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January 13, 2011

College Football Report - 2010 Bowl Season Awards:

It wasn’t easy to do, but I was able to watch 33 of the 35 games this bowl season. My only misses? The New Orleans Bowl (family Christmas party) and the Ticket City Bowl (no ESPNU). I hope you’ll forgive me. I was still able to turn out the annual Bowl Season Awards and All-Bowl Team, though. There were a lot of great games, dominating performances and bad calls to choose from, so I’m confident they turned out alright:

Overachiever: There are quite a few teams that overachieved during the bowl season. The winner has to be the University of Washington. Washington was double-digit underdogs to Nebraska, a team that turned the Huskies into the puppies earlier this season in their own backyard. The Huskers walked away with a 56-21 beat down in the first matchup, only to be overpowered and flat dominated by Washington in the Holiday Bowl, in a 19-7 bout.

Underachiever: Getting the nod here is the State of Michigan. It starts with the Spartans who took on Alabama in the Capital One Bowl. A lot of MSU faithful were ticked Michigan State wasn’t heading to a BCS Bowl. Instead they got a BCS Bowl caliber team in Alabama, and it may have proved the Spartans weren’t quite ready for the big stage. The Tide made Michigan State look like Central Michigan, absolutely overpowering MSU in a 49-7 game. The Wolverines didn’t do much better. Playing Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl, Michigan was back at a bowl for the first time in three years. How’d they fare? One of the best offenses in the nation was held to 14 points, while there defense did what they do best - give up points, 52 of them. Rich Rod needed the game to basically save his job. In the end, though, he made Michigan AD Dave Brandon’s decision a lot easier.

Best Game: The National Championship Game was a pretty good game. But the ending and the run out the time to kick basically an extra-point field goal didn’t feel right. Ohio State’s matchup against Arkansas was a thrilling ending, and comeback by Arkansas. Still, it wasn’t it. I’m going with the Insight Bowl, featuring Missouri vs. Iowa. For the first time this season, Iowa finished a game late, winning 27-24. Micah Hyde brought in the play of the night, bringing an interception back 72 yards for a score to take the lead in the fourth. The game had it all, really. Good defense and offense. There were multiple lead changes and comebacks. Fourth quarter comebacks by both teams. A dramatic game changing play. A fourth down defensive hold to take the game. Just a great overall bowl.

Blowout: I already picked on the state of Michigan; both teams could have easily worked here. Ralph Friedgen went out in style in his last game as Maryland’s head coach, though. Maryland pounded East Carolina 51-20 in the Military Bowl. At one point, the Terp’s held a 51-13 lead. Maryland running back Da’Rel Scott brought in 200 yards on just 13 carries, in a game that wasn’t even close.

Dominating Performance: How about the true freshman running backs this bowl season. Five freshman runners brought in 100+ yard games. It started with BYU’s Joshua Quezada, who brought in 101 yards and touchdown on15 carries. San Diego State’s Ronnie Hillman rushed for 228 yards and three scores, and caught another touchdown against Navy. Iowa’s Marcus Coker rushed for 219 yards and two scores in a thriller against Missouri, while Spencer Ware of LSU rushed for 102 yards on just 10 carries. Then there was Auburn’s Michael Dyer, on the biggest stage of them all, who rushed for 143 yards, and turned in perhaps the play of the game. They all look like some players to watch next season.

Pitiful Performance: The Big Ten on New Year’s Day could take this, but I’m going with an individual Big Ten unit. Michigan State had been one of the best rushing teams in football this season. Until they met Alabama. The Spartans offensive line turned in an insulting performance. The Alabama front seven brought in five sacks, with another five quarterback hurries. The bigger stat was the –48 rushing yards MSU was held to. A –1.7 yard average isn’t what the Spartans had in mind, I don’t think. Even more bad news tagged to the offensive line: Both MSU quarterbacks were knocked out of the game. Starter Kirk Cousins went down, only to be replaced by sophomore Andrew Maxwell, who was also knocked out of the game. MSU then opted to go with wideout, and ex-quarterback, Keith Nichol.

