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2014 college football award predictions: Heisman and more

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It's time to hand out hardware to the nation's top college football players. Here's a rundown of the major awards and who we think will win each of them.

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Bednarik Award (top defender)

The finalists: DE Vic Beasley, Clemson; DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State; LB Scooby Wright, Arizona
Projected winner: Wright. The Bednarik and Nagurski awards both go to the top defender, and Wright already has won the Nagurski. He should win the Bednarik, too; he is in the top five nationally in sacks (14), tackles (153), tackles for loss (27) and forced fumbles (six).

Biletnikoff Award (top receiver)

The finalists: Amari Cooper, Alabama; Rashard Higgins, Colorado State; Kevin White, West Virginia
Projected winner: Cooper. He also is a Heisman finalist and the most talented receiver in the nation. This is a strong group of finalists: Each is among the top five in the nation in receptions and top six in receiving yards.

Walter Camp Award (top player)

The finalists: QB Trevone Boykin, TCU; WR Amari Cooper, Alabama; TB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin; QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon; LB Scooby Wright, Arizona
Projected winner: Mariota. The Camp goes to the nation's top player, just like the Heisman, but only five of the past 10 Heisman winners (and, yes, we're counting Reggie Bush as a Heisman winner) also have won the Camp; recent history is even worse -- Jameis Winston last season and Cam Newton in 2010 were the only double winners in the past seven years.


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Groza Award (top kicker)

The finalists: Roberto Aguayo, Florida State; Brad Craddock, Maryland; Josh Lambert, West Virginia
Projected winner: Aguayo. He won the award last season as a redshirt freshman, and almost certainly is going to win it again after going 25-of-27 on field-goal attempts; he is 3-of-3 from at least 50 yards, with a long of 53, and his misses have come from 40 and 41 yards.


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Ray Guy Award (top punter)

The finalists: Tom Hackett, Utah; Austin Rehkow, Idaho; J.K. Scott, Alabama
Projected winner: Rehkow. He plays for a bad team but leads the nation with a 47.8-yard average. The Vandals also lead the nation in net punting. Hackett and Scott are second and third, respectively, in average, and Alabama and Utah are second and third, respectively, in net punting, so any of the trio would be worthy.


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Heisman Trophy (top player)

The finalists: WR Amari Cooper, Alabama; TB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin; QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Projected winner: Mariota. And it wouldn't be a surprise if he sets the record for highest percentage of first-place votes.

Lombardi Award (best lineman/linebacker)

The finalists: DE Vic Beasley, Clemson; DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State; LB/DE Hau'oli Kikaha, Washington; LB Scooby Wright, Arizona
Projected winner: Wright. He has had a marvelous season. Again, though, as with the Hendricks Award, it wouldn't be a surprise if any of the finalists won.

Maxwell Award (top player)

The finalists: TB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin; QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon; QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Projected winner: Mariota. It looks as if he deservedly is going to clean up on the awards trail. But just two of the past 10 Maxwell winners also won the Heisman -- Cam Newton in 2010 and Tim Tebow in 2007. AJ McCarron won the Maxwell last season.

Davey O'Brien Award (top quarterback)

The finalists: Trevone Boykin, TCU; Marcus Mariota, Oregon; Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Projected winner: Mariota. Eight of the past 10 Heisman winners have been quarterbacks, and seven of those guys won the O'Brien. The only outlier: Oklahoma's Jason White won the 2004 O'Brien and USC's Matt Leinart won the '04 Heisman.

Outland Trophy (top interior lineman)

The finalists: DT Malcom Brown, Texas; C Reese Dismukes, Auburn; OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa
Projected winner: Scherff. He was one of the most highly hyped linemen in the nation entering the season and did a good job of living up to the hype. Brown has been dominant at times, and really blossomed under new coach Charlie Strong.

Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back)

The finalists: FS Landon Collins, Alabama; CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon; FS Gerod Holliman, Louisville
Projected winner: Holliman. The guy has tied an FBS single-season record with 14 interceptions. He is not as talented as Collins or Ekpre-Olomu, but he has had a better season.

Rimington Trophy (top center)

The finalists: Jack Allen, Michigan State; David Andrews, Georgia; Reese Dismukes, Auburn; B.J. Finney, Kansas State; Andy Gallik, Boston College; Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
Projected winner: Dismukes. Grasu probably is the best center, but he missed the final three games of the season with a leg injury, and that could be enough to get Dismukes -- a four-year starter -- the award.

Doak Walker Award (top running back)

The finalists: Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska; Tevin Coleman, Indiana; Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Projected winner: Gordon. He leads the nation in rushing and rushing TDs, and his rushing total (2,336 yards) already is fourth-highest in FBS single-season history. He should move up on that list, as he is just 6 yards away from tying USC's Marcus Allen for third place. Coleman also exceeded the 2,000-yard mark and would be a worthy winner in any season but this one.

Four award winners we already know: UCLA's Eric Kendricks won the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker; Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright -- who wasn't a Butkus finalist -- won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation's best defensive player; Florida State's Nick O'Leary won the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end; and Utah's Nate Orchard won the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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