The regular season is winding down, which means it’s time to start thinking about college football awards.
The Heisman race is in full swing, but that’s not the only big one up for grabs. There are countless trophies that have to find a home. It’s time to start thinking about those as well.
Here are our picks for every major college football award.
Heisman Trophy: Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Oklahoma
After the last two weeks, it’s hard to see anyone but Mayfield taking home the biggest award in sports. The senior put up nearly 600 yards in a must-win game at Oklahoma State, then turned in a three-touchdown performance against the Big 12’s best defense in TCU. Mayfield currently ranks second in the country in overall passing yards and first in both completion percentage and yards per attempt. Normally, you see an inverse relationship between completion percentage and yards per attempt, but with Mayfield it’s the opposite. Barring utter collapse in the next few weeks, he’ll win the Heisman.
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award: Nick Saban, Alabama
Saban probably won’t win this award. Lincoln Reily, Mark Richt, and Kirby Smart all make up better stories and will get more attention when voting time comes. Not to mention Bill Clark taking UAB to a bowl game in the football program’s first year since being resurrected. But Saban is college football’s best coach. Nobody questions that, and as long as it’s the case, he deserves the award every year. He’s turned Alabama into a machine.
Even in a year where everything else is at peak crazy, the Crimson Tide are churning out wins at breakneck pace. Unless that changes, Saban has this scribe’s imaginary vote.
Chuck Bednarik Award: Bradley Chubb, edge rusher, NC State
Chubb has established himself as the best edge rusher in the nation heading into the draft. As of now, the senior leads the ACC with an absurd 17.5 tackles for loss along with eight sacks. He gets in the backfield easier than any player in the country and has spearheaded an NC State defense that ranks top-40 in both run and pass defense S&P+.
There are no shortage of capable players who could win this — Alabama corner Minkah Fitzpatrick may be the favorite right now — but Chubb has been the best pass rusher in the country so far. He has the slightest of edges right now.
Biletnikoff Award: James Washington, wide receiver, Oklahoma State
A Big 12 receiver has won the Biletnikoff Award for the past two years. That isn’t changing anytime soon. Washington has a conference-leading 1,158 yards already. He’s averaging an absurd 21.8 yards per reception with nine scores. Washington is the best receiver on one of the best offenses in the country. He’s Mason Rudolph’s go-to guy, and Rudolph won’t stop throwing him the ball anytime soon. Of every award on this list, this one may be the biggest lock right now.
Broyles Award: Brent Venables, defensive coordinator, Clemson
Venables won this award last year, which probably lowers his odds of doing the same this year. But like Saban, Venables is the best assistant in football. He’s the mind behind what’s been one of the best defenses in the country for years on end. Clemson’s front-seven is the best wrecking crew in the country right now and there’s no bigger reason than Venables. It’s unlikely he wins this award for the second straight season, but that doesn’t mean Venables isn’t deserving.
Butkus Award: Malik Jefferson, linebacker, Texas
Jefferson has been a rare bright spot for the Longhorns this season. The junior has 61 solo tackles on the year, good for fourth in the country. Paired with 8.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, and solid coverage ability, he’s one of the best all-around linebackers in the country. This award is far from a wrap, but Jefferson has to have the inside track right now.
Lombardi Award: Hercules Mata’afa, defensive lineman, Washington State
Picking between Chubb and Mata’afa was near-impossible, so we went with Mata’afa for this one despite having Chubb for the Bednarik Award. Mata’afa is an absurd talent. Just look at his game on Saturday against Utah: eight tackles, five tackles for a loss, and three sacks. That’s likely the best game any defensive player has had this season. Mata’afa doesn’t do that every week, but he wreaks havoc with regularity. Expect him to take home a defensive trophy this year whether it’s the Lombardi Award or not.
John Mackey Award: Mark Andrews, tight end, Oklahoma
Andrews’ numbers make him a near-lock for this one. He isn’t just leading all tight ends in receiving yards, he’s doing it by a huge margin. Andrews has 745 yards on the year. Second-place Adam Breneman is the only other tight end in the same area code, with 685. After that, third-place Jaylen Samuels is nearly 250 yards behind Andrews with 502. It’s only fitting that the Big 12 take home every trophy having to do with the passing game, and Andrews should win this one with some ease.
Outland Trophy: Mike McGlinchey, tackle, Notre Dame
McGlinchey, a senior tackle, has been the linchpin of one of the best offensive lines in football. Notre Dame ranked fourth in adjusted line yards before Miami beat the Irish down on Saturday. That number will take a hit, however, the Irish still boast one of the best lines in football and McGlinchey is the biggest reason. He’s adept when it comes to both run blocking and pass protection. In addition to being the Outland Trophy favorite, he’ll likely be the first tackle taken in the 2018 draft.
Dave Rimington Trophy: Billy Price, center, Ohio State
The Buckeyes’ line has been nothing special this year, but Price has put in a Herculean effort. The senior has been a perfect replacement for Pat Elflein in the middle of Ohio State’s line. Like Elflein, Price will likely be one of the first centers off the board in the draft as well. He’s squarely in the lead for this award.
Jim Thorpe Award: Minkah Fitzpatrick, defensive back, Alabama
Fitzpatrick has a great argument for the Bednarik Award, but even if he doesn’t win that, as we predict, the Thorpe Award should be a lock. The junior has locked down every receiver he’s faced this year. There’s no better defensive back in the country. Assuming Fitzpatrick decides to come out for the draft this season, there’s a good case for him being the first defensive player picked. He can play all six defensive back positions well. This award will only be the start for him.
Doak Walker Award: Saquon Barkley, running back, Penn State
Even with Barkley struggling in the last couple weeks, this award will still be his consolation prize for losing the Heisman. Despite his worst game of the year coming Saturday against Rutgers, Barkley still has 899 yards on the ground, 517 as a receiver, and 423 as a returner. In total, the junior also has 16 touchdowns. He’s the most versatile running back in the country and Penn State can’t win without him, however much Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin wants to try.
Lou Groza Award: Dominik Eberle, kicker, Utah State
Eberle has made 15-of-16 field goals so far this year. His 93.8 percent conversion rate leads the country. Moreover, he has yet to miss an extra point. A lack of overall points scored may diminish Eberle’s case for this award, however, his accuracy is undeniably impeccable. That puts him in the lead for now.
Ray Guy Award: Michael Dickson, punter, Texas
Dickson leads the country with 48.6 yards per punt. Unlike Eberle, however, volume is unlikely to be an issue. Dickson has 57 overall punts so far, good for second in the Big 12. The only thing that could derail his chances of winning now is if the Longhorn offense gets going. In other words, he’s got it locked up.