Big East awards race update, Week 9


Player of the year race: Offense

1. Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville: Powell outdueled Jordan Todman on Saturday to take over the Big East rushing lead. He's already surpassed 1,000 yards with five games left to play.

2. Zach Collaros, QB, Cincinnati: If his team weren't 3-4, Collaros might be running away with this award. He leads the Big East in passing yards (1,918, more than 300 yards more than his closest competitor) and touchdown passes (20, eight more than anyone else).

3. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Saturday's three-interception performance against Syracuse badly damaged his campaign. The body of work is still strong, but Smith needs to rebound quickly.

4. Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut: Todman didn't have a bad day at Louisville (19 carries for 80 yards), but Powell has zoomed past him. And like Collaros, his team's record works against him.

5. Armon Binns, WR, Cincinnati: A pair of big games has Binns back in this race. He's pacing all Big East receivers in catches (44) and touchdowns (9).

Player of the year race: Defense

1. Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh: Tied for the lead league in tackles for loss and second in sacks behind teammate Brandon Lindsey.

2. Joe Lefeged, S, Rutgers: Had another forced fumble against Pitt, but defense faltered badly in second half.

3. Doug Hogue, LB, Syracuse: Huge two-interception effort versus West Virginia helped shake up the entire Big East race.

Coach of the year race

1. Doug Marrone, Syracuse: With the Orange at 5-2 overall, 2-1 in the Big East and garnering Top 25 votes, Marrone deserves notice for national coach of the year recognition at this point.

2. Charlie Strong, Louisville: Strong already has led the Cardinals to a match of last year's win total, and it's hard to overstate how much the team has improved.

Most improved player

(In case you didn't see my video on Tuesday, here are my top five choices for most improved player in the league):

1. Powell

2. Ray Graham, RB, Pittsburgh

3. Adam Froman, QB, Louisville

4. Van Chew, WR, Syracuse

5. Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia