Suh among projected award winners
The 2009 college football regular season is over.
Conference championships have been decided. Bowl pairings have been announced.
The only thing left to do before the bowl games are played is hand out the hardware to the country's best players.
The winner of the Heisman Trophy -- the sport's most coveted individual award -- will be announced Saturday night (ESPN, 8 ET) in New York.
The rest of college football's top awards will be presented Thursday night (ESPN, 7 ET) at The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards at Disney's BoardWalk at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.
Here are the finalists (and projected winners) for the nine individual awards that will be presented Thursday:
Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player)
His nickname says it all: Mount Cody. The Crimson Tide's mammoth 365-pound noseguard is the ultimate run-stuffer and is surprisingly athletic for a player his size. He had the play of the year for Alabama, bulling through the line and blocking Tennessee's last-second field goal attempt to keep the Tide unbeaten back in October. Brandon Spikes, Florida
The emotional leader of Florida's defense, Spikes has been the centerpiece of that unit for the past two seasons from his middle linebacker position. A consensus All-American a year ago, Spikes is the only player in the country to return four interceptions for touchdowns in the past two seasons. He's tied for third on the Gators with 62 tackles. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
He's the likely No. 1 pick in April's NFL draft and is one of the most dominant interior defensive lineman of the past decade in college football. Suh is coming off an incredible performance against Texas that saw him record 4.5 sacks. For the season, he has 23 tackles for loss, including 12 sacks. Who should win: Suh.
Biletnikoff Award (best receiver)
No one had more ridiculous numbers than Barnes, who leads the nation with 138 catches and 16 receiving touchdowns to go along with 1,551 yards. He had five catches of more than 50 yards and went completely bonkers against Kent State, hauling in 22 receptions for 278 yards and three scores. Jordan Shipley, Texas
Colt McCoy's good friend and favorite target, Shipley caught 106 balls for 1,363 yards and 11 touchdowns. He had five games with 10 or more catches. He set a Longhorns record with 273 receiving yards against Central Florida, and he'll end his career with more than 3,000 receiving yards. Golden Tate, Notre Dame
Tate broke every single-season Irish receiving record with 93 catches for 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns. He made unbelievably tough grabs in traffic and was nearly impossible to bring down once the ball was in his hands. After Michael Floyd got hurt, he became the Irish's No.1 offensive option. Who should win: Tate.
Lou Groza Award (best kicker)Kai Forbath, UCLA
The junior was second in the country in field goals per game (2.17) and connected on 26 of 29 attempts. His only three misses were from 50 yards or longer. He also made three from that distance, including a long of 53 yards. Leigh Tiffin, Alabama
His 29 made field goals were more than any other kicker in the country, and he's two from tying the SEC record for field goals in a season. The senior is 29-of-33 this season and has made 23 of his past 25 attempts. He has a long this season of 50 yards. Blair Walsh, Georgia
Walsh bounced back from a rocky freshman season to make every kick but two as a sophomore. He made all of his extra point tries and was 19-of-21 on field goals. On field goals of 40 yards or longer, he was 10-of-11 this season and had a long of 53 yards. Who should win: Tiffin.
Ray Guy Award (best punter)
The son of longtime NFL standout and former star Georgia kicker Kevin Butler leads the nation in punting average (48.8 ypp) and has placed 17 punts inside the 20-yard line. After attempting just three punts last season, Butler is on pace to break Georgia's single-season punting average record (45.4 ypp by Chip Andrews in 1984). Zoltan Mesko, Michigan
Mesko is a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection who also earned first-team Academic All-America honors this season. Romanian-born Mesko led the Big Ten and set a single-season team record by averaging 44.5 yards per punt this fall. He had 17 punts of 50 yards or longer and 15 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Chas Henry, Florida
A Ray Guy Award semifinalist last year, Henry ranks third in the SEC in punting average (43.4 ypp) for the second consecutive season. Throughout his career, Henry has performed at his best against Florida's top rivals and in championship games. He boomed eight punts of 50 yards or longer and placed 15 inside the 20-yard line. Who should win: Mesko.
Maxwell Award (best all-around player)Mark Ingram, Alabama
Ingram is the best player on a Crimson Tide team preparing to play for a national championship. He ranked 12th in the nation with 118.62 yards rushing per game and scored 15 touchdowns. He also caught 30 passes for 322 yards and three touchdowns. His most impressive performance of the year, however, might have been when he piled up 189 total yards -- 113 rushing -- in the SEC championship game against Florida. Colt McCoy, Texas
McCoy just wins. He has won 45 games in his career, more than any other quarterback in college football history. McCoy is 19th in the nation in passing efficiency (147.5). He has completed 72 percent of his throws for 3,512 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also rushed for 348 yards and three touchdowns. Tim Tebow, Florida
Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, has been called the greatest college football player in history, even though he won't get to play for his third national championship. He's eighth in the nation in passing efficiency (155.6). He has completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,413 yards with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also has rushed for 859 yards and 13 touchdowns. Who should win: Ingram.
