January 9, 2008

Coming up big in the biggest games

Oregon delivered perhaps the most impressive bowl performance of any team that played before New Year's Day. Missouri made a case that it deserved the BCS bid it didn't receive. And LSU won the biggest bowl of them all.

So it only figures that those three schools each had multiple players on the Rivals.com All-Bowl Team, which honors top bowl performers at each position.

LSU led the way with three selections, plus a fourth representative on the all-bowl coaching staff. Oregon and Missouri each put two players on the all-bowl team, and West Virginia and Georgia each had one player and one coach.

While we tried to honor the best individual performers at each position for this all-bowl team, we also gave extra credit to guys who delivered big efforts in the biggest games.

For example, Purdue tight end Dustin Keller caught seven passes for 150 yards in the Motor City Bowl. Colorado's Tyson DeVree caught nine passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns in the Independence Bowl. But neither guy made our team because we instead chose to reward a tight end who scored two touchdowns in a game that featured much higher stakes.

Rivals.com All-Bowl Team
QB Matt Flynn, LSU, Sr., 6-3/227
BOWL: BCS Championship Game
HIGH SCHOOL: Tyler (Texas) Robert E. Lee
BUZZ: After missing the Southeastern Conference Championship Game with a shoulder injury, Flynn recovered in time to throw four touchdown passes and complete more than two-thirds of his attempts against an Ohio State defense that led the nation in virtually ever major statistical category. Flynn went 19 of 27 for 174 yards and was picked off once.
RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon, Jr., 5-11/230
BOWL: Sun
HIGH SCHOOL: Lacy (Wash.) Timberline
BUZZ: Stewart ran 23 times for a career-high 253 yards the most in the Sun Bowl's 74-year history to lead Oregon to a 56-21 demolition of USF. His 71-yard breakaway late in the second quarter put the Ducks ahead for good. Stewart's impressive average of 11 yards per carry gave him a slight edge over Rutgers' Ray Rice, who rushed for 280 yards and four touchdowns on 35 carries against Ball State.
RB Tony Temple, Missouri, Sr., 5-9/200
BOWL: Cotton

HIGH SCHOOL: Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst
BUZZ: Temple rushed for 281 yards to break former Rice halfback Dicky Maegle's 54-year-old Cotton Bowl record. Temple also scored four touchdowns in the 38-7 triumph over Arkansas to tie the record set by former Texas star Bobby Layne, who reached the end zone four times 62 years ago in Missouri's only previous Cotton Bowl appearance.
WR Adrian Arrington, Michigan, Jr., 6-3/195
BOWL: Capital One
HIGH SCHOOL: Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Washington
BUZZ: Arrington's 18-yard touchdown catch with 4:12 remaining put the Wolverines ahead for good in their 41-35 upset of Florida. Arrington finished the game with nine catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
WR Rich Gunnell, Boston College, Soph., 5-11/206
BOWL: Champs Sports
HIGH SCHOOL: Lawrenceville (N.J.) Notre Dame
BUZZ: Gunnell caught six passes for 138 yards including touchdowns of 68 and 29 yards in Boston College's 24-21 victory over Michigan State. That his team won its bowl gave Gunnell a slight edge over Central Michigan's Bryan Anderson, who caught seven passes for 129 yards and three touchdowns in a Motor City Bowl loss to Purdue.
TE Richard Dickson, LSU, Soph., 6-3/235
BOWL: BCS Championship Game
HIGH SCHOOL: Ocean Springs (Miss.) High
BUZZ: Dickson caught four passes for 48 yards and two touchdowns in LSU's 38-24 victory over Ohio State. The magnitude of the championship game made Dickson the choice over Purdue's Keller and Colorado's DeVree.
OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State, Soph., 6-5/290
BOWL: Insight
HIGH SCHOOL: Richmond (Texas) Bush
BUZZ: Okung was the primary blocker on Indiana DE Greg Middleton, the NCAA's sack leader. Middleton didn't make a single tackle in the Insight Bowl. Okung's big performance helped Oklahoma State gain 513 total yards in a 49-33 triumph.
OT Fenuki Tupou, Oregon, Jr., 6-6/322
BOWL: Sun
HIGH SCHOOL: Elverta (Calif.) Center
BUZZ: Tupou, in his second year with Oregon after transferring in from junior college, limited consensus All-America defensive end George Selvie to one assist and no sacks in Oregon's 56-21 victory over USF. Selvie leads the nation with 2.4 tackles for loss per game and ranks second in the nation with 1.1 sacks per game.
OG Anthony Davis, Rutgers, Fr., 6-6/350
BOWL: International
HIGH SCHOOL: Piscataway (N.J.) High BUZZ: Davis started at right guard and opened up many of the holes that allowed Ray Rice to rush for 280 yards in Rutgers' 52-30 victory over Ball State. Davis led a dominant performance by the Rutgers line, which helped the Scarlet Knights gain 595 yards in total offense.

