Here’s a look at the All-Bowl first team, with the assessment being for the body of work of each player’s one postseason game alone. Because the contributions of offensive linemen are more big picture and difficult to gauge on a week-by-week basis, they will be excluded from this exercise.
|Quarterback||Sam Darnold||Southern California|
|Running back||Saquon Barkley||Penn State|
|Running back||Justin Jackson||Northwestern|
|Wide receiver||Chris Godwin||Penn State|
|Wide receiver||Deontay Burnett||Southern California|
|Tight end||Troy Fumagalli||Wisconsin|
|Kicker||Harrison Butker||Georgia Tech|
QB: Sam Darnold | Southern California
What a story Darnold is, a redshirt freshman who stepped in Week 4 and completely turned the Trojans’ season around. He was historically good in Monday’s Rose Bowl against Penn State, a game that will likely go down as one of the best ever. Darnold set the Rose Bowl records for total yards of offense (473), passing yards (453) and passing touchdowns (five).
He did have an interception to his name, but Darnold was incredible all game long, looking calm as can be even when Penn State seemed to be running away with it. He finished 33-of-53 for 453 yards and five touchdowns, running for 20 additional yards.
RB: Saquon Barkley | Penn State
On the other sideline, it was the Saquon Barkley Show for the Nittany Lions, as it has been pretty much all year long. Barkley was evading tacklers like it was nothing, finishing with 194 yards rushing and two touchdowns, including a 79-yard run that was one of the plays of the year. He was also a big factor in the passing game, catching five passes for 55 yards and another touchdown to total 249 yards from scrimmage.
RB: Justin Jackson | Northwestern
Breaking up this Rose Bowl parade of offense, Jackson was outstanding in helping Northwestern to a Pinstripe Bowl victory over Pittsburgh. The Wildcats went to him often, giving him 32 carries which he turned into 224 yards. He also found the end zone three times to cap off an excellent junior season.
WR: Chris Godwin | Penn State
Back to Pasadena, California, where Godwin’s abilities were on full display. Quarterback Trace McSorley was connecting with the 6-foot-1 receiver throughout the game, even if all the catches were not too easy. His nine-catch, 187-yard day was capped off by a 72-yard score after tipping the ball to himself, a play that came just one play after Barkley’s 79-yard run.
WR: Deontay Burnett | Southern California
Rounding out the Rose Bowl fireworks was Darnold’s favorite target Burnett, who shattered his career high with 13 receptions (previous high was seven). He had 164 yards out of that baker’s dozen, most notably finding the end zone three times, including a 27-yard grab with 1:20 left to tie the game.
TE: Troy Fumagalli | Wisconsin
The Cotton Bowl Offensive Player of the Game had six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown in the Badgers’ win over previously unbeaten Western Michigan. Offense was at a premium for both teams, so Fumagalli’s eight-yard touchdown grab early in the fourth quarter to stretch the lead to 14 was enormous. He also made the other-worldly one-handed catch seen above.
K: Harrison Butker | Georgia Tech
Butker tried a season-high four field goals in the TaxSlayer Bowl victory against Kentucky. Two of them were chip shots from 23 and 26 yards out, but he had to earn the other two. The senior nailed a 52-yarder as time expired in the first half, then connected from 44 yards in the third quarter. He also converted all three of his extra points for a 15-point day.
|Defensive line||Jonathan Allen||Alabama|
|Defensive line||DeMarcus Walker||Florida State|
|Defensive line||Tashawn Bower||LSU|
|Linebacker||Raekwon McMillan||Ohio State|
|Safety||Kameron Kelly||San Diego State|
DL: Jonathan Allen | Alabama
Allen was his usual, phenomenal self in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Washington. The Huskies had absolutely no answers for Alabama’s defense with the exception of an early touchdown, and Allen was a big part of that. The senior helped keep his college career going for one more game with six tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery as the Alabama defense held Washington to an abysmal 194 yards of offense.
