And the Winners Are ... SI's picks for all the best--and worst--from an eventful season

December 09, 2002

The Heisman Trophy is the most high-profile award in college
football, but it's not the sport's only major honor. Here are our
picks for some of the others, as well as a few awards of our own.

DOAK WALKER (best running back) Miami sophomore Willis McGahee
(1,481 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns) gets the nod in a tight
race. Penn State's Larry Johnson rushed for an astounding 2,015
yards but averaged only 70.7 in the Nittany Lions' three losses.
Ohio State's Maurice Clarett electrified the Buckeyes offense
with 14 touchdowns despite missing three games with a shoulder
injury, but McGahee stepped up in each of Miami's 11 wins.

DAVEY O'BRIEN (best quarterback) Iowa senior Brad Banks leads the
nation in pass efficiency (166.1 rating) and has thrown 25
touchdown passes and only four interceptions. He edges USC's
Carson Palmer and Miami's Ken Dorsey.

BILETNIKOFF (best receiver) Charles Rogers, a 6'4", 205-pound
junior, was the only bright spot for 4-8 Michigan State,
catching 68 passes for 1,351 yards and 13 touchdowns.

NAGURSKI (best defensive player) Arizona State junior defensive
end Terrell Suggs was virtually unblockable, setting a Division
IA record with 22 sacks. He should also collect the Lombardi
Award as the top lineman.

THORPE (best defensive back) Notre Dame's Shane Walton is the
leader of a stout defense, which is second in the nation with 21
interceptions. Walton has seven picks and has returned two for

BUTKUS (best linebacker) E.J. Henderson, who battled through a
preseason back injury to lead Maryland with 158 tackles (15 1/2
for loss), is a major reason the Terps pulled off a second
straight 10 win season.

COACH OF THE YEAR Second-year Ohio State coach Jim Tressel beats
out Notre Dame's Tyrone Willingham for leading the Buckeyes to a
13-0 record and putting them in a position to win their first
national championship in 34 years. Tressel had the courage to go
against his conservative instincts and call for a Craig Krenzel
pass on fourth-and-one with 1:36 remaining and Ohio State losing
6-3 at Purdue on Nov. 9; the Buckeyes scored on the play and
went on to win 10-6.

IRON WILL AWARD Despite tearing the ACL in his right (punting)
knee in September, Alabama senior Lane Bearden played in all but
one game, averaged 41.5 yards per punt and even made an
open-field tackle against Auburn to prevent a touchdown.

PLAY OF THE YEAR Kentucky fans were embracing each other and
players were dousing coach Guy Morriss with Gatorade when LSU
quarterback Marcus Randall threw a Hail Mary. The ball was tipped
three times and fell into the arms of a streaking Devery
Henderson, who ran it in for a 75-yard touchdown as time expired
to give the Tigers a 33-30 win.

MOST DISTURBING TREND How did trampling anyone in your path--from
a policeman to a school administrator--to tear down goalposts,
smashing and burning cars, and vandalizing stores and school
property become an accepted way of celebrating a big win?

BIGGEST COLLAPSE N.C. State was ranked No. 8 after jumping out to
a 9-0 start against the likes of New Mexico, Massachusetts and
East Tennessee State, but the Wolfpack lost three straight ACC
games to fall out of the Top 10.

MOST DUE FOR A REVIEW Big Ten officials made more than a few
eyebrow-raising calls in several games, most notably in
down-to-the-wire Penn State and Illinois losses.

COLOR PHOTO: AL GOLDIS/AP Rogers was a shining star in an otherwise dismal year at Michigan State.

Head to Head

Virginia Tech RB Lee Suggs versus Miami LB Jonathan Vilma

Suggs and the Hokies are all that stand in the way of Miami's
joining Ohio State in a matchup of unbeatens in the Fiesta Bowl.
The 6-foot, 201-pound Suggs has scored at least one rushing
touchdown in a Division I-A-record 25 straight games and has
1,200 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Vilma, a 6'2",
220-pound junior, leads the Hurricanes with 106 tackles. If
Virginia Tech double-teams Vilma, look for linebacker D.J.
Williams (12 tackles for loss) to do some major damage.

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