College Football: Every BCS Team's 2012 MVP
The awards portion of the 2012 college football season is under way, and many deserving players will be left without trophies despite their contributions to the success of their teams throughout the year.
That's why we're here today: to recognize players who have contributed greatly to teams that may not even be in the postseason. Stats will be taken into account, of course, but the major qualifier will be the player's effect on the team. What would the team have done without that particular player's presence on the field?
The most valuable player isn't necessarily the one with the most recognizable name, but most of these names should sound familiar. Here are the MVPs for every BCS team in the nation.
*The MVPs are presented in reverse alphabetical order by team, and the conferences included are the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC and the four independent FBS schools.
MVP: Montee Ball, running back.
Stat line: 332 carries, 1730 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Ball passed the 100-yard mark in nine of his 13 games this season, and he tagged the Nebraska defense for 202 yards in the Big Ten title game. Ball has been a staple of the Wisconsin offense, and his performance at tailback is exactly what has opened up the passing game for the Big Ten champions.
West Virginia Mountaineers
MVP: Tavon Austin, wide receiver
Stat line: 110 receptions for 1,259 yards and 12 touchdowns, 61 carries for 598 yards and three touchdowns.
Austin is the Mountaineers' MVP for his versatility on offense. As a wide receiver, his stats were to be expected considering who his quarterback was (Geno Smith). However, his 61-carry performance as the team's second-leading rusher is astounding. Prior to 2012, Austin had never gotten more than 16 carries in a season.
The fact that he averaged 11.4 yards per catch and 9.8 yards per carry this season is eye-popping. You would need two people to replace his production on the field. (Or one Stedman Bailey, if we're only concerned about scoring.)
*Honorable mention: Stedman Bailey for his 23 touchdowns.
Washington State Cougars
MVP: Carl Winston, running back
Stat line: 85 carries for 280 yards and five touchdowns.
Winston only has five touchdowns this season. Three of them came against the Washington Huskies on rivalry weekend during the stunning comeback.
Washington State came from 18 points behind (28-10) to force overtime and then win by three points. Winston sure picked a great time to enter beast mode. Winston was the leading scorer in the biggest win of the season.
MVP: Bishop Sankey, running back
Stat line: 259 carries for 1234 yards and 15 touchdowns
Sankey was the leading rusher on the team by a margin of over 1,000 yards and 200 carries. The Huskies relied on him, and he delivered at almost five yards per carry all season.
He was also a factor in the passing game to the tune of 27 receptions for 175 yards. He may not have been as flashy as the wideout tandem of Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Kasen Williams, but he outscored them both...combined.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
MVP: Michael Campanaro, wide receiver
Stat line: 79 receptions for 763 yards and six touchdowns, 16 carries for 82 yards and one touchdown
Campanaro is the team's leading receiver and its third-leading rusher. Campanaro is the Wake Forest offense. The bruising tandem of tailbacks forced opponents to step up and play more cautiously, and Campanaro stepped up and ate them alive.
Wake Forest only had 12 touchdowns through the air this season, and Campanaro hauled in six of them.
Virginia Tech Hokies
MVP: Logan Thomas, quarterback
Stat line: 205-of-390 for 2,783 yards, 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions; 167 carries for 528 yards and nine touchdowns
Thomas, as a passer, is good, but he's not great. As a dual-threat, he's more than just good. He's responsible for exactly half of the Hokies' rushing touchdowns. Without Thomas, the Hokies would not be heading for a bowl game at all.
MVP: Kevin Parks, running back
Stat line: 160 carries for 734 yards and five touchdowns, 24 receptions for 189 yards
Kevin Parks has the most total offensive yardage of anyone on the Virginia squad with 923, and he's tied with two others for most touchdowns.
The Cavaliers had a disappointing season, but Parks did everything he could to keep that from happening.
MVP: Zac Stacy, running back
Stat line: 182 carries for 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns, nine receptions for 193 yards
Stacy tagged opponents for 1,227 yards of offense throughout the regular season, and he even completed a 24-yard pass on a trick that isn't counted in that number.
Stacy is a beast in the backfield for the Vanderbilt Commodores. This year's production numbers were not a bad way for the senior tailback to go out.
MVP: John White, running back
Stat line: 218 carries for 1,041 yards and eight touchdowns, 15 receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown
John White is featured heavily in Utah's offensive scheme, and his stats certainly support the coaches' decision. The Utes were 0-5 in games in which he rushed for fewer than 100 yards. (They were 4-2 when he did hit 100, and they won the BYU game when he didn't play.)
John White's success was key to the success of the team, and that's an almost-perfect example of what "MVP" means.
MVP: Marqise Lee, wide receiver
Stat line: 112 receptions for 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns, 12 carries for 106 yards
Lee is one of the many people on USC's offense that made Matt Barkley look good over the years. Unfortunately for the Trojans, that success did not completely follow them into the 2012 season.
If you remove Lee from the equation, the postseason is but a distant hope for USC. Lee led the Trojans in receiving yardage and scoring and could have had a lot more of both if he'd have adjusted better to Max Wittek when he played against Notre Dame.
