As we inch ever closer to the current day on this Pac-12 Friday miniseries, we take one another season of the corrupt College Football Playoff era, which will now exclude the Conference of (real NCAA) Champions. When we’re done with this miniseries in a month or so, we will start going the basketball route in the same vein, which has always been a more fair and equitable college endeavor!
2017 Pac-12 MVP: Bryce Love, RB, Stanford & Vita Vea, DL, Washington (original); Love (revised)
USC won the conference, although Stanford and Washington also were there in the mix. We have the two MVP vote winners above, and we’d add USC quarterback Sam Darnold to the fray, except that he led the Pac-12 in interceptions (13), and he wasn’t the top-rated QB in the process. Love finished second in the Heisman voting after posting 2,151 yards and 19 total touchdowns for the Cardinal.
Vea doesn’t appear on any league leaderboards (4 PDs, 3.5 sacks), and with Stanford edging out Washington for the North Division title, anyway, it’s a moot point. Is there anyone who can challenge Love here? Not really, as he was 400-plus yards clear of everyone else on the scrimmage-yards list, and he scored plenty of TDs. He’s our league MVP pick. We will dissect his Heisman candidacy later, of course.
2017 B1G MVP: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State & Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa (original); Barkley (revised)
Ohio State won the conference, while Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan State also contended. Barkley—2,365 total yards with 24 TDs in a Heisman-worthy effort—dominated again, just like last season. Jewell—13.5 TFLs, 11 PDs, 4.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 FF—had a great season for losing team (4-5 in league play), so his value takes a hit. Can anyone match Barkley from our top teams?
The Buckeyes had several great players, and the Badgers did have the conference rushing champion—Jonathan Taylor. But the top three QBs also came from Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin, so that means that pretty much everyone had quality teammates. No one from Michigan State did anything significant on their own, either. This comes down to Barkley again, with all-around value.
He ran for 1,271 yards, caught passes for 632 more yards, completed 2 passes for 36 yards, and returned kickoffs for 426 yards—all while scoring in all those modes, too, including passing for a TD. He did it all for the Nittany Lions, basically. It’s his award again.
2018 Cotton Bowl MVP: J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State & Damon Webb, S, Ohio State (original); Webb (revised)
The CFP conspired to keep the B1G out of the playoffs in favor of a second SEC team, and we got four “traditional” matchups between our conferences, albeit not in the Rose: Ohio State versus USC in the Cotton, Penn State and Washington in the Fiesta, Michigan State and Washington State in the Holiday, and Arizona versus Purdue in the Foster Farms (?). Strangely, the B1G won all four of those matchups.
We’re going with the Cotton, though, as that was the league champs taking each other on, and the Buckeyes won, 24-7, to prove they should have been in the CFP. Barrett was underwhelming as a passer (114 yards on 17 attempts) and average as a runner (16 carries, 66 yards), despite getting 2 TDs on the ground. In fact, the Buckeyes gained only 277 yards on offense despite winning the game, handily.
The defense forced 4 USC turnovers, including Webb’s INT TD return that made it 17-0 and effectively buried the Trojans’ collective psyche. He added 5 tackles and 1 fumble recovery, but that pick-six effort changed the entire game. He’s our MVP here.