Now that Florida has left no doubt about which team deserves the national championship, we'll move on to a new debate.
Who was the best quarterback in the bowl games?
Was it Hawaii's Colt Brennan, who threw five touchdown passes against Arizona State on his way to setting an NCAA single-season record in
Or was it Southern California's John David Booty, who tied a Rose Bowl record by throwing four second-half touchdown passes in a 32-18 triumph
Perhaps you prefer LSU's JaMarcus Russell, who used his cannon arm to embarrass Notre Dame's secondary in the Tigers' 41-14 Sugar Bowl
And then there's Chris Leak, who wrapped up his college career with an error-free performance while leading Florida to the national championship.
Choosing a quarterback represented only one of the tough decisions Rivals.com faced in putting together its all-bowl team. Plenty of wide receivers, linebackers and defensive ends also ended their
seasons with memorable outings.
In the end, the schools that delivered the most dominating performances naturally put the most players on this team.
National champion Florida and Rose Bowl winner Southern California led the way with three selections each. Sugar Bowl champion LSU, Texas Bowl winner Rutgers and Armed Forces Bowl victor
Utah each put two players on the team.
We also recognized a few guys who stood tall in defeat.
Arkansas, Ohio State and Oklahoma may not have won their bowl games, but they each had a player whose remarkable individual effort warranted a spot on the team.
Other quarterbacks may have compiled better statistics, but nobody delivered the kind of highlight-reel plays that Russell made in the Tigers' 41-14 Sugar Bowl thrashing of Notre Dame. Russell went
21-of-34 for 332 yards with two touchdown passes and one touchdown run in a performance that shot him near the top of most NFL Draft boards. He showed off his extraordinary arm strength on a
pair of 58-yard bombs – a second-quarter connection to Early Doucet that set up the go-ahead touchdown and a scoring strike to Brandon LaFell that put the game out of reach.
Michigan's defensive front came into the Rose Bowl with all the fanfare, but USC stole the show with its pressure on Wolverines quarterback Chad
Henne. Cushing outdueled Michigan's Lombardi Award-winning defensive end LaMarr Woodley with seven tackles, four tackles for a
loss, 2 sacks and a forced fumble.
The Nittany Lions wanted to show that their toughness could overcome Tennessee's speed. Hunt made sure that happened. The senior running back capped his college career by carrying the ball 31
times for 158 yards in Penn State's 20-10 Outback Bowl victory over Tennessee. "He is one of the more underrated backs I have seen," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said afterward. "He is
a great football player. I don't know how many yards he ran for, but they were hard yards."
Ohio State and Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith had a historically poor BCS Championship Game with a mere 82 total yards, a record low for a
BCS bowl game. Harvey helped render Smith ineffective with three sacks. Harvey also returned a key fumble to the Ohio State 5-yard line in the second quarter.
Most of the nation's top rushers this season (e.g. Northern Illinois' Garrett Wolfe, Wisconsin's P.J.
Hill) struggled in their bowl games. Rice was an exception to the rule. Rice ran for
170 yards on 24 carries while leading Rutgers to a 37-10 Texas Bowl triumph over Kansas State. The big performance allowed Rice to finish the season with 1,794 yards and 20 touchdowns. Only
Wolfe and Boise State's Ian Johnson averaged more rushing yards per game this year.
Despite losing in the Capital One Bowl, Arkansas was dominant on defense against one-loss Wisconsin. Jackson anchored a defensive line that allowed minus-5 rushing yards overall and 36 yards to
Rivals.com Freshman of the Year P.J. Hill. Jackson also annoyed Wisconsin quarterback John
Stocco with an interception, a sack and a quarterback hurry.
Jarrett caught 11 passes for 205 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Trojans breezed past Michigan 32-18 in the Rose Bowl. Jarrett also delivered the biggest play of the game when he got behind
All-America cornerback Leon Hall and made a 65-yard touchdown catch that extended the Trojans' lead to 25-11.
The 19-year-old senior ended his college career on top with a win over Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl. Okoye improved his draft stock with six tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss.
Louisville held Wake Forest to just 13 points.
