Our Pac-12 Friday entry today focuses on the 1994 season of college football for the Conference of Champions and its Midwest brethren, the B1G. A new member of the latter conference made a push for the mythical national championship in this season, and a new power was christened on the Best Coast as well. All this makes for a fun read today!
1994 Pac-10 MVP: Napolean Kaufman, RB, Washington (original); Ontiwaun Carter, RB, Arizona (revised)
The Oregon Ducks won their first conference championship since 1957 with a 7-1 league record, followed by Arizona and USC at 6-2. However, it was Washington Huskies running back Napoleon Kaufman who won the league MVP vote, despite his team’s 4-4 finish in the Pac-10. He led the conference in rushing yards (1,390) and yards from scrimmage (1,589).
That’s a great season, but did the contending teams have anyone to offer? Two Trojans players stand out—quarterback Rob Johnson and wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, unrelated—but then you know how we feel about teammates. So, to us, this comes down to two other RBs: Arizona’s Ontiwaun Carter (1,389 scrimmage yards and 8 TDs) and Oregon’s Dino Philyaw (1,017 scrimmage yards and 11 TDs).
Both players had average support at QB, and when we look at the two offenses, comparatively, we see the Ducks scored more than a field goal per game higher than the Wildcats did, so we’re going to go with Carter as our league MVP since he brought more needed value to the Arizona attack.
1994 B1G MVP: Kerry Collins, QB, Penn State (original, confirmed)
The Penn State Nittany Lions won the B1G in their second season in the league, going a perfect 8-0 through the conference schedule. Accordingly, QB Kerry Collins won the MVP vote at the time, throwing for a B1G-best 2,679 yards and 21 TDs, while also posting a conference-high 172.9 efficiency rating. The Penn State offense was loaded, too, with RB Ki-Jana Carter (1,539 rushing yards and 23 TDs).
Both those numbers lead the league, too, along with Carter’s whopping 7.8 yards-per-carry average. The Nittany Lions also had two WRs combine for 2,002 receiving yards. So, which cog enabled the other? Collins or Carter? That’s a tough question, and it’s one we cannot determine, really, as Collins averaged over 10 yards per passing attempt himself. The Penn State offense was just unreal.
Averaging an incredible 47 points per game, the Nittany Lions were unstoppable, and in that case, we will give defaulting credit to the director of the show: Collins—even though Carter finished second in the Heisman voting. We don’t eliminate teammates here, as the team went undefeated in league play and clearly was the most dominant entity in the conference.
1995 Rose Bowl MVP: Carter & Danny O’Neil, QB, Oregon (original, tie); Carter (revised)
Penn State beat Oregon, 38-20, in a game that was both closer than that score indicates and not as close as the score indicates. The MVP vote was split between Carter and Ducks QB Danny O’Neil. But the latter threw a huge interception with his team trailing by 7 in the third quarter than ended up crushing the Oregon chances for an upset, so he’s not going to be our selection here.
Carter opened the game with an 83-yard TD run on the very first play, and overall, he posted 156 rushing yards on 21 carries with 3 TDs. Collins had a solid game, too, but with an INT, it was clearly Carter from the start who owned this game. O’Neil set some records, but 2 INTs overall cancel that good work out in the end.