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The Dr. Saturday 2012 college football awards

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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College football hands out most of its awards this week. There's the show tonight to present most of the awards, and then on Saturday is the Heisman Trophy presentation, which should be historic because it's likely a freshman will win for the first time.

In the spirit of the awards season, we at Dr. Saturday (Frank Schwab and Graham Watson) are handing out some hardware of our own:

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Schwab: Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel

The case for Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois is compelling. He set a FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback and his passing stats are great too. But, Manziel put up ridiculous numbers in the toughest league in college football. His performance at Texas A&M is a signature moment of the season, and he is the pick.

Watson: Manziel
It's hard to find a guy who wowed college football more than this redshirt freshman. He came out of nowhere and made Texas A&M a force in a new league with a new offense and a new coaching staff. That's a crazy feat.

Honorable mention: Kansas State QB Collin Klein, NIU QB Jordan Lynch, USC WR Marqise Lee, UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin, Baylor WR Terrance Williams, Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, Ohio State QB Braxton Miller.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Schwab: Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o

Notre Dame allowed 10 touchdowns in 12 games. Te'o wasn't the only reason, but he was the main one. He has incredible instincts in the running game, and his seven interceptions shows his value against the pass. Not to mention, his leadership has been instrumental during a 12-0 season.

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Watson: Georgia LB Jarvis Jones
Te'o gets all the love, but Jones had a spectacular season. He had 77 tackles, led the nation with 20.5 tackles for loss and was third nationally with 1.14 sacks per game and he did that playing just 11 games. He had three tackles for loss and two sacks against Alabama in the SEC title game.

Honorable mention: South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, Alabama LB C.J. Mosley, Georgia LB Alec Ogletree, Alabama CB Dee Milliner, Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore, Florida State DE Bjoern Werner.

COACH OF THE YEAR

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Schwab: Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin
Sumlin didn't have an easy chore. He was coming into a new job, in a new conference, not having much scouting information on most teams he was scheduled to play. The inverse is true — the SEC didn't know much about him and his fast-break offense, either — but nonetheless, the results were shocking. Texas A&M went 10-2 and was the only team all year to beat Alabama. Sumlin seems like he'll have the Aggies, which were picked to finish fifth in the seven-team SEC West, in the national title hunt next year.

Watson: Penn State's Bill O'Brien
Not sure a new coach has ever come into a program facing the circumstances that O'Brien faced at Penn State. And after a rocky start, which included the loss of some key players to other schools, the Nittany Lions managed to finish the season 8-4 and second in the Big Ten Leaders Division. Far better than anyone could have imagined.

Honorable mention: Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, Stanford's David Shaw, Alabama's Nick Saban, Northern Illinois' Dave Doeren, Kansas State's Bill Snyder, UCLA's Jim Mora, Oregon's Chip Kelly, Ohio State's Urban Meyer, Boise State's Chris Petersen, Oregon State's Mike Riley, Florida's Will Muschamp.

GAME OF THE YEAR
Schwab: Alabama vs. Georgia, SEC Championship Game, Dec. 1

The stakes were an SEC championship and a spot in the BCS Championship Game, and level of play from these two teams was tremendous. Gurley. Ogletree. Yeldon. Milliner. Jarvis Jones. Barrett Jones. Players from both sides will be found in the first round of the NFL Draft for years to come. And the game itself was heartstopping. A.J. McCarron's 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper with 3:15 left gave Alabama a 32-28 lead, and Georgia's Aaron Murray led a fantastic drive that fell just a few yards short as time ran out.

Watson: Alabama vs. LSU, Nov. 3
There were a lot of great games this season, but the rematch of last year's national championship lived up to its billing. LSU had the upset — and a possible move into national title contention — in its grasp and let it slip away on what was essentially last play of the game.

Honorable mention: Stanford knocks Oregon out of the national title picture, N.C. State upsets Florida State, Notre Dame survives scare from Pitt in three overtimes, Notre Dame survives scare from Stanford in overtime, Michigan forces overtime in final seconds of regulation and beats Northwestern, West Virginia outlasts Baylor 70-63, Arizona beats USC 39-36 despite Marqise Lee's 345 yards, Northern Illinois upends Kent State for the MAC title, Georgia beats Florida in a defensive battle, Louisiana-Monroe pulls off a shocking upset at Arkansas.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

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Schwab: Notre Dame
When we all thought Notre Dame's days as a national powerhouse were done - it had been almost 20 years, after all - the Irish went from unranked in the preseason to No. 1 by the time the regular season was done.

Watson: Oregon State
The Beavers had the greatest turnaround of the season going from 3-9 a year ago (and coach Mike Riley on the hot seat) to 9-3 and challenging for a BCS bowl. Guess promises of In-N-Out Burger will inspire a team.

