13 finalists named for 2021 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award Reply

DALLAS – The Football Writers Association of America, in conjunction with the Allstate Sugar Bowl, announced a record 13 finalists for the 2021 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award on Tuesday. Among the finalists are one former winner, three returning finalists from 2020, all four coaches competing in this season’s College Football Playoff, as well as four other coaches with teams playing in New Year’s Six Bowl games. Ten of the finalists led their teams to conference championships.

In alphabetical order the finalists are: Blake Anderson, Utah State; Dave Aranda, Baylor; Luke Fickell, Cincinnati; Thomas Hammock, NIU; Jim Harbaugh, Michigan; Billy Napier, Louisiana; Pat Narduzzi, Pitt; Nick Saban, Alabama; Kalani Sitake, BYU; Kirby Smart, Georgia; Jeff Traylor, UTSA; Mel Tucker, Michigan State; and Kyle Whittingham, Utah.

Saban is the dean of the 13 finalists as a two-time winner and now eight-time finalist. Fickell, who faces Saban in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl in a College Football Playoff semifinal, and Sitake were finalists last season. Harbaugh faces Smart in the other national semifinal, at the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 31. Narduzzi takes on Tucker in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Hammock faces last year’s Eddie Robinson Award winner, Jamey Chadwell of Coastal Carolina, in the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl. Aranda will lead his Baylor team into New Orleans to face Ole Miss in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

“The Allstate Sugar Bowl is honored to remember a Louisiana legend by sponsoring the FWAA Coach of the Year Award named after Coach Robinson,” said Ralph Capitelli, Sugar Bowl Committee President. “In addition, we have the opportunity to give recognition to the best college coaches in the nation each year. We look forward to presenting the trophy to the winner in Indianapolis next month.”

The 13 finalists have been placed on a ballot which has been sent to the entire FWAA membership today. The 2021 recipient will be announced on Mon., Dec. 20. The official presentation will be at a reception Sat., Jan. 8, in Indianapolis prior to the College Football Playoff National Championship.

“We have a well-balanced group of finalists, geographically positioned across the country and coaches from all sizes of schools,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. “Congratulations to all of the finalists for the great seasons they have had during the 2021 season.”

The FWAA has presented a coaching award since the 1957 season when Ohio State’s Woody Hayes was named the first recipient. The FWAA coaching award was named after the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 seasons, in 1997.

A closer look at the 2021 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year finalists:

Blake Anderson, Utah State: Anderson, a first-time finalist, guided Utah State (10-3) to one of the best turnarounds in the nation in 2021 (plus-nine wins thus far) with the Mountain West Conference title in tow following a 1-5 record in 2020. Utah State faces Oregon State in the inaugural Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl presented by Stifel on Dec. 18. Picked to finish fifth in the Mountain Division in the preseason, the Aggies recorded 10 wins for just the fourth time in school history and became the first FBS team since 2013 to post a 7-0 road record. Anderson is the only first-year head coach out of 19 in the FBS to win 10 games. He is Utah State’s second all-time finalist and first since Gary Andersen in 2012.

Dave Aranda, Baylor: In Aranda’s second year the Bears (11-2) patiently pushed their way to the Big 12 title, tying for the country’s second-best turnaround with nine more wins following a 2-7 season in 2020 and will now face Ole Miss in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2022. Picked eighth by media in the preseason, Baylor relied on Aranda’s strength – defense – as the Bears held opponents 11.6 points below their averages. A year after being last in rushing, the Big 12 rushing leaders are one of six teams with three wins over ranked teams this season. Aranda is the second finalist in the last three seasons for Baylor (Matt Rhule, 2019). Grant Teaff is the school’s only previous winner from 1974.

Luke Fickell, Cincinnati: Fickell returns as a finalist from 2020 after leading the Bearcats (13-0) to an historic College Football Playoff bid, a first for a so-called Group of 5 school. The American Athletic Conference champions are the No. 4 playoff seed and one of two teams to rank in the top 10 nationally in both scoring offense (8th, 39.2 ppg) and scoring defense (t-4th, 16.1). Cincinnati, 22-1 the past two seasons, has set school records for points (510) and touchdowns (70) and faces Alabama in the CFP semifinals at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31. Cincinnati, which had Brian Kelly as a finalist in 2009, has never had an Eddie Robinson Award winner.

Thomas Hammock, Northern Illinois: Hammock and the Huskies (9-4) won the Mid-American Conference with a ‘worst-to-first’ season with another nine-game improvement following an 0-6 record in 2020. NIU won seven games by one score or less – four of them by two points or less – before easing past Kent State 41-23 last week for their fifth MAC title of the last 11 seasons. The nine wins are NIU’s most since 2014 as they head into the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl to face Coastal Carolina. Hammock is NIU’s second all-time finalist, joining Dave Doeren in 2012.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan: Harbaugh guided the Wolverines (12-1) to their first Big Ten Championship Game with a resounding 42-27 win over then-No. 2 Ohio State, then earned Michigan its 43rd Big Ten title and a spot in the College Football Playoff with a runaway 42-3 win over Iowa in the title game. Michigan has the nation’s top turnaround thus far with 10 additional wins heading into the Capital One Orange Bowl CFP semifinal following a 2-4 record in 2020. The Wolverines returned to the top 10 in the national polls for the first time since late 2019 at midseason and have remained in the top 10 for 10 consecutive weeks. Harbaugh is Michigan’s first finalist since 2011. Bo Schembechler won Michigan’s only FWAA Coach of the Year award in 1969.

Billy Napier, Louisiana: Napier, a first-time finalist and the first in Louisiana’s history, guided the Ragin’ Cajuns (12-1) to a school-record 12th straight win and a Sun Belt Conference championship last week only days after accepting the head coaching position at Florida. Napier was named SBC Coach of the Year as Louisiana broke its 54-year-old win-streak record and won the SBC’s West Division for a fourth consecutive season behind a defense that gives up only 18.7 points per game (13th in FBS). Louisiana faces Marshall in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 18.

