The BCS bowl matchups are set, and each team will be looking for a memorable performance from one key player in order to end its season with a victory.
Vince Young’s incredible game against USC in 2006 set the standard for MVPs in recent years, and offensive players will be looking to equal his epic outing.
The defensive stars lucky enough to play in a BCS bowl that names an MVP for players on their side of the ball will look to follow in the footsteps of former winners like Nick Fairley and Marcell Dareus.
Here are my predictions for MVPs from each BCS bowl game.
National Championship Game: No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Alabama
Offensive MVP: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Eddie Lacy is the type of no-nonsense back who is capable of overwhelming Notre Dame’s talented defense. At 6’1” and 220 pounds, the junior is extremely difficult to bring down, and he torched Georgia for 181 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in the SEC Championship Game.
While he will not put up numbers that impressive against the Fighting Irish, he will get into the end zone in a matchup where points are at a premium. Lacy will be the decisive factor in an Alabama victory.
Defensive MVP: Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama
The sophomore linebacker is one of several exceptional athletes on the Crimson Tide defense, and he leads the team in sacks, tackles for a loss and forced fumbles.
In this game, Alabama will need a player to make plays around the line of scrimmage. Adrian Hubbard will cause a key turnover in this game, and that will earn him MVP honors.
Fiesta Bowl: No. 5 Kansas State vs. No. 4 Oregon
Offensive MVP: Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
The senior running back is in the midst of a remarkable season, and he has racked up 1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns on 248 attempts this season. His potential was on full display in a shootout with USC in which he had 321 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
The Ducks will be in another offensively dominated game against Kansas State, and they will rely heavily on Kenjon Barner. He will respond and end his career with an epic performance.
Defensive MVP: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is tied for the team lead with four interceptions and has a comfortable team lead with 19 passes defended this season. The sophomore simply has a knack for being around the ball.
This will continue into the Fiesta Bowl, and while it will be difficult to identify an impressive defensive performer with all the points that will be scored in this game, Ekpre-Olomu will make at least one noteworthy play.
Sugar Bowl: No. 3 Florida vs. No. 21 Louisville
MVP: Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida
Florida’s senior running back has repeatedly come through in big games this season. He had two touchdowns in the team’s narrow early-season victory over Texas A&M, then scored two touchdowns in an upset over LSU. He also finished the regular season with two touchdowns in a comeback victory over Florida State.
The Gators defense will clamp down on Louisville’s offense, and the favorites will feed Mike Gillislee in order to control the tempo of the game. He will be productive and efficient, and he will end up with two touchdowns and the game’s MVP award.
Orange Bowl: No. 12 Florida State vs. No. 15 Northern Illinois
MVP: EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State
EJ Manuel had three interceptions in an instate showdown with Florida, and he did not score a touchdown against Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship Game. Now, he has one final chance to end his senior year on a high note.
The Seminoles will look to start fast and bury Northern Illinois early in this game, and Manuel will help with that goal. He will wrap up the MVP award before the fourth quarter starts in this one-sided matchup.
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Stanford
Offensive MVP: Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
Wisconsin is an underdog in this game, but with senior leadership, momentum and an intense desire not to turn into the Buffalo Bills of the Rose Bowl, the Badgers will pull off an upset.
On offense, that leadership will come from Montee Ball, who gained 202 yards and scored three touchdowns in the Badgers’ rout of Nebraska in the Big Ten title game. He will bring his storied career at Wisconsin to a close with one of the best performances yet.
Defensive MVP: Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin
Mike Taylor will provide veteran leadership on the other side of the ball, and the senior linebacker will cause problems for Stanford’s offense throughout this game.
He is a ball hawk who has recorded over 10 tackles in six different games this season. Taylor will continue his fine season and will bring it to a close with the Rose Bowl victory that has eluded him thus far.
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