We’ve got a new name this week. It’s time to give Duke safety Matt Daniels the credit he deserves. Welcome to The List, No. 40.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd: The No. 9 Tigers can clinch the Atlantic Division on Saturday with a win over Wake Forest, and Boyd is a big reason. Boyd leads the ACC in passing average per game with 297.1 yards and is fourth in passing efficiency (154.8). He has 25 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins: He’s been invaluable this year, and Watkins is only a true freshman. He leads the ACC in all-purpose yards with 186.1 yards per game, leads with seven receptions per game, is second in receiving yards per game, is second in the league in kick return average and is tied for fifth in scoring. There’s no question he’s one of the best players in the country.
Virginia Tech running back David Wilson: He’s on track for a record-setting season and leads the ACC in rushing yards per game with 131.8, and has seven touchdowns. He has surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark eight times in nine games this season. His 1,185 yards are the most of any running back in the FBS.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly: He ranks sixth on the NCAA’s FBS career list for tackles with 491. (The NCAA’s list only dates back to 2000.) Kuechly has an NCAA-leading streak of 31 straight games with 10 or more tackles. He also has 8.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions. He leads the nation with 150 tackles and 16.67 per game.
Miami linebacker Sean Spence: He is the ACC’s active career leader in tackles for loss with 44, and ranks 15th nationally in tackles with 10.38 per game. He also has three sacks and leads the ACC in tackles for loss per game with 1.5.
Duke safety Matt Daniels: He ranks tied for second in the nation in passes defended (15) and passes broken up (13). He is tied for second nationally in tackles among defensive backs with 93, and leads all ACC defensive backs in tackles. He had one of his best games against a nationally ranked Virginia Tech team, with 13 tackles, two interceptions and two pass breakups.
COACH OF THE YEAR:
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney: The Tigers are 8-1, the ACC’s highest-ranked team in the BCS standings at No. 9, and can clinch the Atlantic Division on Saturday with a home win over Wake Forest. It’s a surprise turnaround after last year’s 6-7 finish.
Virginia coach Mike London: The Hoos are bowl eligible for the first time since 2007, and can win the Coastal Division by winning the final three games of the regular season. There’s no question this team has overachieved in London’s second season.
Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe: The Deacs were 3-9 a year ago, and now they’re playing Clemson for the lead in the Atlantic Division standings. One more win, and Wake Forest will be bowl eligible.