We are officially heading into the second half of the 2022 college football season, and what a season it has been so far.
We’ve seen the Big 12 prove itself to be the most competitive league in college football from top to bottom, and with that, we have seen a few teams rise to the top and others fall to the basement, without much space between them. With plenty of football left still, it’s safe to say that things could change in a big way by season’s end, but for now, let’s take a look back at the first half of the season.
Here are the Heartland College Sports Big 12 Midseason Awards for the 2022 college football season.
Offensive Player of the Year: Max Duggan, QB, TCU
TCU quarterback Max Duggan has undoubtedly been one of the biggest surprises in the Big 12 in 2022, especially when you consider that he didn’t even start in Game 1 for the Horned Frogs this year. Despite Chandler Morris starting against Colorado over two months ago, Max Duggan has not only taken the starting job and run with it, but he has thrived in Sonny Dykes system. To date, Duggan is 116 of 167 (69.5%) for 1,591 yards with 16 touchdowns to one interception. He’s also added 43 carries for 261 yards (6.1 ypc) and four touchdowns. Needless to say, Duggan is the biggest reason why TCU is 6-0, and a true contender for the College Football Playoff.
Defensive Player of the Year: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DE, Kansas State
Kansas State has one of, if not the, best pass rushers in America at its disposal in Felix Anudike-Uzomah, and he has proven that to this point in the year. Anudike-Uzomah is tied for fourth in the nation in sacks (6.5), ranks 14th in forced fumbles (2), and is 21st in tackles for loss (1.3 per game). If he continues his trend in the second half of the season, there’s no reason to believe that Anudike-Uzomah can’t be one of the first edge rushers off the board in the 2023 NFL Draft, and potentially K-State’s first day one selection since Josh Freeman in 2009.
Newcomer of the Year: Adrian Martinez, QB, Kansas State
Over the first three weeks of the season, K-State quarterback Adrian Martinez was pedestrian, but against Oklahoma in Week 4 something changed, and ever since that point, the Wildcats have looked like one of the best teams in this conference. In his last three games, Martinez has 998 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns and has yet to turn the ball over a single time in 2022. Turnovers were a huge part of Martinez’s issues at Nebraska, but he has been nothing but efficient as of late in the Purple and Silver. If he can continue his success in the back-half of K-State’s schedule, the Wildcats should find themselves in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Coach of the Year: Lance Leipold, Kansas
If Kansas gets to six wins on the year and makes it to a bowl game, there’s no reason why Leipold shouldn’t be the favorite to win some national Coach of the Year awards. The program that Leipold inherited hadn’t been ranked or to a bowl game in 13 years coming into 2022, however, they found themselves at 5-0 and ranked No. 19 through the first five games of their season and look nothing like the Jayhawks of old. KU has lost its last two games without Jalon Daniels at the helm, but Leipold has Rock Chalk rolling and will assuredly become bowl eligible at some point over the second half of the year. The turnaround at Kansas has been phenomenal, and it all starts with Lance Leipold and the culture he is building in Lawrence.
Biggest Surprise: Kansas Jayhawks
If someone told you in August that Kansas was going to start the year off with five-straight wins and climb to No. 19 in the AP Poll, you would’ve called their bluff, right? Instead, that is exactly what happened, to the delight of college football fans the world over. Kansas is more than relevant in the Big 12 in 2022, and as discussed above, that is thanks in large part to head coach Lance Leipold. The second-year coach has turned Kansas into a tough, competitive squad with a winning mentality and a team that is riding a huge wave of momentum through the first half of the season. Kansas needs just one more win to reach bowl eligibility for the first time since 2009, and they will get at least six more chances at getting there.
Biggest Disappointment: Oklahoma Sooners
This is the obvious answer, right? The Oklahoma Sooners have not looked the part in Year 1 under Brent Venables as they have suffered a three-game losing streak for the first time since 1998, they lost back-to-back conference games for the first time since that same year, and they suffered the worst shutout loss in school history, to the arch-rival Texas no less, by a score of 49-0. Oklahoma came into the year ranked in the Top 10 and looked like one of the favorites to win the conference after a 3-0 start. Then, the Sooners went 0-3 to start conference play and tumbled downhill faster than anyone imagined. The future might look bright for OU, but for now, they are undoubtedly the biggest disappointment in the Big 12.