Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/18/14

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 07: Zach Collaros #12 of the Cincinnati Bearcats throws a pass against the Connecticut Huskies during the Big East Conference game at Nippert Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

In the grand scheme of things, Cincinnati's match-up with the Vanderbilt Commodores in the 2011 Liberty Bowl didn't mean a whole lot. The Bearcats were going for their 10th win of the season and their first bowl victory since 2007. For a program that is two years removed from back-to-back appearances in BCS games, that's a little "meh."

Cincy senior quarterback Zach Collaros, who broke his ankle on Nov. 12, could have been excused for skipping the game. In fact, with the NFL draft approaching in the spring, sitting this one out would have been the prudent call.

Collaros, however, gave it a go and helped lead the Bearcats to a 31-24 victory.

Collaros didn't exactly light it up. He completed just 12 of his 29 passing attempts for 80 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Senior running back Isaiah Pead's 149 rushing yards and touchodwn played a bigger role in the win. So did freshman Ralph David Abernathy IV's kickoff return TD.

Afterwards, though, Pead, who was named MVP of the game, admitted that Collaros' presence had given the Bearcats a lift."To have the captain and the heartbeat of our team back, there was a joy," he said.

Likewise, Cincy coach Butch Jones, praised Collaros' determination. "The perseverance that young man showed to come back and lead his team to victory says a lot," he said.

Collaros' gutty performance won't win him any awards, and it won't go down in college football lore. Yet, it did go to show that no matter how much we may write bowl games off as worthless exhibitions, they still do matter to plenty of players.

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