Handing out the Blitzies; LSU deserving

Monday December 3rd, 2007


Tim Tebow; Chris Long
Bob Rosato/SI; Scott Bales/Icon SMI 
It's Time To Hand Out The Blitzies
While the nation's best await all those run-of-the-mill, ho-hum awards (a la the Davey O'Brien, Jim Thorpe, etc.) it's time to hand out the awards that really matter. We here at the Blitz don't waste our budget on star-studded award shows or hefty hardware, no this is Al Gore/Leonardo DiCaprio-level eco-friendly. So without further ado, it's time to hand out the second annual Blitzies.

Offensive BMOC: Tim Tebow, Florida. He's atop this scribe's Heisman ballot, so there's no denying Touchdown Timmy here. He's the first player in major college football history to run for 20 TDs and throw for 20 in the same season and the 51 touchdowns he's accounted for are more than 100 teams. He also leads the nation in pics with voluptuous co-eds.

Defensive BMOC: Chris Long, Virginia. Long has stepped out of his dad's shadow, ranking third in the nation with 14 sacks and had 19 tackles for loss. What makes his performance even more impressive is he did it playing in a 3-4 scheme that doesn't typically showcase ends. Want further proof of his dominance? UVa. has already retired his No. 91.

Small Wonder (Best mid-major player): (tie) Colt Brennan, Hawaii; Kevin Smith, UCF. Brennan set the NCAA career TD pass mark en route to leading the Warriors to a BCS berth, while Smith captured the nation's rushing crown with 2,448 yards, the second-highest single-season total in Division I-A history behind Barry Sanders' 2,628.

Mr. Wait Til Next Year (Player headed for stardom): Greg Middleton, Indiana. The nation's sack leader with 16, including 15 solo, Middleton earned all-Big Ten first-team honors, but was largely overshadowed by his offensive teammates on a national scale. He may be the nation's premier pass-rusher next season.

Sam Winters Award (Coach who won despite adversity): Let's stay in the Hoosier State for a moment and give some much-needed love to Bill Lynch, who led Indiana to its first bowl game since 1993 and kept the team together in the wake of Terry Hoeppner's death. Lynch's deeds also got the appreciation of IU, which gave him a four-year deal.

Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda Award (The season's biggest flop): Notre Dame. Who else but the Irish? Yes, Charlie Weis lost a load of talent on offense, but this was a historically dismal season for Notre Dame, who went 3-9, with those losses coming by an average of 21.1 points. It was display of ineptitude that kept Alabama from inhabiting this space.

