Johnny Manziel – Out of all the players that performed on the collegiate level this year, Johnny Football was by far superior to the rest. He took his Aggies into Tuscaloosa and defeated the two-time National Champion, Alabama Crimson Tide. Throughout his season of dominance, Manziel captured the Heisman Trophy finishing eight votes ahead of Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o. To conclude his efforts as a freshman Manziel went on to record 516 total yards of offense with four TD’s to defeat the Oklahoma Sooners. Manziel’s numbers on the field silenced all doubters but the question will be: Can he do it again?
Jadeveon Clowney – Clowney’s performance against Michigan was stellar. He gave the Michigan O-Line fits and gave us the most entertaining moment of the entire bowl season. As Clowney flew into the backfield unblocked he absolutely leveled Vincent Smith, sent his helmet flying 10 yards, and knocked the ball free. As soon as Clowney saw the ball on the turf he grabbed it with one hand and gave South Carolina possession. This play was a prime example of Clowney’s purely freakish athleticism and could easily be the hit of 2013 already. If Clowney keeps giving us these kind of plays look for him to be a finalist for the Heisman trophy next year.
Aaron Murray – The Georgia Bulldogs lost a chance at the National Championship when they lost in the SEC Championship to Alabama. They were rewarded with a game against one of the worst defensive teams in the whole country, Nebraska. Murray put on a show in this game throwing for 427 yards and five touchdowns. He impressed many NFL scouts and set a school record for touchdowns thrown in a bowl game.
Teddy Bridgewater – Once Louisville was set to face Florida almost every college football fan in America wrote the Cardinals off their list. After losing two of their last three games and having to face one of the “toughest” defenses in the country nobody thought they stood a chance against Florida. I guess that’s why they play the games because Florida never showed and Teddy Bridgewater did. He made Florida defenders look silly with a completion rate of 62.5% racking up 266 yards and two touchdowns in Louisville’s dominating victory over Florida.
Tajh Boyd – In a closely contested matchup between two teams that were very evenly matched, Tajh Boyd shined. He completed 72% of his passes throwing for 346 yards with three total touchdowns (two passing one running). Boyd exposed the flaws in LSU’s Defense all night and announced a few days after the game that he will be returning for his senior season. Boyd and Bridgewater are two Heisman hopefuls that everybody should keep their eye on next season.
Ace Sanders – The South Carolina offense was looking for a go-to guy ever since Marcus Lattimore went down and Ace Sanders filled that role. Sanders reeled in nine receptions for 92 yards and two touchdowns as he made Michigan’s secondary look pedestrian. He greatly improved his draft stock as he made NFL scouts aware that he is a dangerous threat from the slot position.
Kerwynn Williams – Many of you (including myself) had never heard of this man before the Idaho Potato Bowl. Utah State’s running back Kerwynn Williams rushed for 235 yards against Toledo which was the highest total among all running backs this bowl season. His 13.1 yards-per-carry-average topped the list of running backs as well. He rushed for three touchdowns and put up one of the most impressive, yet unnoticed, performances of this bowl season.
Arizona – After being down 13 points with less than two minutes remaining every one and their brother had dismissed the New Mexico Bowl. The Wildcats managed to score a touchdown, recover an onside kick and drive 51 yards to score another touchdown with only 23 seconds to do so. Arizona, led by Coach Rich Rodriguez, defied the odds and found a way to come back and win 49-48 providing fans with easily the most exciting comeback of the entire bowl season.
Alabama – The result of the National Championship game did not surprise many but the fashion in which it happened did. Alabama’s complete domination of the number one team in the nation was impressive in every phase of the game. This result just serves as a testament to the fantastic preparation and strategy that Nick Saban and The Alabama Crimson Tide takes into every National Championship game. Personally, I was most impressed by A.J. McCarron’s taste in women, but I’m sure I am not the only one who found Katherine Webb as the most entertaining part of that game.
Manti Te’o – After all of the hype surrounding Te’o (a.k.a. ESPN declaring him King at every chance they got) Manti underwhelmed fans all around the world. When Ed Lacy was breaking off runs of 20+, Te’o could be seen getting blocked, missing tackles, and being in the wrong position to make a tackle. After such a terrific season, it is tough to see a player go out like this. This game put a damper on Te’o’s great season, but it did not take away from his entire body of work at Notre Dame. Look for this guy to be a top five pick in this year’s NFL Draft.
Jordan Lynch – “They’re fast, they’re physical,’ Lynch said. ‘But they haven’t seen anything like our offense…We plan on wearing them down. In the fourth quarter, we plan to have them on their knees—and then just keep pounding away” (Bleacher Report). This is what Jordan Lynch said before taking on Florida State in the Orange Bowl. His performance failed to live up to this hype as he only completed 15 passes on 41 attempts for 176 yards with an interception. Lynch, supposedly a legitimate run threat, only ran for 44 yards. This is just another example of an overconfident player not living up to the big stage. Jordan Lynch certainly ate his words as his Northern Illinois Huskies lost 31-10.
Nebraska’s Defense – Nebraska was infamous for its poor defensive play all season. They gave up 62 points to Ohio State and 70 points to Wisconsin during the regular season. This trend did not change against Georgia as the Bulldogs racked up 589 total yards and put up 45 points on the Cornhuskers. Aaron Murray had a field day against Nebraska breaking multiple school records along the way. Nebraska is a solid team but their defense is certainly a hole that they need to fill going into next season.
West Virginia – The Pinstripe Bowl was a largely hyped up game because of the rivalry between Syracuse and West Virginia. ‘Cuse brought the rivalry type of play, WV didn’t. Even though they managed to score quickly West Virginia could not score enough. In what was supposed to be a shootout, the Mountaineers only scored 14 points and went 0 for 10 on third down in the snow-filled tundra that was Yankee Stadium. Syracuse came to play and shut down their former Big East opponent, while Geno Smith lost a large amount of draft stock and West Virginia disappointed its fans.
Kansas State – The BCS Fiesta Bowl was the game that everybody marked with a large red X on their calendar. This game was hyped up to be basically a consolation game with large expectations. Each team had played well all season and Oregon continued its play into the bowl game but Kansas State did not. Wait, let me rephrase that – Collin Klein and Kansas State’s offense did not come to play. Their defense did well holding a high-powered Oregon offense to under 400 yards. But Heisman finalist Collin Klein and the K-State Wildcats scored only 17 points and they were hardly competitive this entire game.
Well that about does it for the best performers and those who did not live up to their expectations this bowl season. I would not consider this bowl season to be one of the best there has been. With all the BCS bowls being snoozers except for the Rose Bowl (which had snoozer tendencies), this bowl season was rather mediocre. Many players were able to put their draft stock on the rise while others decreased their chances at being picked in the early rounds of the NFL Draft.
One person who did not play at all this season was “The Honey Badger” Tyrann Mathieu. He declared that he was going to enter the NFL Draft, but the question for every NFL GM and Coach is going to be: Can you trust him? Below is an emotional and moving interview with Tyrann Mathieu that discusses his experience with “abusive” marijuana use and his plans to make things better for the future.