Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch will have to turn out a mighty performance for the Huskies against Florida State in the Orange Bowl this January if the MAC champions are to pull off the upset.
Lynch has more total yards (4,733) than any other player in college football this season, and has scored 43 touchdowns in 13 games. Still, the junior will have his work cut out for him this bowl season as he attempts to conquer the Seminoles' fearsome defense.
But Lynch isn't the only star set for a big bowl effort in early 2013. Here are my predictions for some other key players who will deliver in BCS bowl games this winter.
Mike Gillislee, Florida Gators, RB
Florida senior running back Mike Gillislee ran wild in the Gators' final two regular-season games last month, rushing for 122 yards and a touchdown against Jacksonville State before racking up 140 yards and two touchdowns on the ground on the road at Florida State.
Gillislee is averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and has 1,104 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in 12 games this season. His numbers speak for themselves and will have Louisville scrambling to form a game plan against him this December.
Regardless of what the Cardinals comes up with, look for the 5'11" back to find tons of success against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl. The Cardinals rank just 53rd nationally against the run, giving up more than 150 yards per game on the ground.
As long as Florida's offensive line continues to assert itself this postseason, Gillislee will benefit on the stat sheet.
Marcus Mariota, Oregon Ducks, QB
Oregon's freshman quarterback, Marcus Mariota has played with the poise of a fifth-year senior in 2012, and that bodes well for the Ducks in their upcoming Fiesta Bowl matchup with Kansas State.
Mariota should find plenty of openings in Kansas State's secondary, especially considering that the Wildcats rank just 94th against the pass this season, surrendering a tad more than 255 yards through the air per game.
Although many see Oregon's rushing attack as its greatest threat, its aerial assault is clearly lethal. After all, Mariota threw for 30 touchdowns in 12 games for the Ducks in 2012.
Look for the sensational freshman to throw for well over 250 yards and a handful of touchdowns.
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford, RB
The Rose Bowl Game will feature two magnificent running backs in Wisconsin's Montee Ball and Stanford's Stepfan Taylor, but the latter will no doubt turn out the better performance of the two.
While the Badgers' rush defense ranks only 21st in the nation, the Cardinal's ranks third, meaning that holes and gaps should come much easier for Taylor as compared to Ball. Taylor has rushed for at least 100 yards in eight of Stanford's 13 games and has 12 rushing touchdowns this season.
Taylor is the heart and soul of Stanford's offense, and his powerful running style will take center stage against Wisconsin next month.
Expect the senior back to rush for over 100 yards and a pair of scores.
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