Top 25 Individual Performances from College Football Bowl Season

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Top 25 Individual Performances from College Football Bowl Season

johnny manziel
Daniel Shirey - USA TODAY Sports

Everyone knows that football is a team game and you need solid contributions from every member of a team to win. But in just about every contest, there emerges an individual who sets themselves apart and produces such an incredible individual performance that it elevates the team to even greater heights. This bowl season, we saw plenty of star-power take the field and many of them delivered dominant individual performances to help their teams come out on top.

Of course, not every great individual performance came on the winning side of bowl games. Sometimes, a great individual effort can be wasted by a team’s failure to back up that performance, leading to massive disappointment over what should be a celebrated performance. Some nights, not even the best performance from one standout player is enough to overcome a team deficiency or the play of the other team working together.

But just because the team doesn’t win should not diminish what the individual player accomplished. Many of college football’s best performances this bowl season actually came from the losing side of the game as the valiant effort of one superstar proved to be insufficient to secure the win. Those performances often get overlooked when we reflect back on what has been an exciting bowl season, but those performances deserve to be remembered and recognized.

With that said, let us count down some of the very best individual efforts we saw this bowl season. Whether they ended up winning the game or not, many superstars showed what they are capable of this postseason, so we now list the top 25 individual performances from the college football bowl season.

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25. Tre Mason, RB Auburn Tigers

tre mason
Jayne Kamin-Oncea - USA TODAY Sports

34 carries, 195 yards, 5.7 ypc, 1 TD

Going up against one of the toughest defenses in the country in the BCS National Championship, Tre Mason put on one of the best individual performances of the bowl season for the Auburn Tigers. His touchdown late in the fourth quarter appeared to give the Tigers the national title, but the Auburn defense couldn't make it stand up. Mason said after the game the fact that they lost made his outstanding performance in this one feel "empty."

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24. Vintavious Cooper, RB East Carolina Pirates

vintavious cooper
Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

25 carries, 198 yards, 7.9 ypc, 2 TD

Vintavious Cooper set a school record for yards in a bowl game for the East Carolina Pirates as he carried the offensive load. He continued to pound the Ohio Bobcats all game long, wearing them down for four quarters as he churned out yardage on his way to a career day and a 17-point win for ECU.

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23. Kapri Bibbs, RB Colorado State Rams

kapri bibbs
Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

25 carries, 169 yards, 6.3 ypc, 3 TD

Battling through a turf-toe injury, Kapri Bibbs found a way to pace the offense for the Colorado State Rams as they mounted a wild rally to kick off the bowl season in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. CSU needed to run the football to have a chance to win and Bibbs stepped up with a gutsy performance to lead the way.

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22. DeVante Parker, WR Louisville Cardinals

devante parker
Rob Foldy - USA TODAY Sports

9 receptions, 142 yards, 15.8 ypc, 1 TD

The Louisville Cardinals went to the Russell Athletic Bowl with a chip on their shoulder after falling short in the AAC title race. After losing out on the BCS, they took out their frustrations on the Miami Hurricanes as DeVante Parker abused the Canes' secondary all night long in what turned into a blowout win for Louisville.

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21. Tyler Boyd, WR Pitt Panthers

tyler boyd
Rick Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

8 receptions, 173 yards, 21.6 ypc, 1 PR TD

Tyler Boyd is a superstar in the making for the Pitt Panthers and he took his opportunity in the Little Caesars Bowl to showcase why. Not only did he make a huge impact on offense, he helped to spark the Panthers with a 54-yard punt return for a touchdown as he showcased his dynamic playmaking ability for the whole world to see.

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20. Connor Shaw, QB South Carolina Gamecocks

connor shaw
Rob Foldy - USA TODAY Sports

22/25, 312 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT; 16 carries, 47 yards, 1 TD

In his final college football game, senior Connor Shaw had the best performance of his career for the South Carolina Gamecocks. He completed a preposterous 88 percent of his throws on the day as he racked up 359 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns in the 34-24 Capital One Bowl victory.

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19. Dak Prescott, QB Mississippi State Bulldogs

dak prescott
Justin Ford - USA TODAY Sports

17/28, 283 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT; 14 carries, 78 yards, 2 TD

While the Mississippi State Bulldogs barely qualified for the bowl season, quarterback Dak Prescott took full advantage of the opportunity. He took over the AutoZone Liberty Bowl early, racking up 361 yards of total offense and five touchdowns in just three quarters of work in a 44-7 blowout.

