College football has a plethora of awards, and with the regular season nearing an end (just two weeks left -- hey, stop sobbing, it'll be all right), the awards committees have culled the herd and announced their finalists.
Now, we get to criticize the culling!
Bednarik Award (top defender)
Buzz: Donald belongs, unquestionably. You could make a case for Buffalo LB Khalil Mack and Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier instead of Barr and Mosley. All in all, though, not a bad group.
Biletnikoff Award (top receiver)
Finalists: Brandin Cooks, Oregon State; Mike Evans, Texas A&M; Sammy Watkins, Clemson.
Buzz: It's hard to find fault with this trio. Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews and Penn State's Allen Robinson would've made it a great quintet.
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Butkus Award (top linebacker)
Finalists: Anthony Barr, UCLA; Khalil Mack, Buffalo; C.J. Mosley, Alabama; Ryan Shazier, Ohio State; Shayne Skov, Stanford.
Buzz: Skov shouldn't be there; instead, it should be teammate Trent Murphy. Otherwise, it's a good group.
Groza Award (top kicker)
Finalists: Roberto Aguayo, Florida State; Anthony Fera, Texas; Marvin Kloss, USF.
Buzz: Uhhh, no. Kloss is fine. But how about San Jose State's Austin Lopez and Memphis' Jake Elliott instead of Fera and Aguayo. Elliott is 15 of 16 overall, just like Aguayo. But Elliott also is 6 of 6 from at least 40 yards and 3 of 3 from at least 50; Aguayo is 5 of 6 and 1 of 1. Both have nailed a 56-yarder. Lopez is 20 of 25 overall to Fera's 17 of 18. But while Fera is 4 of 5 from at least 40 and 1 of 1 from at least 50, Lopez is 9 of 11 and 2 of 2. Kloss is 14 of 18 overall but 9 of 13 from at least 40 and 4 of 6 from at least 50; he has the most 50-yarders in the nation. Distance should matter.
Ray Guy Award (top punter)
Finalists: Tom Hornsey, Memphis; Drew Kaser, Texas A&M; Cody Webster, Purdue.
Buzz: Though there are some other good candidates, this is a solid group. Kaser would lead the nation in punting (48.0 yards per) if he had more attempts, and the Aggies are fifth in net punting. Hornsey is seventh individually and second in net punting. Webster is just 20th overall, but he has punted often and the Boilermakers are third in net punting. Plus, in 65 attempts, he has had just two touchbacks. As for who's No. 1 in net punting? It's Alabama, but presumably the Tide is winning enough, so why honor punter Cody Mandell, too?
Lombardi Award (best lineman/linebacker)
Finalists: LB Anthony Barr, UCLA; DT Aaron Donald, Pitt; LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama; DE Michael Sam, Missouri.
Buzz: A case can be made that Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews should be a finalist instead of Barr or Mosley. Donald and Sam are solid choices.
John Mackey Award (top tight end)
Finalists: Eric Ebron, North Carolina; Nick O'Leary, Florida State; Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington.
Buzz: Uhhh, where's Texas Tech's Jace Amaro? You know, the best tight end in the nation? Amaro wasn't on the award's "watch list" because even though Texas Tech lists him as a tight end, he spends a lot of his time spread wide. But Amaro was on the semifinalist list anyway, so why isn't he a finalist? He belongs much more so than O'Leary. In short, the best player at his position won't win the award given to the best player at his position because he isn't even a finalist.
Maxwell Award (top player)
Finalists: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M; QB AJ McCarron, Alabama; QB Jameis Winston, Florida State.
Buzz: Winston belongs. Manziel? Maybe. McCarron? Nope. He's not even the best player on Alabama's offense, much less the entire Tide team or the nation. Fresno State QB Derek Carr, Pitt's Donald, Ohio State's Shazier, Boston College RB Andre Williams -- all would've been better choices than McCarron.
Bronko Nagurski Trophy (top defender)
Finalists: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State; DT Aaron Donald, Pitt; CB Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State; LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama; DE Michael Sam, Missouri.
Buzz: Where's Ohio State's Shazier? He belongs ahead of Joyner. And if there is just one linebacker, Shazier belongs instead of Mosley. Dennard, Donald and Sam are good choices. Stanford's Murphy would've been another good finalist.
Davey O'Brien Award (top quarterback)
Finalists: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M; AJ McCarron, Alabama; Jameis Winston, Florida State.
Buzz: McCarron, for sure, shouldn't be on there. What about Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Fresno State's Derek Carr, Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Baylor's Bryce Petty, Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch -- you get the idea. One of those guys replacing Manziel, too, wouldn't be that bad. Winston belongs, no question.
Outland Trophy (top interior lineman)
Finalists: DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh; OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M; G Cyril Richardson, Baylor.
Buzz: A solid trio. Hard to complain.
Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back)
Finalists: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State; CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State; CB Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State.
Buzz: Three really high-caliber players. Still, stats-wise, Joyner could've fallen off in favor of a number of guys: Washington State SS Deone Bucannon, TCU CB Jason Verrett and Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller among them. On the other hand, Joyner is the leader of FSU's aggressive and stout defense, so his presence certainly isn't an egregious mistake.
Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (top fourth-year junior or senior quarterback)
Finalists: Tajh Boyd, Clemson; Derek Carr, Fresno State; Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois; AJ McCarron, Alabama; Aaron Murray, Georgia.
Buzz: Bridgewater instead of McCarron would've made sense.
Doak Walker Award (top running back)
Finalists: Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona; Bishop Sankey, Washington; Andre Williams, Boston College.
Buzz: Another solid trio.
Two awards, the Rimington Trophy for the best center and the Ted Hendricks for the best defensive end, haven't announced finalists yet.