BCS Bowl Games 2012-13: Underrated Players to Watch on the Big Stage

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IDecember 7, 2012

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 30:  Jordan Lynch #6 of the Northern Illinois Huskies scores a second-half touchdown against the  Kent State Golden Flashes during the Mid-American Conference Championship game at Ford Field on November 30, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. Illinois won 44-37  (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

"Remember kid, there's heroes and there's legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die."

Not only do I jump at every single possible chance to quote The Sandlot, the greatest piece of cinema ever made, but I'm under the impression that legends are made during BCS bowl games.

Why else do you think we still know who Vince Young is? 

This is why:

On that note, let's take a look at some players flying under the radar who are ready to step up in a big way during the new year.

Note: If you're just here for the BCS bowl schedule, check out this fanciness:

Or you can just check here.

Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois Huskies

You may politely tell me that Jordan Lynch has been getting a lot of attention lately and isn't what you would call underrated.

Well, I would tell you he deserved at least some type of Heisman mention and, thus, is far underrated.

If you're into the whole stat thing, Lynch was pretty darn impressive: 2,962 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, a minuscule five interceptions and a 153.0 QB rating, which ranked 24th in the country.

OK, you say. A very good passer, but not Heisman worthy.

Well, he's got legs, too: 271 carries, 1,771 yards (first in the freaking nation. As a quarterback, mind you), 19 touchdowns.

He's a quarunningback. Or something like that. 

If you're into the whole team success thing, I would say winning 12 games and making it to a BCS bowl for the first time in school history is pretty much the epitome of successful. 

I'm not saying Jordan Lynch should have won the Heisman, but he should without a doubt be in New York on Saturday. 

He'll prove that against the stout Florida State defense on January 1. 

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon Ducks

During the Fiesta Bowl, you are going to rightfully hear a lot about Kansas State's Collin Klein and Oregon's dynamic running back duo of Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas. 

But Marcus Mariota is flying far under the radar for how talented he is. Just ask Brock Huard (via Matt Prehm of 247sports.com):

Brock Huard ranked college QBs all season long. Says Matt Barkley is No. 1 in final ranking, no Marcus Mariota at all. insider.espn.go.com/college-footba…

— Matt Prehm (@Prehmmr247) December 6, 2012

Alright then, Brock. 

As a mere freshman—if Johnny Manziel wasn't busy hypnotizing the world with his ridiculous play, Mariota would be getting a lot more attention for what he's doing in his first season on the collegiate level—Mariota has completed an efficient 69.9 percent of his throws for 2,511 yards, 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. 

His quarterback rating of 165.4 ranks him fifth in the nation.

Oh yeah, and the Hawaii native is fairly explosive, as well. He has racked up 690 yards on 7.0 yards per carry (second in the Pac-12, seventh in the nation) for four more scores. 

Oregon's offense has a lot of talented players, but it wouldn't be anywhere near as explosive without Mariota's sneaky dual-threat skills. 

Tramaine Thompson, WR, Kansas State Wildcats

Look no further than the opposite sideline for our last underrated player. 

Thompson has been pretty solid catching passes from Collin Klein, as he's racked up 514 yards and four scores on 36 grabs. 

Where he truly excels, however, is in the return game. Thompson has taken 13 punts back on the year for a Big 12-leading 308 yards (fifth in the country). That's good enough for 23.7 yards per return, which is most in the nation.

He's also returned eight kicks for an impressive 35.5 yards per return. 

Thompson occasionally embarrasses defenders with moves like this:

Or stiff arms like this:

The Fiesta Bowl is expected to be a high-scoring back-and-forth battle, and in games like those, it's always a special teams player or lesser-known guy who makes the game-changing play that everyone remembers. 

With his unique skill set, Thompson has a good chance to go down in Kansas State lore by being that guy. 


    Riley: Leaving Oklahoma for NFL Would Be ‘Really Difficult’

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Riley: Leaving Oklahoma for NFL Would Be ‘Really Difficult’

    via Diehards

    Maryland Promotes Damon Evans to AD

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Maryland Promotes Damon Evans to AD

    via InsideMDSports

    Ranking All 130 Head Coaches for 2018

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Ranking All 130 Head Coaches for 2018

    via AthlonSports.com

    Lane Kiffin Signs 10-Year Extension at FAU

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Lane Kiffin Signs 10-Year Extension at FAU

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report