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Big East awards race update: Week 14

The official Big East individual awards will be out next week. Here is my final forecast:

Player of the year race: Offense

1. Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut: He's a lock to win this award. Todman is No. 2 in the nation in rushing yards and will go over 1,500 yards for the season this week at South Florida.

2. Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville: If not for a knee injury at Pitt and the flu before the West Virginia game, Powell could have overtaken Todman for the rushing title. As is, he finished the regular season with 1,330 yards and a bowl game left.

3. Armon Binns, WR, Cincinnati: Despite the Bearcats' struggles, Binns has had a spectacular season. He has 72 catches for 1,072 yards and 10 touchdowns with a game left against Pitt.

4. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Smith leads the league in pass efficiency with 22 touchdowns and only six interceptions.

Player of the year race: Defense

1. Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh: He's been the leader here for some time and there's no reason to move him now. An AFCA All-American, Sheard is second in the Big East in tackles for loss, first in fumbles forced and third in sacks despite near-constant double teams.

2. Chris Neild, DT, West Virginia: The entire West Virginia defense needs to be represented, and Neild is the anchor up front.

3. Lawrence Wilson, LB, Connecticut: The senior is leading the league in tackles -- with 110 through 11 games -- for the second straight year.

4. Brandon Hogan, CB, West Virginia: There's a reason why teammate Keith Tandy leads the league in interceptions: opponents are scared to throw Hogan's way.

5. Derrell Smith, LB, Syracuse: Finished regular season with team-best 103 tackles on a very stout Orange defense.

Coach of the year race

1. Doug Marrone, Syracuse

2. Charlie Strong, Louisville

I struggled with this decision for a long time. Marrone led his team to a 7-5 record, while Strong's Cardinals were 6-6. But Louisville beat Syracuse and didn't play a second FCS team. It's incredibly close, and I would argue for co-coaches of the year. But if forced to choose one, I'll go with Marrone because he had more Big East wins (West Virginia, South Florida, Cincinnati and Rutgers) than Strong (Rutgers, Syracuse, Connecticut).

Player of the year race: Special teams

1. Nick Williams, Connecticut

2. Lindsey Lamar, South Florida

3. Dan Hutchins, Pittsburgh

Unlike last year, when it was clear that Mardy Gilyard was far and above the best special teams player in the league if not the country, there's no surefire winner this year. I pick Williams for now because of his ridiculous 42-yard kickoff return average -- tops in the FBS -- and his two touchdowns, including the 100-yarder against Pitt that changed that game and the Big East race. But Williams has only 11 returns all year, a very low number for an award like this.

Lamar has 24 returns and also two touchdowns, including one that spurred a win at Louisville. If either one has a big game this weekend in Tampa, that might tilt it in his favor. Hutchins led the league in punting and also handled field goals. But he shanked a few key punts and couldn't be relied on outside of 40 yards on field goals.

Rookie of the year

1. Chas Dodd, QB, Rutgers

2. Bruce Irvin, DE, West Virginia

3. Jeremy Deering, WR, Rutgers

4. Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville

Like special teams, there's no hands-down winner a la Dion Lewis in 2009. But Dodd shockingly became Rutgers stating quarterback and has thrown for nearly 1,500 yards and nine touchdowns despite awful protection from his line. Irvin leads the league with 10 sacks but is mostly a third-down specialist. Deering took over Wildcat duties from a banged up Mohamed Sanu and has produced more than 640 yards of offense. Smith led a surprisingly strong Louisville defense in tackles with 80.