Colt Brennan wasn't the only Warrior to have a record-breaking performance in a 42-24 Hawaii Bowl victory over Arizona State. Rivers tied a school record with 14 catches for 308 yards, which likely
set a bowl record. Rivers' 308 receiving yards were the most in a bowl game since at least 1937. NCAA records don't go back any further. Rivers also caught two of Brennan's five touchdown catches.
Boise State scored 43 points on the Oklahoma defense, but the Broncos still had trouble sustaining drives in the Fiesta Bowl. Oklahoma forced five three-and-outs. Alexander had 17 tackles,
including 14 solo. The senior added a forced fumble and 1-1/2 sacks.
Harline caught nine passes for a career-high 181 yards in the Cougars' 38-8 trouncing of Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl. He had six receptions for 118 yards – including a 44-yard touchdown - in the
first half. The big performance capped a spectacular senior season in which Harline caught 58 passes for 935 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The Spartans played in a bowl game for the first time since 1990 and made the most of it. In what amounted to a home game for New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl, Castelo led Dick Tomey's defense with 18 tackles - including 11 solo stops. The Lobos were able to move the ball throughout the game, but were held without a
touchdown until the final 15 seconds thanks to two forced fumbles by Castelo.
Clady started at left tackle in the Fiesta Bowl and sealed the left side to help Ian Johnson run into the end zone untouched for the winning two-point conversion in overtime. Clady also helped Boise
State limit Oklahoma defensive ends Larry Birdine and C.J. Ah You to a combined four
tackles and one sack.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl looked out of reach after Virginia Tech took a 21-3 halftime lead. The Bulldogs didn't need their offense to mount the comeback against the top defense in the country. Georgia
turned to its own D with two second-half interceptions from Taylor. Georgia scored 28 unanswered points in the second half without needing more than 52 yards for a scoring drive. Taylor also had
Heyer led a Maryland offensive line that helped the Terrapins gain 429 yards of total offense while allowing no sacks in a 24-7 Champs Sports Bowl victory over Purdue. Heyer spent the majority of the
game blocking Rivals.com second-team All-America defensive end Anthony Spencer. Although Spencer collected seven tackles, he didn't have any sacks or tackles for loss.
This is as much a team award as it is an individual award. The Florida defense held Heisman winner Troy Smith to only four completions and 35
passing yards. Lewis' first-quarter interception of Smith was a sign of things to come for the Buckeyes offense.
Kalil anchored a Southern California offensive line that rebounded from a poor regular-season finale and gave John David Booty plenty of time to throw in a 32-18 Rose Bowl victory over Michigan.
Booty had been harassed throughout a 13-9 loss to UCLA that took USC out of national title contention. Booty was sacked just once against Michigan, which entered the postseason with the
nation's second-most sacks per game.
The Wildcats' first bowl win in 22 yards came thanks to a pair of critical turnovers from Lindley in the second quarter of the Music City Bowl. First, the redshirt freshman picked off Clemson
quarterback Will Proctor. Then, he recovered a Chansi Stuckey fumble. Both turnovers came
with Clemson in the red zone.
Every Florida offensive lineman probably deserved this honor after the way the Gators controlled the line of scrimmage in the BCS championship game. Miller will represent the entire line for the way
he helped hold All-America defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock and David Patterson in check. Pitcock and Patterson combined for seven tackles – only one for loss – in the Gators' 41-14 triumph.
Landry, who has been among the best safeties in the SEC since his freshman year, ended his college career by causing trouble for Heisman finalist Brady Quinn in the Sugar Bowl. Landry had four solo tackles and a pick.
Stephenson helped pave the way for Ray Rice's 170-yard outburst in the Scarlet Knights' Texas Bowl victory over Kansas State. Stephenson delivered the key block on Rice's 46-yard touchdown
scamper in the third quarter.
One of the Badgers' defensive leaders, Stellmacher helped keep Arkansas in check despite 150 rushing yards from Felix Jones. Stellmacher had
six tackles and two tackles for loss in the Capital One Bowl.
Sakoda averaged 47.3 yards per punt and placed two of his three attempts inside the opponent's 20-yard line. He also performed double duty in Utah's 25-13 Armed Forces Bowl victory over Tulsa.
Sadoka also made all four of his field-goal attempts with kicks from 34, 39, 41 and 45 yards.