Pat Narduzzi, Pitt: Narduzzi led the Panthers (11-2) to their first 10-win season since 1981 and their first Atlantic Coast Conference title since joining the league in 2013 with a 45-21 win over Wake Forest in last week’s ACC title game. Narduzzi sparked one of the country’s top passing combos with All-America candidates Kenny Pickett (ACC and school-record 42 touchdown passes) throwing to Jordan Addison (national-best 17 touchdown receptions). Pitt faces Michigan State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 30. Narduzzi is Pitt’s first finalist since the award began naming finalists in 2010. Johnny Majors won the FWAA Coach of the Year Award at Pitt in 1976 and 1973.

Nick Saban, Alabama: The achievements run long on Saban’s ledger with the Eddie Robinson Award as the top-seeded Crimson Tide (12-1) prepare to face Cincinnati in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl in the CFP semifinals Dec. 31. Alabama won the SEC Championship Game last week, blowing past the nation’s top defense and formerly top-ranked team, 41-24 over Georgia. Saban is a two-time winner (at Alabama in 2008, at LSU in 2003) and is one of Alabama’s two previous winners along with Gene Stallings in 1992. He is now an eight-time finalist, earning the designation in five of the last eight seasons.

Kalani Sitake, BYU: Sitake is a repeat finalist from 2020 following a season in which the Cougars (10-2) posted five wins over Pac-12 schools, including a 26-17 win over Pac-12 champion Utah, as well as wins over Mountain West Conference champion Utah State and Virginia. BYU running back Tyler Allgeier is tied for the national lead with 20 rushing touchdowns and the Cougars’ offense is ranked in the top 30 in 12 different categories. Sitake, also a finalist for entry into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame this year, is a former player under Lavell Edwards, who is BYU’s only previous Eddie Robinson winner from 1984.

Kirby Smart, Georgia: The Bulldogs (12-1) owned the No. 1 spot in the polls and the College Football Playoff rankings for most of the season prior to the SEC Championship Game. Smart still guides the nation’s top scoring defense giving up only 9.5 points per game as the No. 3-seed Bulldogs head into the CFP semifinals to face Michigan in Miami Gardens, Fla. Georgia, averaging 39.4 points (seventh nationally), is 4-1 against ranked teams including a pair of top-10 wins, and is only the fourth team in school history to finish the regular season undefeated. Smart was also a finalist in 2017 and Georgia’s third overall. Vince Dooley won the FWAA Coach of the Year Award in 1980.

Jeff Traylor, UTSA: Traylor took the Roadrunners (12-1) to new heights – their first C-USA West Division title, a win in their first Conference USA Championship Game (49-41 over WKU). UTSA had an 11-game win streak to start the season and has its winningest season yet heading into its Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl berth to face San Diego State. The Roadrunners also made their first appearance in the College Football Playoff and both national polls, topping out at 15th in the AP poll. Running back Sincere McCormick is having another All-America caliber season, rushing for 1,479 yards with 15 touchdowns. Traylor is a first-time finalist and the first in UTSA’s history.

Mel Tucker, Michigan State: The Spartans (10-2) were darlings of the Big Ten heading into November, posting an 8-0 start (following 2-5 in 2020) and competing for the Big Ten East Division title. Tucker rode the legs of Kenneth Walker III, the Big Ten Running Back of the Year with 1,636 yards to date and MSU’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2014, into the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl to face Pitt on Dec. 30. Tucker is MSU’s first finalist since 2015. Duffy Daugherty won the Spartans’ only FWAA Coach of the Year Award in 1965.

Kyle Whittingham, Utah: Whittingham, a finalist from the 2008 season, became Utah’s (10-3) all-time wins leader (143) while earning the Utes’ first Pac-12 Championship since joining the league in 2011 with its runaway win over Oregon. After a 1-2 start, Utah has won 9 of 10 games going into its first Rose Bowl appearance where it will take on Ohio State. Utah’s defense ranks fourth in the FBS in tackles for loss per game (7.6) and is 12th in team sacks (3.17). Whittingham, Utah’s only previous finalist, is preceded by Urban Meyer, the Utes’ only previous winner, from 2004.

The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org and @NCFAA on Twitter to learn more about the association.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 99 Hall of Fame players, 51 Hall of Fame coaches and 19 Heisman Trophy winners in its 87-year history. The 88th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic is scheduled to be played on Jan. 1, 2022 between Baylor and Ole Miss. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors thousands of student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.7 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit AllstateSugarBowl.org.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com.

2021 Eddie Robinson Award
• Thirteen finalists named for 2021 Eddie Robinson Award
• Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award | All-time winners

Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. wins 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Reply

CHARLOTTE, N.C.  – Will Anderson Jr., a dynamic playmaking linebacker for top-ranked Alabama and a constant nemesis in every opponents’ backfield as the nation’s sack and tackles-for-loss leader, has been named as the recipient of the 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy by the Football Writers Association of America.

Anderson was selected from among two other finalists that also included Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis and Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux. Anderson is only the second player at Alabama to win the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, joining defensive end Jonathan Allen in 2016. The Crimson Tide (12-1) have had Bronko Nagurski finalists in nine of the last 11 seasons, most recently nose guard Quinnen Williams in 2018.

The FWAA All-America Committee made the selection of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner as part of the 2021 FWAA All-America Team, which will be released on Friday. The official presentation of the trophy was made tonight at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet presented by LendingTree at the Charlotte Convention Center.

The 6-4, 243-pound sophomore from Hampton, Ga., is the primary cog in an Alabama defense that is fourth nationally in rushing defense, giving up 82.9 yards per game. Anderson is versatile in “affecting the quarterback,” a non-statistical term but a favorite of head coach Nick Saban when addressing the media. A force in the backfield, he leads the nation in sacks (15.5) and tackles for loss (32.5) and added a sack and two TFL’s in this past Saturday’s 41-24 win over previously top-ranked Georgia in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.

Anderson has had at least one sack in 10 of 13 games and his 92 tackles (53 solo) are second on the team and include and at least one TFL in 12 of 13 games. He has been credited by the Alabama coaching staff with a team-high 38 quarterback pressures this season.

Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr.

