We are back for the Pac-12 Friday miniseries in college football with the Conference of Champions and its Midwest brethren—the B1G—to analyze the 2007 season this week. There were a lot of B(C)$ machinations this year to keep the Pac-10 out of the championship, and the result was rigged chaos, of course. How can anyone take this sport seriously? Why do we even bother? Oh well …
History be history. Let’s do this!
2007 Pac-10 MVP: Dennis Dixon, QB, Oregon & Sedrick Ellis, DL, USC (original); Ellis (revised)
The USC Trojans and the Arizona State Sun Devils tied for the conference lead with 7-2 record, and USC won the tiebreak based on a head-to-head win. Either way, Oregon Ducks quarterback Dennis Dixon and Trojans defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis were voted the MVPs of the league. Dixon infamously got hurt after leading Oregon to the No. 2 ranking in the country, and his season was cut short as a result.
The Ducks finished just 5-4 in conference play, so what about Ellis? He had 8.5 sacks, 12.5 TFL, and 7 PDs. That’s a pretty active season for the top team in the league. But he didn’t top the conference in any of those categories. Offensively, no player from ASU or USC stood out, strangely enough. Oregon State finished third in the league with a 6-3 mark, but no Beavers player distinguished himself, either.
In this unique case, we will stick with Ellis for the following reasons: First, USC’s defense was tops in the conference by more than 6 points allowed per game, and second, he did post Top 10 stats in both passes defended (second) and sacks (seventh). That’s a dynamic combo from a down lineman, and it’s clear he was the anchor of the top defense in the conference that empowered a fifth-straight Pac-10 title.
2007 B1G MVP: Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois & James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State (original); Mendenhall (revised)
The Ohio State Buckeyes won the B1G for the third consecutive time with a 7-1 conference record, followed by Illinois and Michigan one game behind. Fightin’ Illini RB Rashard Mendenhall (1,999 scrimmage yards and 19 TDs) and Buckeyes linebacker James Laurinaitis (121 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 INTs) won the MVP votes. Where do we stand on this one?
Well, Mendenhall didn’t top the league in TDs, but he did lead in rushing (1,681) and scrimmage yards while playing with the 10th-rated QB in an 11-team conference. Ohio State QB Todd Boeckman (148.9 rating) was the best QB, but he had solid support in his offense. Laurinaitis didn’t really stand out in any statistical category, which leaves us with Mendenhall as a logical choice.
His QB, Juice Williams, posted a 119.2 QB rating, which was abysmal. Mendenhall’s 316 yards receiving was good enough for third on the team, in fact. He was a one-man wrecking crew for a surprise runner-up finish in conference play, which included an upset of Ohio State in mid-November that knocked the Buckeyes from the top spot in the Associated Press poll. He’s our guy here.
2008 Rose Bowl MVP: John David Booty, QB, USC & Rey Maualuga, LB, USC (original); Maualuga (revised)
The Buckeyes were nabbed again for the championship game, leaving us with USC and Illinois in the Granddaddy of Them All. And it was no contest: The Trojans blew out the Illini, 49-17, after leading 21-3 at halftime. The one Illinois highlight was Mendenhall’s 79-yard TD run (20:50 mark) to open the second half. Otherwise, it was all USC, as the winners put up 633 yards on the Illinois defense.
The Trojans also forced 4 Illini turnovers, which was huge. USC QB John David Booty (255 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT), our conference and Rose Bowl MVP from last year, and LB Rey Maualuga (3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 PD) shared the MVP honors. We find Booty’s performance underwhelming, and we like Maualuga’s across-the-board effort, for sure. The Trojans offensive effort was a group thing, for the record.
Yet, RB Joe McKnight stood out with 125 rushing yards and 45 receiving yards. However, his one score came in the second half when the game was already out of hand, and we favor the defensive effort here from Maualuga to be the singular performance worthy of the MVP nod. So, there it is.
Make sure to always check on the final day of the work week for another exciting installment of Pac-12 Fridays on the Daily McPlay!