Cirminiello: Best Bowl Performances - Defense
SMU DE Margus Hunt
SMU DE Margus Hunt
Posted Jan 8, 2013

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

2012-2013 Bowl Season

Cirminiello's Top Defenders

- 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 

15. CB Michael Carter, Minnesota
The Gophers D earned a much better fate than it got in its Meineke Car Care Bowl loss to Texas Tech. Carter was a key reason why Red Raiders QB Seth Doege endured one of his worst games of the season. The senior corner picked off a couple of passes, made seven stops and generally made sure that Doege's completions would cause minimal damage.

14. LB Khaseem Greene, Rutgers
Hey, at least the defenses bothered to show up in the Russell Athletic Bowl. As usual, Greene outperformed those around him, scoring as many touchdowns as the Scarlet Knights and Virginia Tech offenses combined. In his final game, Greene registered a team-high 11 tackles, 1.5 stops for loss, a half-sack, a fumble recovery in the end zone and a slew of bone-rattling hits.

13. LB Shawn Jackson, Tulsa
Jackson was the leader of a tenacious Golden Hurricane defense that held Iowa State to nine first downs, and kept the Cyclones off the scoreboard for the final 48:46 of the game. The junior tone-setter for Tulsa posted a team-high nine tackles, two sacks and a key forced fumble late in the win.

12. S Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt
Ladler was the chief thief of a Commodores D that created five turnovers in the Music City Bowl blowout of NC State. The junior had a game-high 10 tackles to go along with an interception and a fumble recovery. Vandy gave up some yards, but harassed QB Mike Glennon, and allowed just one offensive touchdown when the game was still competitive.

11. DE Tremayne Scott, Ohio
There was concern whether Scott would even play in the Independence Bowl, the byproduct of a foot injury that kept him sidelined for all but three games in 2012. Louisiana-Monroe wished he'd rested the hoof. The senior was a difference-maker all game long, making five tackles, two sacks and an interception, while constantly harassing QB Kolton Browning.

10. LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
How good was Ogletree in the Capital One Bowl? He actually trumped teammate Jarvis Jones, who smashed David Pollack's single-season Bulldogs sack record on the same day. On a day when Georgia was vulnerable on defense, Ogletree racked up a game-high 13 tackles, including three for minus yards, a sack, a forced fumble and a handful of pressures.

9. LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA
The Bruins got whipped by Baylor in the Holiday Bowl. They needed 10 more of Kendricks on the field. The sophomore played in the postseason the way he ended the regular season, making a game-high 14 tackles and two forced fumbles. After being overlooked by league voters, he'll begin 2013 as one of the Pac-12's most feared defensive playmakers.

8. LB Mike Marry, Ole Miss
The Rebels defense is young and getting better. It was on full display in the BBVA Compass Bowl, holding Pittsburgh to 266 total yards and one meaningful touchdown. The ringleader was Marry, a hard-hitting junior from the inside. Four of his seven tackles were behind the line of scrimmage, including a sack and a forced fumble.

7. LB Kevin Minter, LSU
The Tigers' tackling machine had 19 of them in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, sniffing out Clemson's offense in all directions. Playing somewhat under the radar on a national level all season long, he possesses the toughness and the instincts to make a lot of headlines in the NFL a year from now.

6. DE Brandon Sharpe, Syracuse
Sharpe spearheaded the Orange's defensive effort in the Pinstripe Bowl, collecting team-highs with seven tackles, 3.5 stops for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. The fumble led to one of Syracuse's two safeties, the hallmarks of a sound defensive effort by the entire team.

5. DE Margus Hunt, SMU
The Hawaii Bowl MVP put on a show for NFL scouts on Christmas Eve, abusing an overmatched Fresno State offensive line for 60 minutes. Hunt was the catalyst for a terrific all-around defensive effort, making all three of his tackles for minus yards, including a pair of sacks, forcing two fumbles, notching a safety and hurrying Derek Carr three times.

4. DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Others posted better numbers than Clowney, who had four tackles, two stops for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. But few had a greater impact on a game than No. 7 did in the Outback Bowl. Clowney forced Michigan into holding penalties even when he wasn't pressuring Devin Gardner, and his demolition of Vincent Smith in the backfield was arguably the image of this past postseason.

3. DE Malliciah Goodman, Clemson
Goodman ironically saved the best game of his college career for the final game of his college career. The senior was one of the stars of the Tigers' Chick-fil-A Bowl victory, collecting three sacks while generally making life miserable for LSU QB Zach Mettenberger. Goodman gave those pro scouts in attendance a lot to think about as he busted through the seams in the O-line.

2. DE Alex Okafor, Texas
No lineman in the postseason dominated the other team more than Okafor mauled Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl. The senior schooled the Beavers O-line for eight tackles, six stops for loss, a career-high 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He used bull rushes and quickness to get around the edge as part of a 10-sack effort from Manny Diaz's D. Okafor made a lot of money in San Antonio.

1. LB Kyle Van Noy, BYU
On a night when the Cougars offense snoozed, Van Noy provided all of the points that the school needed in the Poinsettia Bowl. In an epic performance that had NFL scouts drooling, the junior dominated with eight tackles, 3.5 stops for loss, 1.5 sacks, a blocked punt and a forced fumble. Oh, he also scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 6-3 game, one on fumble following a sack and another on a pick-six.

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