Winners and Losers of 2013 New Year's Day College Football Bowl Games
There is nothing quite like a New Year's Day bowl game, and today, college-football fans have six on the slate. As always, there are some winners and losers from the action on New Year's Day.
As is usually the case, the Big Ten and SEC went head-to-head in multiple games for bragging rights and a whole lot more.
It looked like the Big Ten was going to pull off a few upsets, but the SEC showed its strength once again, winning both the Outback and Capital One Bowls.
While there were plenty of winners and losers from New Year's Day, here are a few that stand out from the action so far.
Winner: Northwestern Wildcats
Northwestern knocked off Mississippi State, 34-20, in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl. The victory ended the longest bowl-game losing streak at nine.
It also gave the Big Ten a rare win over the SEC.
Not enough can be said about head coach Pat Fitzgerald, who ended a 64-year bowl-victory drought.
Quite a day for the Northwestern football program.
Loser: Mississippi State Pregame Comments
Even though Northwestern came into the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl against Mississippi State as the favorite, and clearly the better of the two teams, that did not stop the Bulldogs from talking a little trash.
That trash-talking ended up backfiring as the Wildcats rolled to a 34-20 victory.
Prior to the game, there were comments from Mississippi State players questioning the speed of the Big Ten and Northwestern in particular.
So much for that, as Northwestern proved to be the better team.
Winner: Pat Fitzgerald
As mentioned earlier, Northwestern picked up a huge bowl win over Mississippi State and there was no person happier than head coach Pat Fitzgerald.
He was almost in tears during a postgame interview and looked like the proudest man in the world after the game.
Fitzgerald put together a perfect game plan that helped force four Bulldogs turnovers, which proved to be the difference in the game.
Loser: Purdue Defense
Coming into the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Oklahoma State, not many people expected Purdue to emerge with a victory, particularly with the coaching situation.
Still, not many people saw a 44-point blowout coming.
That was the case as the Purdue defense failed to show up, allowing 524 total yards and 58 points to a talented Oklahoma State offense.
The Boilermakers turned the ball over five times and the defense was unable to force any of its own.
Winner: Oklahoma State Offense
A lot of people might have seen this coming, but 58 points is still a lot.
The Oklahoma State offense was on point in the 58-14 victory over Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
The group totaled 524 yards and was balanced all game long. The Cowboys passed for 311 yards and rushed for 213 without turning the ball over.
A very nice day at the office for this group.
Loser: Refs in the Outback Bowl
The refs were not bad for the entire game, but the call to give Michigan a first down midway through the fourth quarter was clearly one for the ages.
After appearing to come up short on a fourth-down attempt, the measuring sticks came out and it looked like Michigan was going to turn the ball over on downs.
For some reason, the referee gave the Wolverines the first down, even though they appeared to be a few chain links short.
Needless to say, Steve Spurrier went nuts.
Winner: Jadeveon Clowney
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney might be the best player in college football, and he put a hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith that will not soon be forgotten.
If Clowney were draft-eligible, he would have certainly helped his case to be the No. 1 overall pick, particularly with the way commentator Jon Gruden was talking about him as the best player in the country.
By the end of the game, he was living in the Michigan backfield.
No doubt he will be in the Heisman conversation next season.
Loser: Michigan Wolverines
Michigan was 20 seconds away from pulling off a major upset against South Carolina, but the defense gave up a huge 32-yard touchdown pass with 11 seconds remaining as the Wolverines fell, 33-28.
The Wolverines did a lot of things right, but the defense could not come up with a stop in the end.
South Carolina made the plays when it had to and was able to come away with a victory in the Outback Bowl.
Winner: Rex Burkhead
After playing through a season filled with injuries, Rex Burkhead was finally given a chance to get healthy before the Capital One Bowl, and it showed with his performance
Burkead missed six games during the regular season due to injuries, but did not have any problem running the football against the Georgia defense.
The senior finished the game with 140 yards and a touchdown on only 24 carries. He also caught four passes for 39 yards and a score.
Loser: Nebraska Defense
The Nebraska defense proved to have plenty of flaws once again, as the group gave up way too many points in a 45-31 loss to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl.
Thanks to a very talented Nebraska offense, the Cornhuskers were able to hang around for most of the game.
The Blackshirts allowed 589 yards of offense to Georgia, including over 400 yards and five passing touchdowns to Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.
Winner: Aaron Murray
Even though he started off the game rather slow with two interceptions, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray came on strong at the end of the game.
He finished the day with 427 yards passing and five touchdowns.
Whether or not he leaves early for the NFL remains to be seen, but he certainly did not hurt his status for the upcoming NFL draft with this performance.
Loser: Big Ten
After going 1-1 in its bowl games prior to New Year's Day, the Big Ten laid another egg once again to start off 2013.
The only team able to come out with a victory was Northwestern, as Nebraska, Michigan, Purdue and Wisconsin all fell in defeat.
Once again, it was a very disappointing showing for the conference as the Big Ten finished bowl season with a 2-5 record.
Winner: David Shaw and Stanford
Nobody could have expected Stanford to have the success it did coming into the season, particularly with the departure of Andrew Luck, as well as the top three receivers on the team.
Head coach David Shaw put together quite a season, winning the Pac-12 title and the Rose Bowl, while finishing the year 12-2.
A quarterback change midway through the season, going to the freshman Kevin Hogan, might have been the difference for Stanford. Hogan took over on Nov. 10 and won all four of his games against ranked opponents. Obviously a good call by Shaw.
Loser: Wisconsin Rushing Attack
The Wisconsin rushing attack certainly did not do a bad job, but was nowhere close to the output from the Big Ten Championship Game against Nebraska.
Montee Ball did get his, rushing for 100 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown, but the Badgers totaled 218 yards rushing on 45 carries.
James White was virtually non-existent, rushing for only four yards on six carries, and the running game did not do enough to open up the passing attack.
Quarterback Curt Phillips only finished 10-of-17 for 83 yards with a touchdown and an interception on the day.
Winner: Florida State Seminoles
This was a game that could have easily slipped away from a Florida State team that might have been lacking motivation.
That was clearly not the case as Florida State dominated from start to finish en route to a 31-10 victory.
The Seminoles defense proved to be too much as the group absolutely dominated Northern Illinois star quarterback Jordan Lynch.
Jimbo Fisher had his team ready to play and it showed.
Loser: Jordan Lynch
Jordan Lynch came into this game with a chance to put his name in the Heisman running for the 2013 season.
Instead he played his worst game of the season and showed that he is not nearly as good as we thought coming in.
Lynch finished the game 15 of 41 for 176 yards with a touchdown and a pick. He also only had 44 yards rushing on 23 carries.
This was without question the worst game of his collegiate career and it does not look like Lynch is the player we thought he was.
Winner: E.J. Manuel
E.J. Manuel finished off his collegiate career with his fourth bowl victory and had an excellent game in the process.
He finished the game with 295 yards passing on 27 of 39 with a touchdown. Manuel also carried the ball six times for 26 yards and a touchdown.
While he had an up and down career, as did the Seminoles during his time in Tallahassee, this was the perfect way to go out for Manuel and a senior class that came a very long way over the past four years.
Loser: The MAC and Non-BCS Conferences
This was the perfect opportunity for a team like the MAC to show up on a national stage. That was not the case as Northern Illinois proved to be overmatched and did not stand a chance.
Coming in, many thought an upset was possible as Florida State did not have nearly the motivation of Northern Illinois.
That proved to be wrong as the Seminoles proved to be better at every position and won in dominating fashion.
Not a good day for the little guy, as the big boys showed them who was boss.