Hard to believe, isn’t it?

It feels like just yesterday we were excited about the first kickoff of the college football season and finally ending that long offseason drought. Now, we’ve reached the halfway point of the season and it’s almost time for the College Football Playoff rankings to return.

The first seven weeks of the season have provided us with plenty of entertainment, especially in the B1G. Ohio State-Penn State was as good as advertised, Iowa has been an exciting team to watch and guys like Rondale Moore, Felton Davis III and Dwayne Haskins have been keeping us thoroughly entertained throughout the year.

Certainly the final six weeks will be fun to watch.

But before we dive into the second half of the season, we’ve decided to recap the first seven weeks with some of our biggest takeaways. Connor O’Gara and I provide some key things we’ve noticed from the first portion of the B1G season.

Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Biggest surprise

Connor O’Gara: How about Iowa? This was a team that received two Associated Press votes in the preseason poll and is now into the top 20 and sitting there with an extremely favorable schedule the rest of the way. I questioned how this defense would look without key players like Josey Jewell and Josh Jackson, and thanks to this defensive line, this group might be even better than last year’s. And I know Nate Stanley showed promise last year, but I was skeptical that he’d take this big of a step up. He’s done exactly that. As a result, so has Iowa.

Dustin Schutte: Maryland. Considering all the turmoil and ongoing investigations that have swarmed the program, it would’ve been so easy for this team to collapse. Instead, it’s responded. The Terrapins are 4-2 on the season with a marquee win over a Texas team that’s now ranked in the AP top 10. Eliminate the awful performance against a bad Temple team, and this has been a really solid year in College Park thus far. Things obviously get more difficult in the second half of the season with Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State still on the schedule, but Maryland has been a quiet surprise through the first seven weeks.

Biggest disappointment

O’Gara: Wisconsin, and it’s not close. I had the Badgers as a preseason pick to make the Playoff. I spent all offseason talking about having more confidence in Wisconsin than Ohio State because of the entire offensive line being back to block for Jonathan Taylor. That’s been solid, but this is still such a one-dimensional offense. And defensively, the Badgers have had too many injuries on the back end of that defense to look like the unit that fueled a 12-0 regular season last year. Paul Chryst will probably still lead this team to 10 wins, but I thought this Wisconsin team had a chance to be special. It’s only mid-October and we know that won’t be the case in 2018.

Schutte: There are a few candidates, but I’d say Michigan State. Considering the talent on defense, the return of L.J. Scott and Brian Lewerke and a receiving corps that was one of the best in the B1G, I had the Spartans as a favorite to win the B1G and earn a bid to the College Football Playoff. Instead, they dropped a game to Arizona State and Northwestern and sit at 4-2. There was some redemption last weekend with a thrilling win over Penn State, and with Michigan and Ohio State still left on the schedule, Mark Dantonio’s bunch still controls its destiny in the B1G. But the offensive line has to be a lot better for that to happen. MSU’s play on the line has been a disaster.

Breakout star

O’Gara: Dwayne Haskins is the boring answer, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. The guy was well-known, but he was still a sophomore without a career start entering this season. As much promise as he showed in relief of J.T. Barrett last year, there was no guarantee that he’d be this good. Like, Heisman Trophy discussion good. The Buckeye quarterback is special with the rare ability to have a huge arm combined with next-level precision. He’s certainly not the most fleet of foot, but he more than makes up for it with his downfield passing. Haskins would be a surprise omission to the Heisman ceremony at this point. Big things are ahead for Haskins.

Schutte: I’m going off the beaten path a bit, but how about Del’Shawn Phillips? The Illinois linebacker has literally done everything through the first half of the season. He’s recorded 50 tackles, 2.5 for loss, three interceptions and recovered a fumble through the first six games. He’s the anchor of a defense that’s been one of the best at creating turnovers this season. I know, I know, the Illini are a bottom-feeder in the B1G. But can you imagine how much worse things would be without Phillips on the field? He might be the most underappreciated player in the conference.

Best newcomer

O’Gara: Rondale Moore. There’s not even a question about this, right? The dude is electric in every sense of the word. It’s one thing to have blazing speed. It’s another to have the devastating moves in space to turn a 2-yard gain into an 80-yard touchdown. He’s only a freshman and there’s not a better big-play threat in the conference. The fact that Texas let Moore slip away and commit to Purdue is still baffling. This kid is going to be as fun of a player to watch as any over the next few years. It’s been a while that Purdue has had someone worth the price of admission like Moore. He’s going to continue to put eyeballs on the Boilers.

Schutte: Rondale Moore. Basically, everything that was stated above. He’s a guy Purdue can give the ball to and make things happen. And when defenses lock into him, it opens the rest of the field for other Boilermaker receivers. I’m not sure of the last time Purdue had such an obvious next-level talent who performed this well as a freshman.

Coach of the (mid)year

O’Gara: Ryan Day. Yeah, he was only the coach for three games. And yeah, he didn’t have to face several top-25 foes. Still, the job that he did navigating the waters during an extremely tumultuous time at Ohio State cannot be understated. That offense was as prolific as any in America from the jump. That’s a credit to Day, who has been one of the top staff hires by any team in recent memory. The problem for Ohio State is that Day might’ve done too good of a job by getting the program off to a 3-0 start while Urban Meyer served his suspension. Day will again be a hot name in the coaching world, especially as he continues to the pour the points on B1G defenses.

Schutte: Since we’re going the interim route, I’ll say Matt Canada. Not only has he taken over in a difficult situation, his offense has been working for most of the year. Canada seems to know how to use Maryland’s athletes and it’s translated to several 30+ point games. The Terps haven’t provided us with much eye-candy, and the passing attack still needs some work, but Canada has done an excellent job in College Park. If the Terrapins continue to play this well, could we potentially see the interim tag removed? A lot depends on the investigation into the program, but Canada is proving himself as a potential candidate if a coaching change is needed.

Hot Take of the Year

O’Gara: Michigan beats Ohio State. Wild, I know. Suggesting that the Wolverines are going to get their first win against the Buckeyes during the Jim Harbaugh era seems like an annual letdown. But yeah, Michigan obviously hasn’t had a quarterback like Shea Patterson for any of those games. This is an Ohio State team that struggles with mobile quarterbacks who can not only run, but make throws outside the pocket. Without a Bosa brother to rush off the edge, I think Michigan finally catches Ohio State at the perfect time. Now whether or not that’s to keep the Wolverines alive in the Playoff hunt is a different discussion. I’ll save that fire take for another time.

Schutte: Iowa wins the West. Is that hot take-y enough? The Hawkeyes are 5-1 and Wisconsin owns the tiebreaker between the two after winning the B1G opener in Kinnick Stadium. But Iowa has been playing the best football in the division on both sides of the ball. If Nate Stanley continues to dissect defenses, there aren’t many teams in the division capable of beating the Hawkeyes. Wisconsin has been the king of the West for so many years, but this looks like the year Iowa dethrones the Badgers, even without the head-t0-head win. Here’s an even hotter take: I think the Hawkeyes have a legitimate chance to finish the regular season 11-1 and contend for a Playoff spot.