Boise State junior tailback Jay Ajayi was named a second-team All-American and a finalist for a national award Thursday.
USA Today put Ajayi on its All-America team. He is the first Boise State running back to receive such an honor since Ian Johnson in 2006 (two first-team awards, one second, one third).
Ajayi also is a finalist for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, which goes to the nation’s top offensive player with Texas ties. The other finalists are Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty and Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine.
The winner will be announced Jan. 14 at the awards banquet in Tyler, Texas.
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Ajayi ranks second in the nation with 2,225 yards from scrimmage and tied for first with 29 total touchdowns.
Barrett was a Heisman Trophy candidate before sustaining a season-ending injury. He set a school record with 3,772 yards of offense and 45 touchdowns responsible for.
Boykin is the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. He has set TCU records for passing yards (3,174), touchdown passes (30), total offense (4,356) and touchdowns responsible for (39).
Petty, the inaugural winner of this award last year, has a 155.3 pass-efficiency rating and 26-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Perine rushed for 1,579 yards, including a national record 427 yards against Kansas. He rushed for 21 touchdowns.
The Mountain West championship game received a 1.0 rating on CBS.
Last year, the Mountain West outdrew the Pac-12 championship game on TV. This year, the Pac-12 got a 1.9 rating by moving to Friday night on Fox.
Arizona will be the home team in the Fiesta Bowl.
Boise State hasn’t practiced since the Mountain West championship game. The team returns to the field Saturday.
“Usually when we have a week off from football it seems like forever,” junior safety Darian Thompson said, “and then when we get back out there the energy is all built up. We’re playing for the Fiesta Bowl, so it should be fun.”
A few highlights from Thursday’s interviews:
— Junior center Marcus Henry on balancing football and finals: “You can only study so much during the day. Taking an hour off here or there to lift or watch film isn’t going to affect you that much.”
— Henry on the coaching staff: “They definitely have a passion for coaching us. This is the place that they want to be. This is where all the coaches really wanted to end up.”
— Henry on his All-Mountain West first-team selection: “It means a lot. It made my dad really proud, which was awesome.”
— Thompson on his CBS Sports All-America second-team award: “It feels amazing. It feels good to me to know that all my hard work is being noticed on a national level.”
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