After an amazing National Championship game in which a football team from Georgia blew a large lead (sound familiar?) and Nick Saban equalled Bear Bryant’s poll era National Championship record of 6, it brought a curtain down on one of the most extraordinary seasons in recent memory. Below I will provide an overview of the season and give out awards for the most outstanding performances.
Game of the year
The championship game was a very good contender as was the Rose Bowl semi final. Other honourable mentions are the Notre Dame vs Georgia game and the Penn State vs Ohio State game. However, my choice is all the way back in week 1 when the UCLA Bruins hosted the Texas A&M Aggies. The Bruins stormed back from a 34 point deficit to beat the Aggies 45-44.
Potential number 1 draft pick Josh Rosen had a great day and underlined his potential with 491 YDS and 4 TD. This game would set the tone for the Aggies’ season where HC Kevin Sumlin would be fired and replaced with Jimbo Fisher on a mammoth 10 year $75 million contract.
Player of the year
A pretty obvious choice with Baker Mayfield. The Heisman winner silenced many of his critics (myself included) with some incredible performances particularly against Ohio State, Texas and Oklahoma State. He finished with nearly 5,000 total yards and 48 total TD’s. The only problem for Mayfield is his attitude and conduct with several high-profile incidents including planting the Oklahoma flag on the Ohio State 50 yard line and obscene gestures against Kansas.
There will no doubt be lots of interest in him in the draft and he could go anywhere in the first 2 rounds. Other great performances on the season include Rashaad Penny of San Diego State, reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville, Georgia LB Roquan Smith, NC state DE Bradley Chubb and Stanford RB Bryce Love.
Coach of the year
Plenty of candidates here including Mark Richt of the Miami Hurricanes who has restored the swagger of ‘the U’ and the famous turnover chain. Also in contention was Kirby Smart of Georgia who came agonizingly close to leading the Bulldogs to a National Championship. An honourable mention to Bill Clark of UAB who led the Blazers to an 8-5 record just 3 years after the team was cut due to a funding crisis at the university. Most people’s choice will be UCF coach Scott Frost who led the Knights to an unbeaten season and a claimed National Championship due to them beating Auburn in the Peach Bowl who beat the two championship participants Alabama and Georgia.
However, my choice is FAU coach Lane Kiffin who led the owls to an 11-3 and a Conference USA championship a year after the Owls went 3-9. Kiffin’s remarkable 1st season should come as no surprise as he has been a HC in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders as well as the USC Trojans, Tennessee Volunteers and has recently served as Nick Saban’s OC at Alabama. Kiffin’s presence on Twitter has also brought notoriety to the FAU program which has only been in existence since 2001 and fans have adopted the phrase ‘the Lane Train’ to describe the momentum of the team after they won 11 straight to end the season.
Moment of the year
For this I’m going to give it to a non-sporting moment that is perhaps one of the best feel good stories of the year. The Iowa Wave at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City is the Hawkeyes’ newest tradition and probably one of the most heart warming.
At the end of the 1st quarter of every home game, the Iowa fans turn to the children’s hospital behind the stadium and wave to the patients on the 12th floor. This is done to ensure that the kids who are fighting awful illnesses know that they are not alone and that the fans are thinking of them.
Upset of the year
The final award is the one that proves the unpredictable nature of college football. There were many upsets this year including Miami demolishing Notre Dame, Iowa State beating Oklahoma in Norman and FCS Liberty defying the odds to win at Baylor in the biggest upset in college football history according to Vegas.
However, sadly for me I can’t look any further than Troy beating LSU in Baton Rouge which ended the Tigers’ 49 home non-conference winning streak which was the longest in the nation. What makes this worse for LSU is that it destroyed their ranking and bowl hopes as well as it being on homecoming and costing the university almost $1m. It led to calls for the firing of HC Ed Orgeron and permanently fractured the relationship between Orgeron and OC Matt Canada who has now been fired.
There you have it, the review of an incredible season that has flew by and has produced many lasting moments. Let’s hope that the 2018 season is just as exciting!
Follow the author @thenglishgiant.