B/R's College Football Weekly Awards: 2022 Season

David KenyonFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 16, 2023

B/R's College Football Weekly Awards: 2022 Season

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    Michael Penix Jr.
    Michael Penix Jr.Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The first week after the national championship is basically the college football version of a Midwest Goodbye.

    Perhaps the concept is unfamiliar. Friends, gather around.

    When you're at someone's home, there is a moment at which you know it's probably time to leave. Nothing else will be accomplished, even while you might enjoy the company. How do you gently announce it? If you live in the Midwest, you undertake a lovely process.

    First, slap your knees. Then, say, "Welp, 'spose I should go." Although you will head toward the door, your conversation will not stop for at least a half-hour—and will include no less than three farewells.

    Nothing is left to achieve in the 2022 season; I guess we should start thinking about 2023. We love your company, but the games are done. We need to move forward, but we're not done reminiscing.

    This is a temporary goodbye for B/R's Weekly Awards. But we're excited to see you again next fall—after our season-focused finale.

Team of the Year: Georgia Bulldogs

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    Stetson Bennett and Kirby Smart
    Stetson Bennett and Kirby SmartAP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

    Kirby Smart is a legendary coach.

    Forget the back-to-back national championships capped by the largest bowl victory in the sport's history. No, we're not talking about a string of dominant defenses, either. Smart somehow made the defending champions believe they were the underdog in 2022.

    "They thought we was gonna go 7-5; we end up perfect," star linebacker Nolan Smith said on the field following Georgia's 65-7 obliteration of TCU in the national title.

    I hope Smith is a great person. He's a potential first-round NFL draft pick, too. But, seriously, who on this planet projected UGA to finish 7-5? Five of B/R's six experts picked Georgia to make the CFP. Look around the media landscape, and you'll see a similar theme.

    But somehow, Smart and his coaching staff became the masters of motivation for a team loaded with talent.

    Georgia survived a clash at Missouri, and Ohio State missed a last-second field goal in the Peach Bowl. Otherwise, UGA ripped off double-digit victories in every game.

    Fifteen memorable wins later, the under-Dawgs will be chasing a third straight crown in 2023.

Runner-Up of the Year: TCU Horned Frogs

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    Max Duggan
    Max DugganKevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    TCU deserves its final moment in the spotlight.

    By now, you're probably an expert on the backstory. Last year, the program fired longtime coach Gary Patterson and hired Sonny Dykes. Now-star quarterback Max Duggan began the season as the backup to Chandler Morris, only moving into the lineup because of an injury.

    Before the season, it seemed TCU would be a mid-tier squad. Bowl eligibility? Sure. But that appeared to be the ceiling.

    Instead, the Horned Frogs rode a shocking year from Duggan to a season of incredible almosts.

    Duggan, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, propelled TCU to 13 victories—most notably, a win over Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl, a College Football Playoff semifinal—and trips to the Big 12 and national championships.

    Yes, the Horned Frogs lost both contests, and Georgia straight-up steamrolled TCU. Some level of disappointment is understandable.

    Considering the state of the program after last season, though, what the Horned Frogs accomplished in 2022 far outweighs the frustration of how the season finished.

G5 Team of the Year: Tulane Green Wave

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    Michael Pratt and Tyjae Spears
    Michael Pratt and Tyjae SpearsGeorge Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Back in 1998, Tulane assembled a dream season. Star quarterback Shaun King guided the Green Wave to a 12-0 record, climbing as high as seventh in the AP rankings.

    There was little indication 2022 would be a comparable year.

    Head coach Willie Fritz had done a solid job at Tulane, guiding the program to three straight bowls from 2018-20. But the Green Wave slipped to 2-10 in 2021, only defeating one FBS opponent. They entered 2022 with a few individual standouts but low team expectations.

    Even after defeating future Big 12 champion Kansas State in September, Tulane fell to Southern Miss. That result didn't seem to foreshadow one of the nation's best stories.