DL: DeMarcus Walker | Florida State
Walker finished his college career in grand fashion, with the Seminoles beating Michigan in the Orange Bowl and the senior picking up a sack and three tackles for loss. He finished the season with 22.5 tackles for loss and 16 sacks, as his speed and power ate up offensive lines weekly.
DL: Tashawn Bower | LSU
LSU’s defense was an absolute nightmare for Heisman-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was sacked eight times and felt almost constant pressure. Three of those sacks came courtesy of Bower, who came in with just one previously on the season.
LB: T.J. Edwards | Wisconsin
Edwards came up huge when his team needed it, picking off Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell early in the fourth quarter to set up Fumagalli’s touchdown. He also had 10 tackles on the afternoon and won the game’s top defensive player honors.
LB: Taylor Young | Baylor
Few were high on Baylor heading into the Cactus Bowl after the Bears finished the regular season with six straight losses and were facing a Boise State team with an excellent bowl history. All Baylor did was storm to a 31-12 win in a performance that reminded everyone why it started the year 6-0. Young was at the forefront of the defensive effort, matching his season high with 17 tackles, including an impressive 12 solo stops.
LB: Ryan Anderson | Alabama
Alabama games don’t start until the Tide rips off a defensive touchdown. It’s almost a given that it will happen at some point, and in the Peach Bowl the honors belonged to Anderson. He picked off a poorly thrown ball and rumbled 26 yards into the end zone to stretch Alabama’s lead to double digits. He became the eighth defensive player to score a touchdown this year for Nick Saban’s team.
LB: Raekwon McMillan | Ohio State
The Buckeyes’ departure from the College Football Playoff semifinal was one of the more unceremonious exits in recent memory, with Clemson turning what was expected to be a neck-and-neck battle into a 31-0 laugher. Despite the number of points allowed, Ohio State’s defense performed admirably for most of the game before wearing down from the Tigers being on the field so much. McMillan led the way with 15 tackles, 12 of which were solo, and a sack.
CB: Chauncey Gardner | Florida
Florida’s secondary put on a show in the Outback Bowl, holding Iowa to an incredibly low 55 passing yards on 24 attempts, or 2.3 yards per attempt. The Gators also picked off C.J. Beathard three times in the second half, two of which came by Gardner. The first was a 58-yard pick-six late in the third quarter, before another one two drives later was returned 30 yards to the 7-yard line.
S: Dallas Lloyd | Stanford
Lloyd also had two interceptions, including a pick-six, as he helped lift Stanford to a narrow win over North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. His first takeaway came in the second quarter and was returned 45 yards to the 20-yard line, while the second was a 19-yard pick-six to give Stanford the lead early in the fourth. The senior also forced a fumble and had six tackles.
S: Kameron Kelly | San Diego State
Given that San Diego State won the Las Vegas Bowl 34-10, it might come as a surprise that Houston led 10-6 at the half. But Kelly’s interception of Greg Ward Jr. on the opening drive of the second half helped set the tone that would quickly become an Aztec takeover. He also broke up another pass and had two tackles to help guide the San Diego State secondary that held Ward to 229 yards, his second-lowest total of the year, and picked him off four times.
CB: Minkah Fitzpatrick | Alabama
Alabama’s pass-rushers were what truly made Jake Browning life miserable in the Peach Bowl, but the performance of the Tide’s secondary certainly didn’t hurt. Fitzpatrick, a first-team All-American cornerback, was stellar as always to lead the charge. He intercepted Browning at the end of the game and returned it 26 yards, while finishing with six tackles and helping hold main target John Ross III to just 28 yards.
P: Mason King | Louisville
Louisville’s offense was absolutely smothered by LSU in the Citrus Bowl, but an offense’s loss is often a punter’s gain. King had eight chances to show off his leg on New Year’s Eve and did just that, accumulating over 400 yards and an average of 50.5 yards per kick. Six of his eight punts traveled over 50 yards, and two were stopped inside the 20.