And the Oscar Goes to....The Best of College Football
The 2008 college football regular season has come to a close, which means the bowl schedule is set, and not a single player, coach, or fan is the least bit upset with what turned out to be a crystal clear BCS picture.
OK. So maybe clarity and happiness aren't exactly what college football does best this time of year, but it's not all bad—the end of the year means it's time to celebrate the teams, players, and moments that defined the 2008 season.
With awards being handed out left and right, and the Heisman Trophy presentation coming up, I thought I'd join in the fun and hand out some hardware of my own.
The 2008 college football season had the dramatics, storybook endings, and sudden twists and turns of a good movie, so I figured why not honor the best of college football using some of the categories from the top awards in film, the Oscars.
On that note, the Oscars go to...
Best Actor: Mike Knall (P, Oklahoma)
You may not know the name Mike Knall, but you know his acting resume.
As punter for the Sooners, Knall flopped twice during Oklahoma's 45-35 loss to Texas, drawing roughing the kicker calls in both cases. The second flop was particularly pathetic, with Knall hitting the turf after the slightest bump by a Texas defender, and crawling around as if he had just been riddled with arrows by a band of orcs from the second "Lord of the Rings" movie.
The good news for Knall: if the whole American football thing doesn't work out, there will be a spot for him on the 2010 Italy World Cup team.
Best Makeup: Brandon Carter (OL, Texas Tech)
At 6'7" and 354 pounds, you would think Texas Tech offensive lineman Brandon Carter doesn't need to go out of his way to look more intimidating.
Apparently, he does.
Carter and his war paint became the symbol of a Red Raider offensive line that gave Graham Harrell about 32 seconds to throw the ball every time the quarterback dropped back to pass.
Best Visual Effects: Knowshon Moreno (RB, Georgia)
Moreno didn't pan out to be college football's best running back in 2008 (that title belonged to Iowa's Shonn Greene), but as far as dazzling plays go, it's tough to beat Moreno.
Sure, the bulk of his YouTube-worthy clips came against lesser foes, but from hurdling CMU players to his goal-line swan dive against ASU, Moreno was a joy to watch.
Best Director: Houston Nutt (Coach, Ole Miss)
No one directed a team better than Houston Nutt in his first year at Ole Miss. The Rebels went 8-4 overall in Nutt's debut season, remaining the sole team to beat Florida, losing to Alabama by just four points, and reeling off five straight wins to close the season.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Matt Williams (K, Texas Tech)
By now, we all know the story: Texas Tech student Matt Williams won a kicking contest, caught the attention of Red Raiders' coach Mike Leach, and the next thing Williams knows, he's kicking for a BCS contender.
Although it's a great story, it's not exactly an original one. There are already plenty of "from nothing to something" sports movies out there, ranging from the lackluster "Invincible," to the memorable "Rookie of the Year," to the timeless ABC Family classic "The Garbage-Picking, Field Goal-Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon," starring the versatile Tony Danza.
Best Original Screenplay: Oregon State/USC Rose Bowl Drama
There's always BCS drama, but college football was on the brink of a BCS nightmare when the Beavers sustained their momentum following the upset of then-No. 1 USC, and came within one win of claiming the Pac-10 crown.
If Oregon State had beaten Oregon, they would have earned a spot in the Rose Bowl, pushing USC to a different bowl, and forcing a different school out of the BCS picture entirely.
Instead, the "Civil War" restored civility to the BCS (well, the little civility the system has in the first place).
Best Supporting Actors: ACC Fans
No one has been required to act more than ACC football fans this year, as these dedicated men and women have devoted every Saturday to acting like their conference is deserving of a spot in the BCS.
Boston College and Virginia Tech won the ACC Atlantic and Coastal divisions, respectively, with pitiful 5-3 conference records, and the Hokies are moving on to what VT fans are likely trying to convince themselves will be a really compelling Orange Bowl against Cincinnati.
Best Costume Design: Georgia Bulldogs
The 2008 season had a lot of news on the costume—or in this case, uniform—front, including the USC Trojans sticking with their red home jerseys at UCLA, and the Oregon Ducks taking the time and effort to somehow, some way, make their uniforms even more bizarre.
But the top moment in college football threads was sparked by the Georgia "blackout" against Alabama, when the players wore their black jerseys, and thousands of screaming fans wore all black to intimidate the visiting Crimson Tide.
Of course, the Bulldogs gave up 34 unanswered first half points on their way to an embarrassing loss, but at least they looked cool before the game kicked off.
Best Score: Iowa 24, Penn State 23
A play on the "Best Score" Oscar category awarded to the best music in a film, this award goes to the best score (literally) of 2008: Iowa's 24-23 shocker over Penn State.
This wasn't the best game of the year, but it summed up what's great about college football—on any given Saturday, David can topple Goliath.
No. 3 Penn State failed to put the game away, allowing Hawkeyes kicker Daniel Murray (who at that point had converted just one field goal on the year) to boot the game winner. What was supposed to be a routine win for the Nittany Lions turned into the game of the year for the Hawkeyes.
Best Picture: Texas Tech 39, Texas 33
The game that rocked the BCS rankings was also the best game of the year.
Sure, the Red Raiders couldn't keep their momentum going as they got blown out by Oklahoma two weeks later, but Texas Tech will always have memories of Michael Crabtree tightroping the sideline in the waning seconds to clinch a 39-33 win in one of the more thrilling games of the decade.
The center of the college football world temporarily shifted from Austin to Lubbock, as Texas Tech showed they had the firepower and just enough defense to compete with the Big 12 powerhouse Longhorns.