USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg breaks down the latest Amway Coaches Poll.


Only in 2020 would college football’s midseason hit as one Power Five conference has played a single game and another league is more than a week away from kickoff.

While the Big Ten just got started and the Pac-12 won’t open until Nov. 7, the 2020 season began Sept. 5 and has heated up since the SEC opened on Sept. 26.

Despite the odd and mismatched schedules across Bowl Subdivision leagues, one aspect of the season has gone according to plan: Alabama and Clemson have carved out some distance from the rest of pack in the early College Football Playoff race.

Also predictable? That Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence would head into Halloween as the favorite for the Heisman.

As we reach the midway point, here’s a look at the players, teams, coaches and games that have defined the first half of the 2020 season.

Best player

Paul Myerberg: Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence. He’s completing 70.7% of his attempts, averaging 9.6 yards per throw and avoiding turnovers (two interceptions in 191 throws) at a better rate than in 2019. This is an easy pick.

Erick Smith: Alabama QB Mac Jones. Any thought that the Crimson Tide offense would be slowed by the departure of Tua Tagovailoa can be discarded. It might actually be better with Jones off to an amazing start. The junior threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns against an elite Georgia defense in a comeback win. He ranks third in passing yards and passer efficiency. 

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones throws under pressure from Georgia defensive lineman Devonte White during the second half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. (Photo: Gary Cosby Jr, The Tuscaloosa News)

Coach of the year

Paul Myerberg: Luke Fickell, Cincinnati. Fickell turned down the chance to take over at Michigan State in part because he knew what the No. 7 Bearcats were capable of achieving in 2020. Cincinnati already has two wins against Top 25 competition and have a shot at rising into the top four.

Erick Smith: Chris Klieman, Kansas State: With a roster devastated by COVID-19, the Wildcats lost their opener against Arkansas State. Two weeks later, they rallied to beat Oklahoma. That was the first of four Big 12 victories in a row. His next challenge will be overcoming the loss of starting quarterback Skylar Thompson and make the conference title game.

BOWL PROJECTIONS: Big Ten’s opening weekend shakes up playoff outlook

HEISMAN WATCH: Lawrence, Jones lead voting, while Fields moves up

IN JEOPARDY: Wisconsin close to having to cancel game against Nebraska

Best defender

Paul Myerberg: Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The senior has made splash plays for one of the nation’s best defenses and a unit already being compared to some of the best in recent program history. He’s second on the team with 21 tackles and leads with six tackles for loss.

Erick Smith: Arkansas LB Grant Morgan. The Razorbacks have been one of the stories