Offensive MVP: Any one of the freshman runners could have taken this one, but I think it has to go to quarterback Andrew Luck. The Stanford sophomore beat up on a good Virginia Tech defense in the Orange Bowl, throwing for 287 yards and four touchdowns. Luck completed 18 of his 23 passes. There were no stiff-arming runs, instead Luck punished Tech with his arm. Despite his great performance against Virginia Tech, he then opted to return for his senior season in 2011.

Defensive MVP: A lot of linebackers turned in some pretty good games, even Luck’s teammate Shane Skov, who brought in three sacks. It’s hard to argue against Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, though. He may not have had the stats – with just one sack – but Fairley disrupted nearly every Oregon play. The Ducks offense line was terrorized by Fairley all night, and a National Championship probably isn’t Auburn’s without Fairley’s performance.

Best Play: Tyrod Taylor’s spinning pass to David Wilson in Orange Bowl may be one of the best plays of the year. I shouldn’t really have to say a whole lot, watch the video:

Best Call: The best decision comes from a game that didn’t get a whole lot of pub, but it was actually one of the best games of the bowl season. FIU took on Toledo in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. With FIU down 31-32 with just seconds left to play, the Golden Panthers were facing a fourth-and-17 on their own 41 yard line. FIU Head Coach Mario Cristobal took a page from the Boise State scrapbook when he called a hook-n-latter to get the first down and eventually the game. Quarterback Wesley Carroll completed a six yard pass to wideout Jacob Younger for six yards, who then lateraled to T.Y. Hilton, who did the rest of the work for 11 yards, stretching out just before he went out of bounds. The Golden Panthers had the first down by the nose of the ball. Four plays later, FIU kicked the game winner as time expired. (Video)

Worst Call: The worst call didn’t come from a coach, but instead a referee. Image that. With Kansas State down 28-36 in the fourth, K-State quarterback Carson Coffman completed a 30 yard pass to Adrian Hilburn for touchdown. The score was then 34-36 with 1:13 left, and a two-point conversion just three yards away from a tied game. There was a problem, though. A member of the Big Ten referee crew called an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Hilburn following the touchdown, after he gave a salute to the crowd. The penalty would push the conversion back to the 18 yard line, where the play was no good. A salute? Come on ref! (Video)

Senior Award: There’s always a senior who steps up in bowl season, in the last game of their college career. This one could go to linebackers Mason Foster of Washington or Nate Irving of NC State. It could go to Washington quarterback Jake Locker, or TCU quarterback Andy Dalton. I’m giving it to Hawaii wideout Greg Salas, though. Although Hawaii didn’t win their game against Tulsa, Salas turned in an inspired performance, even as his quarterback Bryant Moniz forgot what team to throw to. Salas brought in 13 catches for 214 yards and two touchdowns, and turned in a very determined catch, while the game was seemingly already wrapped up:

2010 All–Bowl Team:

QB: Andrew Luck – So. – Stanford

DE: Quinton Coples – Jr. – North Carolina

RB: Marcus Coker – Fr. – Iowa

DE: Cam Heyward – Sr. – Ohio State

RB: Michael Dyer Fr. – Auburn

DT: Alameda Ta’amu – Jr. – Washington

WR: Ryan Broyles – Jr. – Oklahoma

DT: Nick Fairley – Jr. – Auburn

WR: Greg Salas – Sr. – Hawaii

LB: Quan Sturdivant – Sr. – North Carolina

TE: Coby Fleener – Sr. – Stanford

LB: Cornelius Arnick – So. – Tulsa

OL: Joseph Barksdale – Sr. – LSU

LB: Shane Skov – Jr. – Stanford

OL: Lucas Nix – Jr. – Pittsburgh

CB: Jamell Flemming – Jr. –Oklahoma

OL: Randall Hunt – Sr. – Illinois

CB: Micah Hyde – So. – Iowa

OL: John Moffitt – Sr. – Wisconsin

S: Ahmad Black – Sr. – Florida

OL: Ryan Pugh – Sr. – Auburn

S: Harrison Smith – Sr. – Notre Dame

KR: T.Y. Hilton – Jr. – Toledo

PR: Rishard Matthews – Jr. – Nevada

K: Casey Barth – Jr. – North Carolina

P: Dylan Breeding – So. – Arkansas

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