Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had to settle for second place in the Heisman Trophy balloting, but he delivered arguably the best bowl performance of any player in the country.
Tagovailoa outdueled Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray of Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl to earn his spot as the quarterback of The Associated Press all-bowl team.
Although the College Football Playoff championship game still must be played — with No. 1 Alabama meeting No. 2 Clemson on Monday at Santa Clara, California — all the postseason games with “bowl” in the title are finished.
There were so many outstanding individual postseason performances that the all-bowl team couldn’t make room for a pair of 200-yard rushers (Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor), a couple of receivers who had three touchdown catches (Auburn’s Darius Slayton and Virginia’s Olamide Zaccheaus) or any representatives from Rose Bowl champion Ohio State.
It also doesn’t include a tight end so the offense features three wide receivers instead. And with some teams running 4-3 defenses while others opt for 3-4 alignments, the team includes four defensive linemen and four linebackers to cover the bases.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (Orange): The Heisman Trophy runner-up had more touchdown passes than incompletions in the Crimson Tide’s 45-34 victory over Oklahoma. Tagovailoa was 24 of 27 for 318 yards and four touchdowns in the playoff semifinal, another big performance in a big game.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt (Texas): Vanderbilt lost the Texas Bowl 45-38 to Baylor, but Vaughn did everything he possibly could. He rushed for 243 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries.
Trayeon Williams, Texas A&M (Gator): Williams broke a 52-year-old Gator Bowl rushing record by gaining 236 yards in the Aggies’ 52-13 blowout of North Carolina State. He also ran for three touchdowns, including a 93-yarder.
T.J. Rahming, Duke (Independence): Rahming caught 12 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns in a 56-27 victory over Temple.
Justyn Ross, Clemson (Cotton): Ross had six catches for 148 yards (including touchdowns of 52 and 42 yards) in the Tigers’ 30-3 semifinal triumph over Notre Dame. The magnitude of the Cotton Bowl helped Ross make the AP team over some receivers who put up bigger numbers in lower-tier games.
Xavier Ubosi, UAB (Boca Raton): Ubosi caught seven passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-13 victory over Northern Illinois.
Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin (Pinstripe): Benzschawel makes the all-bowl team for a second straight season after leading a line that paved the way for Jonathan Taylor’s 205-yard rushing performance in a 35-3 blowout of Miami. Wisconsin controlled the ball for nearly 40 minutes and rushed for 333 yards.
Jordan Budwig, Florida International (Bahamas): Budwig made his 50th consecutive start in a 35-32 win over Toledo and capped a season in which the senior guard didn’t allow a sack. FIU gave up only eight sacks this season.
Andre Dillard, Washington State (Alamo): The senior tackle and Associated Press All-America third-team selection provided enough pass protection to help Gardner Minshew throw for 299 yards in Washington State’s 28-26 victory over Iowa State.
Phil Haynes, Wake Forest (Birmingham): The four-year starter led a line that helped Wake Forest gain 529 total yards in a 37-34 victory over Memphis. Although Wake Forest allowed two sacks, Haynes wasn’t responsible for either one.
Jared Weyler, Minnesota (Quick Lane): Weyler was Minnesota’s lone senior starter on offense for the bowl game and led an offensive line that featured two freshmen and a redshirt freshman. Weyler’s run blocking helped Mohamed Ibrahim rush for 224 yards as Minnesota beat Georgia Tech 34-10.
Ronnie Rivers, Fresno State (Las Vegas): Rivers rushed for 212 yards and two touchdowns while also catching four passes for 33 yards and returning a punt 41 yards as Fresno State defeated Arizona State 31-20.
Willie Baker and Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech (Hawaii): Two teammates as one entry is admittedly cheating, but Baker had five tackles for loss and four of Louisiana Tech’s nine sacks in a 31-14 victory over Hawaii. Ferguson added 2 ½ sacks to bring his career total to 45, breaking Terrell Suggs’ Football Bowl Subdivision record.
Austin Bryant, Clemson (Cotton): Bryant had six overall tackles (three for loss) and two sacks as Clemson’s defensive line dominated Notre Dame even without suspended tackle Dexter Lawrence.
Rashard Lawrence, LSU (Fiesta): Lawrence delivered four tackles for loss and two sacks as LSU defeated UCF 40-32.
Charles Omenihu, Texas (Sugar): Omenihu had two tackles for loss in the Longhorns’ 28-21 upset of Georgia. He also was part of a defensive line that limited Georgia’s potent rushing attack to 72 yards on 30 carries.
Josh Allen, Kentucky (Citrus): Allen recorded three sacks in Kentucky’s 27-24 victory over Penn State to increase his season total to 17. He also blocked a field-goal attempt.
Justin Hollins, Oregon (Redbox): Hollins recorded seven tackles (2 ½ for loss) plus 1 ½ sacks and also forced a fumble for the fifth time this season as Oregon edged Michigan State 7-6.
Jawuan Johnson, TCU (Cheez-It): Johnson picked off a pass in overtime to spark TCU’s 10-7 victory over California. He also had a team-high seven tackles, including one for loss.
James Nachtigal, Army (Military): Nachtigal made a career-high 16 tackles and delivered three of Army’s program-record 10 sacks in a 70-14 blowout of Houston. He also forced three fumbles.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida (Peach): He picked off two passes and totaled 83 yards in interception returns. His touchdown on a 30-yard return capped the scoring as Florida trounced Michigan 41-15.
Jaylin Hawkins, California (Cheez-It): Although his team lost to TCU in overtime, Hollins had three interceptions to go along with six tackles.
JR Pace, Northwestern (Holiday): Pace picked off a pass, recovered a fumble and made seven tackles as Northwestern rallied to beat Utah 31-20.
Juan Thornhill, Virginia (Belk): Thornhill recorded six tackles (one for loss) and had an interception as Virginia blanked South Caro lina 28-0.
Tyler Bass, Georgia Southern (Camellia): Bass made all three of his field-goal attempts, including a 40-yarder as time expired to beat Eastern Michigan 23-21. He also made field goals from 50 and 35 yards.
Blake Gillikin, Penn State (Citrus): Although his team lost the game, Gillikin had an exceptional performance. He averaged a career-best 51.2 yards on five punts and landed two of them inside the 20-yard line.
Tony Pollard, Memphis (Birmingham): Pollard scored on a 97-yard kickoff return in the loss to Wake Forest. Porter totaled six kickoff returns for 209 yards and had 17 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Lynn Bowden, Kentucky (Citrus): Bowden scored on a 58-yard punt return and also was Kentucky’s leading receiver with five catches for 84 yards in the victory over Penn State.
Source: The Associated Press