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Top players, coaches story lines this season

10/12/2006 - College Football

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.