With a week’s rest behind us now, our Pac-12 Friday miniseries in college football with the Conference of Champions and its Midwest partner in perfect purity—the B1G—returns to analyze the 2008 season this week. Neither conference really figured into the national chase for the MNC this year, really, so it keeps us insulated from the nonsense out there.
On with the best show in college football … and the longest-running one, too!
2008 Pac-10 MVP: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State & Rey Maualuga, LB, USC (original); Mark Sanchez, QB, USC (revised)
The USC Trojans won another conference title with an 8-1 league mark, finishing one game ahead of both Oregon and Oregon State. The voted MVPs were Beavers running back Jacquizz Rodgers (1,500 scrimmage yards and 12 TDs) and Trojans linebacker Rey Maualuga (2 INTs). The latter went from 6 sacks in 2007 to zero in 2008, so we can’t take him seriously as an MVP candidate.
Rodgers is still in the running, though, along with who else? USC quarterback Mark Sanchez topped the conference with a 164.8 QB rating, almost 20 points better than the next guy. Rodgers actually finished second in the conference for rushing and scrimmage yards behind California RB Jahvid Best. But the Trojans did not have a player who reached 1,000 scrimmage yards, so that’s telling.
Oregon State QB Lyle Moevao was mediocre, but we see Sanchez as carrying the USC offense more than Rodgers carried the Beavers offense: Oregon State wide receiver Sammie Stroughter topped the conference in receiving yards, for example. So our award here goes to the Sanchize, perhaps the best and worst nickname ever.
2008 B1G MVP: Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa & James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State (original); Javon Ringer, RB, MSU (revised)
Ohio State and Penn State tied for the league title with 7-1 marks, followed by Michigan State at 6-2. The voted MVPs were Iowa RB Shonn Greene (1,899 scrimmage yards and 20 TDs) and Buckeyes LB James Laurinaitis (130 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 INTs). Greene’s team finished one game behind the Spartans, so he’s out, while Laurinaitis could still be a contender here, depending on what else we find.
MSU RB Javon Ringer (1,827 yards and 22 TDs) carried his team with a mediocre QB (Brian Hoyer, 111.5 QB rating), while the Nittany Lions had a good offensive combo in top-rated QB Daryll Clack and third-best RB Evan Royster. The only defensive category Laurinaitis topped the conference in was assisted tackles, which is not a big endorsement there.
There’s basically no way the Spartans come close to the top of the standings without Ringer, because no MSU receiver topped even 700 yards. That pretty much clinches this for us: Ringer led to B1G with 418 plays from scrimmage, which is an insane usage rate, but again, without that effort, the Spartans are a .500 team and probably don’t get a bowl invite (they lost the CapitalOne Bowl to Georgia).
2009 Rose Bowl MVP: Sanchez & Kaluka Maiava, LB, USC (original); Sanchez (revised)
The Trojans beat the Nittany Lions, 38-24, in a Granddaddy that wasn’t that close at all. It was 31-7 at halftime, and USC went into cruise control during the second half. The voted MVPs were Sanchez (429 total yards, 5 total TDs) and Trojans LB Kaluka Maiava (4 tackles, 2 passes defended). Four of the Sanchez scores came in the first half: three passes and one rush. That was the game right there.
We think this is easy to just give the MVP to Sanchez: The Trojans defense was incredible, but it was a broad team effort with loads of talent contributing (linebackers alone included Maualuga, Maiava, Clay Matthews, and Brian Cushing—think about that for a second). Sanchez was 28-for-35 overall, for a 216.8 QB efficiency rating. Case closed.