2018 CBS Sports college football awards: Our coach, player and freshman of the year

The 2018 college football season is in the books, and with only bowl games remaining, it's time to hand out some year-end awards. There were some old standbys this season -- Alabama and Clemson going wire-to-wire as our top two teams in the nation, for example -- but also plenty of twists and turns. And that is exactly what is represented here.

For the first time we have been handing out college football awards, we have a repeat winner. But we also saw a 5-foot-9 freshman wide receiver beat out a five-star blue-chip quarterback, and our expected player of the year change over the final month of the season. Though this was very much a Season of Chalk in the world college football, our year-end award winners are anything but.

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Graphic by Mike Meredith

It was only three years ago that Bill Clark was coaching a UAB program that did not play a single game. The Blazers had been quickly resuscitated after being shut down in December 2014, and Clark decided to stay on as the coach to bring stability to a decidedly unstable situation. In two short years, Clark has led the Blazers to the 2018 Conference USA Championship Game, the first 10-win season in school history and the program's third bowl game (its second in two years). His defense finished second in the conference in total defense and held opponents to under 10 points on six occasions in 2018. UAB got revenge on a rivalry week loss to Middle Tennessee in that Conference USA title game with a 27-25 victory that earned the Blazers a berth in the Boca Raton Bowl.

One year ago, Clark led UAB to an 8-4 record with a 6-2 mark in C-USA and a bowl berth. As such, 3½ years after the Blazers' demise, he was named the 2017 CBS Sports Coach of the Year. At that time, we had never selected a Group of Five coach for the honor. It is with an overwhelming majority of our vote that Clark now becomes the first coach to repeat that honor as our 2018 CBS Sports Coach of the Year. -- Barrett Sallee

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Graphic by Michael Meredith

A month ago, it was far less fathomable that anyone other than Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa would take home the Heisman Trophy. As the season progressed, though, it became clear that Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray was every bit as efficient and exciting as Tagovailoa -- and, in the end, more so. Murray's numbers alone were certainly worthy of such recognition -- 4,053 yards passing (11.9 per attempt), 40 touchdowns and only seven interceptions to go along with 892 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns on the ground -- but it was his efficiency that set him apart.

Murray's 205.72 passer rating was not only tops in the FBS, it shattered the record previously held by his successor, ex-Sooners QB and Heisman winner Baker Mayfield (198.92). Murray's 10.68 yards per play mark was also best in the nation. Say what you will about Big 12 defenses, but it's not like Oklahoma's was any better; for that very reason, in fact, there was a season-long pressure on Oklahoma's offense to be perfect. For the most part, Murray was perfect, something that is incredibly hard to do over the course of 13 games. It is for those reasons he is our 2018 CBS Sports Player of the Year. -- Ben Kercheval

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Graphic by Mike Meredith

Rondale Moore signed with Purdue as a four-star prospect and one of the top weapons in the Class of 2018. He lived up to the hype in his first season with the Boilermakers. In fact, he exceeded it. Moore finished fourth in the nation in all-purpose yards with 170.7 yards per game, posting 1,164 receiving yards, 12 receiving touchdowns, 203 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown and 599 kickoff return yards.

Moore's ability to stop and start on a dime allowed coach Jeff Brohm to get him integrated into the offense in a variety of ways early in the season, and Brohm was able to expand Moore's role throughout they year. As a true freshman, Moore was one of seven players chosen as a unanimous first-team All-America selection by CBS Sports on Tuesday. Only contested by Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence for this honor, Moore stood out as our 2018 CBS Sports Freshman of the Year. -- Barrett Sallee

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