field after the contest.
Other nominees: Florida QB Kyle Trask makes his first start since his freshman year of high school; Former Heisman candidate D'Eriq King redshirts at Houston; Tulane's fake kneel-down and walk-off touchdown pass against Houston; Tulsa's "onside kick" touchdown against SMU