Odell Beckham Jr.

Ole Miss’ upset of ‘Bama, Marcus Mariota claim ESPYs

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In somewhat of an upset given the others in its category, it was a 2014 college football game that claimed one of the numerous honors handed out at Wednesday night’s ESPY awards show.

And, fittingly enough, it was Ole Miss’ shocking of Alabama last year that claimed the ESPY for Best Upset. The others in the category were Georgia State stunning Baylor in March Madness this past spring and the Kansas City Royals sweeping the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series last fall.

Heading into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in early October last year, the Tide was cruising through the first half of its slate at 4-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country in the coaches’ poll. An hour of game time after kickoff, however, the goalposts came tumbling down as the Rebels claimed a 23-17 win over the Tide.

That win provided a couple of firsts for the Rebels football program: first win over the Tide since 2003, and its first-ever over a team ranked No. 1 in the country.  As the season wore on, though, it looked less and less like an upset as the Rebels finished the regular season at 9-3 and ranked ninth in the final College Football Playoff rankings. The fact that the ESPYs were voted on via online fan voting, though, may have something to do with this SEC team coming out on top in its category.

Additionally, former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was named the Best Male College Athlete.  The 2014 Heisman winner — as well as the winner of the Maxwell, Davey O’Brien and Unitas awards — Mariota left the Ducks as the all-time passing leader in nearly every major statistical categories and led Oregon to the brink of the first national championship in the program’s history.  This past April, Mariota was the second overall pick of the Tennessee Titans in the NFL draft.

The other male college athletes up for the award were Boston University hockey player Jack Eichel, Wisconsin basketball player Frank Kaminsky, Ohio State wrestler Logan Stieber and Vanderbilt baseball player Dansby Swanson.

There were five college football individuals/teams up for four other awards, but they didn’t fare as well as Ole Miss and Mariota.

Ohio State’s Cardale Jones was up for Best Breakthrough Athlete; Ohio State’s Urban Meyer for Best Coach/Manager; the entire Ohio State squad for Best Team; and Central Michigan’s Hail Mary in the Bahamas Bowl and Ameer Abdullah‘s touchdown run vs. McNeese State in the tournament-style Best Play.  The awards instead went to Little League sensation Mo’ne Davis, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, the U.S. Women’s World Cup title team and former LSU and New York Giants star Odell Beckham Jr.‘s ridiculous one-handed catch, respectively.

The night may or may not have been a total loss for Jones, though, depending on the response he received to the Twitter request sent out to a fellow ESPY nominee.

Urban Meyer, Cardale Jones, Mariota, Abdullah & CMU Hail Mary nominated for ESPY Awards

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Oh, you thought award season was over and award watch list season was in full swing? Well, you are mostly right. The midsummer award fest manufactured by ESPN known as the ESPYs are coming up in a couple of weeks, and Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones and head coach Urban Meyer are among the nominees for various awards from the world of college football.

Jones was nominated in the Best Breakthrough Athlete category. Others up for the award are New York Giants wide receiver, and former LSU Tiger, Odell Beckham Jr., golfer Jordan Spieth and Little League Baseball standout Mo’ne Davis. Jones may have a solid case to be made as the biggest breakout player last season, but that is some tough competition in the category. Beckham Jr. may end up snagging this one by the tips of his fingers, and Davis had an incredible story proving girls can be as good as any on a Little League Baseball field last summer.

Meyer may not have taken home many coach of the year honors last season despite the accomplishments of his Buckeyes squad, so we will see how he stacks up against a pretty solid field of nominees for Best Coach/Manager. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Duke men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski and UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma are also nominated.

Ole Miss also received a nomination for best upset. The victory over Alabama was chosen as the best college football upset of last season and is up against Georgia State’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament victory over Baylor and the Kansas City Royals winning the American League pennant. Ole Miss should have a tough time winning that award up against those two nominees. Also, was this really the biggest upset of 2014? If so, it must have been a pretty weak year for upsets around college football. I asked my Twitter followers for the biggest upset in college football last season while writing this up. Among the responses I received, one said Ole Miss beating Alabama. The majority suggested Virginia Tech upsetting Ohio State, although that loss gets the benefit of hindsight to help its argument. Arizona beating Oregon received a few mentions, as did Christian Hackenberg avoiding injury.

There were some other college football mentions among the rest of the ESPY nominations. Central Michigan’s Hail Mary in the Bahamas Bowl and Ameer Abdullah‘s touchdown run vs. McNeese State are entered in a tournament style Best Play category. Former Oregon Duck and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota is the only college football player nominated in the Best Male College Athlete category.

