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College Football Awards: Everything you need to know

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The best of Joe Burrow's breakout season (2:49)

Take a look at the best highlights from Joe Burrow's senior season, which saw him lead LSU to a No. 1 ranking and emerge as a Heisman favorite. (2:49)

The 29th annual Home Depot College Football Awards is set for Thursday night in Atlanta, where nine major individual awards will be handed out.

Here's a look at each award up for grabs, the finalists and the predicted winners for each. The show begins at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Maxwell Award: College Player of the Year
The finalists: Joe Burrow, Sr., LSU; Jalen Hurts, Sr., Oklahoma; Chase Young, Jr., Ohio State

The pick: Burrow. Unlike the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award has some recent precedent for a defensive player to actually win, thanks to Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's victory in 2012. That gives Young a little more hope here than he will have in New York on Saturday, but Burrow remains the clear favorite after leading LSU to the SEC title.

Davey O'Brien Award: Quarterback
The finalists: Burrow, LSU; Justin Fields, So., Ohio State; Hurts, Oklahoma

The pick: When a quarterback wins the Heisman, it's rare for him not to be the Davey O'Brien winner. Only one of the past 11 quarterbacks to win the Heisman didn't win the O'Brien: Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson won the award in 2016, when Louisville's Lamar Jackson was the Heisman recipient. Both Hurts and Fields have the stats and team success that would have made them heavy favorites most seasons, but Burrow is again the choice here after throwing for 4,715 yards with an SEC-record 48 touchdown passes.

Doak Walker Award: Running back
The finalists: J.K. Dobbins, Jr., Ohio State; Chuba Hubbard, So., Oklahoma State; Jonathan Taylor, Jr., Wisconsin

The pick: With all due respect to Dobbins, this should come down to Hubbard or Taylor. Hubbard leads the nation with 1,936 yards rushing, ran for 21 touchdowns and didn't lose a fumble all season. Taylor's numbers are nearly identical (1,909 yards, 21 TDs), and he's the choice because his impact down the stretch helped propel Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl. If he outrushes Hubbard by more than 27 yards in their bowl games, Taylor will be the first player since Texas' Ricky Williams to lead the country in rushing in back-to-back seasons. He also has a chance to become the first player since Iowa State's Troy Davis (1995-96) to run for consecutive 2,000-yard seasons.

Biletnikoff Award: Wide receiver
The finalists: Ja'Marr Chase, So., LSU; CeeDee Lamb, Jr., Oklahoma; Michael Pittman Jr., Sr., USC

The pick: Lamb might be the most dangerous player in college football with the ball in his hands, but Chase had the biggest impact. He led the nation in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns while helping LSU to the No. 1 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings. Chase, though, might think about sharing the award with teammate Justin Jefferson, who led the Tigers with 88 catches.

Outland Trophy: Interior lineman

The finalists: C Tyler Biadasz, Jr., Wisconsin; OT Penei Sewell, So., Oregon; DT Derrick Brown, Sr., Auburn

The pick: Statistics don't tell just how dominant Brown was for Auburn this season, but let's start there: He finished the regular season with 50 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. Double-teams were a requirement to block the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and even then that often wasn't enough. He's likely to be a top-10 pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

Chuck Bednarik Award: Defensive player

The finalists: Brown, Auburn; Isaiah Simmons, Jr., Clemson; Young, Ohio State

The pick: The fact that Young was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy speaks to his impact for the Buckeyes as well as anything. He led the nation with 16.5 sacks despite missing a pair of games that could have served as stat-padding opportunities, and he is tied for the national lead with 1.9 tackles for loss per game. His four-sack game in a 38-7 victory against Wisconsin stands as arguably the best performance by a player in college football all season.

Jim Thorpe Award: Defensive back
The finalists: Grant Delpit, Jr., LSU; J.R. Reed, Sr., Georgia; Jeff Okudah, Jr., Ohio State

The pick: Okudah held opponents to a 39% completion percentage as the primary defender in coverage and allowed only three 20-yard completions during the regular season. He is one of just two players in the Big Ten with three or more interceptions, a forced fumble and seven or more passes defended.

Lou Groza Award: Kicker

The finalists: Rodrigo Blankenship, Sr., Georgia; Keith Duncan, Jr., Iowa; Blake Mazza, So., Washington State

The pick: Duncan effectively shortened the field for Iowa unlike any kicker has in college football over the past four years. His 14 field goals from 40-plus yards are the most in the country over that span, and his 29 field goals, on 34 attempts, led the nation this season.

Ray Guy Award: Punter

The finalists: Dane Roy, Sr., Houston; Max Duffy, Jr., Kentucky; Sterling Hofrichter, Sr., Syracuse

The pick: Duffy averaged 45.13 net yards per punt, which stands as the highest mark in FBS dating to 2004 for those with at least 25 punts in a season. The native of Perth, Australia, played Australian rules football before arriving at Kentucky in 2018.