Marcus Mariota// photo credit Lisa Horne
by Lisa Horne
It's time to hand out awards for the deserving… and undeserving in the world of college football. So far, these are the some of the best and worst moments of the season. Sure there will be more but for now, these players and teams deserve props for capturing our attention.
Best play: Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah vs McNeese State
The game was tied at 24 late in the fourth quarter when Ameer Abdullah caught a short pass and weaved his way through the entire McNeese State defense to score the winning touchdown. Epic. (Video)
Worst play: Tulane quarterback Nick Montana vs Central Florida
Down 13-3, Montana spiked the ball on fourth down as the clock was winding down before the half. Tulane lost 20-13. (Video)
Biggest surprise (team): Mississippi Rebels
Mississippi was a 2-10 team in 2011. Since then, the Rebels have gone 7-6 and 8-5 and are currently No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Well done, Hotty Toddy. Well done.
Biggest disappointment (team): UCLA Bruins
UCLA was ranked No. 7 in the preseason. Since then, it has struggled to beat Virginia, Texas and Memphis. The Bruins squeaked by Cal 36-34—the Bears were 1-11 last year—and needed two overtime periods to beat Colorado 40-37.
Biggest surprise (player): Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott
He doesn't have the most accurate arm but he has that winner mentality that makes him stand out. Prescott is a long shot to win the Heisman Trophy but he should be a finalist. He has a great story and shows excellent leadership on the field.
Biggest disappointment (player): Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston
Suiting up and practicing with his teammates when he was suspended for the first half of the Clemson game shows how lightly Winston and the school appear to view his transgressions. Last season Winston had a 4:1 TD-INT ratio but this year it is barely above 2:1.
Best Heisman moment: Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota
Against UCLA, Mariota fumbled the ball behind the line of scrimmage and it looked like total disaster for Oregon. But Mariota—while running, mind you—scooped up the ball and ran into the endzone for a touchdown. (Video)
Worst trick play: Arkansas State's fake punt v Miami
So Arkansas State had a gunner go into motion on a punt formation—there went the element of surprise on a fake punt. The Red Wolves also had a player mimic a "fainting goat." Miami intercepted the attempted pass to end the worst fake punt ever. (Video)
Best trick play: TCU's kickoff return v Oklahoma
TCU pulled off the hide-BJ-Catalon-in-the-purple-paint-in-the-end-zone but it was called back due to holding. Who knew Gary Patterson was such a creative head coach? (Video)
Best upset: Indiana 31 Missouri 27
Missouri was the 2013 SEC East champion so playing a school known primarily for basketball should be a piece of cake, right? Indiana lost to Bowling Green 45-42 in the previous week. Game, blouses.
Runner up: East Carolina 70 North Carolina 41
Most underrated coach: (Tie) Bill Snyder, Kansas State and Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina
While most coaches can recognize talent, not all can develop that talent. McNeill and Snyder are a rare breed that can do both.
Most overrated coach: Charlie Weis, formerly of Kansas and Notre Dame
Weis was fired without much ceremony after the Jayhawks were shut out by Texas 23-0. How overrated is Weis? He will have made $64.5 million (when all the bills are settled) off of a college football career record of 41-49, according to Darren Rovell.
Best official school tweet: Michigan, October 25.
Michigan football's official Twitter account had a one word tweet that encapsulated the entire season: Nothing
Best payday for a cupcake playing a Power 5 team: Idaho
The Idaho Vandals' game at Florida on August 30 was canceled due to severe weather. There was lightning. There was a deluge. Then the game was canceled. Idaho will receive $975,000 and not one Vandal was hurt. The little guy finally got a break.
Most improved team: Mississippi State
Last year the Bulldogs went 6-6 in the regular season. This season the Bulldogs are sitting at 7-0 and in first place in the College Football Playoff rankings.
Least improved team: Florida
Last year the Gators went 4-8 and this year they are 3-3. With two winnable games left on the schedule (Vanderbilt and Eastern Kentucky) it looks like that canceled game against Idaho may be the deciding factor on whether the Gators go bowling.
Best controversy: USC
A player made up a hero story and an athletic director came down to the field to settle an officiating dispute. These are but two reasons why USC wins this hands down.