Bowl Predictions 2012: Picking the Offensive MVP for Each BCS Bowl
For any college football player, the only thing better than winning a BCS Bowl is getting selected as the most valuable player in a winning effort.
Often, stars are born through clutch performances in BCS Bowls, especially with regards to offensive players. We all knew who Vince Young was prior to the 2006 Rose Bowl, but virtually every football fan was convinced he'd be a star after he carried Texas past USC in the dying seconds of the game.
So, with the participants for each of this year's five BCS Bowls decided, here's a look at who'll take home offensive MVP honors in each of the five games.
Florida State vs. Northern Illinois
The Northern Illinois Huskies stunned Kent State to take home the MAC title and earned the right to play the Seminoles in the 2013 Orange Bowl.
Though they're obviously a heart-warming Cinderella story, it's hard to see how the Huskies will be able to take down No. 12 Florida State, who boast one of the stingiest defenses in the nation.
Heading into the game, the odds-on favorite to earn the distinction of offensive MVP is a toss-up between the Seminoles' top three offensive threats in quarterback EJ Manuel, running back Devonta Freeman and wide-out Rashad Greene.
Prediction: Freeman, only because unless Manuel cuts down on the turnovers and puts up the numbers expected of him, the sophomore back will win by default.
Florida vs. Louisville
Like the Orange Bowl, the 2013 Sugar Bowl features a heavily favored national power against a conference champion that appears, at least on paper, to be overmatched heading into the game.
No. 21 Louisville pulled off the upset by taking down Rutgers in the Cardinals' season finale, but unless Teddy Bridgewater has more magic up his sleeve, they'll come up short against the high-powered No. 3 Florida Gators defense.
Though the Gators got this far by relying on their stingy defense, Jeff Driskel and Mike Gillislee have both been solid all year long, and they would appear to be the most likely candidates to be named offensive MVP at the Sugar Bowl.
Prediction: Jeff Driskel. He hasn't put up gaudy numbers, but he's gotten the job done when the Gators have needed him, and he has demonstrated an ability to run the football when needed.
Wisconsin vs. Stanford
Wisconsin and Stanford advanced to the Rose Bowl in vastly different ways, as Stanford squeaked out a victory in a dangerously tight game against UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship, while the Badgers completely embarrassed heavily favored Nebraska 70-21 in the Big Ten title game.
Now, with the No. 23 Badgers set to take on without a doubt the most talented team they've faced this season, Stanford is the favorite, but as Wisconsin showed against the Huskers, they've got more than enough firepower to hang with the nation's elite.
That being said, it'll take another shocking performance out of Wisconsin's offense to take down the Cardinal, who are coming off their first Pac-12 title since 1999.
Prediction: Kevin Hogan. The redshirt freshman will build upon his breakout performance in the win over UCLA and lead the Cardinal past an overmatched Badgers defense.
Oregon vs. Kansas State
Just weeks ago, an Oregon-Kansas State matchup could've been mistaken for the national championship game, but both the Ducks and Wildcats dropped disappointing games late in the season and find themselves playing in the Fiesta Bowl.
On paper, Heisman finalist Collin Klein should be considered the favorite to win offensive MVP honors, but in order to do so, the Wildcats will need to outgun the vaunted offensive juggernaut that is the Oregon Ducks, which won't be easy.
The Ducks, led by Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota, will get the victory at the Fiesta Bowl, and it'll be a four-man race among the three of them and Klein for offensive MVP bragging rights.
Prediction: Thomas. He's definitely the dark horse in this race, but given Thomas' three-touchdown, 122-yard rushing day against Oregon State in the Ducks' regular-season finale, and his 314-yard game in the Rose Bowl last year, he's shown a penchant for coming up clutch in big games.
BCS National Championship
Alabama vs. Notre Dame
The 2013 national title game pits reigning champion Alabama against undefeated Notre Dame, who have overcome every challenge they've faced with the nation's most dominant defense.
However, the Fighting Irish do not boast anything close to an intimidating offense, and unless they can hold the Crimson Tide to under 14 points, it's tough to see how they'll defeat Nick Saban's decidedly more well-rounded squad.
If the game plays out the way it should, reigning BCS National Championship Offensive MVP AJ McCarron and the backfield tandem of T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy will duke it out for this year's edition of the award.
Prediction: Lacy. The Irish have arguably the best secondary in college football, so McCarron won't be the difference maker. Instead, Lacy, who has eight touchdowns in his last three games, will steal the show.
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