Taking stock of college football's best of the season's first half

We've reached the midway point of the 2015 college football season, and we still don't know much more than we knew seven weeks ago.

In the SEC, No. 8 Alabama and No. 5 LSU are seemingly headed toward a winner-take-all showdown in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Nov. 7.

On that same day, No. 6 Clemson hosts No. 9 Florida State at Death Valley in a game that will probably decide the ACC's Atlantic Division.

In the Big Ten, No. 1 Ohio State and No. 7 Michigan State are still undefeated, with five weeks to go until their Nov. 21 showdown at the Shoe.

Six days later, on the night after Thanksgiving, No. 2 Baylor travels to No. 4 TCU in a game that might once again decide the Big 12.

And who knows what's going to happen in the Pac-12. Every team but No. 3 Utah has at least one loss.

After six weeks of action, there's still plenty to decide.

Here's a look back at the highs and lows of the first half of the season:

Coach of the Year

1. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Whittingham has guided the No. 3 Utes to a 6-0 start for the first time since 2010, knocking off Michigan, Oregon and Cal along the way.

2. Jim McElwain, Florida
The Gators weren't expected to do much in McElwain's first season, but now they're favorites in the SEC East with a 6-1 record.

3. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
Despite the awful ending in Saturday's loss to Michigan State, Harbaugh has breathed new life and energy into his alma mater in his first season.

4. Gary Patterson, TCU
The No. 4 Horned Frogs have lost seven defensive starters because of injuries or defections, but they're still undefeated at 7-0. Patterson has done a remarkable job overcoming the personnel losses.

5. David Shaw, Stanford
A lot of people gave up on the Cardinal after their 16-6 loss at Northwestern in the opener. But Shaw kept his team focused, and now No. 10 Stanford looks like the Pac-12 favorite.

Most memorable images, No. 1

Distraught Virginia fan Mike Bunting hanging over the stadium wall after a loss to Notre Dame. Bunting spoke to Grantland after he was immortalized in meme form as the "Sad Virginia Fan."

Best first-year coaches

1. McElwain

2. Harbaugh

3. Tom Herman, Houston
The No. 21 Cougars are 6-0 in Herman's first season, and it seems pretty obvious that defending national champion Ohio State misses its former offensive coordinator, too.

4. Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh
The former Michigan State defensive coordinator has guided the No. 25 Panthers to a 6-1 start, even after losing star tailback James Conner to a knee injury in the opener.

5. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
The Badgers have recovered nicely from an opening loss to Alabama, winning five of their past six games. Wisconsin's offense isn't so one-dimensional under Chryst's direction, either.

Biggest surprise (team)

1. Utah

2. Florida

3. Michigan

4. Iowa

5. Memphis

Biggest disappointment (team)

1. USC

2. Oregon

3. Auburn

4. Arkansas

5. Georgia Tech

Coaches on the hot seat

1. George O'Leary, UCF
O'Leary has already stepped down as UCF's interim athletic director, and he might have a difficult time keeping his coaching job. The Knights are 0-7, including a 16-15 loss to FCS member Furman.

2. Darrell Hazell, Purdue
The Boilermakers have limped to a 1-6 start, dropping Hazell's three-year record to 5-26, 1-18 in the Big Ten. Three of his five victories came against FCS foes.

3. Mike London, Virginia
London gets a bit of a reprieve after the Cavaliers defeated Syracuse 44-38 on Saturday. But it's probably too little, too late, as his six-year record at UVa stands at 25-42, 12-30 in the ACC.

4. Al Golden, Miami
When fans are constantly flying airplane banners calling for your firing, your job security isn't good. Unless Miami upsets Clemson and Duke and wins the ACC's Coastal Division, it's hard to imagine Golden keeping his job.

5. Kyle Flood, Rutgers
It's a shock Flood still has a job after the school suspended him three games for trying to get a player's failing grade changed. He has a 25-18 record in three-plus seasons.

Most memorable images, No. 2

Charlie Strong being carried by his players after upsetting Oklahoma. It was a win Strong and the Longhorns desperately needed.

Coaches on the rise

1. Justin Fuente, Memphis

2. Matt Rhule, Temple

3. Matt Campbell, Toledo

4. Herman

5. Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky

Coordinators on the rise

1. Brent Venables, defensive coordinator, Clemson

2. Doug Meacham, co-offensive coordinator, TCU

3. D.J. Durkin, defensive coordinator, Michigan

4. Dave Aranda, defensive coordinator, Wisconsin

5. Kendal Briles, offensive coordinator, Baylor

Comeback players

1. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Treadwell recovered from a horrific leg injury suffered last season and is playing like one of the country's best receivers again. He has 49 catches for 654 yards with four touchdowns.

2. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Watson, who played with a torn ACL against South Carolina in the 2014 regular-season finale, just seems to be hitting his stride for the Tigers. He's sixth among FBS players with an 82.4 Total QBR.

