Top players, coaches story lines this season

Updated: October 12, 2006, 8:53 AM ET
By Jim Donnan | ESPN.com

ACC
Plus: Georgia Tech's play since season-opening loss to Notre Dame
Minus: Virginia; The Cavaliers lost to Western Michigan and ECU
Push: Wake Forest; 5-1 start was great, but it was exposed by Clemson
Team moving forward: Clemson
Team moving backward: Florida State
Coach of the mid-year: Tommy Bowden, Clemson (Honorable mention: Chan Gailey, Georgia Tech)
Player of the mid-year: Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech
Emerging stars: Daniel Evans, NC State; C.J. Spiller, Clemson

Big East
Plus: Louisville-West Virginia showdown (Nov. 2)
Minus: West Virginia's schedule; I'd like to see better games, because I believe WVU would do well
Push: Pitt and Rutgers; they've shown improvement but still have a way to go to be national powers
Team moving forward: Rutgers
Team moving backward: UConn
Coach of the mid-year: Greg Schiano, Rutgers (Honorable mention: Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia)
Player of the mid-year: Tyler Palko, Pitt
Emerging star: Matt Grothe, South Florida

Big Ten
Plus: Ohio State's dominant defense, after replacing nine starters
Minus: Michigan State's collapse
Push: Wisconsin; it's favorable schedule will allow it to have a great season
Teams moving forward: Michigan, Ohio State
Team moving backward: Michigan State
Coach of the mid-year: Lloyd Carr, Michigan (Honorable mention: Jim Tressel, Ohio State)
Player of the mid-year: Troy Smith, Ohio State
Emerging star: James Laurinaitis, Ohio State

Big 12
Plus: The Big 12 North's improvement
Minus: Colorado's decline
Push: Nebraska; I'm looking forward to seeing them where they should be
Team moving forward: Missouri
Team moving backward: Colorado
Coach of the mid-year: Gary Pinkel, Missouri (Honorable mention: Mack Brown, Texas)
Player of the mid-year: Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma
Emerging star: Chase Daniel, Missouri

Pac-10
Plus: USC's ability to persevere through injuries
Minus: Pac-10 football in the state of Arizona
Push: Cal dropped an important game to Tennessee, but has bounced back in dramatic fashion
Team moving forward: Washington
Team moving backward: Stanford
Coach of the mid-year: Pete Carroll, USC (Honorable mention: Ty Willingham, Washington)
Player of the mid-year: Dwayne Jarrett, USC; Nathan Longshore, Cal
Emerging star: Isaiah Stanback, Washington

SEC
Plus: Florida's undefeated record vs. tough competition
Minus: SEC football in the state of Mississippi
Push: I was skeptical of the hiring of Gus Malzahn, but I've been impressed with Arkansas' offense and defense
Teams moving forward: Arkansas, Tennessee
Team moving backward: Mississippi State
Coach of the mid-year: Urban Meyer, Florida (Honorable mention: Houston Nutt, Arkansas)
Player of the mid-year: Erik Ainge, Tennessee; Chris Leak, Florida
Emerging star: Darren McFadden, Arkansas

National
Plus: Athletic defenses; each of the top four schools have 'em
Minus: Officiating in the Pac-10
Push: Comeback stories; it's good to see Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Michigan and Arkansas back in the national picture
Team moving forward: Tennessee
Team moving backward: Fresno State
Coach of the mid-year: Bobby Petrino, Louisville (Honorable mention: Phil Fulmer, Tennessee; Jim Grobe, Wake Forest)
Player of the mid-year: Troy Smith, Ohio State
Emerging star: Garrett Wolfe, Northern Illinois

Jim Donnan was the head coach at Georgia and Marshall and is an ESPN college football analyst.

Jim Donnan

College Football
Jim Donnan was the head coach at Georgia and Marshall and is an ESPN college football analyst.