This college football season has been defined by defense, and a few of this year’s marquee bowl games will be decided by stars who will be keeping opponents out of the end zone.
Notre Dame, Alabama and Florida hold the top spots in the final BCS rankings, and the three schools also rank in that same order for fewest points allowed per game this season. This is no coincidence.
The programs with dominant defenses are the ones who have had the most success this season, and that will continue as top teams close out their seasons.
Here are the defensive players who will come through with monster performances in their bowl games.
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Nebraska will have the unenviable task of attempting to neutralize Jarvis Jones when it takes on Georgia in the Capital One Bowl, and the Cornhuskers will not be able to contain the star linebacker.
Jones has recorded 77 tackles this season, with an incredible 22.5 takedowns coming behind the line of scrimmage. He has 12.5 sacks this year in addition to an interception and seven forced fumbles.
He is nearly impossible to account for and is a game-changer due to his ability to create turnovers.
The Cornhuskers offense will stall in this matchup while Jones adds to his eye-popping statistics for his junior season. No defensive player will be more entertaining to watch during this year’s bowl games.
Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
While defensive end Barkevious Mingo has been drawing much of the attention from NFL draft enthusiasts, Sam Montgomery has been LSU’s most productive pass-rusher this season.
Montgomery also projects as a first-round draft pick according to Rob Rang and Dane Brugler of CBS Sports. In his junior season, he has led the Tigers with 12 tackles for a loss and seven sacks.
LSU will take on Clemson’s high-powered offense in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and Montgomery will stand out among his teammates while Les Miles’ team shows the SEC’s dominance against its ACC opponents.
Montgomery will be a constant disruption for Clemson, and he will be blowing up plays in the backfield throughout the contest.
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Northern Illinois is in over its head in the Orange Bowl, and Florida State’s superior athletes will overwhelm the Huskies.
The one player whose combination of size, strength and agility will truly stand out in this game is defensive end Bjoern Werner. At 6’4” and 256 pounds, Werner is extremely effective as both a pass-rusher and a run-stopper.
He has 13 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss this season, and he will add to both of those totals when he takes the field on New Year’s Day.
Werner’s dynamic playmaking ability will be a key factor for the Seminoles as they cruise to a victory in a lopsided matchup.