Chuck Bednarik Award: Defensive Player of the Year
Matt: Ivan Pace Jr.
Pace Jr. was a monster this season and deserves this award in my opinion. He finished the season with 119 total tackles with 18.5 of them for loss and eight sacks. He was dominant on the defensive side of the ball for the Beacars and was almost unguardable. Playing at a smaller school like Cincinnati can be hard to get your name out there but Pace Jr. was just that good. He earned it this season and it was impressive to watch.
Marissa: Will Anderson Jr.
Ivan Pace Jr., and Tuli Tuipulotu both put up great seasons. Yet, Will Anderson Jr. just continued to dominate each and every time he stepped on the field even though offenses knew he was a priority to stop. Anderson Jr. still notched 51 tackles, 10 sacks, and even secured an interception. It wasn’t a great year for the Alabama Crimson Tide, but they still saw great production out of Anderson Jr. who was again the best defensive player in college football.
Tristen: Ivan Pace Jr
Pace had an amazing year, much like Tuipulotu and Anderson. Pace totaled 119 tackles, 18.5 TFL, eight sacks, four PBU and a forced fumble. He was 9th in all of FBS for total tackles and 4th for tackles for loss. He was dominant and a game changer, especially vs the run defense leading charge for one of the nation’s best run defenses. Cincinnati isn’t a huge school which is definitely going to be a factor in voting. At the end of the day, no one made a bigger impact then Pace.
Biletnikoff Award: Outstanding Receiver
Matt: Marvin Harrison Jr.
It’s a crime how good Harrison Jr. is and can be. Easily the best wide receiver in the country and he could be playing in the NFL now if allowed. He has the ability to make all sorts of different catches and change a game. You don’t see that often from college wide receivers but he is different. He should easily win this award.
Marissa: Marvin Harrison Jr.
Coming into the college football season, the expected top receiver for the Ohio State Buckeyes was Jaxon Smith-Njigba. That ended up not being the case as he suffered a hamstring injury. That led to another receiver having to step up to still have this passing attack flow, and that was Marvin Harrison Jr. In his first year as a starter, Harrison Jr. finished with 1,157 yards and 12 touchdowns over 72 receptions. Whether it was making shoestring caches, or catching passes in stride, he made spectacular plays every single time he had a chance.
Tristen: Jalin Hyatt
This is a tough race, all three are more than deserving of this award. Coming into the season, Hyatt had a career 41 receptions for 502 yards and four touchdowns. This year he was one of the biggest threats in college football and a huge reason for Tennessee’s success especially pairing with Hendon Hooker. He posted 1267 yards and 15 touchdowns on only 67 receptions. Among FBS leaders he was 4th in yards and 1st in touchdowns. He’s an explosive playmaker, and has the ability to take any pass for an additional 15 yards or more. Whether it be downfield, in the slot or on the sideline, Hyatt was doing everything.
Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award:
Matt: Jake Moody
Moody was spectacular for the Wolverines this season. Field position is a part of football that sometimes gets forgotten but is a massive part of deciding a games’ outcome. He was crucial for them all season long and helped them go undefeated. He deserves this award.
Marissa: Jake Moody
Jake Moody didn’t get the nickname “Money Moody” for nothing! Moody was clutch this year for the Wolverines, completing a perfect 53-of-53 point-after kicks while also completing 26-of-32 field goal attempts. Moody was critical for helping the Wolverines go undefeated this season and leads the nation in points scored with 131. That can’t be overlooked and why Moody should win the Lou Groza Award this year.
Tristen: Christopher Dunn
This award will come down to whether or not the voters value points or completion percentage more. Personally, the value of accuracy and success matters more in my opinion. Dunn went 30-30 on extra points giving him a career 100% success rate completing 200 straight. When it comes to field goal, Dunn turned the corner having a career high 96% completion rate with 24-25. NC State struggled down the back end of the season but Dunn was a huge part in them being able to finish the season in the top 25 and a win over rival UNC.
Maxwell Award: Player of the Year
Matt: Caleb Williams
Williams was the USC team this season. The defense wasn’t very good for much of the year so Williams was carrying them to victories. Even when the defense seemed to play better, Williams kept up his game and helped USC just miss making the College Football Playoff. Without him, they don’t go as far as they have this season and he was the best player in the country in 2022.
Marissa: Caleb Williams
Whenever you turned on a USC game, you knew you were going to be getting a show from Caleb Williams. Whether it was through the air or ground, Williams was putting together highlight reel plays. He completed 65.8% of his passes for 3,712 yards and 34 touchdowns, while also compiling 351 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Williams was electric during the season to leave a lasting impression on the minds of voters as to why he was the best player in college football for 2022.
Tristen: Caleb Williams
Without Williams USC is maybe a four win team. Their defense was below average, and they relied on Williams to really make the offense move, especially towards opening up the ground game with his legs. Williams put up sensational numbers and was making difficult plays look incredibly easy. Williams was the best player in college and the best quarterback.
Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award: Best Quarterback
Matt: Caleb Williams
For me, this is simple. Williams was the best quarterback and player in all of college football. He was simply spectacular all season and got better as the year progressed. Give me Williams to take home this award.
Marissa: C.J. Stroud
C.J. Stroud may not have had the rush yards like Duggan and Williams, but he led in every other advanced category, according to Sports Info Solutions. Stroud averaged 9.4 yards per attempt compared to Duggan who had 8.8, and Williams who had nine. Stroud had the highest completion percentage of 15-plus yard throws at 54.4% compared to Duggan (52.1%), and Williams (44.1%). He even had the best EPA rate against pressure with 36.4% compared to the 31.3% Duggan had and 35.7% Williams had. Stroud wasn’t flashy on the ground, but he didn’t need to be because he was efficient through the air.
Tristen: Caleb Williams
It’s pretty simple, and for almost every reason I listed for the Maxwell award. In the past, those who end up winning the Maxwel usually win the O’Brien also. Williams is the best quarterback and player in college football. He led all three in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and with fewer turnovers. He added a massive threat on the ground as well.
Paycom Jim Thorpe Award: Best Defensive Back
Matt: Clark Phillips III
Phillips III was my choice before the season to win this award and he is still my choice today. He is such an explosive defensive player and always seems to be around the ball. He has six interceptions on the season and two touchdowns. He is a straight problem for offenses to deal with and helped lead Utah to another Pac-12 title. His ability to read plays and react is impressive and helped him stand out over the others here.
Marissa: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson
Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson brought everything this season that the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award represents. He improved even further in every aspect of his game to become the best defensive back in college football. Over the season Hodges-Tomlinson notched 40 total tackles with 33 being a career-high solo tackle count. Due to his athleticism and ability to read plays, he even added on 10 passes defended and came away with three interceptions. Hodges-Tomlinson became a defensive back that quarterbacks wanted to avoid throwing towards, building his own legacy in the process of becoming the best defensive back in the country.
Tristen: Devon Witherspoon
Witherspoon had a sensational rise this year in an incredibly pass happy B10 conference. Witherspoon tallied three interceptions and 14 pass breakups, which ranked 4th in the FBS. He also allowed only 206 yards in coverage including a game vs Iowa in which he allowed negative 15 yards in coverage. In addition, he allowed just 22 of 64 targets to be completed with an FBS low 24.6 QBR allowed. He is more than deserving of this play. His coverage technique is elite, and he was one of the reason’s Illinois defense was the best in the country.
Doak Walker Award: Premier Running Back
Matt: Bijan Robinson
As good as Corum has been and he has been quite impressive, Robinson is just on a different level. He is easily the best running back in the country and is a force to be reckoned with each and every time out. He likely will be starting somewhere on Sunday’s really soon and will make some NFL very happy. Robinson is just a bruising back that can wear down a defense and when you least expect it, take it to the house. He easily takes this award for me.
Marissa: Bijan Robinson
All three running backs have the argument here as the best running back in the nation. The one who stood out this season above the rest though was none other than Bijan Robinson. Over the season, Robinson ended up leading the Big 12 in carries with 258, rushing yards with 1,580, and rushing touchdowns with 18. He also was a receiving threat with 314 yards. Out of Brown and Corum as well, Robinson leads in yards per attempt with six, and yards per attempt after contact with 3.9.
Tristen: Bijan Robinson
It’s a total crime that Robinson isn’t headed to New York for the Hesiman ceremony when the time comes. He’s simply more than deserving to be in the conversation. He’s the clear cut best running back in college after putting up 1580 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns while adding 314 receiving yards and two touchdowns for a total 1894 total yards and 20 total touchdowns this season. He’s a dual threat back that opens up the game for the Longhorns in so many areas.
John Mackey Award: Best Tight End
Matt: Brock Bowers
While Mayer might have slightly better statistics than Bowers, he doesn’t change a game quite like Bowers. His ability to take a pass all the way to the house is impressive for a tight end. He essentially is like a wide receiver and can take over a game in an instant. He shouldn’t be this good as a sophomore and will likely only get better. He finished the regular season with 52 catches for 726 yards and six touchdowns. He also rushed for 93 yards and three scores as well. He can do it all and is my pick for this award.
Marissa: Michael Mayer
Brock Bowers has an extremely great case here, but Michael Mayer took that Notre Dame offense and put it on his back. Without Mayer, the Notre Dame offensive arguably wouldn’t have been as productive as they were. Mayer ended up finishing with 809 yards and nine touchdowns, those nine touchdowns leads all tight ends in college football. To do that while also leading the team in receiving yards, receptions, and touchdowns shows how valuable he was and why he was the best tight end in 2022.
Tristen: Michael Mayer
Brock Bowers is a great player, and has a super deserving case so I wouldn’t be shocked if he wins the award. Mayer ended the year with more yards, receptions and touchdowns and overall is the only reason the Notre Dame offense was anywhere close to what it was in the air. Notre Dame’s receivers lacked talent and defense’s knew it was run through Mayer, the problem was he couldn’t be stopped. As a blocker he’s also far superior and paved the way for one of the best rushing attacks in FBS. Mayer does it all, and put the Fighting Irish on his back to give them a chance at winning big games.
The Home Depot Coach of the Year:
Matt: Josh Heupel
There are so many deserving candidates for this award this season. The first name that comes to mind is Sonny Dykes, who led the Horned Frogs to the College Football Playoff. But I have another name and that is Josh Heupel from Tennessee. He helped lead them to a New Years Six Bowl and had them in position for a possible College Football Playoff spot. Playing in the SEC is extremely tough and the Volunteers thrived this season, somewhat out of nowhere. They went 7-6 last year to now 10-2 overall. They beat Alabama and LSU this season in impressive fashion. This is a toss up but I lean towards Heupel.
Marissa: Sonny Dykes
A year ago, TCU finished with a 5-7 record and went 3-6 in Big 12 play. This 2022 season was the first year the Horned Frogs were led by new head coach Sonny Dykes. It was expected Dykes would be able to turn the program around, but not this season. Well, he did exactly that as he turned this TCU team around completely to go undefeated in the regular season, make it to the Big 12 Championship Game, and secure a spot in the College Football Playoffs. The TCU program is in good shape with Dykes leading the way, and what Dykes did should earn him the Home Depot Coach of the Year.
Tristen: Willie Fritz
There’s so many deserving for this award including Sonny Dykes, Josh Huepel and Jon Sumrall. A year ago, Tulane finished bottom of the AAC at 2-10 with a 1-7 in conference record. This year Fritz had them at 11-2 with a 7-1 record in the AAC and a conference championship in an absolute domination of UCF. Tulane is headed to the Cotton bowl to face USC in the school’s first “New Year’s Six” bowl in modern era and their first prestigious bowl since the Sugar Bowl in 1940. Tulane ended the year ranked 16th as well. Huepel and Dykes are incredibly deserving but turning a program from bottom of the barrel to the top in one season in the best G5 conference ever is incredibly difficult.
Matt: Peter Skoronski
Skoronski was one of the better lineman in the entire country. He finished the season with a 93.7 pass blocking grade according to Pro Football Focus and was dominant at his craft. He only allowed six pressures on 480 pass blocking attempts this season and allowed the Wildcats to run their offense effectively.
Marissa: Peter Skoronski
Peter Skoronski was undoubtedly the best interior offensive lineman in college football. Skoronski would go on to allow only one sack, two hits, and six total pressures on the season. Skoronski plays with great fundamentals on every play, whether that is anchoring himself well in pass protection or being able to move defenders effectively to open up running lanes. Skoronski was the best lineman and should end up getting recognized for his play.
Tristen: Olusegun Oluwatimi
This award is tough, Skoronski is a generational offensive tackle and super deserving but no one made a bigger impact than Oluwatimi. A year after transferring from Virginia, he allowed zero sacks, and eight pressures on 360 pass blocking attempts but his best play came from his anchor ability and pure domination as a run blocker. Oluwatimi, was credited with 6.8 yards per carry when lead blocking, first among FBS centers by almost a yard. He paved the way for one of the best rushing attacks in college, and stood out generationally vs Ohio State paving the way for Donovan Edwards domination.
Matt: Ivan Pace Jr.
Pace Jr. was special this season. He was a key piece to the Bearcats defense and even though they took a step back from last year, Pace Jr. was dominant. He was a leader and let his play on the field do the talking as well. He deserves this award and rightfully so.
Marissa: Ivan Pace Jr.
It was quite the senior season, and first season as a Cincinnati Bearcat for Ivan Pace Jr. as he made his name known to the entire country. In the process of doing so he had 119 tackles with 18.5 going for a loss, eight sacks, and a forced fumble. He was a key playmaker on defense for the Bearcats, and helped keep his teammates in check as well with his leadership. Pace Jr. with his play stood out this season, and should end up being recognized as the best linebacker in the country.
Tristen: Ivan Pace Jr
Pace deserves the award for the exact same reasons why he will win the Bednarik award. After moving up to Cincinnati from Miami, OH no one expected the play he gave this year. He was top of the nation in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks among linebackers. Where he stood out even more was his sensational coverage abilities. Pace was targeted just 14 times in 252 snaps allowing 114 yards and one touchdown. In seven of his trevelle games this year, Pace wasn’t targeted once. He made an impact as a pass rusher, coverage linebacker, quarterback spy running sideline to sideline and as a pure run defender.
Heisman Trophy Winner:
Matt: Caleb Williams
Let’s not overthink this. Caleb Williams is the Heisman this season.
Marissa: Caleb Williams
After the spectacular plays Caleb Williams put on the field each week, he showed that he should be the Heisman as he helped USC out immensely. This is an easy decision.
Tristen: Caleb Williams
If Bijan Robinson was a finalist, he’d win the award in my opinion. He isn’t so let’s not get ahead of ourselves it’s Caleb Williams. He’s the best quarterback in college football, he’s the best player in college football. Without him, USC might not even be bowl eligible.