Luckily for USC, Lee's only a sophomore. He'll be back next year with a much better idea of what Wittek can and can't do on the field. Look for his stats to reach new heights in 2013.
MVP: Johnathan Franklin, running back
Stat line: 268 carries for 1700 yards and 13 touchdowns, 32 receptions for 319 yards and two touchdowns
Franklin led UCLA to a 9-4 record after losing the Pac-12 title game to Stanford. While that may not seem all that great, this was a year that saw USC enter the season as America's sweetheart.
The Trojans were supposed to run through the Pac-12 with a couple of tough tests against the Oregon Ducks and end the SEC's title streak.
Franklin and the rest of the Bruins didn't seem to care about that sentiment one bit. The Bruins rode Franklin to a Pac-12 South Division title and a berth in the Holiday Bowl. Franklin has the fifth-most rushing yards of anyone in the nation, and he's just 71 yards behind the national leader.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
MVP: Seth Doege, quarterback
Stat line: 349-of-496 for 3,934 yards, 38 touchdowns and 14 interceptions
Doege will cross the 4,000-yard mark after his bowl game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. As of right now, Seth Doege and the Texas Tech Red Raiders are second in the FBS in terms of passing yardage.
Doege is one of the better quarterbacks in the BCS conferences, and he's the obvious candidate for MVP of the 2012 Red Raiders unit.
TCU Horned Frogs
MVP: Trevone Boykin, quarterback
Stat line: 154-of-263 for 1,853 yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions
While he's not the class of the FBS, Boykin has proved to be the MVP of the TCU team. After Casey Pachall left, some assumed that the Horned Frogs were destined to fail for the rest of the season.
Boykin came on and finished most of what Pachall started by leading the Frogs to a 7-5 overall record in a season that looked like a bowl berth was an unattainable goal.
While he had a supporting cast that certainly made that easier at TCU than it would have been elsewhere, Boykin stepped up and led TCU to this postseason appearance as a freshman. To accomplish the unexpected, he needed to grow up pretty fast. After all, he is a freshman in a brand-new conference. Those are not easy odds to overcome.
Texas A&M Aggies
MVP: Johnny Manziel, quarterback
Stat line: 273-of-400 for 3,419 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions; 184 carries for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns
Manziel is the favorite to win the 2012 Heisman as of Dec. 6, and the Heisman winner can pretty much bet he was his team's MVP.
Manziel has led his team to a 10-2 finish in the SEC, and he didn't have the luxury of avoiding the tough opponents. Manziel faced Florida, LSU and Alabama. The Aggies lost the Florida and LSU games by a combined nine points, and Manziel took down Alabama in Tuscaloosa by five points.
Manziel is one of the best freshman quarterbacks ever to play the game. If his development continues, things could look very good for the Aggies before he leaves College Station.
MVP: Alex Okafor, defensive end
Stat line: 44 tackles and eight sacks
Okafor accomplished all this in 10 games. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, he missed the TCU and Kansas State games. Considering his contribution in the other games of the season, those last two games could easily have gone the Longhorns' way if he'd played. (The losses were only by seven and 18 points, respectively.)
Okafor has been a force for the burnt orange this season, and his prowess on the field was probably the difference in the Oklahoma State, Baylor and Kansas games. Okafor will be missed at Texas next season, and he definitely earned the MVP for the Longhorns in his final season.
MVP: Cordarrelle Patterson, wide receiver (because there's no shooting guard in football)
Stat line: 46 receptions for 778 yards and five touchdowns, 25 carries for 308 yards and three touchdowns
Patterson tacked on a 28-yard pass, 671 yards in kickoff returns and 101 yards in punt returns to his total for the season. He scored on one kickoff return and one punt return as well.
He's tabbed as a wide receiver, but you can see from the stats that he's simply "offense." Patterson is that good. There are many contributors on the Tennessee football team, but Patterson stands out.
There are 13 teams in the SEC that wish he weren't at Tennessee, and Tennessee knows exactly why that is.
MVP: Montel Harris, running back
Stat line: 186 carries for 1,054 yards and 12 touchdowns
Harris scored more touchdowns on the ground than the quarterback accounted for. (Chris Coyer passed for eight and ran for another two, for a total of 10 touchdowns.)
If Harris weren't on the team, there would have been at least two more losses for the Owls this season. They only had four wins on the season as it was. Two more losses would have been gut-wrenching for Owls fans.
MVP: Ryan Nassib, quarterback
Stat line: 283-of-448 for 3,619 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions; 77 carries for 129 yards and two touchdowns
Nassib had a great season, even if the win-loss record doesn't show it clearly. Syracuse rode Nassib's performance to the Pinstripe Bowl this postseason.
The Orange are also the best passing offense in the conference, which puts Nassib's performance even further into the limelight.
MVP: Stepfan Taylor, running back
Stat line: 302 carries for 1,442 yards and 12 touchdowns, 38 receptions for 270 yards and two touchdowns
Stanford was 2-2 in games in which Taylor didn't score, and the Cardinal were undefeated in the games he found pay dirt.
