College Football Predictions 2011: BCS Conference Offensive Players of the Year
It's not a stretch to say that more people who watch football appreciate a high-scoring offense than a shutdown defense.
Touchdowns, big runs and long bombs are what put fans in the stands, and bring the game lots of attention.
That's why I'm here today previewing who I believe each conference's top offensive player will be this season.
ACC: Lamar Miller
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Lamar Miller is certainly a dark horse for this award, as quarterbacks E.J. Manuel and Logan Thomas from Florida State and Virginia Tech, respectively, are likely the favorites.
However, Miller will likely be the lynch pin in what should be a Miami offense that will have a renewed focus on the running game and protecting the football.
Miller is shifty and explosive and can really break off a long run. His prowess in the return game makes him a weapon every time he steps on the football field.
He is also adept at catching the ball out of the backfield and will be able to make an impact in the passing game as well.
Big East: Geno Smith
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Geno Smith had a terrific season as a freshman, passing for for 2763 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also threw just seven interceptions.
Armed with a new offensive coordinator this season who is a better fit for his drop back in the pocket style, Smith should only get better.
When you factor in the relative weakness of the rest of the Big East, it's hard to see how Smith could not win this award this season.
Other contenders include South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels and Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros.
Big Ten: Denard Robinson
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The Big Ten and the Pac-12 provided the two toughest selections for offensive player of the year.
In my mind, James White of Wisconsin is probably just as good of a selection as Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.
However, it is Robinson's explosiveness from all parts of the field that sets him apart for me. He is a threat to score literally every time the ball is snapped, and he proved it last season.
If he can stay healthy, I think he runs away (no pun intended) with the award, even despite the prospective greatness of White.
Robinson may have been the best offensive player in the country last season when he was on the field, and he should only be better and more confident this season.
Big 12: Landry Jones
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This was the easiest of the picks. Landry Jones should not only win offensive player of the year in the Big 12, but he should be a contender for the Heisman Trophy.
He's leading one of the most explosive offenses in the nation, and will return his number one target in wide receiver Ryan Broyles.
Jones has great size, a big arm and is very accurate, which he has proven by putting up huge numbers the past two seasons.
He improved his numbers in every category from his freshman to sophomore seasons, including interceptions, despite playing in more games as a sophomore.
It's entirely possible he improves on his 4718 passing yards and 38 touchdowns from last season.
Pac-12: Andrew Luck
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There are four players in the Pac-12 who I can easily see winning this award. One player plays for Stanford. The other three play for Oregon.
The reason I'm picking Andrew Luck over LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and Darron Thomas is that he's really the only game in town for Stanford.
While James, Barner and Thomas will share the backfield, and the touches, for the Ducks, Stanford's quarterback will shoulder the biggest load on his offense.
He has a solid running back in Stepfan Taylor to take some of the wind out of the sails of pass rushers as well.
Luck is big, strong, accurate and will likely be the number one pick in next year's NFL draft.
SEC: Trent Richardson
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With Mark Ingram and Greg McElroy departing Tuscaloosa for the NFL, Trent Richardson will assume a larger role in the Crimson Tide offense this season.
He's rushed for over 700 yards in each of his first two seasons, despite pretty clearly being the number two back on his team.
He's also caught 39 passes in his two seasons, and the upward trend in his reception totals can be expected to continue this season.
This is a conference that lost a lot of top offensive players, and the award is wide open this season.
Other contenders include South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore and quarterbacks Aaron Murray of Georgia and Tyler Wison of Arkansas.
And don't count out other dark horses like Lattimore's fellow Gamecock Alshon Jefferey or Florida's John Brantley.