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Pac-12 midseason overview

Looking through a Pac-12 lens, it's hard to make sense of the first half of the college football regular season, so at this point, why even bother?

Instead, let's embrace absurdity.

Through seven weeks, we’ve seen three Hail Marys, Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday throw for 734 yards in a game and another game that featured 14 touchdown passes (and didn't involve Mike Leach). In conference play, the average margin of victory is 4.2 points, only five of 18 games have been decided by more than one score and home teams are just 4-14.

And that's just the tip of what's already transpired.

The collective unpredictability of what happens week to week might endanger the conference's ability to get into the College Football Playoff -- Oregon remains the best shot -- but for Pac-12 football consumers, that's an OK trade-off.

As we make the turn to the second half, here are a few midseason honors:

Offensive MVP: QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon. The Heisman Trophy candidate picked up where he left off, throwing for 17 touchdowns without an interception through the first six games. He's the nation's leader in QBR (88.9) and passing efficiency (193.7), ranks second in touchdown pass percentage (11 percent) and third in yards per attempt (10.46).

Defensive MVP: LB Shaq Thompson, Washington. It's important to acknowledge Thompson's four defensive touchdowns -- only one team in the nation (Temple) has more -- because it might be the most impressive stat of the first half, but Thompson is so much more than that. He's one of the most versatile players in the country and ranks ninth in the Pac-12 in tackles per game.

Biggest surprise: California. After finishing without an FBS win in coach Sonny Dykes' debut season a year ago, the Bears (4-2, 2-2 Pac-12) are the surprise not only of the Pac-12, but possibly the country. Jared Goff was up and down as a true freshman, but with 22 touchdown passes and three interceptions, he now stacks up well among the nation's best quarterbacks.

Biggest disappointment: UCLA. The Bruins were a trendy College Football Playoff pick during the preseason, but after home losses to Utah and Oregon the past two weeks, that possibility is practically gone. Outside of its 62-27 win at Arizona State, UCLA simply has not impressed, and quarterback Brett Hundley is no longer a major player in the Heisman race.

Newcomer of the year: RB Nick Wilson, Arizona. Remember when there was all that concern about how Arizona would replace Ka'Deem Carey? Wilson, a true freshman, is more than the Wildcats could have hoped for. His 114.6 rushing yards per game ranks third in the Pac-12 and 17th nationally, and the one game he missed due to injury was Arizona's only loss.

Best coach: Rich Rodriguez, Arizona. With apologies to Utah's Kyle Whittingham and Dykes, who are equally deserving, Rodriguez gets the nod after leading the Wildcats to a 5-1 start and a No. 16 ranking in the AP poll. The job he's done resurrecting Arizona during Michigan's demise is one of the more entertaining storylines of the college football season.

Best game: Arizona 49, Cal 45. Well, there certainly wasn't a lack of choices. Ultimately, this game was chosen over Cal's 60-59 win against Washington State and only because a Hail Mary finish is infinitely more exciting than a missed 19-yard field goal. Austin Hill's catch in the end zone capped a 36-point fourth quarter for Arizona that helped erase an 18-point deficit.

Watching this hasn't gotten old (sorry, Cal).