OG Greg Isdaner, West Virginia, Soph., 6-4/315
BOWL: Fiesta
HIGH SCHOOL: Merion (Pa.) Episcopal Academy
BUZZ: Isdaner helped West Virginia dominate the trenches to such an extent that the Mountaineers averaged 8.9 yards per carry while gaining 525 total yards in a 48-28 upset of Oklahoma. West Virginia rushed for 349 yards against an Oklahoma defense that had allowed just 91.9 rushing yards per game.
C Ryan Wendell, Fresno State, Sr., 6-2/275
BOWL: Humanitarian
HIGH SCHOOL: Diamond Bar (Calif.) High
BUZZ: Wendell anchored a line that paved the way for Fresno State to gain 571 yards against a Georgia Tech team that entered the game ranked seventh in the nation in total defense. Fresno State defeated Georgia Tech 40-28 by giving up no sacks and rushing for 285 yards, the most allowed by the Yellow Jackets all season.
DE Bruce Davis, UCLA, Sr., 6-3/234
BOWL: Las Vegas
HIGH SCHOOL: Houston Clear Creak
BUZZ: Davis' career ended in a 17-16 loss to BYU. Davis played one of the best games of his career with seven tackles including 3.5 for loss 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
DE Marcus Howard, Georgia, Sr., 6-2/250
BOWL: Sugar
HIGH SCHOOL: Hanahan (S.C.) High
BUZZ: One of Georgia's more unheralded defenders recorded three of the Bulldogs' eight sacks and forced two fumbles in a 41-10 thrashing of Hawaii. On one memorable play, Howard had a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
DT Ricky Jean-Francois, LSU, Soph., 6-3/281
BOWL: BCS Championship Game
HIGH SCHOOL: Miami Carol City
BUZZ: Jean-Francois returned from his regular-season suspension to give LSU an extra push in the postseason. Against the Buckeyes, he blocked a field-goal attempt and recorded six tackles. He also delivered half a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.
DT Pat Sims, Auburn, Jr., 6-4/314
BOWL: Chick-fil-A
HIGH SCHOOL: Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard
BUZZ: Sims anchored the Auburn defensive line in a 23-20 overtime win over Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Sims contributed five solo tackles, three tackles for a loss and a sack.
LB Rey Maualuga, USC, Jr., 6-3/250
BOWL: Rose
HIGH SCHOOL: Eureka (Calif.) High
BUZZ: Maualuga disrupted the Illinois offense both on the ground and in the passing game. He had three sacks, a forced fumble and an interception in the Trojans' 49-17 triumph.
LB Jerod Mayo, Tennessee, Jr., 6-2/230
BOWL: Outback
HIGH SCHOOL: Hampton (Va.) Kecoughtan
BUZZ: Mayo was all over the place in the Volunteers' 21-17 victory over Wisconsin. His 13 tackles against the Badgers gave him 62 tackles over the final four games of the season.
LB Chris Chamberlain, Tulsa, Sr., 6-2/225
BOWL: GMAC
HIGH SCHOOL: Bethany (Okla.) High
BUZZ: Chamberlain led a Tulsa defense that forced four turnovers in a 63-7 rout of Bowling Green. Chamberlain had 17 tackles, 5.5 tackles for losses, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He also caught an 8-yard pass on a fake field goal to set up Tulsa's first touchdown.
CB Brandon Foster, Texas, Sr., 5-9/185
BOWL: Holiday
HIGH SCHOOL: Arlington (Texas) Bowie
BUZZ: Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter again played under duress, and Foster was there to capitalize. He finished with two interceptions, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the Longhorns' 52-34 victory.
CB DeAngelo Smith, Cincinnati, Jr., 6-0/190
BOWL: Papajohns.com
HIGH SCHOOL: Columbus (Ohio) Independence
BUZZ: Smith led the Cincinnati defense against an overwhelmed Southern Miss offense with three interceptions, a pass breakup and five tackles in a 31-21 triumph. Smith's big game helped him set a school single-season record with eight interceptions.
