Who's Hot (coming off the bowl season)?
Navy QB Ricky Dobbs
Navy QB Ricky Dobbs
Posted Jan 9, 2010

The hottest players and programs from the 2009-2010 bowl season.

Who's Hot & Not ... The Bowls  

 By Richard Cirminiello

- and Who's Not ... From the Bowl Season

Who's Hot ...

25. Idaho head coach Robb Akey
Not only did he lead the Vandals to a miraculous 43-42 Humanitarian Bowl win over Bowling Green, but he did it on a gutsy two-point conversion at the end of regulation. He could have sent the game to overtime, opting to put the game in the hands of QB Nathan Enderle. Enderle made the coach look brilliant.

24. Auburn CB Neiko Thorpe
Not only did Thorpe have an Outback Bowl-high 14 tackles and an interception, but his final stop was a game-saver for the Tigers. While many of his teammates appeared to be caught napping by Northwestern's fake field goal attempt for the win, Thorpe stayed with the play and preserved a thrilling 38-35 victory.

23. The Clemson Defense
After allowing a touchdown to Kentucky on the opening drive of the Music City Bowl, the Tigers shut the door over the final 55 minutes. The Wildcats didn't reach the end zone again, finishing with 277 total yards and a face full of LB Kavell Conner and S DeAndre McDaniel.

22. Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu
Beware, Big East. The Knights have a bona fide star playmaker. Just a rookie, Sanu ran for 41 yards and two scores and caught four balls for 97 yards and another touchdown in a St. Petersburg Bowl rout of UCF.

21. USC WR Damian Williams
When watching Williams run routes, you can just see the NFL potential oozing from his pads. Boston College sure could in the Emerald Bowl. The junior, with a tough decision about his future, pulled down a dozen of Matt Barkley's passes for 189 yards.

20. Texas Tech Interim Coach Ruffin McNeill
As auditions go, McNeil did about as well as could be asked for, leading the Red Raiders to an Alamo Bowl win over depleted Michigan State in the aftermath of the Mike Leach saga. Not only did he get the W, but by inserting sparkplug QB Steven Sheffield into the game in the fourth quarter, he came off as downright clairvoyant.

19. Florida State Head Coach Bobby Bowden 
What better way to cap an illustrious career than by beating former employer West Virginia in the Gator Bowl? The ‘Noles sent Bowden off with a victory, getting a solid effort from Dekoda Watson and the defense, and 121 yards and two scores on the ground from RB Jermaine Thomas.

18. The Wisconsin D
Miami scored just two touchdowns on the Badgers in the Champs Sports Bowl. The first one on the opening drive was set up by a long Sam Shields kick return. The second one came late in the fourth quarter while Wisky was in prevent. In between, the ‘Canes could do nothing against LB Chris Borland, DE O'Brien Schofield, and a unit that allowed just 249 total yards.

17. Virginia Tech in the Second Half
The Hokies turned a close Chick-fil-A Bowl into a snoozer, blowing past Tennessee with 20 unanswered points in the final 30 minutes. RB Ryan Williams ran for 117 yards and two scores to put an exclamation point on a remarkable rookie year and completely shut down the Volunteer offense.

16. South Florida RB Mike Ford
There was a Ford sighting in, of all places, Toronto. Quiet throughout the year, he nearly matched his season rushing total at the expense of Northern Illinois in the International Bowl, plowing for 207 yards and a score on just 20 carries.

15. Middle Tennessee QB Dwight Dasher
Dasher delivering in December? Sounds about right. He abused Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl, accounting for four touchdowns and rushing for 201 yards on a bad ankle, a bowl-record for a quarterback.

14. Utah QB Jordan Wynn
The Utes don't have a flamethrower under center, but they do have a dart thrower, who's going to, well, win lots of games in Salt Lake City. His first big one came over Cal in the Poinsettia Bowl, the program's ninth straight bowl victory. After tossing a pick six, the true freshman showed amazing poise, finishing 26-of-36 for 338 yards and three scores.