Honorable mention: Kansas State, Rutgers, Northwestern, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, UCLA, Kent State, Penn State.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT
Schwab: Southern Mississippi

Picking USC is the way to go, but just to spread the wealth, how about Southern Miss? From 12-2 in 2011 and finishing 20th in the final AP poll to an 0-12 debacle that left Ellis Johnson fired after just one season. That's not good.

Watson: USC
The Trojans started the season No. 1 in the AP poll with a Heisman favorite at quarterback and ended it unranked with their quarterback's arm in a sling. Not sure many teams have seen their fortunes turn that quickly.

Honorable mention: Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee, Cal, Iowa, Virginia Tech, West Virginia.

MOST TIMELY FIRING
Schwab: Gene Chizik, Auburn
National title to his credit or not, the time had come for Chizik to go. The post-firing reports about lack of discipline in the program probably didn't cause any second guessing, either. And Auburn quickly moved to make the obvious hire, scooping up its former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

Watson: Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Dooley struggled from the moment he got to Tennessee and never lived up to expectations. He was 15-21 in three seasons and had just four conference wins in that span. The Vols missed a bowl for the second season in a row.

WORST FIRING
Schwab: John L. Smith, Arkansas

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Just kidding, it was easily Mario Cristobal at Florida International. Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention.

Watson: Mario Cristobal, Florida International
What was Florida International thinking? Cristobal built the Golden Panthers' program, put it on the map and he even stayed out of loyalty last year despite being courted by many programs around the country. FIU was 3-9 this season and apparently that was enough for the university to show him the door.

FIRING NOBODY NOTICED
Schwab: Danny Hope, Purdue

Purdue has dipped a long way from the days of Drew Brees and Joe Tiller. Hope toiled mostly in obscurity as he compiled an underwhelming 22-27 record in four seasons before being let go.

Watson: Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Who? Right. Cubit spent eight seasons at Western Michigan, was 51-47, but a 4-8 campaign this year doomed him. His WMU career was pretty uneventful. He never finished first in the MAC's West Division and lost each of the team's three bowl appearances.

BEST STORY
Schwab: Northern Illinois crashes the party

The anger (from some, anyway) about Northern Illinois' inclusion into the BCS is strange. Whatever happened to appreciating a good underdog story? And before we completely dismiss NIU's chances in the Orange Bowl, keep in mind that this is a very good team, and BCS gate crashers like Boise State and Utah have done quite well in the big-stage bowls after being given no chance.

Watson: The legend of Johnny Football
Johnny Manziel is a comeback tale of sorts. Prior to the season starting, he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct by fighting, failure to identify and having a fake driver's license. He also took a mugshot without his shirt, which made him a joke for a week. The incident nearly cost him his starting role. Five months later, he could be the first freshman to with the Heisman Trophy.

Honorable mention: Outpouring of support for Marcus Lattimore after his injury, Texas running the Wishbone on the first play to honor Darrell Royal, Collin Klein leading Kansas State to a 10-0 start, Penn State's eight-win season, Ohio State's perfect season, Manti Te'o coping with the deaths of his girlfriend and grandmother, Barry Alvarez announcing he will coach Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

BEST SPECIAL UNIFORMS
Schwab: Air Force

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Adding the black and silver to Air Force's normal blue bolt on the helmet and numbers on the jerseys really stood out. The pattern on the jerseys was actually a series of stealth bombers, and the jerseys had "B-2 SPIRIT" or "F-22 RAPTOR" on the back.

Watson: Army

Service academies sweep this award. If you haven't seen Army's uniforms for this weekend's game against Navy, you're in for a treat. They are fantastic. They are a tribute to World War II and the Battle of the Bulge, and feature a historical map on the sleeves, in the numbers, on the helmet stripe and in the shoes. They are by far the coolest uniforms of the season.

Honorable mention: UCLA's "LA Nights" look, Missouri's all-black look, Utah black matte, Stanford black matte, BYU's all-black uniforms, Texas A&M going all white against Alabama, Georgia Tech's new honeycomb style.

WORST SPECIAL UNIFORMS
Schwab: Notre Dame

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Years from now, when younger Notre Dame fans watch highlights of the magical 2012 season, they're sure to get to the Irish's win over Miami and think, "What in the heck is Notre Dame wearing?"

Watson: Virginia Tech

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The Hokies came out with two different turkey helmets this season and both were kind of fowl (see what I did there?). One version was white with turkey feet on it and the other was maroon with a picture of a turkey. Both were two of the lamer helmets we saw this season.

Honorable mention: Maryland's awful shoes, Wisconsin and Nebraska wear "Unrivaled" uniforms, Oklahoma State goes all orange, Minnesota's gold jerseys with maroon numbers.

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