One of the first pieces of data we’re looking at from the 2012-2013 Bowl Blitz Invitational is the Player of the Game data from the 35 Bowl Games played using NCAA Football 13 for this Bowl Season. In a sport that has become increasingly dependent on the quality of players at the quarterback position, one would have reasonably expected to see that position dominate this category from the project. Read on to find out if that expectation played out in this year’s games!
With offense such an important factor in football today, it should come as no surprise to see the chart below, revealing that 83% of the Player of the Game awards in this year’s project went to offensive players. In all, 29 players were from the offensive side of the ball, while only 6 defensive players earned Player of the Game nods.
The chart above is where it gets a little more surprising; the position most often rewarded with Player of the Game recognition was actually the halfback, which took the award 13 times out of the 35 Bowl Games. Quarterbacks were next with 8 Player of the Game wins, with wide receivers taking a surprising 7 awards. The remaining positions were largely “also-rans,” with three CBs winning Player of the Game honors but no other position—TE, DT, LB, or FS—winning more than once.
Of the eight quarterbacks who took home Player of the Game honors, Northwestern QB #13’s path is perhaps the most incredible; beginning the game on the bench in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, an injury to the starter forced him into the game facing a 10-0 deficit against Mississippi State. The backup proceeded to go 16-for-19, 484 yards, and 6 touchdowns while not turning the ball over in a masterful performance. Tulsa QB #7 passed for 318 yards and 4 touchdowns, adding a touchdown on the ground for a 326.0 QB Rating. The most surprising stat line of any quarterback who won Player of the Game is clearly Toledo QB #2, who struggled in a low-scoring Famous Idaho Potato Bowl but still managed to lead his team to victory.
Thirteen running backs won Player of the Game honors, led by Florida State HB #4 and his 190 yard, three touchdown performance in the Discover Orange Bowl. Louisiana-Lafayette HB #46 rushed for 181 yards and three touchdowns of his own in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, while Arizona State HB #26 rushed only 14 times but amassed 175 yards on the ground with a 90-yard touchdown run. Georgia HB #1 did his damage on both offense and special teams, rushing for 170 yards and a touchdown and returning three kickoffs for 151 yards and a
In the AT&T Cotton Bowl, Texas A&M WR #25 managed to edge out his QB—who had thrown for 500 yards and 4 touchdowns—for Player of the Game honors thanks to a 253 yard receiving performance (with a touchdown) and four kickoff returns for 183 yards and a 105-yard return touchdown. Bowling Green WR #9 caught 7 passes for 194 yards and four touchdowns; the lone tight end on this receivers list of Players of the Game was Washington TE #88, who caught 5 passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns. Clemson WR #2 didn’t have much impact on offense in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but he had two kickoff returns for a total of 131 yards and a touchdown to help spark his team to victory.
On the defensive side of the ball, Texas Tech FS #16 recorded 10 tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown to help the Red Raiders win the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas over Minnesota. Notre Dame CB #10 had a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the BCS National Championship Game over Alabama, and Louisville CB #15 had a game-changing interception return for a touchdown—his second pick of the game—in the Cardinals’ Allstate Sugar Bowl upset win over Florida.
That does it for our analysis of the 2012-2013 Bowl Blitz Invitational Player of the Game winners for this Bowl Season; which Player of the Game do you think had the best performance out of the 35 winners? Let us know in the comments, and come back tomorrow for more statistical analysis!