Since 1995, the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club have partnered to bring you the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner each year. The Best Defensive Player in the entire country is announced at the Westin Hotel in downtown Charlotte each December before sellout crowds, with this year’s 21st straight banquet, sponsored by ACN and slated for Dec. 7. Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn will deliver the keynote speech.
Five finalists for the award, named after the legendary Minnesota Gopher and Chicago Bears lineman, will appear on stage before the winner is announced by 2015 FWAA President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. During the evening, the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by East Coast Railways, will also be feted–Ohio State linebacker Randy Gradishar (1971-73).
Arizona’s junior linebacker Scooby Wright III will attempt to become only the second player to win back-to-back Nagurski Trophies after Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald in 1995 and 1996. Wright is just the second sophomore to win the award after Ohio State linebacker James Laurinatis in 2006.
The weekly ACN Bronko Report will bring to you updates on what is happening on the defensive side of the ball during the 2015 season, top matchups and also provide links to stories on Bronko Nagurski Alumni and occasional feature stories about current top defensive players who might wind up in Charlotte the first week of December
MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
Michigan State at Michigan: An important Big Ten East Division game between two teams that are unbeaten in league play. Michigan’s defense has been rock solid and should present a severe challenge to Spartans quarterback Connor Cook. The Wolverines have outscored their opponents 97-0 in the last three games. They have not allowed a point in 41 straight defensive possessions. The last time Michigan posted three straight shutouts was in 1980. Michigan ranks No. 1 in the FBS in scoring defense (6.3 ppg allowed), No. 2 in total defense (181.3 yards allowed a game) and No. 3 in rushing defense (65.8 yards allowed a game). Michigan State has won six of the last seven games in the series.
BRONKO NAGURSKI BANQUET NEWS
AutoNation FWAA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF WEEK
Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah opened the Cowboys’ scoring with a fumble recovery in the end zone, then led OSU’s defense with eight tackles and a sack and two forced fumbles in a 33-26 overtime win at West Virginia. The performance earned Ogbah the AutoNation National Defensive Player of the Week honor for games of the weekend of Oct. 10, as selected by the Football Writers Association on America.
The 6-4, 275-pound junior from Houston is the reigning Big 12 Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year and showed why with his season-high tackle total, and he added a quarterback hurry. After his touchdown, the first of his two forced fumbles minutes later was recovered and set the Cowboys up at West Virginia’s 28-yard line. Oklahoma State scored five plays later for a 14-0 lead.
In the first quarter alone, Ogbah had three tackles, the fumble-recovery for a touchdown, a forced fumble, a half-sack and a half-tackle for loss. Six of Ogbah’s eight total tackles were unassisted. In Big 12 games, Ogbah leads the conference in sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles. He is tied for fourth in the nation with 7.5 sacks and is eighth with 11 tackles for losses.