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Bednarik Award: The case for Joey Bosa

The intention was to unleash a pair of athletic defensive ends simultaneously, twin terrors up front that would give Ohio State perhaps the most fearsome line in the nation.

That plan quickly fell apart, but it didn't make any difference to the Buckeyes. Joey Bosa just dialed up his own production and effectively crammed the stats sheet with enough numbers for two men.

It's scary to think what Ohio State might have been able to do if former All-Big Ten pass-rusher Noah Spence hadn't been suspended and ultimately ruled permanently ineligible by the conference for failing two drugs tests, because even in the face of double teams and schemes designed to minimize Bosa's impact, the freakishly athletic sophomore still took over games on a weekly basis.

He finished the regular season with 20 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks, forced 4 fumbles and returned a recovery for a touchdown as part of the blowout in the Big Ten championship game over Wisconsin. And he wasn't exactly stuffing the box score against just the lightweights on the schedule, proving himself consistently throughout the entire season with a tackle for loss in every game but two and chipping in more than one hit in the backfield on seven different occasions.

Each of his forced fumbles led to points for the Buckeyes. He clinched a critical double-overtime road win against Penn State with a "walk-off" sack. And while his celebratory "shrug" after big plays doesn't count as impacting the game any, it was infectious with the Buckeyes as he blossomed into a fun-loving teammate who could also lead by example with his relentless work ethic.

There's no question that the other two finalists for the Bednarik Award have their strong points. Arizona's Scooby Wright III has eye-popping stats, though his role is different than the one Bosa fills for the Buckeyes and puts him in position to make more plays. And Clemson's Vic Beasley is a handful for any offensive line, but his numbers simply don't match up with Bosa's across the board.

Win or lose, Bosa is probably going to throw up his arms in the same pose and shake it off. He deserves to take home the trophy this year, though, and if he doesn't, count on him making it even more difficult to deny him next season.

If this season proved anything, it's that Bosa is only getting better -- and he's terrifying all on his own.