BCS Bowl Predictions 2012: Forecasting Top Player for Each Projected Winner
Now that the BCS bowls have been set we can start breaking down each matchup.
Stars tend to shine brightest on the grand stage and boost their respective squads to victory. It should be no different this time around as we have some big-time players ready to make history.
The BCS Championship Game features Notre Dame and Alabama, the Fiesta Bowl boasts Kansas State and Oregon, the Sugar Bowl pits Florida against Louisville, the Orange Bowl features Florida State and Northern Illinois and the Rose Bowl tosses Stanford and Wisconsin out onto the field.
Here's a look at who I see being the star of each matchup's projected winner.
Note: All stats via CFBStats.com
BCS Championship Game: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Notre Dame has a great all-around defense, but junior running back Eddie Lacy has been on fire lately and the Fighting Irish did allow Stanford's Stepfan Taylor to rush for over 100 yards on Oct. 13.
Lacy has rushed for a combined 312 yards and four touchdowns in his past two games, including 181 yards and two touchdowns last week against Georgia.
I could see Lacy making an impact in what should be a tough, defensive-minded battle for the national championship.
Fiesta Bowl: Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Kansas State has generally been good against the run this season, but it certainly isn't an elite unit. The Wildcats allowed 342 yards and five touchdowns on the ground to Baylor in the 52-24 loss on Nov. 17.
I expect the Kansas State run defense to get overpowered against Oregon. The Ducks have averaged 6.06 yards per carry this season, by far the best mark in the nation (via CFBStats.com).
Senior back Kenjon Barner has led the rushing attack, posting 1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns on 6.5 yards per carry. He just exploded for 198 yards and two scores in the 48-24 uprooting of Oregon State.
Sugar Bowl: Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida
Louisville has allowed 4.33 yards per carry this season, 73rd in the nation.
That's bad news against a Florida squad that has relied heavily on running back Mike Gillislee this season.
Gillislee has rushed for over 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns on 4.7 yards per carry. He has posted a combined 262 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games, including 140 yards and two touchdowns against Florida State on Nov. 24.
Orange Bowl: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
Northern Illinois has been good against the pass this season, but the Huskies have also been solid against the run and held a high-scoring Kent State squad to 70 rushing yards on 1.7 yards per carry last week.
E.J. Manuel has certainly had his struggles as of late, but I have faith the senior will have a good outing in the final game of his Florida State career.
Overall, Manuel's had a strong season, passing for over 3,100 yards with 22 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. He's also averaged 8.9 yards per pass attempt, tied for eighth in the nation.
Rose Bowl: Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
Wisconsin has allowed 3.7 yards per carry this season, 30th in the nation, so the Badgers can be beat on the ground.
Senior back Stepfan Taylor has been a beast this season, racking up 1,442 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. That included posting a combined 417 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in a critical three-game stretch against Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA.
Expect the senior to go out with a bang.
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