To put his season in finer perspective, Anderson was the 2020 FWAA National Freshman Player of the Year following a stellar season a year ago. But this year’s totals have boosted him to be on pace to reach record territory. Only one player at Alabama – College Football Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas (1985-88) – has averaged more sacks and TFL numbers in his career. Thomas finished his Alabama career averaging 1.06 sacks per game (52 in 49 career games). Anderson, with 22.5 in 26 games, is currently at 0.87 sacks per game with at least one more to play in the College Football Playoff this season. But Anderson leads Thomas’ career TFL numbers currently averaging 1.65 per game (43 in 26 games) to Thomas’ 1.39 (or 68 in 49 games).

Anderson, with 3.5 more sacks, can tie Thomas for the No. 2 spot for single-season sacks (18) in the Alabama record book. His 32.5 TFL’s are already No. 2 behind Thomas’ 39 from the 1988 season.

Anderson was the Bronko Nagurski National Player of the Week on Oct. 16 following a four-sack game at Mississippi State, the most in a single game since Thomas did it in 1988. He earned the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Week honor five times in 12 weeks and was named one of the Crimson Tide’s permanent captains and one of two defensive players of the year at its team banquet Sunday.

Davis, the Georgia defensive tackle who was a fellow Bronko Nagurski finalist and a finalist for three other postseason awards including the FWAA’s Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman, gave Anderson high praise in an interview last week while preparing for the SEC Championship Game.

“He’s a game wrecker,” Davis said. “Watching his film and just seeing him, he’s explosive. He’s definitely one of those guys you have to make sure to keep contained. It’s great to see him play.”

Top-ranked Alabama claimed the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff on Sunday and faces No. 4 seed Cincinnati in the semifinals at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Dec. 31 in Arlington, Texas.

Anderson is the fifth player from the SEC to win the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, following Josh Allen (LB, Kentucky, 2018), Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama, 2016), Glenn Dorsey (DT, LSU, 2007) and Champ Bailey (DB, Georgia, 1998).

The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football then became a star for professional football’s Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org and @NCFAA on Twitter to learn more about the association.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com.

About the Charlotte Touchdown Club
The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C., region. The club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. Since 1990, the club has raised and donated nearly $3 million to benefit area high school and collegiate athletics. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or jrocco@touchdownclub.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is touchdownclub.com.

About LendingTree, Inc.
LendingTree is the nation’s leading online marketplace that connects consumers with the choices they need to be confident in their financial decisions. LendingTree empowers consumers to shop for financial services the same way they would shop for airline tickets or hotel stays, by comparing multiple offers from a nationwide network of over 500 partners in one simple search and choosing the option that best fits their financial needs. Services include mortgage loans, mortgage refinances, auto loans, personal loans, business loans, student refinances, credit cards, insurance and more. Through the My LendingTree platform, consumers receive free credit scores, credit monitoring and recommendations to improve credit health. My LendingTree proactively compares consumers’ credit accounts against offers on their network and notifies consumers when there is an opportunity to save money. LendingTree’s purpose is to help simplify financial decisions for life’s meaningful moments through choice, education and support.

Related links:
• Alabama’s Anderson wins 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy
• Preseason Watch List | Finalists
• Bronko Nagurski Trophy (All-Time Winners, Finalists and Players of the Week)
• Download the Bronko Nagurski Trophy presented by LendingTree logo: Primary (.jpg) | Primary (.eps)

FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll, Week 14 Reply

Week 14: Games Played Through Dec. 4, 2021

TEAMPOINTSFIRST-PLACE VOTESLAST WEEK’S RANK
1.Alabama (12-1)823443
2.Michigan (12-1)78072
3.Georgia (12-1)7191
4.Cincinnati (13-0)69214
5.Notre Dame (11-1)6026
6.Baylor (11-2)5539
7.Ohio State (10-2)5197
8.Ole Miss (10-2)4548
9.Oklahoma State (11-2)4085
10.Michigan State (10-2)31111
11.Utah (10-3)29415
12.Pittsburgh (11-2)24716
13.BYU (10-2)21713
14.Oklahoma (10-2)21112
15.Oregon (10-3)7310
16.Iowa  (10-3)3014

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: Louisiana (26), Clemson (24), Houston (17), NC State (17), UTSA (15), Wake Forest (13), Arkansas (12), Kentucky (8), Texas A&M (4), Utah State (2), Wisconsin (1).

To see how individuals voted in this week’s poll, CLICK HERE.

NOTES:
Alabama’s victory over previously No. 1-ranked Georgia vaulted the Crimson Tide into the top spot of the final poll. That’s where they began the season before they were upset by Texas A&M in October.

Georgia had held the top spot for eight straight weeks before Saturday, seven of those the Bulldogs were unanimous No. 1 picks before Alabama’s impressive victory in the SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs fell to No. 3, with Michigan holding at No. 2 after the Wolverines’ big victory over Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game.

There were other minor changes in the poll with Baylor moving up to No. 6 after beating Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship Game. The Cowboys fell from fifth to ninth. And Utah jumped from No. 15 a week ago to No. 11 after topping Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Ducks fell from No. 10 to No. 15. Pitt moved to No.12 after beating Wake Forest in the ACC Championship Game.

The Big Ten led all conferences with four teams in the poll. followed by the SEC and Big 12 with three each, The Independents and Pac-12 had two each, and the ACC and American conferences one each.

ABOUT THE FWAA-NFF SUPER 16 POLL: The FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll was established at the conclusion of the 2013 season by long-time partners, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the National Football Foundation (NFF). Voters rank the top 16 teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, and the results will be released every Sunday of the 2021 season; the individual votes of all members will also be made public. The first regular season poll will be released on Tuesday, Sept. 7 (to account for Labor Day games), and the final poll will be released Sunday, Dec. 5. The pollsters consist of FWAA writers and College Football Hall of Famers who were selected to create a balanced-geographical perspective. The poll utilizes a computer program designed by Sports Systems to compile the rankings, and The JBoy Show is the official Media Partner of the poll.

ABOUT THE FWAA: Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com. 

ABOUT THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION & COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @NFFNetwork.

FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll, Week 13 Reply

Week 13: Games Played Through November 27, 2021

TEAMPOINTSFIRST-PLACE VOTESLAST WEEK’S RANK
1.Georgia  (12-0)832521
2.Michigan (11-1)7565
3.Alabama (11-1)7083
4.Cincinnati (12-0)7004
5.Oklahoma State (11-1)5967
6.Notre Dame (11-1)5906
7.Ohio State (10-2)4942
8.Ole Miss (10-2)4548
9.Baylor (10-2)41210
10.Oregon (10-2)31411
11.Michigan State (10-2)29912
12.Oklahoma (10-2)2319
13.BYU (10-2)18713
14.Iowa (10-2)141N/A
15.Utah (9-3)100N/A
16.Pittsburgh (10-2)94N/A

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: Houston (53), Wake Forest (53), Clemson (13), San Diego State (10), NC State (8), Arkansas (8), Wisconsin (6), Texas A&M (5), Louisiana (5), Minnesota (2), UTSA (1).

To see how individuals voted in this week’s poll, CLICK HERE.

NOTES:
Georgia remained No. 1 for a seventh consecutive week, receiving all 52 first-place votes after a 45-0 win over Georgia Tech. Michigan’s win over Ohio State, boosted the Wolverines three spots to No. 2 while the Buckeyes dropped five spots to No. 7. Alabama and Cincinnati both posted wins, holding on to the No. 3 and No. 4 spots respectively.

Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma in Bedlam, moving the Pokes into the No. 5 spot while the Sooners dropped to No. 12. Notre Dame remained at No. 6 after beating Stanford, and Ole Miss held steady at No. 8 after winning the Egg Bowl.

Baylor, Oregon and Michigan State all won this week and benefited from the Sooners loss, advancing one spot each at No. 9 to 11, respectively.

BYU’s win against USC kept them at 13 while losses by Texas A&M, UTSA and Wisconsin bumped them from the poll. Iowa, Utah and Pittsburgh, all headed to conference championship games after wins this week, claimed the No. 14-16 spots, respectively.

The Big Ten had four teams in the poll. The SEC and the Big 12 had three each. The Pac-12 and independents each had two teams in the poll. The American, and ACC had one each.

THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE:
No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 3 Alabama (SEC title game), Saturday, Atlanta
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 14 Iowa (Big Ten title game), Saturday,  Indianapolis
Houston at No. 3 Cincinnati (American title game), Saturday
No. 5 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Baylor (Big 12 title game) Saturday, Arlington, TX
No. 10 Oregon vs. No. 15 Utah (Pac-12 title game) Friday, Las Vegas
No. 16 Pittsburgh vs. Wake Forest (ACC title game), Saturday, Charlotte

ABOUT THE FWAA-NFF SUPER 16 POLL: The FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll was established at the conclusion of the 2013 season by long-time partners, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the National Football Foundation (NFF). Voters rank the top 16 teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, and the results will be released every Sunday of the 2021 season; the individual votes of all members will also be made public. The first regular season poll will be released on Tuesday, Sept. 7 (to account for Labor Day games), and the final poll will be released Sunday, Dec. 5. The pollsters consist of FWAA writers and College Football Hall of Famers who were selected to create a balanced-geographical perspective. The poll utilizes a computer program designed by Sports Systems to compile the rankings, and The JBoy Show is the official Media Partner of the poll.

ABOUT THE FWAA: Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com. 

ABOUT THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION & COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @NFFNetwork.

FWAA names finalists for 2021 Outland Trophy

OMAHA, Neb. — The top defensive tackle on the nation’s current top-ranked team, a standout center from a program with separate finalists in consecutive years and the top lineman on a contender for the Atlantic Coast Conference title are the three finalists for the 2021 Outland Trophy, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.

Jordan Davis, the persistent force clogging the middle of Georgia’s defensive line, Tyler Linderbaum of Iowa, regarded nationally as the country’s top center this season, and Ikem “Ikey” Ekwonu of N.C. State, an offensive tackle and one of the top run blockers in the country, are this season’s superior linemen.

The 2021 Outland Trophy is awarded annually to the nation’s best college interior lineman on offense or defense. The All-America Committee of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) selected the three finalists from among the six semifinalists announced last week.

The recipient of the 2021 Outland Trophy will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards, live on ESPN on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. ET. The official presentation to the winner will be made at the Outland Trophy Awards Dinner sponsored by Werner Enterprises and produced by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee in Omaha, Neb., on Jan. 12, 2022.

Of note is that the three schools represented by the finalists have a combined six Outland Trophy winners in their past. Each of the three finalists will also be a member of the FWAA First-Team All-America team.

Here is a closer look at each of the finalists:

Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia (#99, 6-6, 340, Sr., Charlotte, N.C.): Simply put, Davis is the most dominant defensive tackle in college football for top-ranked Georgia (11-0). The Bulldogs own the nation’s second-best total defense giving up 236.3 yards per game and with Davis anchoring the interior line own the nation’s second-best rushing defense (77.2 ypg). Georgia is the national scoring defense leader (7.5 ppg) by more than a touchdown above second-place and has not given up more than 17 points in any game. Nobody has been able to run on Davis. Georgia has an Outland Trophy tradition on the defensive front. The Bulldogs’ lone Outland Trophy winner was also a defensive tackle, Bill Stanfill, in 1968 and boasted defensive tackle Andrew Thomas as a semifinalist in 2019. Defensive tackles have won two of the last four Outland Trophies: Quinnen Williams of Alabama in 2018 and Ed Oliver of Houston in 2017.

Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State (#79, 6-4, 320, So., Charlotte, N.C.): Ekwonu has been ranked as the top run blocker in college football by Pro Football Focus and has more than 50 pancake blocks and 17 knockdowns.for the Wolfpack (8-3). He has earned the ACC Offensive Line Player of the Week twice this season. Protecting quarterback Devin Leary at left tackle, Ekwonu and N.C. State are 19th nationally in passing offense at 292.2 yards per game, fifth in the ACC and 11th among Power 5 schools. Leary is tied for 14th nationally in passing yards at 289.6 ypg. “He’s.nasty. He’s athletic. He’s big,” said Tim Hasselbeck of the ACC Network. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic calls him the most feared lineman in the ACC. “Ridiculous strength levels, athleticism and will to finish,” said Jordan Reid of ESPN. Ekwonu is N.C. State’s first Outland Trophy finalist. Jim Ritcher, a center, won N.C. State’s only previous Outland Trophy in 1979 before finalists were designated. Garrett Bradbury, a center, was a semifinalist in 2018. Offensive tackles have won the last two Outland Trophys: Alex Leatherwood of Alabama (2020) and Penei Sewell of Oregon (2019).

Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa (#65, 6-3, 290, Jr., Solon, Iowa): Linderbaum is one of the dominant linemen at his position for the Hawkeyes (9-2). He was the Second Team FWAA All-America center a year ago. The junior has started all 32 career games after playing on the defensive line as a true freshman. He moved to the offensive line following the 2018 regular season, and this season has a 94.8 offensive grade among centers by PFF, the best for a center since 2014. Iowa’s run game has improved, as Tyler Goodson became Iowa’s first 1,000-yard-season rusher since 2017 with a 132-yard output last week.
The Hawkeyes have four Outland Trophy winners in their past, most recently offensive tackle Brandon Scherff in 2014, who is also the Big Ten’s last Outland winner. Offensive tackle Robert Gallery (2003), tackle Alex Karras (1957) and guard Calvin Jones (1955) are other winners. Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs was a semifinalist in 2019. The last center to win the Outland came in 2005 from the Big Ten, Greg Eslinger of Minnesota.

The Outland Trophy is the third-oldest major college football award behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award. Created in 1946 when Dr. John Outland presented the FWAA with a financial contribution to initiate the award, the Outland Trophy has been given to the best interior lineman in college football ever since. Dr. Outland, an All-American at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1890s, eventually took up practice in Kansas City, Mo. An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Outland believed linemen did not get the credit they deserved and wanted an award to recognize them.

The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 24 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com.

Related links:
• Preseason Watch List | Semifinalists | Finalists
• All-time Outland Trophy winners, candidates
• Download 75th Anniversary Outland Trophy logo: Primary (.jpg) | Dark background (.jpg) | Illustrator (.ai)

FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll, Week 12

Week 12: Games Played Through November 20, 2021

TEAMPOINTSFIRST-PLACE VOTESLAST WEEK’S RANK
1.Georgia (11-0)832521
2.Ohio State (10-1)7555
3.Alabama (10-1)7232
4.Cincinnati (11-0)6864
5.Michigan (10-1)6067
6.Notre Dame (10-1)5628
7.Oklahoma State (10-1)5299
8.Ole Miss (9-2)41410
9.Oklahoma (10-1)39411
10.Baylor (9-2)38812
11.Oregon (9-2)2443
12.Michigan State (9-2)2136
13.BYU (9-2)15314
14.Texas A&M (8-3)10816
15.UTSA (11-0)8815
16.Wisconsin (8-3)86N/A

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: Utah (78), Iowa (67), Pittsburgh (64), Houston (36), Wake Forest (13), San Diego State (12), Louisiana (5), NC State (4), Arkansas (4), Clemson (4), Mississippi State (3), Coastal Carolina (1).

NOTES:
Georgia remained No. 1 for a sixth straight week, receiving all 52 first-place votes after an easy non-conference victory over Charleston Southern. SEC rival Alabama kept pace by surviving a game against Arkansas, but Ohio State’s impressive 56-7 victory over Michigan State boosted the Buckeyes into the second slot ahead of No. 3 Alabama in the latest poll.

Oregon, the No. 3 team a week ago, dropped all the way to No. 11 after being routed at Utah. Michigan State, likewise, fell big, dropping six spots to No. 12. The other big loser was No. 13 Wake Forest, which was bounced by Clemson and fell completely out of the poll and was replaced by Wisconsin. Cincinnati, an easy 48-14 winner over SMU, stayed at No. 4.

The SEC and Big Ten had four teams each in the poll. The Big 12 had three and Independents two. The American, Conference USA and Pac-12 had one each.

THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE:
No. 1 Georgia at Georgia Tech
No. 2 Ohio State at No. 5 Michigan
No. 3 Alabama at Auburn
No. 4 Cincinnati at East Carolina
No. 6 Notre Dame at Stanford
No. 9 Oklahoma at No. 7 Oklahoma State
No. 8 Ole Miss at Mississippi State (Thursday)
Texas Tech at No. 10 Baylor
Oregon State at  No. 11 Oregon
Penn State at  No. 12 Michigan State
No. 13 BYU at USC
No. 14 Texas A&M at LSU
No. 15 UTSA at North Texas
No. 16 Wisconsin at Minnesota

ABOUT THE FWAA-NFF SUPER 16 POLL: The FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll was established at the conclusion of the 2013 season by long-time partners, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the National Football Foundation (NFF). Voters rank the top 16 teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, and the results will be released every Sunday of the 2021 season; the individual votes of all members will also be made public. The first regular season poll will be released on Tuesday, Sept. 7 (to account for Labor Day games), and the final poll will be released Sunday, Dec. 5. The pollsters consist of FWAA writers and College Football Hall of Famers who were selected to create a balanced-geographical perspective. The poll utilizes a computer program designed by Sports Systems to compile the rankings, and The JBoy Show is the official Media Partner of the poll.

ABOUT THE FWAA: Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com. 

ABOUT THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION & COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @NFFNetwork.

Finalists for Bronko Nagurski Trophy named

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Three finalists for the 2021 Bronko Nagurski Trophy representing the top three teams in the current College Football Playoff rankings and two conferences were named Wednesday by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club as candidates for the award honoring the nation’s top defensive player. One finalist’s team has already clinched a spot in a conference championship game and the two others can clinch spots with wins on Saturday.

