BCS Bowl Projections 2012: Individual Performances That Will Transcend Games

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2012

November 24, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te'o (5) after the 22-13 victory against the Southern California Trojans during the second half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Bowl Championship Series' purpose may be to crown a national championship team, but for individual players, it's also an opportunity for players to ascend to superstardom. 

Each of the contests is a nationally-televised spectacle that comes with literally a month's worth of hype. Though winning obviously comes first, players getting the chance to prove their individual worth before tens of millions of people is just another fantastic byproduct of the bowl system.

With 10 teams playing in five games, it's unlikely we'll see great performances from every team—or in every game, for that matter. But for those who do perform well, their brilliance can oftentimes transcend the game itself. 

With that in mind, here is a look at a few players who should put up scintillating numbers in their respective BCS bowls. 


Jordan Lynch (QB, Northern Illinois—Orange Bowl vs. Florida State)

If the MAC Championship was Lynch's arrival on the national scene, the Orange Bowl may very well be Lynch's coronation. 

The scintillating Huskies quarterback has long been one of the most underrated players in college football, tallying gaudy numbers in a mostly shrugged-upon conference. On the season, Lynch has thrown for 2,962 yards and 24 touchdowns against five interceptions, completing 62.9 percent of his passes in the process.

Still, as most who watched him eviscerate Kent State know, Lynch's true calling card is his running ability. He's run for 1,771 yards and 19 touchdowns this season—the former broke an FBS record. 

A matchup against Florida State will undoubtedly be his biggest test. The Seminoles possess one of the best run defenses in the nation, giving up just 15.1 points per game on the season. They also allow just 2.8 yards per carry on the ground, which is tied with Stanford for fourth in the FBS. 

Nonetheless, Clemson's Tajh Boyd showed Florida State has a weakness against dual-threat quarterbacks. The Tigers star threw for 237 yards and three touchdowns and added 44 more on the ground in the Seminoles' 49-37 victory. 

If Lynch can follow Boyd's road map to success, he should have yet another brilliant game on the national stage. 


Kenjon Barner (RB, Oregon—Sugar Bowl vs. Kansas State)

Barner may not have won the Doak Walker Award, but his sensational 2012 campaign should finish off with yet another big performance in the Sugar Bowl.

The senior speedster rushed for 1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns this season on just 248 carries. His 6.5 yards per carry average was the best among backs with 200 or more attempts and Barner's touchdowns ranked fourth in the nation.

Both of those numbers should be on the way up against Kansas State. Even though the Wildcats have performed well defensively for much of the season, they have a glaring weakness against breakaway-type runners.

In its 52-24 loss to Baylor, Kansas State allowed Lache Seastrunk to march up and down the field to the tune of 185 yards on 19 carries. That performance included an 80-yard touchdown run and doesn't even factor in Glasco Martin's 113 yards and three scores. 

It goes without saying that Barner has a longer track record of excellence than either Baylor back. All it takes is one or two scampers to break the floodgates open. Look for Barner to take cues from Seastrunk and dominate in his final game as a Duck.


Manti Te'o (LB, Notre Dame—BCS National Championship vs. Alabama)

Already the winner of about every individual award imaginable, just one more distinction remains before the 2012 college football season forever becomes known as the Year of Manti Te'o: National Championship Game MVP.

Granted, the splitting of the ballot to crown an offensive and defensive most valuable player taints the award a bit. Very few ultimately remember who gets the distinction because it's hard to distinguish which player is the actual MVP.

It won't be that hard to pinpoint if Notre Dame takes down Alabama. As part of the nation's top-ranked scoring defense, Te'o became unquestionably the team's best player. A senior, Te'o made 103 total tackles, recorded 1.5 sacks and picked off seven passes. 

The former two aren't the most jaw-dropping statistics, but Te'o's importance to the defensive whole is apparent every time the Irish take the field.

That will be especially true come Jan. 7. The Tide have unquestionably the best offensive line in college football, adorned with veterans who may wind up playing on Sundays.

If Te'o records 10 or so tackles and gets to A.J. McCarron at least once, he could be able to cap off the best year of his life in proper fashion—as the best player on a national championship-winning team.