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ESPN’s college football midseason All-America team

ESPN's college football midseason All-America team
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How can you choose among record-setting quarterbacks such as LSU’s Joe Burrow, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa? Certainly, all of them are worthy, but we could choose only one.

How can you choose the best receiver from LSU or Alabama? Or the best pass-catcher in the Big 12? Our midseason All-America team tries to answer those challenges.

OFFENSE

QB: Joe Burrow, LSU
Burrow gets the edge over others because of where he’s doing his work. Passing game coordinator Joe Brady has helped the Tigers completely transform the way they play. LSU already has 31 touchdown drives of less than three minutes. The Tigers rank third in the FBS in yards per play, at 8.01. They ranked 84th in that statistic last season. Burrow leads the FBS with a 79.6% completion rate for 2,157 yards with 25 touchdowns and three interceptions. In three games, he completed better than 85% with more than 20 attempts.

RB: Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Taylor is on pace for his third consecutive season with at least 1,700 rushing yards. He ranks third among FBS players with 825 rushing yards and had 100 or more in five of six games this season. With 4,996 rushing yards, Taylor needs only 4 more to join Georgia’s Herschel Walker (5,596), Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne (5,091) and Oregon’s LaMichael James (5,082) as the only FBS players to run for more than 5,000 yards in their first three seasons. Taylor has also become much more versatile in his third season. He has 15 catches for 136 yards with four TDs; he had eight receptions with zero scores in each of the previous two seasons.

RB: Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
It took FBS coaches a while to learn about Hubbard, but now they know all about the world-class sprinter from Alberta, Canada. He leads the FBS in rushing yards (1,094), carries (162) and rushing yards per game (182.3) and is second in rushing touchdowns (13). He’s on pace to finish the season with 2,188 rushing yards, which would set a Big 12 record (OSU was in the Big Eight when Barry Sanders ran for 2,628 yards in 11 games in 1988) and would be the eighth-highest total in FBS history. According to TruMedia Networks, Hubbard has 594 yards before contact and 500 yards after contact, both No. 1 among FBS players.

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2:13

Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb scores three touchdowns, and Jalen Hurts runs in one to lead the Sooners to a 34-27 defeat of the Longhorns.

WR: CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Former Texas coach Charlie Strong never offered Lamb a scholarship, and by the time his replacement, Tom Herman, did, Lamb was already headed to Oklahoma. The Richmond, Texas, native has been making the Longhorns pay for the slight ever since. Lamb had 10 catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns — breaking seven tackles in the process — in a 34-27 win over Texas on Saturday. Lamb is tied for the FBS lead with 11 touchdown receptions and has scored at least once in eight straight games.

WR: Justin Jefferson, LSU
This pick could easily have been Jefferson’s teammate, Ja’Marr Chase, who has 30 catches for 578 yards and eight touchdowns. But Jefferson was huge in both of LSU’s biggest games to date. He had nine catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-38 win at Texas. Then he had 10 receptions for 123 yards and one score in a 42-28 victory over Florida. In six games, he has 40 receptions for 670 yards and eight scores. According to TruMedia data, Jefferson doesn’t have a drop in 46 targets, which is tied for best among FBS players.

WR: DeVonta Smith, Alabama
Jerry Jeudy might be the best player in the deepest receiver corps in the FBS and a potential top-five pick in next spring’s NFL draft, but Smith has been the most productive Tide target so far this season. Smith has 38 catches for 636 yards and nine touchdowns. In the previous two games against Ole Miss and Texas A&M, he had 18 receptions for 373 yards and six scores. He set Alabama records with 274 receiving yards and five touchdown catches in a 59-31 rout of Ole Miss. Smith’s 444 yards after the catch are tops among FBS players.

T: Penei Sewell, Oregon
Last season, Sewell became the first Oregon freshman to start on the offensive line in 11 years. This season, he leads the team with 27 knockdowns in 396 snaps. Even more impressive, he has allowed only one sack and committed only one penalty in 846 career snaps. Pro Football Focus ranks him as the top-rated tackle in the FBS, with an overall grade of 94, which would break the single-season record grade for the position.

G: Wyatt Davis, Ohio State
Any of four Buckeyes linemen might have been good enough to make the team, and Wyatt has been among the most consistent guards this season. PFF ranks him as the second-best guard, with a grade of 83. According to TruMedia data, Davis has missed only one block in 172 pass blocks and four in 200 run blocks. He’s a big reason the Buckeyes rank fourth in scoring (49.3 points) and third in rushing (288.5 yards).

C: Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
The Sooners have a new quarterback and had to replace four starting offensive linemen from 2018. Because of injuries, they used five combinations on the offensive line in the first five games. Along the way, there was one constant: Humphrey. The former three-star recruit uses his wrestling background and 6-foot-5, 316-pound frame to leverage opponents and push them around.

G: Michael Onwenu, Michigan
Known as “Big Mike” among his teammates, Onwenu lost 25 pounds before this season to improve his mobility and athleticism. He is still a load to move at 6-foot-3 and 350 pounds. Although Michigan’s offense has struggled at times under first-year coordinator Josh Gattis, Onwenu has been a rock in the interior. He has the third-best guard rating from PFF, at 81.8.

T: Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Thomas is the best NFL prospect on the biggest offensive line in UGA history: The five starters average 6-foot-5 and 328.6 pounds. The Bulldogs had allowed only one sack in five games before last week’s loss to South Carolina, and Thomas has done a fantastic job protecting Jake Fromm‘s blind side. PFF ranks Thomas the No. 3 tackle, with a grade of 91.5. He had 23 knockdowns and allowed only three pressures in 364 snaps in the first six games.

AP: Lynn Bowden Jr., Kentucky
Bowden was one of the sport’s most versatile players, even before injuries forced him to start at quarterback in last week’s 24-20 win over Arkansas. Bowden has 295 rushing yards, 348 receiving, 53 yards on punt returns and 200 yards on kick returns. After injuries to three quarterbacks forced Bowden under center, the former high school QB completed seven of 11 passes for 78 yards and one touchdown while running 24 times for 196 yards and two scores. He joined Antwaan Randle El and Julian Edelman as the only FBS players since 2000 with at least 20 rushing attempts, 10 passes and one punt return in a game.

DEFENSE

DE: Chase Young, Ohio State
The Buckeyes just keep churning out great pass-rushers, and the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Young, who bulked up from a year ago, is making a case to be the best one yet. Even when teams have shifted extra protection his way, he has found a way to make plays or open opportunities for his teammates. Young is tied for second nationally with 8.5 sacks. He has forced three fumbles and blocked a kick. His combination of size, athleticism, power and length make him one of the most feared defenders in college football.

DT: Derrick Brown, Auburn
There isn’t a better or more disruptive interior defensive lineman in college football than the 6-foot-5, 320-pound Brown, who demonstrated both his strength and his athleticism two weeks ago in a 24-13 loss at Florida. He had two fumble recoveries, including one on which he destroyed multiple blockers, forced the fumble and then returned it 11 yards. Auburn’s defensive line is one of the best in the country, and Brown is the enforcer of that unit. He has five tackles for loss, including three sacks, despite facing constant double-teams.

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