The Pac-12 Friday miniseries for college football in the Conference of Champions and its Midwest brethren—the B1G—analyzes the 2005 season this week. There was a very strange and unique MNC situation this year, too, as all eyes were on one bowl matchup, although the metrics say something else all together. Remember? We do, as we watched all the drama unfold on TV from a resort in Mexico.
Relive it with us right now … onward and upward!
2005 Pac-10 MVP: Reggie Bush, RB, USC & Haloti Ngata, DL, Oregon & Dale Robinson, LB, Arizona (tie) (original); Ngata (revised)
USC won the league again with an 8-0 mark, followed by Oregon at 7-1 and UCLA at 6-2. Every other team failed to crack .500 on the conference season. The offensive MVP vote winner was Trojans running back Reggie Bush, while there was a tie for the defensive nod between Ducks defensive lineman Haloti Ngata and Arizona Wildcats linebacker Dale Robinson (15 TFLs, 4 sacks, 3 FFs).
Bush (2,218 scrimmage yards and 18 TDs) and Ngata (9 TFLs, 3 sacks) can stay in the discussion; is there anyone else to consider? It’s hard to see Bush as the MVP, when he was in a backfield with quarterback Matt Leinart (the 2004 Heisman winner) and fellow RB Lendale White (1,521 yards and 26 TDs). The Bruins also had a standout trio at QB-RB-TE, with leaders all over the conference board.
Strangely, the Ducks had no leaders on offense: no QB in the Top 8 for efficiency rating, no skill player in the Top 10 for scrimmage yards, etc. Thus, we see Ngata as a force that somehow got Oregon to second place in the conference, even though the Ducks lost to the Trojans by 32 points in their matchup. There’s no way Oregon reaches No. 6 in the country with that offense, unless Ngata was that true force.
2005 B1G MVP: Brett Basanez, QB, Northwestern & A.J. Hawk, LB, Ohio State (original); Michael Robinson (revised)
Penn State and Ohio State tied for the conference crown with 7-1 records, although the Nittany Lions beat the Buckeyes in their matchup. Four other teams finished two games back in a crowded league race, so we’ll start our MVP discussion there. That takes out offensive MVP vote winner, Northwestern QB Brett Basanez, but it does leave us with defensive MVP vote winner, tOSU linebacker A.J. Hawk.
We’re looking at Penn State QB Michael Robinson, actually, who posted 28 total TDs to tie Basanez for the league lead. He only tossed 10 INTs, while running for over 800 yards on the year, in addition to his passing yards. Robinson’s top receiver didn’t even gain 700 yards, so he was spreading the ball around and running for his life—and his team should have gone undefeated overall, in truth.
As for Hawk, he posted 16.5 TFLs and 9.5 sacks, so he was in the opponents’ backfields a lot. Yet he was outdone by Penn State DL Tamba Hali (17 TFLs, 11 sacks, 1 FF). In the end, both Hali and Hawk played on excellent team defenses, while Robinson was often running an offensive show all alone—and all the way to a conference championship.
2006 Orange Bowl MVP: Willie Reid, WR, Florida State (original); Austin Scott, RB, Penn State (revised)
So, the Trojans went to the Rose Bowl, which served as the BCS title game again, and USC lost to Texas in that classic game that went down to the wire. Meanwhile, Penn State went to the Orange Bowl and faced Florida State, winning the game, 26-23, in three overtimes. That’s our bowl choice this week, for obvious reasons, even if Seminoles WR Willie Reid won the MVP vote at the time.
Reid had an 87-yard punt return for a score, but otherwise, he only caught 4 passes for 55 yards. Penn State won the game because of defense and a few stand-out offensive performances: RB Austin Scott (110 yards rushing, 2 TDs) and WR Jordan Norwood (110 yards receiving). We lean toward Scott, as his first TD opened the game’s scoring, and he also scored the Nittany Lions’ last TD of the game, too.
We feel a lot more comfortable with that MVP nod, for obvious reasons. Scott averaged 4.2 yards on 26 carries, so he was a workhorse all day for an offense that totaled 391 yards. Without him, Penn State does not win this game—or our MNC trophy, either.