Over the course of a successful season for a team, there are certainly a handful of players who stand out from the rest.
This year's BCS bowl games feature some excellent teams led by elite quarterbacks like Jameis Winston and AJ McCarron. However, every matchup also has at least one non-quarterback who will likely come through with some excellent plays that could decide the game.
When watching games this January, make sure to focus on these players who will provide some of the most memorable moments of the bowl season.
Fiesta Bowl: Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Few people could have expected Baylor and UCF to be battling in a BCS game, but each team shocked their conference by winning a title and getting an automatic bid to this stage.
The biggest storyline of this battle will be the quarterbacks as both Bryce Petty and Blake Bortles are big-time NFL prospects. However, Lache Seastrunk is also someone who will make himself known in this matchup.
Over the first half of the season, the junior running back was a legitimate Heisman candidate with 869 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in seven games. Unfortunately, a groin injury limited the rest of his season.
With Seastrunk and Glasco Martin out against Oklahoma State, the offense really suffered in the Bears' only loss.
According to Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News, the Baylor star will consider declaring for the draft after the game:
Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk has requested draft evaluation from NFL, said today he will make decision after Fiesta Bowl.— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) December 20, 2013
With this in mind, you can expect him to do his best to tear apart this UCF defense.
Orange Bowl: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Between Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde, Ohio State will provide plenty of big plays against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. However, the big singular player on the field will be Tigers receiver Sammy Watkins.
After a down sophomore season, the junior came back with an outstanding year, totaling 85 catches, 1,237 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Most impressive is his ability to make things happen after the catch, where he can turn a short slant into a long score.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller had high praise for the receiver in October:
RT @nfldraftscout: The gap between Sammy Watkins and the next best WR is huge. Arguably the biggest gap at any position in 2014 class.— Bleacher Report CFB (@BR_CFB) October 26, 2013
Ohio State might score a lot of points in this game, but Watkins will certainly get his fair share of big plays to keep Clemson in contention.
Rose Bowl: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
Football fans who appreciate defense will love the battle between Michigan State and Stanford. This game will be decided in the trenches, although Darqueze Dennard will also showcase his ability in the defensive secondary.
The senior cornerback was named to pretty much every All-American team there is out there while also winning the Jim Thorpe award, an honor given to the best defensive back in college football.
Josh Slagter of MLive.com quoted Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who said:
I'm awfully proud of the way Darqueze Dennard has played not only this season but throughout his entire career. Without a doubt, Darqueze has turned out to be the best defensive back in the country. The best way to describe him is fast, physical and smart. Plus, he has the ability to make big, game-changing plays.
Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan will need to know where Dennard is on the field before every play, or else the cornerback will make him pay at the Rose Bowl.
Sugar Bowl: Christion Jones, WR/KR, Alabama
Oklahoma has plenty of defensive talent, but there are not too many guys on the roster that will really "wow" fans. Instead, you will see a mostly balanced attack that will likely struggle against an elite Alabama defense.
Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide also have a tendency to simply put together solid drives without doing anything spectacular. T.J. Yeldon should have a strong showing at running back, but the real highlight plays will come from Christion Jones.
The receiver has not been featured too often on offense, but he was one of the best returners in the country this season. He finished the regular season sixth in the nation with an average of 29.3 yards per kick return, as well as 13th with an average of 14.4 yards per punt return.
He also scored three touchdowns off returns this season to go with two more on the offensive end.
Bowl games are usually the time for teams to get creative, so you can expect Nick Saban to find a way to get Jones the ball as much as possible against Oklahoma.
BCS National Championship: Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Jameis Winston might have won the Heisman, but he is not the only finalist that will be competing for a national championship. Auburn's Tre Mason ended the year as well as anyone in the country and will look to keep that momentum going in the title game.
Mason put together an impressive showing against previously-unbeaten Alabama, rushing for 164 yards and a touchdown in an upset victory. This put the Tigers into the SEC Championship against Missouri, which had another solid defensive unit.
Apparently, this was not good enough to stop Mason, who rushed for an incredible 304 yards with four touchdowns.
Against the Seminoles, Auburn will need another big effort from the running back in order to keep up on the scoreboard. Based on what we have seen recently, it is hard to imagine the talented player being contained.
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