We take one week off from our Pac-12 Friday miniseries for a holiday weekend, and everything changes overnight for Conference of Champions and its Midwest partner in perfect purity—the B1G. Ironically, the 2010 season was the last for the Pacific-10, as it would expand to 12 teams for the 2011-2012 athletic year. Perfect timing to move forward here, right?
Until the dust settles on all this realignment, here we go again …
2010 Pac-10 MVP: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford & Stephen Paea, DL, Oregon State (original); Luck (revised)
Oregon posted a 9-0 record in league play, closely followed by Stanford at 8-1. The voted MVPs were Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck (3,791 total yards with 35 TDs and 8 INTs) and Oregon State defensive lineman Stephen Paea (10 TFLs, 6 sacks, 4 FFs, 2 PDs). But since no teams finished within 3 games of Stanford, we have to look only for contenders here from Oregon. Is there one?
The only real candidate we see here is Ducks running back LaMichael James, who led the conference in rushing yards (1,731), scrimmage yards (1,939), and scrimmage TDs (24). That’s a great season, but we look at the fact that Oregon had a nice set of “triplets” (QB/RB/WR) while Stanford only had a nice set of “twins” (QB/RB). That generally gives Luck more value in our minds.
We also like Ducks defensive back/punt returner Cliff Harris here, though: He led the Pac-12 in INTs (6), INT return yardage (92), punt return yards (546), and punt return TDs (4). Harris also added an INT TD return, too. Why he didn’t win the defensive vote over Paea is a mystery to us, although we still will go with Luck as our overall, singular MVP choice here.
2010 B1G MVP: Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan & Ryan Kerrigan, DL, Purdue (original); Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State (revised)
There was a three-way tie atop the B1G at 7-1 in conference play: Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin finished 3 games ahead of everyone else in the league. The voted MVPs were from teams that didn’t break .500 in conference: Michigan Wolverines QB Denard Robinson (4,272 total yards) and Purdue Boilermakers DL Ryan Kerrigan (26 TFLs, 12.5 sacks, 5 FFs). They won’t win our MVP, obvi.
Our top picks here are Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien (165.9 QB rating), Buckeyes QB Terrelle Pryor (157.9), and Spartans QB Kirk Cousins (150.7). It’s all about “triplets” here, then: Tolzien had three teammates with over 1,000 scrimmage yards, while Pryor and Cousins each just had one teammate cracking that barrier (both RBs, respectively).
Pryor’s best wide receiver finished second in the conference for receiving yards (948), while Cousins’ best guy was just eighth (788). In addition, the top Ohio State RB was 100 yards better overall than the top MSU RB. We see Cousins doing more with less here than Pryor; this Spartans team was not worthy of the Top-5 ranking it attained at one point, so Cousins had serious value as the heart of MSU’s success.
2011 Orange Bowl MVP: Luck (original); Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford (revised)
The Ducks were plucked from the Rose Bowl to play for the B(C)$ “title” while the Cardinal went to the Orange Bowl. Meanwhile, Wisconsin ended up going to the Rose Bowl (despite losing to Michigan State), while Ohio State infamously won the Sugar Bowl. Thus, we’re going to highlight the Stanford game here: The voted singular MVP for the Orange Bowl in Miami was Luck, who threw for 287 yards and 4 TDs.
But he also tossed an INT in the 40-12 win over Virginia Tech, as the Cardinal outscored the Hokies, 27-0, in the second half to break open a close game. The last three TDs for Stanford were Luck passes, averaging 46 yards each, to tight end Coby Fleener. Ironically, Cardinal TE Zach Ertz caught the other TD pass from Luck in the first half. Clearly, VPI couldn’t cover TEs very well!
With Luck’s INT, we’re more inclined to give this MVP to Fleener, in truth; he caught 6 passes for 173 yards overall, and clearly he was the reason Stanford was able to win so handily. He was the one making the play work on at least 4 of his receptions. We’d also give credit to Cardinal linebacker Shane Skov, who posted 12 tackles overall, including 4 TFLs, 3 sacks, and 1 PD. But Fleener gets our MVP trophy.