S Jamie Silva, Boston College, Sr., 5-11/210
BOWL: Champs Sports
HIGH SCHOOL: East Providence (R.I.) High
BUZZ: Silva capped an outstanding senior season with an outstanding bowl game. Silva, a Thorpe Award finalist, had two of Boston College's four interceptions to go along with 10 tackles in a 24-21 win over Michigan State.
S William Moore, Missouri, Jr., 6-1/215
BOWL: Cotton
HIGH SCHOOL: Hayti (Mo.) High
BUZZ: Moore recorded a game-high 13 tackles, forced a fumble and scored on a 26-yard interception return in Missouri's 38-7 trouncing of Arkansas. Moore forced his two turnovers on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter. His eighth interception of the year broke Roger Wehrli's 39-year-old single-season school record.
K Chris Summers, Purdue, Soph., 6-1/185
BOWL: Motor City
HIGH SCHOOL: Fishers (Ind.) Hamilton Southeastern
BUZZ: Summers made a 40-yard field goal as time expired to provide the winning margin in Purdue's 51-48 victory over Central Michigan. Summers also made a 30-yard field goal and a 21-yarder.
P Justin Brantly, Texas A&M, Jr., 6-4/245
BOWL: Alamo
HIGH SCHOOL: Sealy (Texas) High
BUZZ: Brantly punted six times and averaged 55 yards per attempt during the Aggies' 24-17 loss to Penn State. His average broke the Aggies' bowl record previously held by Shane Lechler, who averaged 52 yards per attempt against Penn State in the 1999 Alamo Bowl.
KR Roger Williams, Bowling Green, So., 5-9/184
BOWL: GMAC
HIGH SCHOOL: Atlanta Booker T. Washington
BUZZ: Williams returned a kickoff 78 yards in the third quarter for Bowling Green's only points in a 63-7 loss to Tulsa. Williams finished the game with four kickoff returns for 135 yards.
PR Larry Taylor, Connecticut, Sr., 5-6/167
BOWL: Meineke Car Care
HIGH SCHOOL: Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Day
BUZZ: Taylor returned a punt 68 yards in the first quarter to give Connecticut its only touchdown in a 24-10 loss to Wake Forest. This marked the fourth time Taylor has scored on a punt return in his career. He also scored on a 68-yard punt return in the 2004 Motor City Bowl.
ALL PURPOSE Chris Johnson, East Carolina, Sr., 5-11/195
BOWL: Hawaii
HIGH SCHOOL: Orlando Olympia
BUZZ: Johnson set an NCAA bowl record by gaining 408 all-purpose yards in the Pirates' 41-38 upset of Boise State. Johnson rushed for 223 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries, caught three passes for 32 yards and a second score, and also returned six kickoffs for 153 yards.
ALL PURPOSE Aqib Talib, Kansas, Jr., 6-2/205
BOWL: Orange
HIGH SCHOOL: Richardson (Texas) Berkner
BUZZ: Talib kick-started Kansas' first BCS win with a touchdown on a 60-yard interception return against Virginia Tech. He added a 17-yard punt return and a 39-yard return on a missed field goal.
Head Coach: Bill Stewart, West Virginia
BOWL: Fiesta
BUZZ: No coach received such immediate rewards after a bowl game. A day after the improbable 48-28 win over Oklahoma, Stewart was named coach of the Mountaineers.

Offensive coordinator: Gary Crowton, LSU
BOWL: BCS Championship Game
BUZZ: Illinois was the only team to score more than 20 points against Ohio State during the regular season. LSU scored 38 against a defense that led the nation in several categories.

Defensive coordinator: Willie Martinez, Georgia
BOWL: Sugar
BUZZ: There would be no Boise State-like win for Hawaii. Georgia's defense held the nation's highest-scoring offense to a mere 306 yards, including minus-5 rushing yards, and had eight sacks.

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