We are so close to finishing this Pac-12 Friday miniseries, we can taste it … the Conference of (real NCAA) Champions and its B1G brethren were both excluded from the CFP for some bull$hit reason(s), but we loved this season, anyway. And remember, soon we will start going the basketball route in the same vein, which has always been a more fair and equitable college endeavor!
2018 Pac-12 MVP: Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State & Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, Washington (original); Minshew (revised)
The two Apple Cup schools, as well as Stanford and Utah, were the top teams in the league, with the Washington Huskies emerging as the league champs for the second time in three years. The Apple Cup schools also supplied both our voted MVPs: Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew (4,898 total yards, 42 TDs, 9 INTs) and UW linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven (176 tackles, 6 PDs, 4 FFs, 2 INTs).
No one else really stood out in the conference, and this represents a tough choice between Minshew and Burr-Kirven. On the one hand, Minshew led WSU to an 11-win season, even with a loss in the Apple Cup to Washington that decided the North Division title (in the snow, no less). Looking at the opposite view, the Huskies had the most stingy defense in the conference, giving up just 16.4 points per game all year.
But in the end, we look at the difference Minshew made to a team that finished ranked 10th in the Associated Press poll, as opposed to the Huskies’ established dominance (they won the conference and made the CFP in 2016 with many of the same players on the roster). Meanwhile, WSU was hindered by its idiot coach, so this was rare territory for the Cougs: their first season in the final polls since 2003.
2018 B1G MVP: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State & Devin Bush, LB, Michigan (original); Haskins (revised)
Michigan, Northwestern, and Ohio State all posted 8-1 conference records, with the Buckeyes taking the title via head-to-head wins over the Wildcats and Wolverines. Our voted MVPs here come from that trio, but did Northwestern have any candidates themselves? Both Wildcats LBs Blake Gallagher (B1G-high 127 tackles) and Paddy Fisher (116 tackles, league-best 4 FFs) were better than Bush, in truth.
The Michigan star had just 66 tackles (plus 4.5 sacks and 4 PDs) and was living off the numbers from the prior year when he was significantly better statistically. Yet the two NU defenders cancel each other out as MVP candidates, leaving us with Haskins as the default choice here: a 174.1 QB rating on 4,939 total yards with 54 TDs and just 8 INTs. That’s quite a season for a team that went 13-1 overall.
2019 Rose Bowl MVP: Haskins & Brendon White, S, Ohio State (original); Haskins (revised)
Since the CFP decided to shaft the Buckeyes (again), we got our traditional matchup in the Granddaddy—and it was all Ohio State, which built a 28-3 by the fourth quarter before going in cruise control on the way to a 28-23 victory over the Huskies. There were no turnovers in this game, as Haskins threw for 251 yards and 3 TDs to three different receivers to earn MVP honors, along with safety Brendon White.
White contributed 8 tackles, 2 TFLs, and 1 PD, but the Buckeyes actually allowed 444 yards in the game, even if a lot of it was in garbage time at the end. That’s too much, and while his stat line is good, it’s hardly great. Overall, 22 different Ohio State players registered a tackle, so it was a team effort to build that 28-3 lead. Meanwhile, Haskins tossed his 3 TDs in the first half on the way to a 21-3 halftime lead.
That was the game right there, and with a singularly dominant defensive performance to match it, we will confirm Haskins’ vote win right now.