The greatest comeback in bowl history wouldn't have been possible without Trlica, who made arguably the biggest play in Texas Tech's 44-41 Insight Bowl overtime victory over Minnesota. Trlica's
career-long 52-yard field goal at the end of regulation forced overtime and helped the Red Raiders rally from a 38-7 deficit.
Two other guys returned punts for touchdowns in losing causes, but we instead chose to give this honor to someone who delivered a clutch return in a victory. Stroughter's 39-yard punt return gave
Oregon State the ball on its 46-yard line and helped set up the Beavers' go-ahead touchdown and two-point conversion in a 39-38 Sun Bowl triumph over Missouri. Stroughter also caught eight passes
for 87 yards and a touchdown that day.
Ginn returned the opening kickoff 93 yards to give Ohio State a short-lived 7-0 lead in the Buckeyes' 41-14 BCS championship game loss to Florida. When he missed the rest of the game with an
injured left foot, it left Ohio State without anyone who could combat Florida's speed.
The utility position was made for Utah's Weddle. The defensive back had six tackles, a fumble recovery, a half sack and grabbed an interception on the final play of the Armed Forces Bowl against
Tulsa. The senior has also become one of the Utes' primary ball-carriers with a team-leading 10 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Booker ended a forgettable season with a performance to remember. The senior running back closed his college career by carrying the Seminoles to a 44-27 Emerald Bowl triumph over UCLA.
Booker rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. He also caught five passes for 117 yards to help the Seminoles avoid their first losing season since 1976.
Rivals.com All-Bowl Team Honorable Mention
QB:Colt Brennan, Hawaii (33-of-42 for 559 yards with four TDs and one INT); John David
Booty, Southern California (27-of-45 for 391 yards with four TDs); Pat White, West Virginia (9-of-15 for 131 yards and two TDs, 22
carries for 145 yards and one TD); Chris Leak, Florida (25-of-36 for 213 yards and one TD).
RB:Tony Temple, Missouri (20 carries for 194 yards and two TDs); Ian Johnson,
Boise State (24 carries for 100 yards and one TD); Tashard Choice, Georgia Tech (27 carries for 169 yards and two TDs); Shannon Woods, Texas Tech (19 carries for 109 yards and three TDs).
TE:Clark Harris, Rutgers (seven catches for 122 yards); Joe Newton, Oregon State
(six catches for 74 yards and two TDs); Chase Coffman, Missouri (five catches for 83 yards and one TD. Coffman also threw a 29-yard TD pass).
DE:Jamaal Anderson, Arkansas (five tackles, four tackles for a loss, 2-1/2 sacks, four QB hurries); Lawrence Jackson, USC (forced fumble, interception); Jordin Lindsey, South Carolina (two solo
tackles, fumble recovery, interception); Jarvis Moss, Florida (two solo tackles, two sacks, forced fumble).
LB:Jolonn Dunbar, Boston College (14 tackles, four tackles for loss, sack, fumble recovery); Quintero Frierson, Rutgers (five tackles, two tackles for loss, interception returned for a touchdown); Marvin
Mitchell, Tennessee (11 solo tackles, one tackle for loss); Stephen Nicholas, South Florida (seven solo tackles, two sacks).
CB:Tony Davis, Penn State (seven tackles, fumble return for TD); Elbert Mack,
Troy (six tackles, two interceptions); Jonathan Zenon, LSU (two solo tackles, interception, two pass breakups).
S:Ron Girault, Rutgers (six tackles, sack, interception); Marty Tadman, Boise
State (six tackles, two interceptions, touchdown); Anthony Scirrotto, Penn State (eight tackles, interception, two pass breakups).
K:Steve Aponavicius, Boston College (made a game-winning 37-yard field goal); Brandon
Coutu, Georgia (came back from a torn hamstring to go 3-for-3 on field goals, including a 51-yarder). Taylor Mehlhaff, Wisconsin (made
All-Purpose: Curtis Brown, Brigham Young (17 carries for 120 yards and two TDs, seven carries for 55 yards); Marlon Lucky, Nebraska (25 carries for 88 yards, six catches for 67 yards); Juaquin Iglesias,
Oklahoma (six catches for 120 yards, four kickoff returns for 64 yards).