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18. Cody Kessler, QB USC Trojans

cody kessler
Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

22/30, 345 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT

After some tumultuous ups and downs this season, Cody Kessler asserted himself as the starting quarterback of the USC Trojans heading into 2014. He enjoyed a career-day in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, finding the endzone four times through the air in the first half as USC put the game out of reach early in the 45-20 victory.

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17. Storm Johnson, RB Central Florida Knights

storm johnson
Matt Kartozian - USA TODAY Sports

20 carries, 124 yards, 6.2 ypc, 3 TD

While the attention was paid primarily to the offensive playmakers on the other side of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Storm Johnson rose up and stole the show for the Central Florida Knights. His consistent production between the tackles helped pace the UCF offense as they won in a shootout, 52-42.

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16. James Conner, RB Pitt Panthers

james conner
Andrew Weber - USA TODAY Sports

26 carries, 229 yards, 8.8 ypc, 1 TD

Freshman James Conner left little doubt as to who the future of the Pitt running game will be this bowl season when he ran wild in the Little Caesars Bowl. His 229 yards tied for the most rushing yards of anyone this postseason as he provided a consistent presence between the tackles in the 30-27 win for the Panthers.

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15. Jordan Matthews, WR Vanderbilt Commodores

jordan matthews
Marvin Gentry - USA TODAY Sports

5 receptions, 143 yards, 28.6 ypc, 2 TD

Jordan Matthews finished his career with the Vanderbilt Commodores with a phenomenal performance in the BBVA Compass Bowl. He caught five the team's six TOTAL receptions in the game, showing once again how important he has been to the Vandy offense, and scored both of his touchdowns on long 50-yard plays. He cemented his legacy as the greatest to play at Vanderbilt with this stellar performance.

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14. Trevor Knight, QB Oklahoma Sooners

trevor knight
Crystal LoGiudice - USA TODAY Sports

32/44, 348 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT

Going up against the two-time defending National Champions in the AllState Sugar Bowl, Trevor Knight broke out with a performance that justified him being handing the reins to the offense for the Oklahoma Sooners this fall. He looked calm, cool, and collected as he delivered perfect passes all night long and shredded one of the best defensive teams in the country. Even his one interception was a good (not great) throw that was punched into the air off his receivers hands. All in all, it was a dominant performance.

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13. Blake Bortles, QB Central Florida Knights

blake bortles
Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

20/31, 301 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT; 8 carries, 93 yards, 1 TD

UCF needed to score points in order to win the Fiesta Bowl and Blake Bortles stepped up to answer the challenge. He got to show off his athleticism in this one, rushing for 93 yards and a score as he racked up 394 total yards of offense and four touchdowns in the huge upset win for the Knights.

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12. Jeremy Hill, RB LSU Tigers

jeremy hill
Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports

28 carries, 216 yards, 7.7 ypc, 2 TD

With the LSU Tigers struggling to throw the football, Jeremy Hill stepped up and led the way to a 21-14 victory in the Outback Bowl. His physical running helped LSU control the pace of the game and his two touchdown runs proved to be the difference as the Tigers snapped a two-game bowl losing streak.

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11. Jamison Crowder, WR Duke Blue Devils

jamison crowder
Kevin Liles - USA TODAY Sports

12 receptions, 163 yards, 13.6 ypc, 1 TD

The Duke Blue Devils knew they would have to win a shootout to escape the Chick-fil-A Bowl with a win and Jamison Crowder provided them with plenty of ammunition. His ability to get open in the passing game helped Duke to one of their best offensive performances of the season, though they ultimately fell just short. Losing, however, shouldn't dampen what was a phenomenal effort from Crowder.

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10. Brett Hundley, QB UCLA Bruins

brett hundley
Andrew Weber - USA TODAY Sports

16/29, 226 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT; 10 carries, 161 yards, 2 TD

Brett Hundley had a huge day to break open the Hyundai Sun Bowl for the UCLA Bruins this bowl season, showcasing a balanced playmaking ability with his arm and his leg. The highlight of the day was an 86-yard scramble that Hundley took to the endzone as he racked up 387 yards of offense and four touchdowns.

