Okay, pop quiz. Which Maxwell Pundit contenders did not limp across the bowl season finish line? Let's just say that there's a reason we waited until after the bowl season.
Troy Smith and James Laurinaitis. Smith went four of 14 for 35 yards, zero TDs, and one interception in a humiliating offensive performance against the Florida Gators in the title game. Laurinaitis did have ten solo tackles and five assists for the Buckeye defense, but the defensive unit of which he was a leader didn't fair much better than its offensive counterpart.
And on the other hand . . .
Chris Leak and Reggie Nelson. Leak went 25 of 36 for 213 yards, one TD, and no interceptions in a remarkable offensive performance against Ohio State for the National Championship. He led the team to the title all season with more maturity than you'll see in most college football players, not letting Tebow-mania affect his performance, his attitude, or team chemistry. Reggie Nelson had a whopping total of one tackle (can that be right?) against the Buckeyes, but the defense he led all season absolutely dominated the highly-esteemed Troy Smith.
LaMarr Woodley and Mike Hart. Three tackles and one sack for Woodley in a demoralizing defensive performance in the Rose Bowl. Hart and the offense weren't much better, with Hart gaining only 47 yards on the ground.
Brady Quinn. 15 of 35 for a total of 148 yards against LSU's defense. Notre Dame got stomped. Quinn lost the Heisman et al. against Michigan, and his less than stellar performance against another stout defense -- LSU's -- confirmed it.
Robert Meachem and Erik Ainge. Four receptions for 33 yards and a couple of dropped balls against Penn State, his worst performance of the year. Was also limited against Arkansas and Florida. Ainge finished fairly well, throwing primarily to Jayson Swain and hitting 25 of 37 attempts for 267 yards. No TDs, though. The touchdown shown below belongs to LaMarcus Coker.
Adrian Peterson. Peterson returned from injury to play in one final game for the Sooners, and he rushed 20 times for 77 yards and two TDs. But this game belonged to . . .
. . . Ian Johnson, Boise State's offense, and Johnson's girlfriend-turned-fiancee. Johnson carried the ball 23 times for 101 yards, and had the dramatic game-clinching two-point conversion run to the end zone and into the arms of his girlfriend, who promptly accepted his marriage proposal.
Calvin Johnson. Georgia Tech lost its bowl game, but it wasn't Calvin Johnson's fault, as he caught the ball nine times, gained 186 yards, and scored two touchdowns. Johnson was held in check a few times this season, but that may have had more to do with QB Reggie Ball than with Johnson himself.
Colt Brennan. Hawaii dominated its bowl game, as expected, but get this, Brennan had 559 (not a typo!) yards passing in the game. Oh, and five TDs to only one interception. He finished the season with the nation's best passing efficiency (a 72.63 completion percentage), 5,549 yards, and almost double (58 to 32) the number of touchdowns of his closest competition.
So here are my top five:
- Colt Brennan
- Ian Johnson
- Chris Leak
- Troy Smith
- Calvin Johnson