The SEC finished 6-3 in bowl games with wins over Notre Dame, Oklahoma Michigan, Nebraska, NC State, and Pittsburgh. That gives little fuel to the SEC haters.
Here are the top 10 bowl performances of 2012-13:
1. Alabama’s offense vs. Notre Dame: I didn’t see this one coming. The way the Tide rolled over the Irish’s physical front seven was like going to a clinic. I couldn’t just pick out AJ McCarron, Eddie Lacy and Amari Cooper for their play without recognizing the job the offensive line did and what TJ Yeldon did, either. The Tide rolled up 529 yards of total offense and scored 42 points on the nation’s #1 scoring defense. It was nearly a perfect balance on offense with 264 yards passing and 265 yards rushing. That’s almost too good for Saban to find a flaw.
2. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel vs. Oklahoma: What’s left to say about slippery Johnny? He torched Oklahoma’s defense for 516 total yards and four touchdowns, and it was evident from the get-go that Manziel wasn’t going to let any Heisman jinx slow him down in the least. The Aggies were arguably the hottest team in the country at season’s end, and that bodes well for an explosive 2013.
3. Georgia QB Aaron Murray vs. Nebraska: Don’t tell Aaron Murray that Nebraska had the best passing defense in the country entering the Capital One Bowl because he wouldn’t believe it. Murray torched the Huskers, throwing for 427 yards and five touchdowns. Murray had scoring strikes of 29, 75, 49, 24 and 87 yards to end his record-setting day. And he’s coming back for more in 2013. Hats off to Murray on an unreal bowl game.
4. South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney: ‘The Hit’ heard ‘round the world catapulted and kicked of Jadeveon Clowney’s 2013 Heisman run. Clowney’s hit on Michigan’s Vincent Smith should be the new ‘Hello’ Bob Stoops commercial. Clowney didn’t show up much in the box score, but he totally changed the complexion and momentum of the game. USC scored on the very next play and eventually won with 11 seconds left. The Hit will be replayed for several years, and Vincent Smith will continually stay relevant, much to his chagrin.
5. South Carolina quarterbacks vs. Michigan: Usually when teams have two quarterbacks they don’t have one. But the Gamecocks do have two effective quarterbacks, and each helped the team win 11 again. Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson combined for 25 of 36 for 341 yards and four touchdowns against Michigan, with Thompson making the winning play with 11 seconds remaining.
6. Texas A&M Secondary vs. Oklahoma: The one main concern I had entering the Cotton Bowl was the Aggies’ secondary against Landry Jones. Hell, it looked like a matchup nightmare, but it turned into a dream. Corner Dustin Harris totaled 10 tackles and one pick on the night as the senior leader. Even though Jones completed nearly 73 percent of his passes, the Aggies tackled so well in space and defended the deep ball particularly well against Kenny Stills. Yeah, Johnny Manziel will get all the pub, but the Aggies secondary had just as much impact defending Jones and the air attack from Oklahoma.
7. LSU RB Jeremy Hill vs. Clemson: Jeremy Hill’s numbers still jump out at me in the box score in a losing effort. We’ll never know why Zach Mettenberger checked to a pass play on second down, or why Les Miles didn’t run it on third down to seal the game late in the fourth quarter. Hill racked up 12 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 10.3 yards per carry. He was the Tigers’ biggest weapon as a freshman. Watch out for this cat next season.
8. Vanderbilt’s secondary vs. NC State: Don’t tell Vanderbilt that NC State quarterback Mike Glennon is an NFL first rounder this April. The Commodores’ defense destroyed Glennon’s will to win the game in the Music City Bowl. The Dores picked off Glennon three times and forced two other fumbles to give them a combined five forced turnovers for the day. We knew the strength of the defense in the secondary matched up well against the Wolfpack, and the secondary has been a huge part of the success over the last two years.
9. Vanderbilt QB Jordan Rodgers vs. NC State: Jordan Rodgers has had his struggles during his time at Vandy, but he played well against NC State in the Music City Bowl, connecting on 16 of 25 for 108 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He also added one touchdown on the ground, too. He played one of his more efficient games as a Commodore, and though the numbers aren’t spectacular, he was a big reason why there’s a nine in the W column.
10. Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace vs. Pittsburgh: I was hesitant even to include Bo Wallace on the top 10 performances from bowl games, but he did throw three touchdown passes in the midst of his two bad interceptions. But that’s been Bo Wallace all season and the life of a streaky player. Wallace completed 22 of 32 passes (69 percent) for 151 yards. He looked great to start the game, with two touchdown passes, and then he looked brutal on his two interceptions. But he redeemed himself midway through the third quarter with another scoring strike to Vince Sanders. Wallace also added 27 yards rushing.
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