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Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud, four Georgia players top USA TODAY Sports' all-bowl team

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  • C. J. Stroud
    American football quarterback
  • Derion Kendrick
    American football cornerback
  • Nakobe Dean
    American football linebacker
  • Jordan Davis
    American football defensive tackle
  • Brian Robinson
    American football player

After taking down Alabama to win the national championship, Georgia places three star defenders on USA TODAY Sports' all-bowl team to end the 2021 season.

Defensive tackle Jordan Davis, linebacker Nakobe Dean and cornerback Derion Kendrick were the stalwarts of a defense that ranks among the best in recent college football history. Other picks on defense include Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson, Oklahoma State linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez and Baylor defensive back J.T. Woods.

While Georgia's Stetson Bennett IV silenced his critics with five touchdowns and zero interceptions in the Bulldogs' wins against Michigan and the Crimson Tide, the bowl-team quarterback is Ohio State's C.J. Stroud.

Stroud had the most prolific performance of his career and OSU wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba set a new bowl record for yards as the Buckeyes beat Utah in a memorable Rose Bowl shootout.

OFFENSE

QB: C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

The redshirt freshman may enter next season as the Heisman Trophy favorite after throwing for 573 yards and six touchdowns on 12.5 yards per throw as the Buckeyes stormed out of an early hole to take down the Utes.

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Utah Utes in the  Rose Bowl.
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Utah Utes in the Rose Bowl.

RB: Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State

RB: Brian Robinson, Alabama

With 146 rushing yards and four total touchdowns, Vaughn was too much for overmatched LSU to handle in the Wildcats' 42-20 Texas Bowl win. Robinson eclipsed the 200-yard mark in the Tide's 27-6 win against Cincinnati in the semifinals and added 96 yards of total offense against the Bulldogs.

WR: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

WR: Wan'Dale Robinson, Kentucky

TE: Jaheim Bell, South Carolina

Smith-Njigba's 347 receiving yards (on 15 receptions with three touchdowns) set a new postseason record. Robinson set school records for receptions (10) and yards (170) and was clutch in the fourth quarter of Kentucky's 20-17 win against Iowa in the Citrus Bowl. Bell pulled in 159 yards and two scores as South Carolina beat North Carolina 38-21 in the Duke's Mayo Bowl.

OL: Jamaree Salyer, Georgia

OL: Matt Lee, Central Florida

OL: Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas

OL: Marquis Hayes, Oklahoma

OL: Daniel Faalele, Minnesota

Salyer set the tone for a line that outmuscled and eventually bullied Alabama into submission in the championship game. Matt Lee earned the team's top grade as the Knights wore down Florida in a 29-17 Gasparilla Bowl victory. The Razorbacks' most consistent lineman during the regular season, Stromberg paved the way for Arkansas to rack up 353 rushing yards in a 24-10 Outback Bowl win against Penn State. Hayes was the top performer up front as Oklahoma averaged 8.1 yards per play and held off Oregon to win the Alamo Bowl 47-32. Faalele helped two Minnesota backs go over 100 rushing yards and added his own 2-yard scoring run as the Gophers beat West Virginia 18-6 in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.

DEFENSE

DL: Nick Heninger, Utah State

DL: Jordan Davis, Georgia

DL: Antonio Moultrie, Alabama-Birmingham

DL: Will Anderson, Alabama

Heninger had five tackles for loss and three sacks as USU beat Oregon State 24-13 in the LA Bowl. Davis had multiple jaw-dropping moments showcasing his burst and athleticism in Georgia's two playoff wins. Moultrie posted four tackles for loss as UAB upset Brigham Young 31-28 in the Independence Bowl. Anderson had a pair of sacks against Cincinnati.

Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) celebrates after defeating Alabama during the national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) celebrates after defeating Alabama during the national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

LB: Nakobe Dean, Georgia

LB: Malcolm Rodriguez, Oklahoma State

LB: Terrel Bernard, Baylor

The heart of Georgia's defense all season, Dean finished with 11 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack in the Bulldogs' two postseason wins. Rodriguez had 11 tackles and an interception to key Oklahoma State's comeback and eventual 37-35 win against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Bernard dominated the Sugar Bowl with 17 tackles and a pair of sacks as the Bears beat Ole Miss 21-7.

DB: Derion Kendrick, Georgia

DB: J.T. Woods, Baylor

DB: Antavious Lane, Georgia State

DB: C.J. Baskerville, San Diego State

Kendrick had two interceptions in the 34-11 win against Michigan and was all over Alabama's younger receivers in Monday night's victory. Woods had one interception in the first quarter and a second in the fourth as the Bears shut down the Rebels' offense. Lane had 10 tackles and a pick-six as Georgia State notched win No. 8 by beating Ball State 51-20 in the Camellia Bowl. Baskerville ended a very solid freshman season with a team-high nine tackles and a pick in San Diego State's 38-24 Frisco Bowl win against Texas-San Antonio.

SPECIALISTS

K: Mitchell Fineran, Purdue

P: Zach Harding, Army

RET: Tarheeb Still, Maryland

Fineran made four field goals, including the game-winner in overtime, as Purdue got past Tennessee 48-45 in the Music City Bowl. Harding pinned all three of his punts inside the 20-yard line to help Army pull out a 24-22 win against Missouri in the Armed Forces Bowl. Still set the tone for Maryland's 54-10 thrashing of Virginia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl with a 92-yard punt return in the first quarter.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Georgia places four players on USA TODAY Sports' all-bowl team