Davey O'Brien Award (best quarterback)
Keenum led the nation in total offense (429 ypg), passing (419 ypg) and touchdown passes (43) and led Houston to wins over three automatic qualifying teams, including then-No. 5 Oklahoma State, and to its first national ranking since 1991. Keenum threw for 5,449 yards (fourth-highest total in FBS history) and 43 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. Colt McCoy, Texas
McCoy set the NCAA record for career victories by a starting quarterback with 45 and leads the No. 2 Longhorns to their first BCS National Championship Game since 2005. McCoy leads the nation in completion percentage (71.8) and has thrown for 3,512 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Tim Tebow, Florida
Tebow's numbers weren't as good as they were when he won the Heisman in 2007, but he still led the SEC in completion percentage (65.2) and ranked second in passing efficiency (155.6) and rushing touchdowns (13). Tebow has already won the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is known as the "Academic Heisman." Who should win: McCoy.
Outland Trophy (best interior lineman)Mike Iupati, Idaho
Iupati is a punishing guard who has been an anchor for the Vandals' offensive line and is the school's first All-American since 1995. He helped his team produce 31.8 points per game and rank in the top 25 nationally in passing, scoring and total offense. Born in Samoa, Iupati is a former high school wrestler and track standout who helped Idaho to a 7-5 record and a berth in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl against Bowling Green. Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
After a standout career for the Cowboys, Okung is projected to be the top offensive tackle prospect in the NFL draft. He has made 46 consecutive starts for OSU and is a big reason the 9-3 Cowboys have produced 191.8 rushing yards per game and rank sixth nationally in fewest sacks allowed (10). Twice during his career, Okung has not allowed a sack against the nation's leader at the time -- the latest was an effort earlier this season against Texas A&M's Von Miller. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
Suh has developed into the most productive player at this position in recent college history, and he's a certified offense wrecker for the Cornhuskers. He dominated games in ways unusual for a defensive tackle as he finished with a team-leading 82 tackles, ranked fourth nationally with 12 sacks, ranked second on his team with 10 passes broken up and blocked three kicks. He capped his season with a career-high 12 tackles and 4.5 sacks (a Big 12 title game record) in the Cornhuskers' loss to Texas in the Big 12 championship game. Who should win: Suh.
Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back)Eric Berry, Tennessee
The preseason favorite to win this award certainly didn't hurt his cause. Berry ranks among the SEC's top 15 in tackles (6.9 tpg), passes defended (9) and fumble recoveries (2). The senior played more of a safety-linebacker hybrid role this fall and finished second among SEC defensive backs in total tackles with 83. Joe Haden, Florida
Most opposing teams steered clear of Haden, which is the best compliment a defensive back can receive. He still recorded four interceptions, tying for third in the SEC, and tied for third on the team with 62 stops. Haden tied for fourth in the league in total passes defended with 13. Earl Thomas, Texas
Texas became a much more opportunistic defense this fall, and Thomas was a big reason. He recorded a team-record eight interceptions, leading the Big 12 and tying for second nationally. Thomas finished second nationally in total passes defended with 18. He also contributed as a run-stopper, finishing second on the team in tackles (71), with five tackles for loss. Who should win: Berry.
Doak Walker Award (best running back)
Gerhart rushed for a school single-season record 1,736 yards and 26 touchdowns, ranks second in the nation with 144.7 yards per game, and leads the nation in scoring (13.3 ppg) and rushing touchdowns (26). Over Stanford's last four games, he averaged 144.6 yards a game and scored 13 touchdowns. Mark Ingram, Alabama
Ingram is averaging 178 yards per game against Top 25 teams and ranks 12th nationally with an average of 118.6 yards. He leads the team with 1,542 rushing yards and leads the nation with 13 runs of at least 20 yards. He also has caught 30 passes for 322 yards. C.J. Spiller, Clemson
The MVP of the ACC championship has five kick returns for touchdowns, the most in the nation, and averages 193 all-purpose yards per game, fourth-best in the nation. He has 1,145 yards rushing and is the only player in the nation to score a touchdown in every game. Who should win: Gerhart. ESPN.com bloggers Brian Bennett, Heather Dinich, Tim Griffin, Chris Low, Ted Miller, Adam Rittenberg and Graham Watson contributed to this story. Check out their coverage in the National blog.
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