Not every team's MVP can claim that level of contribution to the game results. Taylor is a special player, and he is the feature back on the only team to take down both USC and Oregon this season. (He rushed for 161 against the Ducks' highly touted defense.)
South Florida Bulls
MVP: Demetris Murray, running back
Stat line: 170 carries for 665 yards and six touchdowns, 20 receptions for 134 yards
It's difficult to find an MVP on a team that only had three wins in such a mediocre conference, but Murray is that man. There wasn't a single game in which he touched the ball fewer than nine times.
While that didn't get South Florida into the postseason, Murray did average almost four yards per carry through the 2012 season.
South Florida will miss him next year unless the Bulls can land a seriously talented recruit.
South Carolina Gamecocks
MVP: Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end
Stat line: 49 tackles and 13 sacks
Clowney's 13-sack mark is second in the nation behind only UCLA's Anthony Barr, who has 13.5. After Clowney's 4.5-sack performance against the Clemson Tigers, his MVP fate was sealed.
There is possibly no player on the Gamecocks roster that has had such an individual impact on them in recent memory. Well, maybe one...
*Honorable mention: Marcus Lattimore, running back
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
MVP: Jawan Jamison, running back
Stat line: 242 carries for 1,054 yards and four touchdowns, 27 receptions for 322 yards and two touchdowns, one 16-yard touchdown pass
Jamison's stats tell the story, and the highlight video fills in the holes. Jamison is a junior and therefore draft-eligible, but the Scarlet Knights certainly hope he doesn't leave yet.
Jamison led the Knights in what could have been a conference-championship season. They suffered a couple of heartbreaking losses late in the season, but they had a respectable run overall.
MVP: Akeem Shavers, running back
Stat line: 167 carries for 778 yards and six touchdowns, 14 receptions for 316 yards and three touchdowns
Shavers was the highlight of a Purdue team that was expected to perform much better than it did in the previous season. While the Boilermakers didn't perform much better than last season (posting the same 6-6 record in 2012 as they did in 2011), the air around the program was one of success.
That's the first step in building a contender. The players have to believe that they are capable of bigger things. 2012 certainly had that feel to it, thanks to guys like Shavers creating a buzz that the Purdue fanbase would love to see repeated in 2013.
MVP: Ray Graham, running back
Stat line: 222 carries for 1,042 yards and 11 touchdowns, 36 receptions for 340 yards and two touchdowns
Graham was the leading producer of offensive yardage for Pittsburgh outside of quarterback Tino Sunseri. Graham could be counted on whenever the team needed a solid offensive performance. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry and 9.4 yards per catch through the 2012 season.
Graham was a key factor in the upset over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights as well. That was the key game for bowl eligibility. After a 4-6 start to the season, the Panthers needed to win out to make a bowl. Rutgers looked nearly impossible to defeat at that point in time, but Graham put on a 100-plus yard performance and scored a touchdown in that 27-6 beatdown.
*Honorable mention: Tino Sunseri for throwing only two interceptions against his 19 touchdowns.
Penn State Nittany Lions
MVP: Allen Robinson, wide receiver
Stat line: 77 receptions for 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns
Robinson averaged a whopping 13.2 yards per catch through the 2012 season and led the Nittany Lions to a season that nobody expected to happen for many years.
After the sanctions took their toll on the roster (Silas Redd to USC, etc.), Penn State wasn't expected to contend in the Big Ten until a few years after the sanctions were lifted.
Robinson did not care about all that noise. He simply went out and led Penn State to a second-place finish in the Big Ten Leaders Division (behind only Ohio State, who is also sanctioned for the 2012 season).
Oregon State Beavers
MVP: Markus Wheaton, wide receiver
Stat line: 88 receptions for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns, 16 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns
Wheaton is on the same field as Storm Woods, and to earn the MVP over Woods is an impressive feat. Wheaton found his way behind defenses all season long and happened upon the end zone more than anyone else on the team.
Wheaton edged out Woods for the MVP award, leading Oregon State to an unexpected 9-3 regular season.
*Honorable mention: Storm Woods for his 11 touchdowns on the ground.
MVP: Marcus Mariota, quarterback
Stat line: 218-of-312 for 2511 yards, 30 touchdowns and six interceptions; 98 carries for 690 yards and four touchdowns
Mariota is a freshman, and he threw for a 5-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. That's insanely good. He also led a team that lost some key stars to a performance that landed it one game shy of the Pac-12 championship game.
Mariota is hidden behind the wall that's made of Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas, so he is a little difficult to find. He is back there, and he's performing at a level that should successfully scare the rest of the Pac-12.
If he's this valuable as a freshman, what will he be like in his sophomore and junior years?
Honorable mention: Kenjon Barner for his explosive performances against almost everyone on the schedule.
Ole Miss Rebels
MVP: Bo Wallace, quarterback
Stat line: 213-of-336 for 2,843 yards, 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions; 135 carries for 363 yards and eight touchdowns
Wallace was first-year coach Hugh Freeze's pick for the signal-caller position, and Wallace immediately led Ole Miss to a bowl game. Wallace's touchdown-to-interception ratio isn't exactly stellar, but he did have to play against Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M and Mississippi State.
