1. Troy Smith, OSU.
Like SMQB I find myself somewhat underwhelmed by Smith. It would be nice if the Ohio State defense would deign to give up 20 or 30 points with some consistency so we could witness Smith in something other than garbage time. His numbers remain impressive but somewhat underwhelming. He's been efficient, which is nice, but outside of a dancing, impossible touchdown throw against Penn State, Smith's Heisman campaign has been -- say it with me -- "workmanlike." Smith's top qualification is as the most senior and recognizable Buckeye, an avatar of dominance more than a proprietor thereof.
2. Lamarr Woodley, Michigan.
Two more sacks, an additional tackle for loss, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Woodley's doing the avatar thing for the Michigan defense, yes, but he's got 11 sacks and is nigh guaranteed to shatter the Michigan single-season sack record. And let me assure you that his numbers are not hollow. I chart his contributions on a weekly basis. For each sack there are two hurries; for each TFL there are two tackles deposited in the backfield and two running plays strung out.
The image at right is a lie. Reggie Nelson does not smile. He only shows you his teeth so you can get a preview of the last thing your jugular is ever going to feel. I am resigned to the fact that I am a sucker for dreadlocked, trash-talking safeties who play 15 yards off the line of scrimmage and are clearly direct descendants of the Mongol Horde. Nelson's motto is "If it moves, hit it. If it's still moving, talk about its mom." He's got four interceptions, has caused a couple more, and has blown up countless other plays. Florida's cornerbacks are questionable but they have the fifth best passing efficiency defense in the country. Nelson, more than any other Gator, is responsible.
4. Marshawn Lynch, Cal
With the decline and fall of the Peterson empire, Lynch is very probably the best back in the country. Sure, sure, Steve Slaton and all that, but even though the Pac-10 is not exactly defense central it's certainly much better than clown colleges who have opposed WVU to date.
5. Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech
I dunno. I hate that Reggie Ball ignored him for the entire Clemson game. I wish he was on a team with a functional, non-Lollipop Guild quarterback and a reasonable offensive gameplan. He's still a force of nature and a guaranteed top five NFL draft pick. If a bionic receiver enters your life and there's no one around to throw him the ball, does he deserve a MaxwellPundit vote?