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College football awards primer


With anticipation for Saturday's Heisman presentation mounting, it's easy to overlook college football's other storied awards. From the Bednarik to the Doak Walker, they recognize the game's best, honoring players and coaches who've been outstanding over the course of a season. Here are the finalists, projected winners and snubs for each of the remaining 2010 awards. As difficult as it is to believe, Cam Newton isn't the only player who excelled this season.

2009 winner: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

2010 finalists: Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson; Nick Fairley, Auburn; Patrick Peterson, LSU

Biggest snub: Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue. The lone bright spot on the hapless Boilermakers, Kerrigan amassed 26 tackles for loss (tops in the nation) and 12.5 sacks in a tremendous senior effort that earned him Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Projected winner: Fairley. Though his statistics (55 tackles, 10.5 sacks) are slightly lower than Bowers' (61 tackles, 15.5 sacks), Fairley's performance in the clutch should earn him the award. His lone interception sparked Auburn's go-ahead score in its 17-14 win over Mississippi State, and his second-quarter strip-sack of Alabama's Greg McElroy at the Auburn eight-yard line kept the Iron Bowl within reach, allowing the Tigers to storm back for a stunning 28-27 victory. The Lombardi Award winner has also come up big in head-to-head matchups with the other Bednarik candidates; he notched seven tackles and a sack against Clemson and six tackles and three sacks against LSU.

2009 winner: Golden Tate, Notre Dame

2010 finalists: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State; Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma; Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina

Biggest snub: Juron Criner, Arizona. Nick Foles' favorite target recorded a catch of at least 40 yards in eight of the Wildcats' 12 contests and has 1,186 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season.

Project winner: Blackmon. Is there really any question? Blackmon has been out of this world, leading the FBS in receiving yards (1,665), yards per game (151.4) and touchdowns (18) despite a one-game suspension for his DUI arrest on Oct. 26. His impact is best understood by considering his least productive performance: eight catches, 105 yards and a touchdown in a 47-41 loss to Oklahoma. Though Broyles (1,452 yards, 13 TDs) and Jeffery (1,387 yards, 9 TDs) were terrific, Blackmon hauled in a touchdown in every game he played and should run away with this award.

2009 winner: Colt McCoy, Texas

2010 finalists: LaMichael James, Oregon; Andrew Luck, Stanford; Cam Newton, Auburn

Biggest snub: Kellen Moore, Boise State. It was another ho-hum year for Moore, who passed for 3,506 yards and 33 touchdowns during an 11-1 campaign. He also leads the nation with a 185.04 passer rating.

Projected winner: Newton. A likely precursor to the Heisman vote, the Walter Camp Award should conclude what most of the country already has: Cam Newton is the game's most outstanding player. Newton has dazzled, and his late-game heroics have lifted the Tigers to come-from-behind wins against South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. He's also statistically superior. His 49 total touchdowns top both other finalists and his 3,998 combined yards account for 62 percent of Auburn's offense.

2009 winner: Kai Forbath, UCLA

2010 finalists: Dan Bailey, Oklahoma State; Danny Hrapmann, Southern Miss; David Ruffer, Notre Dame

Biggest snub: John Jasper, LSU. Jasper's statistics are gaudy -- 26-for-31 on field goals, 31-for-32 on PATs -- but his misses were costly. His 43-yard miss spurred an early Arkansas touchdown in the Tigers' crippling 31-23 defeat on Nov. 27.

Projected winner: Hrapmann. He made his case for the Groza Award by knocking through 26 of 30 chances in 2010, the most in the FBS. He was accurate from close-range and distance -- missing just one field goal of less than 40 yards and going two-for-three from beyond 50 -- and was a virtual guarantee on PATs, converting all 51 attempts. Though Ruffer was 15-for-15 on field goals, he missed three PATs and saw limited action for the inconsistent Irish. That plus Bailey's two misses from inside 30 yards should seal the deal for the Southern Miss junior.

2009 winner: Drew Butler, Georgia

2010 finalists: Butler; Ryan Donahue, Iowa; Chas Henry, Florida

Biggest snub: Tyler Campbell, Ole Miss. Campbell matches Henry's 46.4-yards-per-punt and bests his season total by 740 yards, though he had 16 more attempts.

Projected winner: Henry. Butler's attempt to earn a repeat Ray Guy Award should fall just short, as Henry outkicked him in every measurable way in 2010. Henry boasts the nation's best punting average (46.4 yards), topping both Butler (44.7) and Donahue (44.6), and his 75-yard boot against Alabama also trumps both of their longs. That blend of distance and consistency should earn Henry the nod.

2009 winner: Aaron Hernandez, Florida

2010 finalists: Michael Egnew, Missouri; Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin; D.J. Williams, Arkansas

Biggest snub: Ladarius Green, Louisiana-Lafayette. Largely forgotten because he plays for a non-AQ school, Green leads all tight ends with 794 yards and seven touchdowns.

Projected winner: Egnew. Egnew has been the nation's most productive tight end all season, reeling in five or more catches in 10 of 12 games. He leads all finalists with 698 receiving yards and posted a 13-reception, 145-yard showing against San Diego State on Sept. 18. Despite Kendricks' late season-surge -- he had 201 yards and two touchdowns in his final three games -- Egnew has been the most consistent tight end, something the Mackey Award should recognize.

2009 winner: Colt McCoy, Texas

2010 finalists: Andrew Luck, Stanford; Cam Newton, Auburn; Kellen Moore, Boise State

Biggest snub: LaMichael James, Oregon. The likely Heisman runner-up has 1,682 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns for the nation's most high-powered attack.

Projected winner: Newton. His dual-threat capabilities made him nearly unstoppable this season, leading to 2,589 passing yards, 1,409 rushing yards and 49 total touchdowns for the undefeated Tigers. Luck and Moore both have compelling cases, with Luck airing it out for 3,051 yards and 28 touchdowns and Moore for 3,506 yards and 33 scores. But in the wake of Newton's storybook performances at Alabama and in the SEC Championship Game, it will be difficult for any challenger to overtake the Heisman and Maxwell favorite.

2009 winner: Colt McCoy, Texas

2010 finalists: Andrew Luck, Stanford; Cam Newton, Auburn; Kellen Moore, Boise State

Biggest snub: Andy Dalton, TCU. Dalton spearheaded 12-0 TCU with 2,638 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and a 167.02 quarterback rating in 2010.

Projected winner: Newton. Luck and Moore have stronger cases here, as their pure passing numbers exceed Newton's. The O'Brien Award is presented to the nation's best quarterback, and in a traditional sense Luck and Moore can place a stake to that claim. As with the Camp and Maxwell Awards, though, Newton is the clear choice. He's beaten defenses with both his arm and his legs, and he's the only quarterback of the group to boast an undefeated record. He should emerge with a shelf's worth of trophies during the College Football Awards Show, and the O'Brien honor should be among them.

2009 winner: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

2010 finalists: Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin; Rodney Hudson, FSU; Nate Solder, Colorado

Biggest snub: John Moffitt, Wisconsin. Though teammate Carimi was named a finalist, Moffitt also deserves credit for paving the way for the Badgers' impressive average of 247 rushing yards per game in 2010.

Projected winner: Hudson. A four-year starter in Tallahassee, Hudson should cap his career with the Outland. His blocking provided the necessary time for Christian Ponder to dissect ACC defenses, helping Florida State to its second nine-win season since 2004. The honor would add to a decorated career that includes the 2009 Jacobs Blocking Trophy for the best lineman in the ACC.

2009 winner: N/A

2010 finalists: Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech; Troy Calhoun, Air Force; Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern; Chris Petersen, Boise State

Biggest snub: Jim Harbaugh, Stanford. Beamer's Orange Bowl opponent coached Stanford to an 11-1 record and its first BCS at-large bid in school history. The Cardinal were a laughable 1-11 upon Harbaugh's arrival in 2007.

Projected winner: Beamer. After 24 years in Blacksburg, Beamer's inspired job in 2010 should gain him the inaugural Paterno Award. Beamer lifted his team from an 0-2 start -- including a shocking loss to FCS James Madison -- to claim his third ACC Championship and Orange Bowl berth in the past four seasons. His best work has come on the defensive side, where he and defensive coordinator Bud Foster turned a group that lost eight starters from last year's squad into a unit that forced 30 turnovers this season, fourth in the FBS.

2009 winner: Maurkice Pouncey, Florida

2010 finalists: Colin Baxter, Arizona; Chase Beeler, Stanford; Mike Brewster, Ohio State; Jake Kirkpatrick, TCU; David Molk, Michigan; Ryan Pugh, Auburn

Biggest snub: Jordan Holmes, Oregon. The key cog in Oregon's formidable O-line, Holmes anchored an offense that averaged a play every 23.2 seconds.

Projected winner: Kirkpatrick. A Rimington finalist last year, Kirkpatrick was equally effective in 2010. His run-blocking skills created space for Horned Frogs backs to rush for 261.7 yards per game, and his pass-blocking savvy limited opponents to just nine sacks all season, a measly .75 per game average. For the second consecutive year, Kirkpatrick has been the unsung hero behind TCU's unblemished record.

2009 winner: Eric Berry, Tennessee

2010 finalists: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska; Tejay Johnson, TCU; Patrick Peterson, LSU

Biggest snub: Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech. The Hokie sophomore leads the nation with eight interceptions, including three in an early comeback win at N.C. State (one with less than two minutes remaining).

Projected winner: Peterson. Also known as a stellar return man, Peterson should win the Thorpe Award for his shutdown ability in the secondary. His coverage helped LSU maintain the nation's 10th-ranked passing defense despite facing prolific quarterbacks Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett and Greg McElroy. Though Johnson's TCU defense is ranked first, they haven't faced the gauntlet of competition that LSU has. Peterson repeatedly contained some of the nation's top receivers, limiting Julio Jones, Darvin Adams and Deonte Thompson to a combined 142 yards. His four interceptions were also the most of any candidate (Johnson has three, Amukamara zero).

2009 winner: Toby Gerhart, Stanford

2010 finalists: John Clay, Wisconsin; Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State; LaMichael James, Oregon

Biggest snub: Jordan Todman, Connecticut. Todman's numbers stack up to James' better than either of the other finalists', as he's rushed for 1,574 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Fiesta Bowl-bound Huskies.

Projected winner: James. The beneficiary of Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense, James zipped past tired defenses all season. He sprinted for an FBS-best 152.9 rushing yards per game, finding the end zone 21 times during the Ducks' 12-0 run. Clay and Hunter have been excellent, rumbling for 13 and 16 scores, respectively, in 2010. James, however, has been brilliant. His 5.99 yards per carry bests both Clay (5.32) and Hunter (5.81), and some of his runs have been simply remarkable (like this 72-yard scamper against Tennessee). Oregon's offense is averaging 537.5 yards per game, and James is the primary reason why.

• Frank Broyles Award (Most Outstanding Assistant Coach): Gus Malzahn, Auburn

• Butkus Award (Most Outstanding Linebacker): Von Miller, Texas A&M

• William V. Campbell Award (Top Collegiate Scholar-Athlete): Sam Acho, Texas

• Bronco Nagurski Trophy (Most Outstanding Defensive Player): Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson

• Eddie Robinson Award (National Coach of the Year): Chip Kelly, Oregon

• Disney Sports Spirit Award (Most Inspirational Figure): D.J. Williams, Arkansas