BCS Bowl Games 2012-2013: Players to Watch in Each BCS Matchup

Shawn Brubaker@@63brubakerContributor IIDecember 8, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 17:  Manti T'eo #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish encourages the crowd to cheer during a game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium on November 17, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Wake Forest 38-0.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The stars will be out in January. Two of three Heisman finalists will be on display in BCS matchups, as well as numerous star quarterbacks, pass rushers, running backs and various other fantastic players. 

These players will be the ones to watch come BCS bowl season.


Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Stanford

Wisconsin—Montee Ball, RB

Once again, the best running back in the nation was Wisconsin star Montee Ball.

What makes Ball so special is that he keeps getting better with more carries. He can handle an immense workload, such as when he took on 39 carries at Ohio State. 

Ball can carry this offense, but it will be interesting to see if he can do it against a stellar Stanford defense.


Stanford—Shayne Skov, LB

Stanford's defense is a throwback unit, playing with physicality and intensity rarely seen. We've seen what it can do to top offenses such as Oregon's and UCLA's, and now senior linebacker Shayne Skov gets to lead his unit against one of the top runners in the country.

Skov will be the guy to watch for Stanford. He's an emotional leader and a physical thumper at linebacker. He will be all over the field, putting major pressure on Ball and the Badgers running game.


Orange Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Florida State

Northern Illinois—Jordan Lynch, QB

Shockingly, the first marquee quarterback of the BCS bowl season is coming from Northern Illinois. Jordan Lynch is the MAC's answer to Johnny Manziel, and though he remains under the radar, Lynch might be just as good.

Combined on the ground and through the air, Lynch has accounted for 4,773 yards and 43 touchdowns, including a FBS record 1,771 rushing yards. In fact, Lynch leads the entire nation in rushing yards.

Those who have never watched Lynch play will be wowed by his tough running and surprisingly accurate throws.


Florida State—Bjoern Werner, DE

Florida State's most explosive player could make Lynch's life difficult in the Orange Bowl. With 13 sacks this season, Werner is second in the nation in sacks, and he has actually caused the most lost yards on his sacks.

The knock on Werner is that he racked up most of his stats against mediocre competition, but after 3.5 sacks against Florida, that critique is no longer relevant. Instead, Werner has cemented his status as a top-tier pass rusher and a must watch player.


Sugar Bowl: Louisville vs. Florida

Louisville—Teddy Bridgewater, QB

Louisville sophomore QB Teddy Bridgewater has been dynamite this season, ranking eighth in the nation in passer rating and leading the Cardinals at the most crucial moments of their season.

Bridgewater had some of his best games against the toughest competition, including an underrated North Carolina squad and a defensively dominant Rutgers team.

As long as Bridgewater is throwing passes for the Cardinals, they are a tough offense to stop.


Florida—Matt Elam, SS

On a team that is led by its defense, Florida safety Matt Elam stands out as one of the best defenders in the nation.

With great ball skills, as evidenced by his four interceptions, paired with big hitting ability, Elam is one of the premier safeties in the nation. Expect at least one big play from the junior safety.


Fiesta Bowl: Oregon vs. Kansas State

Oregon—Kenjon Barner, RB

Senior running back Kenjon Barner might have something to say about the assertion that Montee Ball is the nation's best running back. After all, Barner did rush for an eye-popping 1,624 yards on a stellar 6.5 YPC clip.

Despite his small stature, Barner is more than capable of carrying the load, as he did against USC. Barner's 321-yard effort against USC was perhaps the single greatest performance by any individual this season. 

In Oregon's most important game, Barner will carry the load for the electric Ducks.


Kansas State—Collin Klein, QB

Heisman finalist Collin Klein is perhaps the greatest leader in the nation, but he brings more to the table than just intangibles.

With a powerful running style and electric speed, Klein is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation. His 22 rushing touchdowns are tied for second in the nation, and his passing efficiency has been stellar as well.

Klein has had a rushing touchdown in 11 straight games. That streak should continue as he ends his career against Oregon.


National Championship Game: Notre Dame vs. Alabama

Notre Dame—Manti Te'o, LB

In a battle of great defenses, Manti Te'o stands out as the best defender in this game and the nation.

Te'o leads all linebackers with seven interceptions this season, including a key diving interception against then-No. 8 Oklahoma.

Te'o makes his biggest plays at the biggest times, and his leadership is second to none. It has been a joy to watch Te'o bring the Irish back into the national picture. Enjoy this one last chance to watch him work.


Alabama—Barrett Jones, C

Most casual football fans will have trouble watching an offensive lineman when dynamite players such as Eddie Lacy or T.J. Yeldon are on the field, but Jones is no ordinary lineman.

Jones leads the best offensive line in the nation, and possibly one of the best offensive lines ever seen at this level. There is a reason the Alabama running game averaged 5.6 yards per game, and Jones and his peers are it. 

The battle between Alabama's offensive line and Notre Dame's front seven will be one of the highlights of the bowl season. Make sure to watch out for those big, bad linemen in this game.


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