He made up for those interceptions on the ground with his prolific scrambling ability. He will be a bigger threat next season as a junior. Wallace made this team whole, and his presence in the pocket freed Randall Mackey up to be a bigger part of the game than he ever was under center.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
MVP: Joseph Randle, running back
Stat line: 257 carries for 1,351 yards and 14 touchdowns, 28 receptions for 224 yards
Randle survived the game of musical quarterbacks and emerged as one of the only constants on the field for the Cowboys this season.
His 14-touchdown performance eclipsed every single one of the signal-callers that got a shot under center. Randle only missed the 100-yard mark in four games this season. He averaged over five yards per carry to make himself one of the most reliable backs in the country. If you had a third-and-short, you could always fake a hand-off to him. The defense would be forced to bite on it.
MVP: Landry Jones, quarterback
Stat line: 332-of-507 for 3989 yards, 29 touchdowns and 10 interceptions
While Landry Jones did fall short of having a serious Heisman campaign, there is little doubt that he was the MVP of the Oklahoma Sooners. Most will lament his performances against Notre Dame and Kansas State, but he had an exceptional season overall.
In all honesty, the only thing he did wrong in those games was throw one interception in each one. He threw for 299 yards against Kansas State and 356 yards against Notre Dame. Just by looking at the box score, I wouldn't have believed that the Sooners had lost either of those games.
Jones had a good year with Oklahoma, and the 63-21 demolition of the Texas Longhorns was a brutally sweet victory for the Sooners.
Ohio State Buckeyes
MVP: Braxton Miller, quarterback
Stat line: 148-of-254 for 2039 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions; 227 carries for 1271 yards and 13 touchdowns
Miller was on everyone's watch lists for the Heisman at one point during the season. After Matt Barkley and Geno Smith fell from grace, Miller looked like he was going to ride the top of the list through the entire season.
Then something happened: All the usual rules that apply to college football were suspended. Ohio State was never ranked in the top two of the AP Poll, even though the Buckeyes were undefeated in a major AQ conference. Also, Miller slipped down and out of the Heisman rankings for no apparent reason. Yes, some of the wins were less than impressive, but there were no losses.
College football fans, ask yourself this question: Was Braxton Miller's performance for the Buckeyes more valuable than Manti Te'o's performance for the Fighting Irish?
I believe the answer to that question is "yes." Miller should be in New York. Maybe he shouldn't win, but he should have gotten the invitation.
What "they" can't rob him of is his Ohio State MVP award from Bleacher Report.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
MVP: Tyler Eifert, tight end
Stat line: 44 receptions for 624 yards and four touchdowns
What's impressive about Eifert? Well, for starters, he's a tight end with a stat line. If that were all the evidence, he'd be the MVP.
Yes, Manti Te'o is going to New York, and Te'o's performance was great throughout the season. However, if you want to talk about win-loss impact, Eifert has it, too. Eifert had a touchdown in two games that were won by fewer than seven points: Stanford and BYU.
Yes, Te'o had interceptions in key games that were won in true nail-biting fashion, but Eifert only has one game with zero receptions. He's been a major yardage factor in every game except the Michigan State bout.
Manti Te'o keyed Notre Dame's ability to win games with defense, but Eifert was the key offensive factor.
MVP: Venric Mark, running back
Stat line: 213 carries for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns, 18 receptions for 101 yards and one touchdown
Mark only missed hitting 100 yards on the ground in four games this season. He's been that consistent. His lone receiving touchdown came in the 42-41 win over Syracuse in the season opener.
Mark is a staple on the Northwestern offense, and everyone in purple hopes he returns for his senior season.
Northwestern has a lot to build on right now, and the MVP returning for a final year would certainly help that cause.
Northern Illinois Huskies
While they aren't in a BCS conference, the Northern Illinois Huskies met the requirements to be included in a BCS bowl. For that reason, Northern Illinois is recognized as a BCS team for this article.
MVP: Jordan Lynch, quarterback
Stat line: 222-of-353 for 2962 yards, 24 touchdowns and five interceptions; 271 carries for 1771 yards and 19 touchdowns
Lynch passed for 24 of NIU's 25 touchdowns, and he ran for 19 of the Huskies' 44 rushing touchdowns. That means Lynch was responsible for 43 of the team's 69 touchdowns scored this season. (That's a percentage of 62.3, for those of you who are curious.)
Northern Illinois is in a BCS bowl this year, and Lynch will lead the Huskies against the Florida State Seminoles. Leading a non-AQ team to a BCS bowl during a one-loss season should automatically get you major Heisman consideration (much more than he received anyway), but that's just food for thought.
NC State Wolfpack
MVP: David Amerson, cornerback
Stat line: 45 tackles, five interceptions (one was a pick-six) and 11 passes defended
Amerson never accrued more than one interception in a game this season, so this stat takes on a whole new meaning: NC State won every game in which Amerson picked off a pass.
There a precious few defenders who can make a claim like that, which shows why Amerson was so valuable to his team this year.
