Let's be honest: This bowl season didn't live up to the hype.
The BCS games had an average margin of victory of 16.6 points, and that includes a 10-point Louisville win over Florida that could have been at least twice that. Of the 35 bowl games, 22 were decided by at least 10 points. Blame what you want - too many games, too much time between games, poor matchups for the biggest games, coaching changes for too many bowl teams - but there weren't many classics in the bowl season.
That doesn't mean there weren't some great games, many great performances - and some terrible performances and games. So here is Dr. Saturday's recap of the bowl season, with all the best and worst that we saw:
Best team: Alabama
C'mon, who else was it going to be? In the aftermath of the BCS Championship Game, it's hard to blame Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish had a really good season and were a good team. Alabama was just that much better. And that's not going to change anytime soon.
Best team (non-obvious division): Baylor
What a job Art Briles did this season. By the end of the season, Baylor was playing as well as just about any team that played its game before Jan. 1, and its 49-26 win against a good UCLA team was shocking. The Bears lose a lot, but with fun-to-watch running back Lache Seastrunk and many others back, Baylor should be just fine next season.
Most disappointing team: USC
Florida was pretty bad, but Louisville is a good team. Same with Notre Dame against Alabama, and Northern Illinois against Florida State. Georgia Tech pounded USC, and the Yellow Jackets were 6-7 coming into the bowl season. USC didn't show any desire to be in the Sun Bowl, the Trojans are poorly coached, and the result was a 21-7 loss and the most disappointing performance of the entire bowl season. Which makes sense because USC was the most disappointing team in the regular season as well.
Best individual performance, offense: Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
No need getting cute here. The Heisman winner somehow exceeded the hype in the Cotton Bowl. The weirdest thing about Manziel's Cotton Bowl record 516 total yards and his four touchdowns was that in person, he made it seem so easy. There wasn't a sense in Cowboys Stadium that he was giving a once-in-a-lifetime performance. He was just being Johnny Football, and the stats at the end were staggering. The game comes so easy to him. He made Oklahoma's defense look like the junior varsity.
Best individual performance, offense (non-obvious division): Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel
Being in the press box made it easier to focus on Joeckel for stretches of plays in a row. And he was unbelievable. Joeckel absolutely dominated the man lined up across from him for most of the Cotton Bowl. He has declared for the draft and could go No. 1 overall. Don't underestimate this loss for Texas A&M and how it could affect its national title hopes - and yes, Manziel's hopes for a second Heisman. Joeckel is a special player.
Best individual performance, defense: BYU LB Kyle Van Noy
San Diego State couldn't block Van Noy in the Poinsettia Bowl. Van Noy had eight tackles, three-and-a-half for loss including one-and-a-half sacks. In the fourth quarter he had a triple play - sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery with bonus points because it was a touchdown - and returned an interception for a score. He is coming back next season, and was a major reason BYU's defense was so good this season. He barely beat out SMU end Margus Hunt, who dominated against Fresno State.
Most disappointing performance, offense: UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin
Franklin might have been the best running back in the nation this season, but he had an odd no-show against Baylor's porous defense. Part of that was because UCLA fell behind early, but he got just 34 yards on his 14 carries and his longest gain was 12 yards. West Virginia QB Geno Smith, Rutgers RB Jawan Jamison, Florida QB Jeff Driskel and USC QB Max Wittek also won't recall their bowl experiences too fondly.
Most disappointing performance, defense: Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o
It was hard to watch. Te'o had a great, legendary senior season. And yet, when his final season is brought up, it'll be impossible to forget him missing tackles and not having much impact as Alabama rolled down the field in the BCS title game. This almost certainly will affect Te'o's draft stock too. I still like his NFL future a lot, but this was a really bad game for a great player.
Best game: Clemson 25, LSU 24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl
These teams were on the fringe of making the BCS, and this would have been a welcomed replacement for any BCS game. Clemson outscored LSU 12-0 in the fourth quarter. Clemson's final drive, which included a big fourth-and-16 conversion, and last-second field goal were the last moments of the 2012 calendar year in college football, sending the year out on a great note.
Other games clearly better than any BCS game: South Carolina scores a long touchdown in the final seconds to win the Outback Bowl, Arizona's crazy comeback in the New Mexico Bowl, Johnny Manziel's epic performance in the Cotton Bowl, Cincinnati's crazy Belk Bowl comeback against Duke, Boise State's late Maaco Bowl Las Vegas win, Texas Tech's high scoring win in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, Michigan State's dramatic field goal to win the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Yeah, the BCS had a tough season.
Best moment: Jadeveon Clowney, 'nuff said
Weirdest coaching decision: LSU throws the ball three times late against Clemson
While it would be easy to go with Oregon State's Mike Riley stubbornly sticking with quarterback Cody Vaz, Les Miles wins this. Late in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, LSU had the ball, the lead and threw three times. The final two were incomplete, stopping the clock and leaving enough time for Clemson to move downfield after a punt to win the game. We like aggressiveness, but we didn't like this.
Biggest celebration of a streak ending: Northwestern
The Wildcats' victory in the Gator Bowl was its first bowl win since the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1949. Pat Fitzgerald has done a great job with that program, and getting the bowl win was a huge step for everyone involved with the program or who roots for it.
Biggest heartbreak of a streak continuing: Duke
It's still hard to believe Duke didn't beat Cincinnati. The Blue Devils hadn't won a bowl in 51 years but had the ball at Cincinnati's 5-yard line with less than two minutes to go in a tie game. A shocking fumble, a long touchdown by the Bearcats, and a Duke interception that was returned for a touchdown crushed the Blue Devils' dreams. It was their first bowl game since the 1994 season.
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