College Football Awards preview: Who will win -- and who should win -- every award

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DeVonta Smith wins 2020 Heisman (2:40)

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith is announced as the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner. (2:40)

The most disjointed college football season in history, played during a pandemic, is nearly over.

No. 1 Alabama plays No. 3 Ohio State in Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida (8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App).

And while the 2020 season was chock-full of postponements, cancellations and abbreviated schedules, there are plenty of amazing individual performances to celebrate at The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Of course, like so many other things during the past several months, the 90-minute show will be presented virtually for the first time.

Here are some of the awards that will be announced Thursday, along with the finalists, who I believe should win and predictions for who will win:

Chuck Bednarik Award (college defensive player of the year)

Finalists: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa; Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame; Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Who should win: Collins. No defensive player made as many impactful plays this season as Collins, who had 54 tackles, 11½ tackles for loss, four sacks, four interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one safety in eight games. Against SMU, his interception with 1:29 left sealed a 28-24 upset victory over the then-No. 19 Mustangs. Against Tulane, his 96-yard interception return for a touchdown was the winning score in a 30-24 victory in two overtimes.

Who will win: Owusu-Koramoah

Biletnikoff Award (outstanding receiver)

Finalists: Elijah Moore, Ole Miss; Kyle Pitts, Florida; DeVonta Smith, Alabama

Who should win: Smith. He is the highest-rated receiver in college football, according to Pro Football Focus, and his 93.7 overall grade would be the highest by a wideout since PFF started tracking the sport. He leads the FBS with 1,641 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns on 105 catches. Even more impressive, 70.5% of his receptions have been for first downs, and he has only two drops in 130 targets this season.

Who will win: Smith

Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award (nation's outstanding place-kicker)

Finalists: Jose Borregales, Miami; Jake Oldroyd, BYU; Will Reichard, Alabama

Who should win: Borregales. The Miami native was 20-for-22 on field goal attempts, including 9-for-11 on field goals of 40 yards or longer. In a 47-34 victory at Louisville on Sept. 19, the FIU transfer tied a Miami record with a 57-yard field goal -- the longest field goal in Cardinal Stadium history -- and tied the stadium record with four field goals made.

Who will win: Borregales

Ray Guy Award (college punter of the year)

Finalists: Jake Camarda, Georgia; Pressley Harvin III, Georgia Tech; Lou Hedley, Miami

Who should win: Harvin. The senior led the FBS with a 48-yard average. More than that, 49% of his 45 punts were 50 yards or longer, 47% were fair catches, 40% were downed inside opponents' 20-yard line and just 17% were returned. He averaged at least 51 yards per punt in three games, helping the Yellow Jackets rank second nationally in net punting at 44.6 yards. His 48-yard average broke the ACC's single-season record previously held by North Carolina's Brian Schmitz (47.8 yards in 1999).

Who will win: Harvin

Maxwell Award (college player of the year)

Finalists: Mac Jones, Alabama; Trevor Lawrence, Clemson; DeVonta Smith, Alabama

Who should win: Smith. In addition to being the best wide receiver in the FBS, Smith is also a dangerous punt returner and the best all-around player in the sport. Since taking over punt return duties in the Crimson Tide's 63-3 victory over Kentucky on Nov. 21, he has averaged 24.3 yards per return with one score, an 84-yarder at Arkansas on Dec. 12.

Who will win: Smith

Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award (nation's best quarterback)

Finalists: Mac Jones, Alabama; Trevor Lawrence, Clemson; Kyle Trask, Florida

Who should win: Jones. All three players are more than worthy, but Jones has been just a bit better than the other two this season. In 12 games, Jones became the first Alabama quarterback to surpass 4,000 passing yards in a season. He leads the FBS with a 77% completion rate, 11.3 yards per attempt and 203.03 quarterback rating. Even more impressive, in seven career starts against ranked opponents, Jones has completed 73% of his attempts for 361.6 yards per game with 29 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Who will win: Jones

Outland Trophy (nation's most outstanding interior lineman)

Finalists: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame; Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama; Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa

Who should win: Nixon. He signed with Iowa in 2017, arrived a year late because of NCAA Clearinghouse issues and entered the transfer portal and nearly left Iowa after the 2019 season. This season, he was named the Big Ten Conference Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year and the Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year. He led the Big Ten with 13½ tackles for loss and was tied with teammate Chauncey Golston for second with 5½ sacks.

Who will win: Eichenberg

Paycom Jim Thorpe Award (nation's best defensive back)

Finalists: Richie Grant, S, UCF; Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU; Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Who should win: Surtain. The junior is PFF's top-rated cornerback and seventh overall defender with a rating of 89.7, which is second among Power 5 players with a minimum of 455 defensive snaps. He has allowed 25 passing yards or fewer in nine of 12 games, while posting a coverage grade of 88.6, according to PFF. He has allowed 19 completions and two touchdowns in 45 plays in which he was targeted this season. He has allowed a reception every 25.7 coverage snaps, which leads the FBS.

Who will win: Surtain

Doak Walker Award (nation's premier running back)

Finalists: Travis Etienne, Clemson; Breece Hall, Iowa State; Najee Harris, Alabama

Who should win: Hall. He led the FBS with 1,572 rushing yards and had 100 yards or more in nine games, leading the Cyclones to their first New Year's Six bowl game. The sophomore from Wichita, Kansas, averaged 139 yards during regular-season games against Oklahoma State, Texas and Oklahoma. Hall led all FBS players with 935 yards after contact, according to PFF.

Who will win: Harris

John Mackey Award (outstanding tight end)

Finalists: Charlie Kolar, Iowa State; Kyle Pitts, Florida; Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M

Who should win: Pitts. He was a matchup nightmare for any defense he faced because of his height, speed and length. He was PFF's top-rated tight end with a 96.2 overall grade, finishing with 43 receptions for 770 yards with 12 touchdowns. He didn't have a drop in 65 targets and 39 of his catches were for first downs.

Who will win: Pitts

Rimington Trophy (outstanding center)

Finalists: Landon Dickerson, Alabama; Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa; Josh Myers, Ohio State

Who should win: Linderbaum. The Iowa native was PFF's top-rated center with an overall grade of 91.5, allowing zero sacks, two quarterback hits and three pressures in 545 total snaps. He graded at 87.3 in pass-blocking plays and 90.6 on run-blocking snaps, according to PFF. He was the signal-caller for an offensive line that allowed only 11 sacks, second fewest among Big Ten teams that played at least eight games. Last week, the draft-eligible sophomore announced he'll return to Iowa for the 2021 season.

Who will win: Dickerson