North Carolina Tar Heels
MVP: Giovani Bernard, running back
Stat line: 184 carries for 1228 yards and 12 touchdowns, 47 receptions for 490 yards and five touchdowns
Bernard also capped his season off with 16 punt returns for 263 yards and two more touchdowns. Some may call him a jack-of-all-trades, but North Carolina calls him an ace-in-the-hole.
Bernard is only a sophomore, so North Carolina can enjoy a full season of his exploits without the cloud of a postseason ban hanging over the program.
Hanging onto a guy that earned 1,981 all-purpose yards has got to feel good.
MVP: Taylor Martinez, quarterback
Stat line: 212-of-341 for 2,667 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions; 175 carries for 973 yards and 10 touchdowns
Martinez is a threat to score whenever he touches the ball. For most teams, you work a player like that into the game whenever possible. Nebraska put him under center, which means he touches the ball every offensive play.
Martinez was responsible for 31 touchdowns this season, taking advantage of the talent around him to come away with plenty of wins. All the 'Huskers need to do now is get a defense that will complement the offense.
MVP: Gee Gee Greene, running back
Stat line: 104 carries for 750 yards and three touchdowns, 14 receptions for 280 yards and two touchdowns
Greene amassed over 1,000 total yards of offense this season. That was more yards of offense than Navy's leading passer threw for. Greene also averaged a whopping 7.2 yards per carry, the best rate on the team.
There were others who found the end zone more, but no one who set up the score better than Greene.
MVP: Kendial Lawrence, running back
Stat line: 200 carries for 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns, 18 receptions for 114 yards
Lawrence may not have been on a team that made the postseason, but Missouri only missed a December play date by four points (against Vanderbilt).
Missouri was 4-0 in games in which Lawrence had two scores. The Tigers went 1-7 if he scored less than twice. On top of his performance being tied to success, Lawrence stayed healthy through a brutal SEC schedule in the Tigers' inaugural year.
There are several SEC veterans who couldn't manage to do that.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
MVP: LaDarius Perkins, running back
Stat line: 186 carries for 940 yards and eight touchdowns, 19 receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns
Perkins used versatility to make himself into a formidable opponent for any defense. He scored at least one touchdown in every game until he met Alabama. After that, he didn't score on the ground anymore, but he did have two touchdown receptions against Arkansas
Perkins was an integral part of Mississippi State's historic 7-0 start to the 2012 season. Without his touchdown in the Troy game, the Bulldogs would have likely been upset by the Trojans.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
MVP: Donnell Kirkwood, running back
Stat line: 199 carries for 849 yards and five touchdowns
Kirkwood had more than triple the number of carries as the No. 2 tailback on his team. An every-down back is difficult enough to find, but to see one at Minnesota is even more rare.
It's one thing to be able to put up solid numbers only averaging five carries per game, but to do it when averaging over 16 puts you in a category similar to household-name tailbacks across the country.
His 4.3 yards-per-carry average is great. Breaking the 4.0 mark is a goal for every 'back that takes the field.
Michigan State Spartans
MVP: Le'Veon Bell, running back
Stat line: 350 carries for 1,648 yards and 11 touchdowns, 30 receptions for 154 yards and one touchdown
Bell's career stats are 639 carries for 3,201 yards and 32 touchdowns. Bell achieved half of those numbers in 2012, with the exception of the touchdown mark.
Bell had a career season, and he will cap his junior year off with a Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl performance against the TCU Horned Frogs. If Bell can keep his production numbers up against the Frogs, 2012 should end with a bang for the Spartans.
MVP: Denard Robinson, running back/quarterback
Stat line: 89-of-166 for 1,319 yards, nine touchdowns and nine interceptions; 154 carries for 1,166 yards and seven touchdowns
While it took a while for the Wolverines staff to figure out that they had a running back throwing the football, at least they eventually figured it out.
Robinson has always had field vision, balance and agility. What he didn't have was an elite throwing arm.
The fact was that Robinson was an elite running back/receiver stuck in the pocket. Once the Wolverines freed him up, he became a phenom all over again.
He ran for 122 yards on 10 carries in the Horseshoe against Ohio State to cap off a great season. Robinson did a lot for this 2012 Michigan team, and the reward is a bout with South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.
MVP: Duke Johnson, running back
Stat line: 139 carries for 947 yards and 10 touchdowns, 27 receptions for 221 yards and one touchdown
Johnson did not score in six games this season. Miami lost five of them. In every game that he found the end zone, the Hurricanes came out on top.
Miami's success was tied to Johnson's performance all season. Though this correlation has shown up a few times on this list, rest assured that it is uncommon.
Luckily for Miami, he's a freshman. Just imagine how good he will be for Miami as a junior.
MVP: Stefon Diggs, wide receiver
Stat line: 54 receptions for 848 yards and six touchdowns, 22 punt returns for 221 yards, 25 kick returns for 713 yards and two touchdowns
Diggs tagged the opposition for 1,896 all-purpose yards during the 2012 season. While his performance as a receiver was well above average, his performance on special teams earned him the spot on this list. Anyone who's ever seen momentum flipped in a game knows how valuable the kickoff return to the house is.
