On Pac-12 Friday this week, we see the Conference of Champions and its Midwest brethren, the B1G, getting a traditional Rose Bowl matchup, which is very nice to see once again. In fact, we awarded our MNC for this season to one of the league champions below in a surprising moment for everyone involved. You just never know how badly our predecessors screwed up until you look a little closer …
On with the entertainment that will make us smile throughout the weekend ahead!
2012 Pac-12 MVP: Marqise Lee, WR, USC & Will Sutton, DL, Arizona State (original); Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (revised)
The top teams in the conference were the Oregon Ducks (8-1), the Stanford Cardinal (8-1), and the UCLA Bruins (6-3). Neither of the voted MVPs above played for a team that won more than 8 games on the year, overall, so we have to look elsewhere for our MVP. Our best candidates are Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota (163.2 QB rating) and Stanford defensive back Ed Reynolds (47 tackles, 6 INTs, 3 TDs).
Mariota led the conference as a freshman in efficiency, and he also ran for 754 yards on the ground, too. He was involved in every play, basically, for the Ducks. While we appreciate the momentum swings that a pick-six return provides a team, Reynolds didn’t have enough regular impact on every play in the same way Mariota did, so we will go with the Oregon first-year player here.
His full numbers? 3,433 total yards with 39 TDs and 6 INTs. He threw for 32 TDs, ran for 6 TDs, and even caught a TD pass as well. That’s incredible, yet it didn’t earn Mariota a single Heisman vote on a team that finished ranked No. 2 in the country with a 12-1 record that included a Fiesta Bowl victory.
2012 B1G MVP: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State & John Simon, DL, Ohio State (original); Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska (revised)
This was a ridiculous year in the conference, as NCAA sanctions (later vacated and/or proven frivolous) kept Ohio State (8-0) and Penn State (6-2) out of the B1G Championship Game. The other two teams worthy of consideration for MVP candidates were Nebraska (7-1) and Michigan (6-2). Yet it was Wisconsin (4-4) that ended up as the league champ … go figure. Anyway, we digress.
Besides our vote winners above, who can we consider? Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez topped Ohio State QB Braxton Miller in QB rating, and he also led the B1G in total yards (3,890) and total TDs (33). He seems to be the best candidate on that side of the ball, while the Buckeyes had a lot of defensive leaders spread across the league’s stat sheet. We can’t isolate just one of them for this award, obviously.
The 580-yard gap between Martinez and Miller in total yards is huge, even if the QB rating margin was minimal (1.1 points): The Cornhuskers QB actually ran for over 1,000 yards on the ground, too, and there is no way Nebraska makes it to the B1G title game without his overall contributions.
2013 Rose Bowl MVP: Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford & Usua Amanam, CB, Stanford (original); Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford (revised)
The Cardinal beat the Badgers, 20-14, in a pretty boring Granddaddy, in truth. Stanford took a first-quarter, 14-0 lead and never looked back in a defensive struggle that saw just 3 points scored in the second half (a Cardinal FG in the fourth quarter). The two teams combined for only 645 yards, including 405 of them on the ground. There was only 1 turnover as well.
Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor won the offensive MVP votes with just 105 combined yards and 1 score. With 23 touches, though, he was hardly dominant. The same can be said for Wisconsin RB Montee Ball (25 touches, 107 total yards, 1 score). Cardinal cornerback Usua Amanam had 3 tackles, an INT, and 1 PD, but that was about it—enough to earn him the defensive MVP votes.
Overall, though, for us to comes down Stanford QB Kevin Hogan (174 total yards) and Cardinal defensive back Jordan Richards (7 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack). Wisconsin was an offensively challenged team, in averaging under 30 points per game throughout the season, but its defense was very good. Hogan was 12-for-19 passing, gaining 123 yards there without an INT. He also ran for 54 yards on just 7 carries.
More than anything else, we’re giving him credit here for running the Cardinal offense effectively: Stanford ran the ball for 5.3 ypc against a stout defense, and Hogan was leading the show. He also spread his 12 completions around to 5 different receivers, so without his deft handling of the keys to the car, the Cardinal might not have won the game—or our MNC, for that matter.