During Friday night’s live Home Depot College Football Awards, the Palm Beach County Sports Commission announced Miami University junior Graham Nicholson as the winner of the 2023 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award presented by the Orange Bowl.
“It is an absolute honor to win the Lou Groza Award,” said Nicholson. “Winning this award would not be possible without everyone who helped me. Whether it be with my coaches, teammates, friends, family, or anyone else, I could not have achieved this alone and I am forever grateful for that.”
Nicholson finished the season 26-for-27 on field goals, with his only miss coming late in Miami’s MAC Championship Game victory over Toledo. With a 23-for-23 regular season, Nicholson set a new FBS record for the most field goals in a perfect regular season, topping 2012 Lou Groza Award winner Cairo Santos’ mark of 21. Add two more to start the MAC Championship Game and he made 25 consecutive field goals, matching the all-time FBS record for the longest streak in one season. Overall, his 26 field goals tied for the second-most in FBS while his 96.3% accuracy was the highest by any kicker with even 15 attempts on the year. He also set the bar for consistency by making field goals in every game of the season. Of the eight FBS kickers who made at least 23 field goals, he’s the only one who can make that claim. He kicked multiple field goals in nine games, including a trio of 3-for-3 performances. In two of those, he outscored the RedHawks’ opponent on his own, totaling 11 points in both a 23-3 win over Kent State and a 23-10 victory over Buffalo.
This record-setting season of consistency is especially remarkable considering Nicholson was often kicking in the swirling wintery winds of the MAC. Over the last ten seasons, he’s just the second MAC kicker to finish a season with better than 90% accuracy. He also didn’t stay perfect nearly the entire season by playing it safe. His 19 field goals from at least 30 yards out are third in the nation, with the 10 from at least 40 yards out tying for third as well. While his season-long came from 52 yards away, his most important kick may actually have been one of the shortest in the country. His 20-yarder on the road in Cincinnati tied things late, allowing the RedHawks to knock off their oldest rival 31-24 in overtime, Miami’s first win over the Bearcats since 2005.