SEC leads all conferences with Madden NFL video game covers

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There may no longer be an NCAA Football video game produced by EA Sports, but that does not mean the SEC cannot find one more thing to brag about. With wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants, and previously of LSU, being named the cover athlete for Madden NFL 16, the annual NFL video game published by EA Sports, the SEC now has four all-time cover athletes on the most popular sports video game in the country. No other active conference has more than two Madden cover athletes.

LSU’s Beckham Jr. is the first Tigers player to appear on the cover of Madden. He joins Georgia’s Garrison Hearst (Madden NFL 99, the first cover athlete in the franchise’s history), Alabama’s Shaun Alexander (Madden NFL 07) and Peyton Hillis of Arkansas (Madden NFL 12). The SEC actually ties the old Big East for most all-time cover athletes. The Big East is the only conference to have a former Big East player appear on the cover in three successive seasons with Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick (Madden NFL 2004), Miami’s Ray Lewis (Madden NFL 2005) and Syracuse’s Donovan McNabb (Madden NFL 06). The Big East’s last representative on the cover was former Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (Madden NFL 10).

The ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 all have had two cover athletes each. Joining the Big East in the defunct conference category of Madden cover athletes are the Big 8 and WAC, each with one cover athlete. Barry Sanders (Madden NFL 25; he technically appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 2000 too, but that was as a background image behind John Madden) of Oklahoma State played in the Big 8 and Marshall Faulk (Madden NFL 2003) played at San Diego State when the Aztecs were in the WAC.

One more note for those with an interest. Two players from independent programs have been featured on the cover of the Madden NFL series, and neither hailed from Notre Dame. UCF’s Daunte Culpepper (Madden NFL 2002) and Southern Mississippi’s Brett Favre (Madden NFL 09) have each graced the cover. At the time these quarterbacks were throwing passes on Saturday afternoons though, both programs were independent programs.

What about Heisman Trophy winners on the cover? There have been three of them on the cover of Madden. In addition to Sanders, Ohio State’s Eddie George (Madden NFL 2001) and Vince Young of Texas (Madden NFL 08) have appeared on the cover of the game.

Madden NFL 99 – Garrison Hearst, Georgia

Madden NFL 2000 – John Madden (Barry Sanders was in the background image, but not specifically featured)

Madden NFL 2001 – Eddie George, Ohio State

Madden NFL 2002 – Daunte Culpepper, UCF

Madden NFL 2003 – Marshall Faulk, San Diego State, WAC

Madden NFL 2004 – Michael Vick, Virginia Tech

Madden NFL 2005 – Ray Lewis, Miami

Madden NFL 06 – Donovan McNabb, Syracuse

Madden NFL 07 – Shaun Alexander, Alabama

Madden NFL 08 – Vince Young, Texas

Madden NFL 09 – Brett Favre, Southern Miss

Madden NFL 10 – Troy Polamalu, USC; Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh

Madden NFL 11 – Drew Brees, Purdue

Madden NFL 12 – Peyton Hillis, Arkansas

Madden NFL 13 – Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech

Madden NFL 25 – Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State; Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma

Madden NFL 15 – Richard Sherman, Stanford

Madden NFL 16 – Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

LSU buys billboard in Times Square to honor Odell Beckham Jr.’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year season

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Former LSU Tigers wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. turned in a fantastic rookie season with the New York Giants. After providing some incredible catches that defy comprehension, Beckham Jr. was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, and deservedly so.

As reported over the weekend by our pals over at Pro Football Talk, Beckham Jr. received votes from 42 of the 50 members on the NFL’s voting panel. Considering Beckham Jr. missed the start of the season due to injury, his production was nothing short of phenomenal. Beckham Jr. recorded 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in his rookie season.

Iowa WR breaks Odell Beckham’s Guinness world record

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Iowa’s Tevaun Smith didn’t just one-up New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. a day after he set a world record. The junior from Toronto, Canada easily surpassed Beckham’s mark and caught nearly as many one-handed passes in a minute than he did all season.

Beckham originally set the record Thursday by making 33 catches without a drop in 60 seconds. Smith, who caught 43 passes for 596 yards last season, decided he was up to the task with 41 one-handed snags.

The Iowa Hawkeyes athletic department recorded the record-breaking event, via ESPN:

After being challenged, Beckham will surely attempt to break the new record.

“The type of person I am, I love breaking records, no matter what it is,” Beckham said Thursday in an interview with CBS New York. “I look forward to breaking and going above and beyond what somebody else has done.”