Cirminiello: Best Bowl Performances - Offense
Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
Posted Jan 8, 2013

Rich Cirminiello's big stars and performers of the bowl season.

2012-2013 Bowl Season

Cirminiello's Top O Players

- 2012-2013 CFN Bowl Central 

Richard Cirminiello's 2012-2013 Bowl Season ...
Top Offensive Performances | Top Defensive Performances
Best Bowl Coaches| Best Bowl Games
Biggest Bowl Surprises | Biggest Bowl Disappointments

By Richard Cirminiello

Alas, another bowl season has come to an end. A moment of silence, please, as the stark reality of nearly eight months without games begins to set in.

With a slate that's ballooned to nearly three dozen postseason games, there were naturally no shortages of memorable performance from both teams and individuals, and nearly as many flops and disappointments to balance things out. The culmination occurred on Monday, with a seventh consecutive national championship for the SEC.

Hold on to the memories from the last three weeks, folks. It's what we have to cling to between now and Labor Day weekend. 

20. RB Beau Blankenship, Ohio
Blankenship did a lot of clean-up work, scoring all of his touchdowns form within two yards, but he did set an Independence Bowl record with four scores to help fuel the offense. The junior also rushed for 104 yards on 19 carries, teaming up with QB Tyler Tettleton to give the Bobcats one of the best backfields of the postseason.

19. RB Marion Grice, Arizona State
Yeah, Navy was on the other side of the ball, but Grice looked as if he's capable of being one of the Pac-12 breakout stars of 2013. Silky smooth and versatile, he capped his debut out of Blinn (Tex.) Community College by rushing for 159 yards and two scores on only 14 carries just a week after the tragic shooting death of his brother.

18. WR Jordan Taylor, Rice
Taylor finished his sophomore season with three touchdown receptions, all of which came against Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. The 6-5 mismatch for defensive backs showed good hands and concentration to go along with the long stride to get behind the last line of defense. He used his final game to get a head start on the 2013 Preseason All-Conference Team.

17. RB Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State
Sure, others rushed for more than Bell's 145 yards and one touchdown on 32 carries, but he gets special recognition for doing it against the TCU D, and without a lot of help from the passing game. Heck, the junior completed his only pass, looking better than the Spartans quarterbacks at times. Bell carried the Michigan State offense, rushing for more yards on the Frogs than any other individual this year.

16. RB Rex Burkhead, Nebraska
With a full month to rest—and heal—Burkhead reminded observers of his potential during the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day. The senior helped stake the Huskers to a third quarter lead on Georgia that would eventually be squandered by the D. He rushed for a season-high 140 yards and a score, adding four catches for 39 yards and another touchdown.

15. Oklahoma State Passers
Five different Cowboys threw passes in the 58-14 demolition of Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, combining to go 25-of-34 for 311 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh were especially sharp on the afternoon, crisply tossing the five scores to set the stage for an intriguing quarterback battle along with Wes Lunt in the offseason.

14. RB Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
Carey picked up in the New Mexico Bowl where he left off in the regular season, rushing for 172 yards and three touchdowns versus Nevada to lock down the nation's rushing title. Ideally suited for Rich Rodriguez's ground-based attack, he'll begin 2013 as a contender to become the Wildcats' first-ever Heisman winner.

13. QB David Fales, San Jose State
The poor weather and stiff winds of the nation's capital couldn't slow down the kid from California, who capped his breakout FBS debut with a Military Bowl MVP. Fales battled the elements—and Bowling Green—to complete 33-of-43 passes for 395 yards and two scores. Plus, twice in the second half, he led the Spartans back from behind.

12. RB Kerwynn Williams, Utah State
Apparently tired of being an offensive player in a defensive struggle, Williams went berserk in the fourth quarter of the Idaho Potato Bowl, leading his Aggies to four touchdowns. He required just 18 carries to rush for 235 yards and three touchdowns, ripping through a gassed Toledo D.

11. RB Bishop Sankey, Washington
Sankey capped a terrific breakout year as the Huskies' feature back by rushing for 205 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. He almost singlehandedly rallied U-Dub back from an early deficit, softening the inside of a very good Boise State D. The Huskies fell two points short, but Sankey still earned game MVP honors.

