LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Greetings from the site of the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards (Unofficial motto: Fewer six-button suits than the NBA draft -- but barely). Thursday night, the glitterati of the college football world will gather to pass out almost every award except the Heisman Trophy. Just in case you want to watch The Office instead, I'm going to predict all the winners now. And since I have to cover the show, please don't be a goober and post any Andy Bernard-related spoilers in the comments section after my predictions prove wildly inaccurate.
Chuck Bednarik Award (Best Defensive Player)
Finalists: LB James Laurinaitis (Ohio State), LB Rey Maualuga (USC), DE Aaron Maybin (Penn State)
Predicted winner: Laurinaitis. The son of one-half of The Road Warriors has been named an All-America all three years he's played. He already owns a Nagurski Trophy (2006) and a Butkus Award (2007). After a 121-tackle season, he should complete the trifecta.
Biletnikoff Award (Best Receiver)
Finalists: Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State), Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech), Jeremy Maclin (Missouri)
Projected winner: Crabtree. Bryant finished the season with more yards and a better per-catch average, but Crabtree will repeat thanks to the 28-yard touchdown catch he made with a second remaining against Texas. A sensible man would have ducked out of bounds and let the kicker his team found in a contest try a game-winning field goal. A legend would have ducked under a defender and slid into the end zone.
Lou Groza Award (Best Kicker)
Finalists: Josh Arauco (Arkansas State), Graham Gano (Florida State), Louie Sakoda (Utah)
Projected winner: Sakoda. Gano had the better statistical season by a hair, but King Louie's 37-yarder to beat Oregon State as time expired was pure Thursday night magic, and that high-pressure kick should win it for Sakoda.
Ray Guy Award (Best Punter)
Finalists: Matt Fodge (Oklahoma State), Pat McAfee (West Virginia), Louie Sakoda (Utah)
Projected winner: Sakoda. He's also the favorite to win Best Director, Best Set Design and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Outland Trophy (Best Interior Lineman)
Finalists: OT Michael Oher (Ole Miss), OG Duke Robinson (Oklahoma), OT Andre Smith (Alabama)
Projected winner: Smith. In a less stellar year, any of these three behemoths could have walked away with this award. Smith gets the nod for dominating in a defense-first conference and helping his team to a 12-1 record.
Jim Thorpe Award (Best Defensive Back)
Finalists: S Eric Berry (Tennessee), CB Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio State), S Taylor Mays (USC)
Projected winner: Berry. He didn't get much attention because his team was terrible, but Berry was perhaps the nation's most versatile safety. He led the SEC with seven interceptions -- including two returned for touchdowns -- and made 72 tackles and eight and a half tackles for loss.
Doak Walker Award (Best Running Back)
Finalists: Shonn Greene (Iowa), Knowshon Moreno (Georgia), Javon Ringer (Michigan State)
Projected winner: Greene. He finished with 1,729 yards, 17 touchdowns and a 6.22-yard average. He's also a hero to those who didn't want to see a Big Ten team in the BCS title game for coming up big in Penn State's only loss.
Davey O'Brien Award (Best Quarterback)
Finalists: Sam Bradford (Oklahoma), Graham Harrell (Texas Tech), Colt McCoy (Texas)
Projected winner: Bradford. I'll be honest. I threw a dart -- just like these three guys did all season.
Maxwell Award (Best All-Around Player)
Finalists: Graham Harrell (Texas Tech), Colt McCoy (Texas), Tim Tebow (Florida)
Projected winner: McCoy. The deadline for ballots was Nov. 23, so voters never saw 2007 winner Tebow's performances against Florida State and Alabama. They did, however, see McCoy carry the Longhorns' offense -- remember, he also led Texas in rushing -- for most of the season. This award is like the Golden Globe to the Heisman's Oscar, but much like the Golden Globes, it doesn't necessarily serve as a great predictor. Tebow won both last year, but before him, it hadn't happened since Ron Dayne in 1999.