Offense: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
How could it possibly be anyone other than Broadway Jeaux, the Heisman darling and slayer of the Crimson Tide? LSU had 10 total points over their last three contests against Alabama, and in the first half alone, hung 33 on their perennial big brother in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
We knew about the new passing attack; the unbelievable weapons at WR; the improved rushing attack; the talented secondary. And we really believed that we knew Joe, but for even his most ardent fans, there was that shadow of a doubt in the back of your mind: that his success was inflated by momentum, by catching softer opponents unaware. There was, at least, that tiniest little doubt that he was going to break against 'Bama.
And he didn't. He shined, thrived, and stamped his ticket to the Heisman House and likely the first overall pick. Burrow has truly taken over the 2019 college football season in a way I can hardly remember or liken to any other such rise, and will bring that velocity firmly into the NFL Draft conversation, which will only continue to pile laurels on his head. He's a consummate competitor, a good athlete, a smart and aggressive passer.
And for many, he's QB1.
Defense: Akeem Davis-Gaither, EDGE, Appalachian State
From the most well-known to one of the least: Akeem Davis-Gaither and the Appalachian State mountaineers have now beaten back-to-back Power 5 opponents. They are the first Sun Belt team to do so, and their defense is powered by Davis-Gaither's play along the edge.
Gaither has length, bend, and speed -- oodles and oodles of it, and that explosive first step helps him generate pressure as a stand-up rusher. While he may not be heavy enough for that role at the NFL level, he will be used as a subpackage blitzer, and his ability to affect passing lanes will still shine: Davis-Gaither had multiple pass breakups against the Gamecocks on Sunday, highlighting the intelligence and timing with which he rushes, as well as the length that allows him to occupy that space.
Akeem Davis-Gaither is a strong candidate for the Senior Bowl, though many small schoolers have already accepted their invites, so you do have to wonder if he didn't make the cut. Should he, he'll have the opportunity to demonstrate his skills in both pass-rush and off-ball drills, which should highlight his versatility to NFL team. Before then, he and the rest of the Mountaineers are looking to stay atop the Sun Belt race and fight for the New Year's Six bowl that they likely deserve.