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9. Anthony Boone, QB Duke Blue Devils

anthony boone
Dale Zanine - USA TODAY Sports

29/45, 427 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT; 5 carries, 27 yards, 1 TD

Anthony Boone brought his best game yet for Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and helped the Blue Devils build a big halftime lead. He let loose in the passing game in this one like he hasn't done before, racking up the second-most passing yards of anyone this bowl season. While his late interception ultimately cost Duke the game, Boone came through with one of the best performances of the postseason for Duke in this one.

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8. Connor Halliday, QB Washington State Cougars

connor halliday
Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

37/58, 410 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT

Connor Halliday looked prolific leading the Washington State Cougars in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, throwing six touchdown passes to six different receivers. It was a vintage Mike Leach, Air-Raid style performance out of Halliday that was ultimately ruined by a vintage WSU "Couging" to blow a 15-point lead late in the game. The inability of WSU to close the game out, however, shouldn't take away from the explosive performance of Halliday this bowl season.

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7. Tyler Lockett, WR Kansas State Wildcats

tyler lockett
Matt Kartozian - USA TODAY Sports

10 receptions, 116 yards, 11.6 ypc, 3 TD

The Kansas State Wildcats had not won a bowl game in 11 years coming into the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Tyler Lockett made sure to fix that this year with a dominant performance, helping jumpstart the K-State passing attack, catching all three passing touchdowns on the day, as the Wildcats pulled away 31-14.

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6. Adam Muema, RB San Diego State Aztecs

adam muema
Brian Losness - USA TODAY Sports

28 carries, 229 carries, 8.2 ypc, 3 TD

Adam Muema is an underrated running back in college football with a good blend of size, speed and strength. He put all of them on full display for the San Diego State Aztecs in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, tying for the most rushing yards of anyone this bowl season and finding the endzone three times. He shredded the defense between the tackles, sparking a 49-24 blowout win for SDSU.

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5. Davis Webb, QB Texas Tech Red Raiders

davis webb
Christopher Hanewinckel - USA TODAY Sports

28/41, 403 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT

After leading the Texas Tech Red Raiders through a five-game losing streak to end the regular season, freshman Davis Webb bounced back in a major way in the National University Holiday Bowl. He got hot early, throwing all four touchdowns in the first half as the Red Raiders coasted to a 37-23 victory. It was a huge performance for Webb, who had struggled to get TTU into the win column this season.

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4. Tajh Boyd, QB Clemson Tigers

tajh boyd
Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports

31/40, 378 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT; 20 carries, 127 yards, 1 TD

Putting the final touches on an illustrious career with the Clemson Tigers, Tajh Boyd was dynamic in leading his team to a win in the Discover Orange Bowl. Boyd racked up 505 total yards of offense and scored six touchdowns as the Tigers' offense went up and down the field all night long, providing a fitting conclusion to Boyd's run under center for Clemson.

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3. Teddy Bridgewater, QB Louisville Cardinals

teddy bridgewater
David Manning - USA TODAY Sports

35/45, 447 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT; 6 carries, 24 yards, 1 TD

Going up against his hometown team in the Russell Athletic Bowl, Teddy Bridgewater saved his best game for last as the leader of the Louisville offense. He set a career mark for passing yards in a game while setting the school record for touchdown passes in a season as he eviscerated the Miami defense all night long. It was a fitting way for the probably No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft to end his college career.

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2. Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M Aggies

johnny manziel
Dale Zanine - USA TODAY Sports

30/38, 382 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT; 11 carries, 73 yards, 1 TD

Already considered one of the most exciting players to watch in college football, Johnny Manziel added to his legacy with a wild win in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Facing a big hole to start the second half, Johnny Football put the team on his back and rallied the Texas A&M Aggies to a 52-48 win thanks to his 455 yards of offense and five total touchdowns.

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1. Sammy Watkins, WR Clemson Tigers

sammy watkins
Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports

16 receptions, 227 yards, 14.2 ypc, 2 TD

When you get into a shootout, you need to have weapons and Clemson had all the firepower they needed in the Orange Bowl thanks to Sammy Watkins. The junior set Orange Bowl records with his performance, leading all receivers this bowl season in receiving yardage and receptions as he proved to be completely unguardable in this game. His total domination helped pave the way for a big win for Clemson and secured his spot as the No. 1 individual performance of the bowl season.

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  • Citizentobe

    Tre Mason should be embarrased about his ridiculous “Heisman” pose when the game had not been decided. Then, he lost big due to his arrogance. Cry, baby, cry!