In alphabetical order, the finalists are Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr., Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis and Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy recipient will be chosen from these three finalists. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s entire membership, selects the defensive player of the year who is part of the 2021 FWAA All-America Team and presented with the trophy at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet presented by LendingTree on Mon., Dec. 6 at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Here is a look at the 2021 finalists:

Will Anderson Jr., LB, Alabama (#31, 6-4, 243, So., Hampton, Ga.): Last season’s FWAA Freshman Player of the Year is the cog in an Alabama (9-1) defense that is fourth nationally in rushing defense giving up just 83.5 yards per game. Anderson is versatile in “affecting the quarterback,” a non-statistical term but a favorite of head coach Nick Saban when talking with the media. A beast in the backfield, he leads the nation in sacks (12.5) and tackles for loss (23.0) and has been credited by the Alabama coaching staff with a team-high 34 quarterback pressures. Only Derrick Thomas (1987-88) and Wallace Gilberry (2007) have better single-season sack and TFL numbers in Crimson Tide history. Anderson was the Bronko Nagurski National Player of the Week on Oct. 16 following a 4.0-sack game at Mississippi State, the most since Thomas did it in 1988, and has had at least one sack in 7 of 10 games. His 67 tackles (36 solo), second on the team, include and at least 1.0 TFL in nine of 10 games.  Alabama’s previous Bronko Nagurski winner was defensive end Jonathan Allen in 2016, and the Crimson Tide have had finalists now in nine of the last 11 seasons, most recently nose guard Quinnen Williams in 2018.

Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia (#99, 6-6, 340, Sr., Charlotte, N.C.): Davis is credited with being the most dominant defensive tackle in college football for top-ranked Georgia (10-0). The Bulldogs own the nation’s second-best total defense, giving up 247.0 yards per game and, with Davis anchoring the interior line, own the nation’s second-best rushing defense (78.1 ypg). Georgia is the national scoring defense leader (7.6 ppg) by more than a touchdown and has not given up more than 17 points in any game. Davis first garnered attention in Week 1 when he earned the Bronko Nagurski National Player of the Week honor with three tackles and a sack as Georgia held Clemson to two rushing yards in a 10-3 win. Double-teamed and avoided in the middle, Davis’ 23 tackles and 3.5 sacks don’t pop off the stat sheet. But nobody has been able to run past Davis and the attention he commands opens opportunities for other players, as linebackers Nakobe Dean and Channing Tindall and safety Lewis Cine are each having All-America caliber seasons. Georgia is well represented in Bronko Nagurski Trophy history. The Bulldogs have now had a finalist in three of the last five seasons (safety J.R. Reed in 2019 and linebacker Roquan Smith in 2017), seven finalists overall, and one previous winner in Champ Bailey from 1998.

Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon (#5, 6-5, 258, Soph., Los Angeles, Calif.): Thibodeaux is perhaps the hottest defender in the nation and the first Bronko Nagurski finalist for Oregon (9-1) since defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in 2005. The pass rush specialist lists as a linebacker but usually plays standing up on the defensive front. Thibodeaux had 26 quarterback pressures in the four games leading into last weekend and owns a 91.2 pass-rush grade from PFF, ninth-best among FBS edge defenders. He added two sacks last week against Washington State, and despite losing two early-season games to injury, leads Oregon with 6.0 sacks and has 35 total tackles, fifth-best on the Ducks. Thibodeaux was the Bronko Nagurski National Player of the Week for Oct. 23 when he had a career-high nine tackles, 4.5 TFL’s and two sacks in a win over UCLA. Oregon has never had a Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner.

The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football then became a star for professional football’s Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org and @NCFAA on Twitter to learn more about the association.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com.

About the Charlotte Touchdown Club
The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C., region. The club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. Since 1990, the club has raised and donated nearly $3 million to benefit area high school and collegiate athletics. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or jrocco@touchdownclub.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is touchdownclub.com.

About LendingTree, Inc.
LendingTree is the nation’s leading online marketplace that connects consumers with the choices they need to be confident in their financial decisions. LendingTree empowers consumers to shop for financial services the same way they would shop for airline tickets or hotel stays, by comparing multiple offers from a nationwide network of over 500 partners in one simple search and choosing the option that best fits their financial needs. Services include mortgage loans, mortgage refinances, auto loans, personal loans, business loans, student refinances, credit cards, insurance and more. Through the My LendingTree platform, consumers receive free credit scores, credit monitoring and recommendations to improve credit health. My LendingTree proactively compares consumers’ credit accounts against offers on their network and notifies consumers when there is an opportunity to save money. LendingTree’s purpose is to help simplify financial decisions for life’s meaningful moments through choice, education and support.

Related links:
• Preseason Watch List | Finalists
• Bronko Nagurski Trophy (All-Time Winners, Finalists and Players of the Week)
• Download the Bronko Nagurski Trophy presented by LendingTree logo: Primary (.jpg) | Primary (.eps)

Six linemen named semifinalists for 2021 Outland Trophy

OMAHA – Six semifinalists for the 2021 Outland Trophy – five offensive linemen and one defensive tackle – were announced Wednesday by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee. The semifinalists come from six schools at three different positions representing three different conferences.

The 2021 Outland Trophy is awarded annually to the nation’s best college interior lineman on offense or defense. The All-America Committee of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) selected the semifinalists from nominations by the entire membership.

The field for the 2021 Outland Trophy is as follows: defensive tackle Jordan Davis of Georgia, offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu of North Carolina State, offensive tackle Darian Kinnard of Kentucky, center Tyler Linderbaum of Iowa, offensive tackle Evan Neal of Alabama and offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere of Ohio State.

All six schools represented by the semifinalists have a previous winner and combine for 17 all-time Outland Trophy winners.

The FWAA began naming semifinalists for the Outland Trophy in the 2013 season. These six semifinalists will be pared to three finalists on Tues., Nov. 23 and the recipient of the 2021 Outland Trophy will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards, live on ESPN on Thurs., Dec. 9. The official presentation to the winner will be made at the Outland Trophy Awards Dinner sponsored by Werner Enterprises and produced by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee in Omaha, Neb., on Jan. 12, 2022.

