WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Mississippi's Jonathan Nichols won
the Lou Groza Award on Tuesday night, beating last year's winner
Nate Kaeding of Iowa and finalist Trey DiCarlo of Oklahoma for the award given annually to the nation's top college place-kicker.
Nichols made 23 of his first 24 field-goal attempts this season,
but was wide right on a 36-yarder against LSU that would tied the game at 17 with 4:15 left. It was his second miss of the game,
which the Tigers won 17-14.
He also missed one the following week against Mississippi State,
meaning the junior has missed three of his last four attempts and
is 24-for-28 this season.
He is 45-of-45 on PATs and has made 94 in a row for the 16th-ranked Rebels (9-3). He also holds the school's career record for points with 258.
Kaeding was looking to join former Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski as the award's only two-time winners. Janikowski, now with the Oakland Raiders, won in 1998 and 1999.
The award is named for NFL Hall of Fame kicker Lou "The Toe"
Groza, who played 21 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Groza won four NFL championships with Cleveland and was named player of the year in 1954.
Voters for the award include coaches, media members, conference representatives, professional kickers and previous Groza finalists.