(Sometime in the near future, I'd like to see a great returner nicknamed the "soul crusher," or something along those lines.)
MVP: Barkevious Mingo, defensive end
Stat line: 33 tackles, 4 sacks, 12 quarterback hurries and three passes defended
There are two ways to frustrate a quarterback:
1) Cover the receivers until the quarterback runs out of scrambling room
2) Get the quarterback so flustered that he doesn't trust his eyes when he sees an open target
Mingo excels at one of those things, and he doesn't play in the secondary. (Eric Reid's got his back on that part of the equation.)
Mingo is arguably the best part of LSU's vaunted defense. Mingo is a beast, and he has been a factor in almost every game this season.
If you find a way around Mingo, you have found out how to beat the Tigers. He was not a factor in the Florida or Alabama games, and those went down as losses for LSU.
MVP: Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback
Stat line: 267-of-387 for 3452 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions
Bridgewater has led the Louisville Cardinals to the Sugar Bowl against the Florida Gators. Bridgewater called the shots for the Cardinals on the way to a 9-0 start, but the team fell to Syracuse and Connecticut late in the year. (Yes, those are the "wrong" teams to lose to, thanks for asking.)
Louisville has a bright future with this MVP at the helm, as he is only a sophomore. There's still at least another year of Bridgewater left for Louisville.
MVP: Jonathan George, running back
Stat line: 108 carries for 504 yards and four touchdowns, 21 receptions for 223 yards and one touchdown
George is the most versatile player on the team. That's not to say that it would take two players to replace him, it's just that he's present in both aspects of the offense more than anyone else on the field.
A pass to George has a good shot at going for a first down. A handoff to him has just as good a shot at crossing the marker.
Unfortunately for George, Kentucky was not good this season. His may have much better results next season.
Kansas State Wildcats
MVP: Collin Klein, quarterback
Stat line: 180-of-272 for 2,490 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions; 194 carries for 894 yards and 22 touchdowns
Collin Klein is one of the three finalists for the 2012 Heisman. Klein has led the Kansas State Wildcats to an unexpected Big 12 title and the conference's berth in the Fiesta Bowl.
Kansas State suffered one measly loss to the Baylor Bears, but the Bears have a highly underestimated offense. (Yes, even without RG3.)
Collin Klein is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. His passing needs a bit of work, but he's easily the Wildcats' MVP.
MVP: James Sims, running back
Stat line: 218 carries for 1,013 yards and nine touchdowns
Dayne Crist, the Jayhawks' leading passer, has four touchdowns and nine interceptions. Sims, the tailback, has nine touchdowns.
The tailback has scored as many times as the starting signal-caller has turned the ball over.
Sims is clearly the MVP of the team, and the Jayhawks may want to look into swapping the quarterback for another tailback. If they did that, they could run the wildcat formation and an option-style attack that might do well in the Big 12. (Certainly what Kansas is doing isn't working that well, so it might be worth looking into.)
Iowa State Cyclones
MVP: Josh Lenz, wide receiver
Stat line: 29 receptions for 430 yards and six touchdowns, one 15-yard touchdown pass
Lenz was a non-factor in four games this season (three he didn't play in, and in one he didn't get the ball at all). Even so, Lenz is the team's leading receiver by 27 yards. He's averaging 14.8 yards per catch this season and should be utilized as much as possible in the bowl game.
Seriously, he's the most valuable player on the field, and he's not getting much action even when he's in the game. It's his senior year, Iowa State. To re-purpose a Jack Sparrow quote: "If you're waiting for the opportune moment, this is it."
MVP: Mark Weisman, running back
Stat line: 159 carries for 815 yards and eight touchdowns, 15 receptions for 90 yards and one touchdown
Weisman leads the team in scoring (except for the kicker) and rushing yardage. Weisman did not play against Purdue or Indiana, and Iowa lost both those games by three points each.
That's not to say Weisman definitely would have gotten Iowa to a bowl, but it does hint at it quite a lot. He found a way to score against Minnesota and Michigan State; it's far from unreasonable to assume he would have done the same thing to Indiana and Purdue.
MVP: Stephen Houston, running back
Stat line: 161 carries for 749 yards and 12 touchdowns, 37 receptions for 381 yards and four touchdowns
Houston was one of the more productive tailbacks in the country, not just the most productive scorer on the Hoosiers team. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry and 10.3 yards per catch. The guy scored 16 touchdowns, while the go-to quarterback, Cameron Coffman, only threw 15.
Looks like another team that could use a quarterback or a lesson on how to run the wildcat formation.
Illinois Fighting Illini
MVP: Nathan Scheelhaase, quarterback
Stat line: 149-of-246 for 1,361 yards, four touchdowns and eight interceptions; 125 carries for 303 yards and four touchdowns
Despite the fact that he threw two interceptions for every touchdown he scored, Scheelhaase is the MVP for the Illini. There are seven players on the team with more than 10 rushing attempts and six players on the team with more than 15 catches.