Cinderfellas (Or the "They did what? Award"): Kansas. It was rarified air for the Jayhawks, who were 11-0 for the first time and made their one and only appearance on a certain magazine cover. The season may have fallen short of perfection at the hands of hated-rival Missouri, but after winning 25 games in the past five years, it's hard to complain.
These Tigers Earned Their Stripes
Love it or hate it, the BCS got it right this time -- at least as right as a chaotic final week of the season could allow for. You're going to hear Georgia fans, Oklahoma fans, even USC and Kansas fans argue their teams, and not LSU, should be playing opposite Ohio State for the national title. Look, it's likely we'll have no idea who the best team in the country is even after the Jan. 7 title game. But it's just too hard to pinpoint long-term greatness amid the ups and downs of this season because every contender has its flaws. All we can do is go off LSU's body of work, and considering its schedule and the quality wins, the Tigers are the safest choice.
Hawaii Warriors
Welcome to the party, Colt Brennan. The Warriors are the latest mid-major to crash the BCS establishment as they bounced back from a 21-0 deficit to dump Washington. Considering West Virginia's Pat White and Missouri's Chase Daniel slipped, Brennan (442 yards, five TDs) may have jumped up some Heisman ballots.
Missouri Tigers
There's no doubt Daniel won't want to see the Alamodome again. The Southlake (Texas) Carroll product lost the Class 5A state championship game there as a junior and Saturday he and Missouri lost the Big 12 title to Oklahoma, not to mention the No. 1 ranking and a spot in the BCS Championship Game (or any BCS game, for that matter).
USC Trojans
Count the Blitz among those who wondered if this injury-riddled Trojans team would be able to put it back together and reach the Rose Bowl. But what we're seeing out of this squad is worthy of those "best team in the country whispers." In the last two games (wins over Arizona State and UCLA), USC has amassed 68 points and 945 yards.
West Virginia Mountaineers
How could Rich Rodriguez not look absolutely dejected after this one? His team's season was ruined by a 28-point underdog (Pitt) and it was a loss that shows a Dennis Dixon-Oregon like quality to his team, which lost again while Pat White was injured. At least for WVU fans, White and Steve Slaton (11 yards on nine carries) have to return now.
Florida International Panthers
The team with the nation's longest losing streak did something the Miami Hurricanes couldn't -- close out the Orange Bowl with a win. Florida International wiped away 23 games of ineptitude as it beat North Texas 38-19 in the final game at the stadium before it's scheduled to be demolished next year.
South Carolina Gamecocks
This is a feeling Steve Spurrier hasn't felt in 17 years. For the first time since his first year at Florida (1990), a Spurrier-led team won't go bowling as his 6-6 Gamecocks were denied a bowl bid. It's a stunning end to a season that began 6-1 and a No. 6 ranking but ended with the worst losing streak in Spurrier's collegiate coaching career.
"Yeah, we'd like to go to the Rose Bowl. How about that?"
--Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer on whether or not he and the Volunteers had any bowl preference immediately following their 21-14 loss to LSU in the SEC Championship Game.
"That play should have been measured, but the officials ran off before it could be. I'm not as fast as Joe Paterno. I couldn't catch them."
--Oregon coach Mike Bellotti on the final play of a 38-31 double-overtime loss to Oregon State in the Civil War, in which RB Jonathan Stewart was stopped on fourth-and-1.
"As soon as I caught the ball, I knew nobody was in front of me. All I had was the offensive linemen and maybe Matt Ryan. But I knew nobody was going to catch me."
--Virginia Tech linebacker Xavier Adibi, who returned a Ryan interception 40 yards for a TD as the Hokies beat Boston College 30-16 to win the ACC title and an Orange Bowl berth.
Brian BrohmQB - Louisville
Consider this a lifetime achievement nod. Brohm's Louisville career came to a close in Thursday's win over Rutgers, and while it wasn't the year he envisioned after turning down NFL riches, it was still eye-popping. He finishes 24-9 as a starter and he broke his own school records with 4,024 yards and 30 TDs in '07.
Ryan PerrillouxQB - LSU
Making his second career start in place of an injured Matt Flynn, Perrilloux showed the talent that made him so sought-after coming out of high school as he threw for 243 yards and a touchdown to earn SEC title game MVP honors.
Dan LeFevourQB - Central Michigan
The Blitz has undoubtedly come down with LeFevour fever. The dual-threat stud pushed his TD total to 41 as he ran for 170 yards and two scores and threw for 185 and another TD as the Chippewas beat Miami (Ohio) 31-14 to repeat as MAC champions.
Howard Schnellenberger, who built the Florida Atlantic program from scratch in 1998, has led the Owls to their first bowl appearance as they beat Troy to win the Sun Belt title and a spot in the New Orleans Bowl.
With Saturday's 48-27 win over San Diego State, BYU finshed undefeated in the Mountain West Conference for the second straight season, a span of 14 games. It's the first time since 1983-84 the Cougars have gone perfect in their conference in back-to-back years.
USC vs. Illinois -- Rose BowlJANUARY 1
It's the first bowl game for Illinois since '01 and like last time, it's a BCS game. Ron Zook has led a dramatic turnaround, but Illinois may have its hands full with a surging USC team that's playing as well as anyone right now. Whether or not the Trojans' second-ranked defense can contain Juice Williams and Rashard Mendenhall and put the onus on the passing game will determine this one.
USC 34, Illinois 24
Hawaii vs. Georgia -- Sugar BowlJANUARY 1
June Jones' Warriors will be ready to make a statement. But you have to wonder, what will Georgia's mindset be? Will it be out to prove it belonged in the title game or will it be uninspired playing a mid-major? Brennan & Co. will score, even on UGA's 19th-ranked D, but Hawaii won't be able to keep up with Georgia.
Georgia 38, Hawaii 27
West Virginia vs. Oklahoma -- Fiesta BowlJANUARY 2
For Oklahoma, it's a return to the scene of a loss Bob Stoops would just as soon forget. But a year after falling to Boise State, the Sooners are back in Glendale. West Virginia expects to have a healthy White; he and Slaton need a statement win if they're to pick up the pieces for next season. But as good as WVU's defense has been, it hasn't seen an offense as multi-faceted as the Sooners.
Oklahoma 38, West Virginia 31
Kansas vs. Virginia Tech -- Orange BowlJANUARY 3
Virginia Tech's two-headed QB system of Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor has been a huge part of the Hokies rise to a BCS game. But don't forget what's been the foundation of this team -- defense. As effective as KU QB Todd Reesing has been, Virginia Tech succeeds with relentless pressure, with the Chris Ellis-led front racking up 43 sacks in '07. Kansas has the defense to keep this close, but the edge goes to VT.
Virginia Tech 27, Kansas 24
Ohio State vs. LSU -- BCS National Championship GameJANUARY 7
Team slides up in the final weekend for a crack at the Buckeyes. Wait, haven't I seen this one before? Just like last season, Ohio State faces a team with a devastatingly fast defensive front in Glenn Dorsey and LSU. All we're going to hear about in the buildup is that SEC speed that burned OSU a year. While the Buckeyes defense has the talent to keep up, can Ohio State's offense keep LSU's D on its heels -- or will No. 2 win for the fifth time in six years?
LSU 27, Ohio State 21

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