    Nevertheless, the Wave crested at 11-2 after defeating three consecutive Top 25 opponents to end the season. They upended Cincinnati to reach the AAC Championship Game, knocked off UCF in the title matchup and upset USC in a thrilling Cotton Bowl win.

    Running back Tyjae Spears is NFL-bound, but quarterback Michael Pratt will headline Tulane's pursuit of back-to-back AAC titles in 2023.

Turnaround of the Year: Washington Huskies

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    Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer, center, talks with quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) during the first half of the Alamo Bowl NCAA college football game against Texas in San Antonio, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
    AP Photo/Eric Gay

    Tulane could qualify here. In the interest of avoiding an overlap, the next obvious choice is Washington.

    Last season, the program fired second-year coach Jimmy Lake for multiple reasons. Beyond an off-field devolution in his relationship with the school, Lake slapped Ruperake Fuavai's helmet and shoved him on the sideline during a November loss to Oregon.

    In short, Washington was a mess.

    However, the arrival of Fresno State coach Kalen DeBoer sparked the Dawgs. They landed Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who played under DeBoer when he was Indiana's offensive coordinator. And together, they launched a surge from 4-8 to 11-2.

    Penix finished No. 2 nationally with 4,641 yards and threw 31 touchdowns, also landing eighth in Heisman Trophy voting. Washington only missed the Pac-12 Championship Game by virtue of a tiebreaker.

    Washington will have no shortage of hype this offseason as DeBoer and Penix return to lead an energized roster.

Betting Kings of the Year

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    Mark Stoops
    Mark StoopsAP Photo/Michael Clubb

    If you throw a couple of dollars on the line throughout the season, hopefully you tracked these programs all year.

    Tulane covered the spread a nation-best 85.7 percent of the time, per TeamRankings, with Oregon State ever-so-narrowly behind at 84.6 percent. USC, meanwhile, provided overs at a 78.6 percent rate thanks to its high-scoring offense and porous defense.

    And, hey, the opposite side works, too.

    Colorado, Miami and Stanford each finished 2-10 against the spread, which is a pretty nightmarish 16.7 clip.

    Most valuably, hopefully you found Kentucky. Although the Wildcats managed to finish with seven victories, their matchups hit the under 12 times in 13 games—a 7.7 percentage of overs.

OT Monsters of the Year: Texas Tech Red Raiders

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    Texas Tech head coach Joey McGuire signals players against Kansas during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Justin Rex)
    AP Photo/Justin Rex

    If only Texas Tech could've hit fast-forward to overtime each weekend.

    While the Red Raiders put together a quality 8-5 season in Joey McGuire's debut year as head coach, they proved unbeatable if regulation didn't determine a winner.

    Texas Tech finished a perfect 3-0 in overtime, knocking off Houston, Texas and Oklahoma. Most impressively, the Red Raiders held both Texas and Oklahoma scoreless. The extra-time success propelled Texas Tech to its first eight-win campaign since 2013.

    And to a rare position in recent history.

    During the last two decades, only four others—South Florida (2003), Virginia Tech (2012), Tulsa (2016) and Northwestern (2017)—have recorded three overtime wins without a loss.

Anti-Champion: Massachusetts Minutemen

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    Don Brown
    Don BrownMitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Unfortunately for us, the 2022 season did not allow for a transitive national champion. Georgia ruined our fun with a 15-0 campaign.

    When life gives you undefeated lemons, you make lemonade out of the, uh, most defeated lemons. That's a four-way tie between Colorado, UMass, Northwestern and South Florida, which each posted a 1-11 record.

    Colorado and Northwestern both defeated FBS opponents, though. The decision then falls to UMass and USF for their respective victories over Stony Brook and Howard.

    But as Howard ended 5-6, Stony Brook went 2-9.

    No team in the Football Championship Subdivision with a worse record defeated an FBS program, either. UMass, officially, had the most disastrous top-division season in the country.

    Take that, Georgia.