3. Jeff Driskel, QB, Louisiana Tech
After losing the starting job at Florida, Driskel transferred to Louisiana Tech, where he's completing 61 percent of his passes for 2,115 yards with 13 touchdowns and four picks.

4. Bralon Addison, WR, Oregon
After missing all of 2014 with a torn ACL, Addison has 31 catches for 365 yards with three touchdowns. He also has thrown for a score and run for another.

5. Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama
After breaking his leg against Ole Miss in 2014, Drake has rushed for 255 yards with one touchdown and caught 15 passes with one score.

Top freshmen (offense)

1. Christian Kirk, WR/KR, Texas A&M
Kirk leads FBS in punt returns with a 25.1-yard average and is fourth with 195 all-purpose yards per game. He leads the Aggies with 39 catches for 609 yards with four touchdowns.

2. Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
Hyatt, the first Clemson true freshman to start at offensive tackle in an opener since 1944, has done a remarkable job protecting quarterback Deshaun Watson's blind side.

3. Tanner Mangum, QB, BYU
Thrust into the starting role after starter Taysom Hill suffered a season-ending foot injury in the opener, Mangum threw Hail Mary touchdowns to beat Nebraska and Boise State in consecutive weeks.

4. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The "Rosen One" has had his ups and downs, but he's completing 59 percent of his passes for 1,569 yards with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

5. Brent Stockstill, QB, Middle Tennessee State
The son of MTSU coach Rick Stockstill ranks No. 8 in Total QBR (82.1), and he's completing 67.1 percent of his passes for 2,064 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Top freshmen (defense)

1. Cameron Smith, LB, USC
You can't blame Smith for the Trojans' poor start. He leads the team with 55 tackles to go along with 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack and 1 fumble recovery.

2. Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
Jefferson looks as good as advertised. He is No. 2 on the team with 37 tackles, along with 5½ tackles for loss and 2 sacks.

3. Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan
Peppers has started every game in Michigan's secondary, totaling 23 tackles, 4½ tackles for loss and 5 pass breakups. He's also averaging 25.7 yards on kickoff returns and 10.3 yards on punt returns.

4. Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey have shored up Alabama's secondary. Fitzpatrick has 24 tackles, 2 sacks and had 2 pick-sixes in the Tide's 41-23 win at Texas A&M on Saturday.

5. Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State
In only six games, Sweat looks like FSU's next great pass-rusher. He has 15 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 3 quarterback hurries and 2 fumble recoveries.

Most memorable images, No. 3

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall being hoisted by his players in the locker room after a Hail Mary against Nebraska. The touchdown capped Tanner Mangum's unlikely journey to becoming a hero at BYU.

Biggest headlines

1. Steve Spurrier resigned as South Carolina's coach after six games, ending a brilliant career that lasted more than a quarter-century on the sideline and changed the SEC forever.

2. USC fired coach Steve Sarkisian after five games, a day after he was asked to take a leave of absence for off-field issues by Trojans athletic director Pat Haden.

3. Florida quarterback Will Grier was suspended one year after failing an NCAA-administered drug test. Grier said he failed the test after taking an over-the-counter supplement that contained a banned substance.

4. Texas fired athletic director Steve Patterson after two years on the job on Sept. 15, ending a rocky tenure that one Longhorns staffer said "put us through hell." Former Longhorns player Mike Perrin was named interim athletic director.

5. Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, a potential first-round pick in next year's NFL draft, was suspended for the first seven games by the NCAA for his improper use of a loaner car. He is eligible to return in Saturday's game against Texas A&M.

Biggest upsets

1. Texas 24, No. 10 Oklahoma 7

2. Toledo 16, No. 18 Arkansas 12

3. Temple 27, Penn State 10

4. Memphis 37, No. 13 Ole Miss 24

5. Utah State 52, No. 21 Boise State 26

Best plays

1. Ole Miss receiver Quincy Adeboyejo caught a deflected pass and ran 66 yards for a touchdown in the Rebels' 43-37 upset of then-No. 2 Alabama.

2. BYU stunned Nebraska 33-28 with a Hail Mary pass on the final play of their opener.

3. Stanford's Francis Owusu turned in the catch of the year -- if not the decade -- when he made a one-handed grab around a UCLA defensive back.

4. Ohio State quarterback-turned-receiver Braxton Miller had a nasty spin move against Virginia Tech in the Labor Day night opener.

5. LSU tailback Leonard Fournette had plenty of highlights in the first half of the season. Turning what looked like a sack into a 48-yard gain against Syracuse might have been the best one.

Worst plays

1. Yeah, you probably can guess which play is No. 1. Michigan's muffed punt with 10 seconds left allowed Michigan State to win 27-23 on Saturday.

2. Texas punter Michael Dickson's dropped snap was equally painful for the Longhorns in a 30-27 loss to Oklahoma State.

3. UConn tried a fake field goal with 53 seconds left in its 9-6 loss to Missouri. It didn't work.

4. It wasn't as bad as the Indianapolis Colts' fake punt against the Patriots on Sunday night, but Washington State's attempt against California wasn't much better.

