College football midseason awards amid coronavirus threat

Coastal Carolina (5-0) and its blue-green turf are the color scheme of the year. The Chanticleers have already achieved their overall wins from last season and entered the national rankings for the first time in program history.

Few have used the stilted season as well as quarterback Zach Wilson and BYU, who are not only a 6-0 juggernaut (who outperforms their opponents by an average of 45-14) but also one of only two teams in the mountain or the Pacific were time zones that are regularly played before the last weekend.

A game doesn’t make a season (or career), but Greg Schiano is a contender for the Take That, F. Scott Fitzgerald Award. His second appearance at Rutgers began last week swimming with a win at Michigan State.

Then there is the most predictable evolution of all. The POY – the pathogen of the year here in 2020 – is of course the novel coronavirus. This week brought with it several memories that are just as influential as anything that makes up this season.

(How Nebraska and its famous football program continue to find ways to somehow less suit the football-centric Big Ten than Maryland and Rutgers, the league’s other recent additions, decidedly non-football-centric, is a real mystery).

Postponements and positive tests are just routine this season. Other subplots will gain and shrink in importance. Unsurprisingly, the story, which affects society as a whole, is and will remain a central figure in the 2020 college football season until its conclusion.

Five with the most at stake

1. Ohio State. Road Slate # 3 Buckeyes after this weekend includes trips to Maryland, Illinois, and Michigan State. Which means a Saturday visit to a crazy number 18 Penn State that wrenched defeat from the jaws of victory in Indiana last week is certainly the most likely team to stumble away Ryan Day’s heaps of Columbus.

2. Penn State. The Nittany Lions would effectively be eliminated from the Big Ten title race by the end of October if they stumbled into the state of Ohio. In a normal year that would be difficult enough. In a year where their team’s season didn’t start until October 24th, it would be especially frustrating for Penn State fans.

3. Oklahoma State. The No. 6 Cowboys (4-0) are the Big 12’s best playoff hopes, largely because they are the last undefeated team in the league. You’re a quarter of the way down a difficult stretch after turning the state of Iowa on its head last weekend. Next up is Texas (which Baylor beat up on his last outing) before heading to Kansas State and No. 24 Oklahoma.

4. Boise State. The No. 25 Broncos (1-0) are certainly one way to win the Group Five slot in the New Year’s Six, and they dusted the state of Utah with no major problems to open their season. Next up is a trip to the Air Force, which looked great (against the Navy) and not that great (in San Jose state), but offers the challenge of a difficult crime to prepare for.

5a. LSU and 5b. Auburn. Who emerges from the SEC West tiger tangle with three losses in November and a meeting against Alabama? Getting into this game in the levels is not a pleasant thought.

Heisman watch

Justin Fields didn’t disappoint with the Big Ten’s return last weekend.

1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson; 1,833 yards, 17 TDs, 2 INTs over; 71 yards, 4 TDs racing. The junior loses at least one game to a positive coronavirus test, but was also on the news earlier this week. Whether or not Lawrence is serious about possibly returning to the Tigers next year, that much is certain: he has likely been part of more wins this season with Clemson (six) than next year with the New York Jets. (Last week: 1)

2. RB Najee Harris, Alabama; 595 yards, 14 TDs rushing; 14 receptions, 147 meters. Harris has topped 20 transfers in three consecutive weeks. The Crimson Tide may not need him so much against a tumbled state in Mississippi. (LW: 2)

3. QB Justin Fields, State of Ohio; 276 yards, 2 TDs over; 54 meters, 1 TD races. He encountered little opposition last weekend while building Nebraska’s defense. He will take on a defense for the U.S. state of Penn that largely fulfilled its mission in an overtime loss to Indiana at the start of the season. (LW: Not Classified)

4. QB Mac Jones, Alabama; 1,905 yards, 12 TDs, 2 INTs over. The Crimson Tide’s super efficient caller has to navigate the rest of the schedule without the injured Jaylen Waddle. He did well against Tennessee without the star last week. (LW: 3)

5. QB Zach Wilson, BYU; 1,928 yards, 16 TDs, 1 INT over; 115 yards, 6 TDs racing. The junior still got at least 70 percent of his passes and made multiple touchdowns in every game for the 6-0 Cougars. Next up is a visit from 2-4 Western Kentucky, where four of his five FBS opponents scored at least 30 points. (LW: 6)

6. QB Kyle Trask, Florida; 996 yards, 14 TDs, 1 INT over. After a two-week hiatus, Trask and the Gators are back against Missouri. (LW: 4)