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MaxwellAward Pundit Ballot, Week 8

It's time once more for our weekly ballot in the MaxwellPundit Award, conceived, hosted, and tabulated by the the good folks of Rakes of Mallow. The award seeks to honor college football's best overall player. Linemen, punters, safeties, receivers - everyone is eligible for this prestigious end-of-season award.

This week's ballot, with last week's rank in parentheses:

1. Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State (1)
Last week: 15-23, 220 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT
Season: 131-193, 1715 yards, 21 TD, 2 INT

Well, SMQ more or less stole my idea to 1a and 1b the top candidates. And, I guess since he did it first, it's not stealing. Maybe I'm stealing. Anyway, barring some unlikely stains on the resumes of the #1 and #2 players on this week's ballot, we may just be headed for a MaxwellPundit Award finalist showdown on November 18th. Either Smith will be the unstoppable force he has appeared to be thus far this season, or Michigan's defensive line will ruthlessly thwart him play after play, as they have with every other quarterback that has dared take the field with them. Winner takes all, yes?

2. LaMarr Woodley, DE, Michigan (2)
Last week: 3 tackles, 2 TFL (both sacks), 1 Forced Fumble
Season: 22 tackles, 12 TFL, 9 sacks (-92 yards), 2 Fumble Recoveries, 3 Forced Fumbles

Accolades aplenty for the entire MGoLine, but LaMarr is our choice for the face of the monster. Longhorn fans have been treated to an ungodly defensive performance against the run this season. Amazingly, Michigan's has been better. The Wolverine defense leads the nation in: fewest rush yards per game (33.63), yards per attempt (1.42), TD allowed (2), and total sacks (29). So, yeah, they're good.

3. Aaron Ross, DB, Texas (Not Ranked)
Last week: 6 tackles, 1 Forced Fumble, 2 Passes Broken Up
Season: 53 tackles, 3 TFL (-14 yards), 1 sack, 14 Passes Broken Up, 4 INT, 3 Forced Fumbles, 2 TDs

It's hard for a defensive back to be an "impact player" in the sense that we normally think of it, but Ross is managing to do just that. Ross single-handedly buried Oklahoma, he leads the nation in pass defended, he returns punts (very, very well), and against Nebraska, with the game in the balance, he did what teams usually have to rely on their quarterback to do: he won it. The only thing that could save Texas on the season was a fumble from Nebraska's Terrence Nunn, and Ross forced it. For that, he gets the big nod this week; and that despite his egregious blunder that cost Texas the Marlon Lucky thrown touchown.

4. Ian Johnson, RB, Boise State (NR)
Last week: 27 rushes, 183 yards, 4 TD
Season: 169 rushes, 1181 yards, 18 TD

Back to back 4 touchdown Saturdays have me joining Kyle in praising Johnson. Without the luxury of seeing the Broncos play much, I'm forced to rely on the statistical insanity on its own. That's usually a point for hesitation, but Johnson's numbers are sufficiently ridiculous to warrant a good look.

5. Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson (NR)

Last week: 3 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 Pass Broken Up, 3 QB Pressures
Season: 30 tackles, 11.5 for loss (-75 yards), 8.5 sacks, 18 QB Pressures, 2 Forced Fumbles

Adams has gone flat berserk of late, single-handedly sparking his team's stunning turnaround against Wake Forest, and generally pressuring the hell out of whichever opposing quarterback is under center. He figured prominently in Clemson's emasculation of Reggie Ball in primetime on Saturday, and looks like he may wind up on the short list of all those fun defensive awards at the end of the season. Not to mention this one.

Still on the radar

Mike Hart, Limas Sweed, DeSean Jackson, Garrett Wolfe, Reggie Nelson, Calvin Johnson,