Here are the season-ending awards for 2009:
The Alabama Crimson Tide. Coach Nick Saban has quickly assembled a powerful program that looks like it will last for a long, long time. The Tide had a close call or two — needing two blocked field-goal attempts against Tennessee, then a road escape at Auburn in the Iron Bowl — but who doesn’t? Alabama, better prepared and more physical, left no doubt with a 32-13 win against Florida at the SEC championship game.
Most exciting game
Cincinnati 45, Pittsburgh 44. The Bearcats locked down a 12-0 season and their second straight BCS bowl appearance, despite trailing 31-10 on the road. Special teams became a huge factor. Mardy Gilyard immediately answered with a kickoff-return touchdown. Later, Pittsburgh botched an extra-point attempt. Oh, and the drama unfolded in a snowstorm, making for great television.
Most exciting game (runner-up)
Oregon 37, Oregon State 33. The Civil War decided the Pac-10’s Rose Bowl bid — and the anticipation of that was excitement enough. Then the Ducks and Beavers staged a wonderfully dramatic game that featured six lead changes and a combined 878 yards of offense. More drama: LeGarrette Blount, who had been suspended, then inactive since his punch of a Boise State player on Sept. 3, entered in the third quarter and scored a key touchdown.
One man’s Heisman ballot
1. Toby Gerhart, Stanford; 2. Mark Ingram, Alabama; 3. C.J. Spiller, Clemson.
Best offensive player
Toby Gerhart, Stanford. With 10 games of 100 yards or more (including three that surpassed 200 yards) and 26 touchdowns, the Cardinal had an imposing force.
Best defensive player
Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska. The defensive tackle does more than occupy blockers. He makes plays — huge plays — and could be the NFL draft’s No. 1 selection.
Texas senior Colt McCoy has won a record 45 games and has his Longhorns positioned for a national championship. Good thing that final second was put back on the clock at the Big 12 Championship Game or else McCoy would have a lot of explaining to do.
Most electrifying player
C.J. Spiller, Clemson. He was the nation’s only player to score a touchdown in each game. He produced a touchdown five different ways (rushing, receiving, kickoff return, punt return and passing). He moved to 7,416 all-purpose yards, third all-time. And he nearly won the ACC championship — all by himself.
Lifetime achievement award
Tim Tebow, Florida. Yes, he is one of the best players in SEC (and college football) history for all he has done — on and off the field. Still, we’re not sure why he was among the five Heisman Trophy finalists invited to New York. Tebow didn’t have the season of 2007 (or 2008). Meanwhile, the accomplishments of Houston quarterback Case Keenum (5,449 passing yards, 43 touchdowns, 71 percent completion rate) were all but ignored.
Well, the ol’ two-point conversion pass to the 350-pound offensive tackle would have to rank pretty high. Fresno State beat Illinois 53-52 when Ryan Colburn’s conversion pass was batted away by an Illinois defensive back … and back into the hands of Devan Cunningham, a 350-pounder who caught it at the 2-yard line and somehow rolled into the end zone.
Cincinnati (12-0), which went from unranked team to BCS bowl bid recipient. And had it not been for that phantom final second at the Big 12 championship game, the Bearcats might have been playing Alabama for a national title. The Bearcats came into the season trying to replace 10 defensive starters. And who knew that former fifth-stringer Tony Pike would develop into an early season Heisman Trophy candidate before his season was derailed by injury.
Biggest surprise (runner-up)
Arizona (8-4), picked as a lower-division team in the Pac-10, became one of the nation’s most fun-to-watch teams. The Wildcats suffered two Pac-10 losses by a field goal and also fell in the early season to Iowa, which wound up 10-2.
Hands down, the USC Trojans. An early season 16-13 loss to Washington appeared to be an aberration. Nope. The Trojans, a familiar dynasty that had appeared in seven consecutive BCS bowl games with Coach Pete Carroll, checked out as an 8-4 unranked team after getting shocked by Oregon (47-20), Stanford (55-21) and Arizona (21-17), the latter two at home.
Biggest disappointment (runner-up)
The Oklahoma Sooners were coming off a record-breaking season that ended with a defeat in the BCS Championship Game. So exactly how did the Sooners wind up as a 7-5 Sun Bowl team? Yes, there were mitigating circumstances (Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Sam Bradford and tight end Jermaine Gresham suffered season-ending injuries) and there were four losses by a combined 12 points.
CFT: Johnny Manziel nearly transferred out of Texas A&M before the 2012 season after being suspended, according to reports, but he stayed after his successful appeal.
About 325 former Penn State players, among them Kerry Collins and Paul Posluszny, have signed a statement supporting the lawsuit filed by the family of former coach Joe Paterno.
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The top offensive and defensive players in the nation, highlighted by five Alabama and Texas players.
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