13. SMU QB Kyle Padron
Honest, all things SMU, including coach June Jones, belong here after the school whooped Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl in the school's first postseason game in a quarter-century. Padron, however, gets top billing. The true freshman, who didn't become a starter until late October, went 32-of-41 for 460 yards and two touchdowns.

12. Ole Miss RB Dexter McCluster
The first player in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards and catch passes for 500 yards in the same season, McCluster was the main reason the Rebs are back-to-back Cotton Bowl champs. True to his multi-dimensional personality, he burned Oklahoma State for 184 yards and two scores on the ground, while catching five passes for 45 yards.

11. Connecticut
Always one of the best coached teams in the country, the Huskies used a familiar formula to notch one of the most important wins in school history. Andre Dixon ran for 126 yards and a score, and the no-name defense kept South Carolina off the board for the first 57 minutes of a 20-7 PapaJohns.com Bowl win.

10. Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles
A blur as an inside receiver, Broyles shredded Stanford in the Sun Bowl, catching 13 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns. Everyone knew where Landry Jones was looking when he dropped back to pass, but it didn't help the overmatched Cardinal secondary.

9. Bowling Green WR Freddie Barnes
In typical Barnes fashion, he caught 17 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns, breaking the FBS record for receptions in a season in the process. The final score with 32 seconds left should have been the game-clincher, but his Falcon teammates were unable to close out Idaho.

8. BYU
The Cougars didn't just beat a Pac-10 team in the Las Vegas Bowl, it drilled Oregon State, 44-20. The defense played one of its best games of the season and Max Hall overcame wind gusts of 55 mph to throw three touchdown passes without a pick.

7. Pitt RB Dion Lewis
That North Carolina defense that Lewis burned for 159 yards and a score in the Meineke Bowl? Yeah, it began the game ninth nationally versus the run. It made no difference to No. 28, who capped a remarkable freshman year by carrying the Panthers on the game-winning drive in a 19-17 win.

6. Navy QB Ricky Dobbs
Can you say Heisman contention in 2010? Dobbs capped a brilliant, record-breaking junior season by guiding the Midshipmen to an improbable 35-13 blowout of Missouri, running for 166 yards and three scores and adding 130 yards and a touchdown through the air.

5. Air Force
The Falcons pitched a near perfect game in the Armed Forces Bowl, slamming a Houston team that spent part of the year in the Top 25. Behind Jared Tew and Asher Clark, Air Force rolled for more than 400 yards on the ground and had six interceptions of the usually prolific Case Keenum in a 47-20 stunner.

4. Ohio State
The Buckeyes got off the BCS schneid in the Rose Bowl, defeating Oregon 26-17. Terrelle Pryor took a big step forward in his maturation, accounting for 338 yards and two scores, and the Buckeye D was in control all afternoon, holding the Ducks to just 260 total yards and almost three touchdowns below their season average.

3. The Nebraska D
In a historical Holiday Bowl rout, the Blackshirts whitewashed Arizona for the school's first-ever postseason shutout. A throwback type effort that was sparked by the relentless up front push of Ndamukong Suh, Jared Crick, and Pierre Allen, Nebraska yielded just six first downs and 109 yards, rarely even allowing the Wildcats to get beyond midfield.

2. Florida QB Tim Tebow
Where has Tebow been hiding these mad passing skills all season? He went berserk on Cincinnati, setting a Sugar Bowl and BCS bowl record with 533 total yards in the 51-24 demolition. Almost flawless through the air, he went 31-of-35 for 482 yards and three touchdowns in an interesting audition for skeptical NFL GMs.

1. The Mountain West
The conference has emerged as one of the main stories of this postseason ,,, TCU aside. Demanding more respect and attention from the rest of the country, the Mountain West has swept its four games, upsetting, Cal, Oregon State, Fresno State, and Houston along the way. The league continues to keep the pressure on the BCS to issue it an automatic bid, which could be forthcoming in the next couple of years.

- and Who's Not ... From the Bowl Season