Here is a closer look at each of the semifinalists:

Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia (#99, 6-6, 340, Sr., Charlotte, N.C.): The only defensive player among the six semifinalists, Davis is the most dominant defensive tackle in college football for top-ranked Georgia (10-0). The Bulldogs own the nation’s second-best total defense giving up 247 yards per game and with Davis anchoring the interior line own the nation’s second-best rushing defense (78.1 ypg). Georgia is the national scoring defense leader (7.6 ppg) by more than a touchdown and has not given up more than 17 points in any game. Nobody has been able to run on Davis. Georgia has an Outland Trophy tradition on the defensive front. Now with Davis, the Bulldogs have had two defensive tackle semifinalists in the past three seasons along with Andrew Thomas in 2019. The Bulldogs’ lone Outland Trophy winner was also a defensive tackle, Bill Stanfill, in 1968.

Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State (#79, 6-4, 320, So., Charlotte, N.C.): Ekwonu has been ranked as the top run blocker in college football by Pro Football Focus and has more than 56 pancake blocks and 18 knockdowns for the Wolfpack (7-3). He has earned the ACC Offensive Line Player of the Week twice this season. Protecting quarterback Devin Leary at left tackle, Ekwonu and N.C. State are 19th nationally in passing offense at 291.1 yards per game, fifth in the ACC and 11th among Power 5 schools. Leary is 14th nationally in passing yards at 288.3 ypg. “He’s nasty. He’s athletic. He’s big,” said Tim Hasselbeck of the ACC Network. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic calls him the most feared lineman in the ACC. “Ridiculous strength levels, athleticism and will to finish,” said Jordan Reid of ESPN. N.C. State now has two semifinalists within the past four seasons, including center Garrett Bradbury from 2018. The Wolfpack’s lone Outland Trophy winner was at center, Jim Ritcher, in 1979.

Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky (#70, 6-5, 338, Sr., Knoxville, Tenn.): One of the top offensive linemen in the Southeastern Conference for a much-improved offense from a year ago. Kinnard has started at right tackle in the past 36 games for Kentucky (7-3) since the end of the 2018 season. The Wildcats’ resurgence this season is built around its run game, which boasts its 10th all-time 1,000-yard rusher in a season in Chrstiopher Rodriguez Jr., who led the SEC in rushing for the first half of the season and is currently second at 1,032 yards with six touchdowns. Kentucky, which has clinched second place in the SEC East, is tied for sixth in the SEC in rushing at 186.3 ypg. Kinnard is Kentucky’s first Outland semifinalist. Offensive tackle Bob Gain won the fifth Outland Trophy in 1950.

Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa (#65, 6-3, 290, Jr., Solon, Iowa): Linderbaum is one of the dominant linemen at his position for the Hawkeyes (8-2). He was the Second Team FWAA All-America center a year ago. The junior has started all 31 career games after playing on the defensive line as a true freshman. He moved to the offensive line following the 2018 regular season, and this season has a 94.8 offensive grade among centers by PFF, the best for a center since 2014. Iowa’s run game has improved, as Tyler Goodson needs 187 rushing yards in the final two games to become Iowa’s first 1,000-yard-season rusher since 2017. Iowa has now had a semifinalist in two of the last three seasons along with offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs in 2019. The Hawkeyes have four Outland Trophy winners in their past, most recently offensive tackle Brandon Scherff in 2014, who is also the Big Ten’s last Outland winner. Offensive tackle Robert Gallery (2003), tackle Alex Karras (1957) and guard Calvin Jones (1955) are other winners. The last center to win the Outland came in 2005 from the Big Ten, Greg Eslinger of Minnesota.

Evan Neal, OT, Alabama (#73, 6-7, 350, Jr., Okeechobee, Fla.): Slimmed down to 350 pounds to increase mobility, Neal has gained explosive speed and great reach. The FWAA Freshman All-America selection as a true freshman in 2019 settled in at left tackle this season after playing all along the offensive line previously for second-ranked Alabama (9-1), which is in the top 10 in offense in scoring offense (3rd, 44.6 ppg), total offense (10th, 484.7 ypg) and passing offense (11th, 322.6 ypg). Neal’s protection has helped quarterback Bryce Young to 302.5 passing yards per game, 13th nationally. The Crimson Tide claim last year’s Outland Trophy winner, offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood, and three of the last five winners from both sides of the ball. Quinnen Williams, a defensive tackle, won in 2018, and offensive tackle Cam Robinson won the 2016 award. Five of the Tide’s six winners have been offensive tackles. Alabama’s six Outland winners are second-most all-time to Nebraska’s nine.

Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State (#78, 6-5, 315, Jr., Tampa, Fla.): Regarded as the top offensive lineman on a Buckeyes front considered one of the nation’s best. He has built up his weight as his playing time increased, now weighing 315 pounds without losing his nimbleness for Ohio State (9-1). Petit-Frere started 18 of his 31 career games for the Buckeyes, who this season are tops in the nation in scoring offense (46.3 ppg), total offense (550.4 ) and sixth in passing offense (353.6 ypg). The line has provided big holes for explosive gains – running back TreVeyon Henderson is tied for third nationally in runs of 40 yards or more with six and has eight runs of 30-plus yards. Petit-Frere is the Buckeyes’ first Outland semifinalist since center Billy Price in 2017. Ohio State has four Outland winners in its past, started off by guard Jim Parker in 1956. Middle guard Jim Stillwagon (1970) and offensive tackles John Hicks (1973) and Orlando Pace (1996) have won it since.

The Outland Trophy is the third-oldest major college football award behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award. Created in 1946 when Dr. John Outland presented the FWAA with a financial contribution to initiate the award, the Outland Trophy has been given to the best interior lineman in college football ever since. Dr. Outland, an All-American at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1890s, eventually took up practice in Kansas City, Mo. An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Outland believed linemen did not get the credit they deserved and wanted an award to recognize them.

The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 24 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com.

