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Tulane's Tyjae Spears, coach Willie Fritz take top AAC awards, with Cincy LB Ivan Pace Jr.

IRVING, Texas -- Tulane running back Tyjae Spears was chosen as the offensive player of the year in the American Athletic Conference on Wednesday, with Green Wave coach Willie Fritz also taking a top honor.

The American awards were determined by the vote of the league's 11 coaches, who unanimously chose Fritz as coach of the year after the 18th-ranked Green Wave (10-2) went from a 2-10 record last season to their first 10-win season and first Top-25 ranking since 1998.

Tulane is the host team for Saturday's conference championship game against No. 22 UCF (9-3).

Spears is the first non-quarterback to be named the American's top offensive player. He has 1,177 yards rushing with a league-best 14 touchdowns, and 972 of his yards came in Tulane's eight conference games.

Cincinnati linebacker Ivan Pace Jr., the league leader with 120 tackles, was named the defensive player of the year. He also leads the American with 19 1/2 tackles for loss and is second with nine sacks.