10. WR Ace Sanders, South Carolina
QB Connor Shaw provided the guts in the Outback Bowl, while Sanders helped bring the glory. The versatile receiver was clutch throughout the see-saw battle with Michigan, catching nine balls for 92 yards and a couple of touchdowns. He also returned a punt 63 yards to give the Gamecocks a brief double-digit cushion in the opening quarter.

9. QB Brendon Kay, Cincinnati
The Bearcats had neither their head coach nor their coordinators, so Kay took on a greater leadership role. The senior put his versatility on display in the Belk Bowl, rushing for 76 yards and going 17-of-25 for 332 yards and four scores through the air. His perfect 83-yard strike to TE Travis Kelce went for the game-winner with 44 seconds left.

8. RB Prince-Tyson Gulley, Syracuse
If football doesn't work out, Gulley can always consider the Iditarod, because he looked eminently comfortable navigating the snowy Yankee Stadium terrain in the Pinstripe Bowl. Skating past the West Virginia defense with ease, the Orange backup rushed for a career-high 208 yards, caught five passes for 56 yards and scored three times.

7. QB Aaron Murray, Georgia
The Dawgs rallied on the strength of Murray's right arm to defeat Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl, 45-31. The junior, with a big decision ahead about his NFL future, went 18-of-33 for 427 yards, five touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Murray accounted for the last three scores in the final 22 minutes after Georgia went down by eight points to the Huskers.

6. WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Facing one of the nation's best pass defenses, and without the support of injured teammate Sammy Watkins, Hopkins absolutely schooled LSU in a Chick-fil-A Bowl classic. The junior was the obvious target of Tajh Boyd, yet still managed to catch 13 balls for 191 yards and two touchdowns; his grab on fourth-and-16 on the game-winning drive will go down in Clemson lore.

5. The Alabama O-line
Was any unit better this past postseason than the vaunted Tide O-line? It wasn't even close. ‘Bama mauled Notre Dame's heralded front seven, creating the space needed for Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon to both rush for more than 100 yards. Oh, and AJ McCarron was not sacked all night. Lacy was the skill position star of the BCS National Championship Game, averaging seven yards a carry, scoring twice and wowing NFL scouts with his agility.

4. QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
The picture of poise and precision in the pocket, Bridgewater stood tall in the face of pressure, and helped deliver a historical upset of No. 3 Florida in the Sugar Bowl. His numbers were modest, 20-of-32 for 266 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. His impact was not. Bridgewater is the face of the resurgence of Louisville football and anonymous nationally no longer.

3. QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson
No one does what Boyd did to LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. He took the Tigers' best shots—repeatedly—yet wouldn't stay down until his Tigers got out of the Georgia Dome with a landmark win. The junior was epic in ways that extend beyond the numbers, leading like a champion against an elite D. For the night, Boyd finished 36-of-50 for 346 yards, two touchdowns, no picks and a score on the ground.

2. QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
There was concern that after a month of banquets and being stroked, Manziel might be a little flat in the Cotton Bowl. Yeah, it took the first series for those notions to be dispelled. The redshirt freshman jumped out to an early lead on the Heisman jinx, accounting for 516 total yards, 229 of which set a bowl record for rushing by a quarterback. Manziel was in on four scores in the 41-13 rout, jumpstarting his next Heisman campaign.

1. QB AJ McCarron, Alabama
McCarron was on target in the BCS National Championship Game much the way Phil Simms was in the 1987 Super Bowl. He was extremely sharp throughout with his ball placement, carving up the Notre Dame defense for four touchdowns and 264 yards on 20-of-28 passing. McCarron has now been the winning quarterback in consecutive years, with a chance to make it three straight in 2013.

Richard Cirminiello's 2012-2013 Bowl Season ...
Top Offensive Performances | Top Defensive Performances
Best Bowl Coaches| Best Bowl Games
Biggest Bowl Surprises | Biggest Bowl Disappointments