5. Oregon State had a snap go over its punter's head for a 48-yard loss in its 35-7 loss to Michigan.

Most memorable images, No. 4

A Tennessee coach collapsed on the sideline after Florida came back to beat the Volunteers. "I think, down deep, you just don't lose to Tennessee," Florida coach Jim McElwain said. "And they didn't."

Best finishes

1. Michigan State 27, Michigan 23
Fans from both sides will probably never forget what happened in the final 10 seconds at the Big House on Saturday.

2. BYU 33, Nebraska 28
The Cougars stunned the Cornhuskers on Tanner Mangum's 42-yard touchdown to Mitch Mathews on a Hail Mary play with no time left.

3. TCU 55, Texas Tech 52
TCU's Aaron Green caught a tipped pass in the back of the end zone with 23 seconds left to give the Horned Frogs an improbable win.

4. Florida 28, Tennessee 27
The Gators scored two touchdowns in the final 4:09 -- the second coming on Antonio Callaway's 63-yard catch and run with 1:26 to go -- to defeat the Volunteers for the 11th consecutive time.

5. Clemson 24, Notre Dame 22
Clemson's defense stuffed Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer on a potential tying two-point conversion attempt with seven seconds left at rain-soaked Death Valley.

Heisman Trophy front-runners

1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Fournette has run for 1,202 yards in six games, which is more than all but 43 of the 128 FBS teams' rushing totals this season. He is the first player since UCF's Kevin Smith to run more than 150 yards with one touchdown in six straight games. Like LeBron James, Fournette is living up to the incredible hype that has been following him since middle school.

2. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
Boykin has already accounted for 30 touchdowns (25 passing and five rushing) and passed for 2,539 yards. He ranks No. 2 among FBS players with an 87.6 Total QBR.

3. Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Coleman has 16 touchdown catches in six games -- already a school record for an entire season -- and has found the end zone on 39 percent of his 41 receptions.

4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Elliott ranks No. 3 in FBS with 988 rushing yards and has 12 consecutive 100-yard games dating to last season, the longest streak in FBS.

5. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Cook is fifth in FBS with 955 rushing yards, which is the highest total by an ACC player through six games since 1996.

Best tweets

Award picks

Doak Walker Award (top running back)

1. Fournette
2. Elliott
3. Cook
4. Derrick Henry, Alabama
5. Shock Linwood, Baylor

Davey O'Brien Award (top quarterback)

1. Boykin
2. Seth Russell, Baylor
3. Jared Goff, California
4. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
5. Connor Cook, Michigan State

Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (top senior quarterback)

1. Boykin
2. Cook
3. Kevin Hogan, Stanford
4. Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky
5. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

Fred Biletnikoff Award (outstanding receiver)

1. Coleman
2. Josh Doctson, TCU
3. Will Fuller, Notre Dame
4. Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State
5. JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC

John Mackey Award (outstanding tight end)

1. Hunter Henry, Arkansas
2. Jake Butt, Michigan
3. Cam Serigne, Wake Forest
4. Jordan Leggett, Clemson
5. Austin Hooper, Stanford

Outland Trophy (outstanding interior lineman)

1. Spencer Drango, OT, Baylor
2. Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
3. Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
4. Vadal Alexander, OT, LSU
5. Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss

Vince Lombardi/Rotary Award (outstanding lineman)

1. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
2. Drango
3. Decker
4. Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor
5. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

Rimington Trophy (outstanding center)

1. Jack Allen, Michigan State
2. Joey Hunt, TCU
3. Ethan Pocic, LSU
4. Austin Blythe, Iowa
5. Siaosi Aiono, Utah

Chuck Bednarik Award, Lott IMPACT Trophy & Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player of the year)

1. Garrett
2. Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State
3. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
4. Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
5. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

Most memorable images, No. 5

Baylor's LaQuan McGowan running into the end zone. McGowan, the Bears' 6-foot-8, 403-pound tight end, is living large at Baylor.

Dick Butkus Award (outstanding linebacker)

1. Smith
2. Ragland
3. Eric Striker, Oklahoma
4. Darron Lee, Ohio State
5. Su'a Cravens, USC

Jim Thorpe Award (outstanding defensive back)

1. Hargreaves
2. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
3. Jeremy Cash, S, Duke
4. Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
5. Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

Lou Groza Award (top kicker)

1. Ross Martin, Duke
2. Ben Grogan, Oklahoma State
3. Aidan Schneider, Oregon
4. Trent Domingue, LSU
5. Roberto Aguayo, Florida State

Ray Guy Award (top punter)

1. Tom Hackett, Utah
2. Cameron Johnston, Ohio State
3. Nick O'Toole, West Virginia
4. Drew Kaser, Texas A&M
5. Johnny Townsend, Florida

Ted Hendricks Award (top defensive end)

1. Garrett
2. Nassib
3. Oakman
4. Ogbah
5. Shaq Lawson, Clemson

Paul Hornung Award (most versatile player)

1. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
2. Adoree' Jackson , WR, USC
3. Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
4. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
5. Jakeem Grant, WR, Texas Tech