Related links:
• Preseason Watch List | Semifinalists | Finalists
• All-time Outland Trophy winners, candidates
• Download 75th Anniversary Outland Trophy logo: Primary (.jpg) | Dark background (.jpg) | Illustrator (.ai)

FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll, Week 11

Week 11: Games Played Through November 13, 2021

TEAMPOINTSFIRST-PLACE VOTESLAST WEEK’S RANK
1.Georgia (10-0)832521
2.Alabama (9-1)7512
3.Oregon (9-1)6796
4.Cincinnati (10-0)6784
5.Ohio State (9-1)6705
6.Michigan State (9-1)5338
7.Michigan (9-1)5119
8.Notre Dame (9-1)4787
9.Oklahoma State (9-1)44310
10.Ole Miss (8-2)31112
11.Oklahoma (9-1)2853
12.Baylor (8-2)283N/A
13.Wake Forest (9-1)23713
14.BYU (8-2)10714
15.UTSA (10-0)7315
16.Texas A&M (7-3)5411

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: Wisconsin (43), Iowa (34), Pittsburgh (28), Houston (15), Utah (6), Coastal Carolina (6), San Diego State (6), Louisiana (3), Mississippi State (3), Arkansas (2), Purdue (1).

To see how individuals voted in this week’s poll, CLICK HERE.

NOTES:
The top two teams remained the same in the poll with SEC powerhouses Georgia and Alabama 1-2, possibly heading to a showdown in the league’s title game in early December. Georgia claimed all 52 first-place votes for a fifth straight week.

But No. 3 Oklahoma suffered its first loss of the season at Baylor and fell all the way to No. 11.  Oregon moved up three spots, replacing the Sooners in the third spot ahead of No. 4 Cincinnati. The Bearcats were followed by Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Notre Dame, in that order.

Texas A&M lost at Ole Miss and fell from 11th to 16th. By virtue of its upset of the Sooners. Baylor entered the poll at No. 12. Iowa fell out of the poll despite beating Minnesota.

The SEC had four teams in the poll, followed by the Big 12  and Big Ten, which had three each. The Independents had two, and the American, Atlantic Coast, Conference USA and Pac-12  had one each.

THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE:
Charleston Southern at No. 1 Georgia
Arkansas at No. 2 Alabama
No. 3 Oregon at Utah
SMU at  No. 4 Cincinnati
No. 6 Michigan State at No. 5 Ohio State 
No. 7 Michigan at Maryland
Georgia Tech at No. 8 Notre Dame
No. 9 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
Vanderbilt at No. 10 Ole Miss
Iowa State at No. 11 Oklahoma
No. 12 Baylor at Kansas State
No. 13 Wake Forest at Clemson
No. 14 BYU at Georgia Southern
UAB at  No. 15 UTSA
Prairie View at  No.16 Texas A&M 

ABOUT THE FWAA-NFF SUPER 16 POLL: The FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll was established at the conclusion of the 2013 season by long-time partners, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the National Football Foundation (NFF). Voters rank the top 16 teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, and the results will be released every Sunday of the 2021 season; the individual votes of all members will also be made public. The first regular season poll will be released on Tuesday, Sept. 7 (to account for Labor Day games), and the final poll will be released Sunday, Dec. 5. The pollsters consist of FWAA writers and College Football Hall of Famers who were selected to create a balanced-geographical perspective. The poll utilizes a computer program designed by Sports Systems to compile the rankings, and The JBoy Show is the official Media Partner of the poll.

ABOUT THE FWAA: Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com. 

ABOUT THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION & COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @NFFNetwork.

Nebraska’s Jackson named recipient of 2021 Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Texas — University of Nebraska defensive linebacker and military veteran Damian Jackson has been selected as the 10th recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, theArmed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group within the realm of the sport of football.”

Brant Ringler, executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, and Heather Dinich, FWAA president, announced Jackson as the recipient Wednesday during a teleconference.  Jackson was selected from a list of 31 nominations (28 individuals and three programs) as the 2021 recipient by a nine-person committee made up of FWAA members and Bowl officials.

Damian Jackson

“Damian has distinguished himself as a collegiate football player after serving four years in the Navy,” said Ringler.  “Damian’s off-the-field involvement at Nebraska has been remarkable and we have followed his progress in Lincoln for the past three seasons since he was also a finalist for the Armed Forces Merit Award in 2019.”

Dinich added: “Jackson joins a list of remarkable individuals and programs that have been recipients of the Armed Forces Merit Award.  With so many deserving individuals and programs, it is difficult to honor only one recipient annually.”

Jackson has been a valuable producer for the Husker defense in 2021, serving as a backup linebacker for the Blackshirts after moving from the defensive line.  He played in Nebraska’s first nine games, totaling a season-high two tackles and a quarterback hurry in the win over Northwestern.

Jackson, who did not play high school football, was a Navy SEAL for four years before walking on to the Husker program in 2017.  He has played in the Huskers’ last 15 games dating back to the 2020 season.

Off the field, Jackson is a Child, Youth and Family Studies major who is on track to graduate this December and has been on the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll seven times.  He has been involved with the Nebraska Football Road Race and a Day of Service, while also participating in local hospital visits.

Earlier this fall, Jackson was featured in a remembrance video on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  He will also be featured this Saturday on ESPN’s GameDay telecast.

“It is an honor to have Damian be a part of our football team and a representative of Nebraska Football, said head coach Scott Frost.  “Damian has brought accountability, leadership and toughness to our team and helped instill those same qualities in his teammates. His incredible drive and tenacity have allowed him to become a contributor to our football team despite not playing high school football.  His impact on our program, combined with his service and sacrifice for our country make him a worthy recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award.”

Created in June 2012, the award honors an individual and/or a group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.

The Armed Forces Merit Awards selection committee is comprised of seven FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.  A total of 28 individuals and three programs were nominated for the 2021 award.

Past recipients of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA include Nate Boyer of the University of Texas (2012), Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas (2013), Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University (2014), Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo., 2015), Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University (2016), Dr. Chris Howard from Robert Morris University (2018), Army West Point assistant coach Mike Viti (2019) and Collin O’Donnell of Bluefield College of Virginia.

Kansas State and its football team were honored in November 2017 as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a portfolio of 34 collegiate sporting events nationwide. The roster includes five early-season college football games, 17 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and a college softball event, which accounts for 400 hours of live programming, reaches 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in more than 10 markets across the country, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.  For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA, http://www.sportswriters.net) consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team.

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