Scheelhaase may not be the best quarterback in the nation, but he's got balance that rivals the best. Hopefully he'll do much better in his senior year. Nobody likes to go out on a sour note, and a two-win season would definitely qualify as a sour note.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
MVP: Tevin Washington, quarterback
Stat line: 72-of-128 for 1,173 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions; 161 carries for 638 yards and 19 touchdowns
As the signal-caller in an option offense, it should come as no surprise that Washington is the MVP of the Yellow Jackets.
The captain of this particular offense is in complete control of what happens on every single play. Yes, the coaches call the plays, but the prescribed reactions to the way the defense responds are all on the quarterback.
That's why you see quarterbacks like Washington and Tim Tebow with ludicrously high rushing numbers. They aren't necessarily that great at running the ball; they are simply that great at outfoxing the opponent at every turn.
Washington should get an honorary minor in psychology for running this offense all the way to the Sun Bowl.
MVP: Jarvis Jones, linebacker
Stat line: 47 tackles, 12.5 sacks, one interception and seven forced fumbles
Jones is a turnover machine, and he is one of the best (if not the best) pass-rushers in the country. Jones can create opportunities for his team at any moment, and his skill makes it a little easier for the offense to breathe when they're off the field watching the defense do its thing.
His sack total is tied for fourth in the country, so the Bulldogs offense probably enjoys watching him as much as the fans in the stands do.
Jones will be a steal for whatever NFL team picks him up, but Georgia hopes that's in the 2014 draft.
Florida State Seminoles
MVP: EJ Manuel, quarterback
Stat line: 237-of-349 for 3,101 yards, 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions; 97 carries for 284 yards and three touchdowns
Manuel had a heck of a start to the 2012 season, leading his team to outscore its first three opponents 176-3. He also balanced his attack throughout the season, helping nine different receivers gather at least 10 receptions each and five different rushers (not including himself, of course) pick up at least 29 carries.
Manuel may not have led his team to the BCS title game, but he rolled through the ACC to the Orange Bowl. (Georgia Tech gave him a scare in the conference championship, but the Seminoles overcame that little speed bump.)
MVP: Matt Elam, defensive back
Stat line: 49 tackles, one sack, four interceptions and one forced fumble
While he may not have the brilliant stats that some other players have, he's a player in the secondary. He's not supposed to tackle. He's supposed to be the last line of defense.
Elam doesn't seem to care. He's around the ball-carrier a lot, and Florida rode his performance (and the rest of the defense) to a Sugar Bowl berth with only one loss.
Had Georgia dropped just one more conference game, Florida might have ended up in the national championship opposite Notre Dame.
Duke Blue Devils
MVP: Ross Martin, placekicker
Stat line: 44-of-44 on PATs, 18-of-20 on field goals
Martin has made 8-of-9 from 20-29 yards, 4-of-5 from 30-39 yards and a whopping 6-of-6 from 40-plus yards. His long of the season is from 50, so he's not exactly first-round material when it comes to the draft, but for any fan of any team that's ever needed a field goal, that 6-of-6 from 40 or longer looks really sweet.
By the way, Martin's a freshman.
MVP: Lyle McCombs, running back
Stat line: 243 carries for 860 yards and six touchdowns, 24 receptions for 230 yards
McCombs is the only player at UConn with over 1,000 yards of total offense. While he only has the sixth-most-targets of any receiver on the squad, he's got six times the carries of the tailback behind him on the list.
McCombs is a valuable part of the offense, and he scored in half the games that the Huskies played. He's dependable but occasionally underutilized.
MVP: Christian Powell, running back
Stat line: 158 carries for 691 yards and seven touchdowns
Colorado may have only won one game this season, but that doesn't stop us from sifting through the game logs and play-by-play transcripts to find ourselves an MVP.
Since there were no real "big victories" for the Buffaloes this season, we had to settle for a "little" one. Christian Powell is the only player on the Colorado Buffaloes to have scored against Oregon's defense this season.
He scored twice in the third quarter against the Ducks.
MVP: Tajh Boyd, quarterback
Stat line: 251-of-377 for 3,550 yards, 34 touchdowns and 13 interceptions; 157 carries for 492 yards and nine touchdowns
Boyd has more rushing touchdowns than Clemson's leading rusher, Andre Ellington, and he has a 34-to-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Boyd also helped six different receivers tally no fewer than 20 times receptions each throughout this season.
He's balanced, poised and smart with the football. Clemson hopes he sticks around another season.
MVP: Munchie Legaux, quarterback
Stat line: 120-of-230 for 1,716 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions; 55 carries for 335 yards and four touchdowns
Legaux led the Bearcats to a 5-0 start that turned into a 6-2 start before getting pulled in favor of Brendon Kay. Regardless of how things ended up, Legaux had this team bowl-eligible before Kay even got his first start.
That doesn't take anything away from Kay's 3-1 finish to the season, because that was excellent. However, it doesn't change the fact that Legaux had Cincinnati playing in the postseason as of the end of game eight.
California Golden Bears
MVP: Keenan Allen, wide receiver
Stat line: 61 receptions for 737 yards and six touchdowns, 1-of-1 passing for eight yards
Allen did a little bit of everything this season, even getting involved in a trick play where he completed a pass. In games where he found the end zone, Cal went 3-2. In games where he didn't score, Cal went 0-7.
Allen was as successful as someone can be on a team that only wins three games.
MVP: Jamaal Williams, running back
Stat line: 151 carries for 744 yards and 11 touchdowns, 25 receptions for 288 yards and one touchdown
Williams clearly averaged one score per game (12 touchdowns divided by 12 games), and he broke the 100-yard barrier three times on the ground this season (five times with total offense).
BYU ended the season with a 7-5 record, and this freshman had a lot to do with that.
Boston College Eagles
MVP: Alex Amidon, wide receiver
Stat line: 78 receptions for 1,210 yards and seven touchdowns, four carries for 55 yards and one touchdown
Amidon was the leading offensive producer for 2012's Boston College Eagles. Amidon's eight total touchdowns are one more than the entire squad scored on the ground this season (even if you count his rushing touchdown both times).
Amidon may not have been able to pull out four wins all by himself, but he certainly pulled his weight with six 100-yard performances this year.
MVP: Terrance Williams, wide receiver
Stat line: 95 receptions for 1,764 yards and 12 touchdowns
Williams had a career year with the Baylor Bears, and he played a key role in the offense in every game. He may not have scored a ton of points in every game, but he repeatedly set up scores with his receptions and his yards after catch.
*Honorable mention: Running back Glasco Martin, who also scored 12 touchdowns for the Bears this season (including three against Kansas State).
MVP: Onterio McCalebb, running back
Stat line: 94 carries for 570 yards and six touchdowns, 23 kickoff returns for 523 yards and one touchdown
McCalebb did everything he could to ensure that Auburn could meet with success. Unfortunately, it seemed at times that he was the only one. Interestingly, in games where he scored at least one touchdown on the ground, Auburn was 3-1 (the loss was by two points to LSU).
His kickoff returns were a valuable part of the game as well, but it seemed that the coaches just didn't know what to do with anything on the gridiron...not even field position.
Army Black Knights
MVP: Trent Steelman, quarterback
Stat line: 39-of-85 for 619 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions; 224 carries for 1,152 yards and 16 touchdowns
Steelman is his team's own "Army of One" when it comes to statistical success. The offense is similar in nature to the one run by Georgia Tech. It's not the quarterback's job to be a pocket passer who can pick apart defenses with lethal accuracy.
It's relatively easy to find a good-to-great quarterback, but you won't generally find one in the service academies. That's exactly why these guys run their programs the way they do. It evens the playing field a bit.
Army has beaten Air Force and Boston College so far this year, and the Army/Navy rivalry game is coming on Dec. 8 (just in case you want to see him in action in his last game).
MVP: Dennis Johnson, running back
Stat line: 137 carries for 757 yards and eight touchdowns, 25 receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns
Johnson outscored Cobi Hamilton by five touchdowns. As awesome as Hamilton's statistics are, he didn't have any close competition at his position. Johnson had to wrestle for opportunities with Knile Davis.
Johnson turned those opportunities into 5.5 yards per carry and 6.4 yards per catch topped with 10 total touchdowns. The combination of all three players really helped Tyler Wilson find some success throughout the season, but Johnson had the biggest impact.
Arizona State Sun Devils
MVP: Marion Grice, running back
Stat line: 89 carries for 520 yards and nine touchdowns, 39 receptions for 406 yards and eight touchdowns
Nobody else on the team came anywhere near scoring 17 touchdowns this season. Grice was a threat to score any time he touched the ball. Putting him at running back was most definitely a good move by the staff.
He's got great hands, and he's absolutely a big-play threat, from the screen game to the bruising runs up the middle of the defense.
MVP: Ka'Deem Carey, running back
Stat line: 275 carries for 1,757 yards and 20 touchdowns, 33 receptions for 288 yards and one touchdown
Carey had more than half the offensive yardage on the ground that star quarterback Matt Scott had through the air. Carey's 21-touchdown mark was just three shy of Scott's 24 as well.
Wildcats fans should be stoked that they're guaranteed one more year with him in the backfield. He's a threat to score on every play. Enjoy your MVP while you've got him.
Alabama Crimson Tide
MVP: Amari Cooper, wide receiver
Stat line: 53 receptions for 895 yards and nine touchdowns
Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon both have more touchdowns and more yards than Amari Cooper, so why is he the MVP?
Without Cooper, the injuries that Alabama dealt with all season would have been insurmountable. The closest receiver to Cooper had only 431 yards and three touchdowns. Cooper had a breakout year, and he's a freshman.
Cooper isn't the only breakout freshman on the team, but if you take him out of the picture, there isn't anyone to take his place. If you remove either of the leading running backs, the ground game would suffer, but not greatly. The feature back would just get less rest.
If Cooper left, there would be no gunpowder in the passing attack. Alabama simply had too much injury on that front.
*Honorable mention: T.J. Yeldon, for picking up the slack that injury left in the offensive backfield.