11/07/2024

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Who Says That Freshmen Players Cannot Lead a Team to a Bowl Victory?

Who Says That Freshmen Players Cannot Lead a Team to a Bowl Victory?

Much was made of star Texas quarterback Colt McCoy being knocked out of the National Championship Game early on against Alabama. His replacement, Garrett Gilbert, an inexperienced freshman, came in to replace McCoy. Alabama won the 2009 title 37-21, giving the impression that a freshman could not get the job done in a big game.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, 13 freshmen led or helped lead their teams to victories this bowl season. They included:

Redshirt freshman QB Landry Jones went 30-of-51 for 418 yards and a TD pass to lead Oklahoma’s 31-27 upset over Stanford in the Sun Bowl.

Freshman QB Kyle Padron went 32-of-41 for a school-record 460 yards and 2 touchdown passes to lead Southern Methodist to a 45-10 upset over Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl. SMU stomped a mud hole in the Nevada Wolf Pack.

Freshman QB Matt Barkley went 27-of-37 for 350 yards and 2 touchdown passes and ran for another to lead Southern California over Boston College, 24-13, in the Emerald Bowl.

Freshman quarterback B. J. Daniels went 14-of-22 for 217 yards and 2 TDs to help the South Florida Bulldogs beat Northern Illinois, 27-3, in the International Bowl.

Freshman QB Austyn Carta-Samuels went 17-of-31 for 201 yards and 3 touchdown passes to lead Wyoming to a double overtime victory over Fresno State, 35-28, in the New Mexico Bowl. He was the Mountain West’s Freshman of the Year and also the MVP of the game.

Freshman QB Jordan Wynn went 26-of-36 for 338 yards and 3 TD passes to lead Utah over California, 37-27, in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Redshirt freshman quarterback E.J. Manual went 17-for-24 and 189 yards and scored on a 2-yard run to help lead Florida State’s 33-21 upset over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl.

Freshman running back Trent Richardson gained 109 yards on 19 carries (5.74 ypc) and scored touchdowns on runs of 49 yards and 2 yards to help Alabama beat Texas, 37-21, in the National Championship Game.

Freshman running back Ryan Williams gained 117 yards on 25 carries (4.68 ypc) and scored 2 rushing TDs to lead Virginia Tech over Tennessee, 37-14, in the Chick-fil A Bowl. Williams became the Hoakies’ single-season record holder with 1,655 yards; he also had 21 rushing TDs and 22 total TDs to set Atlantic Coast Conference records.

Freshman running back Dion Lewis rushed for 159 yards on 28 carries (4.68 ypc) and scored a touchdown to lead Pittsburgh over North Carolina, 19-17, in the Meineke Bowl. Lewis broke Tony Dorsett’s 36-year-old Pitt freshman rushing record of 1,686 yards by gaining 1,799 yards during the season.

Freshman running back Brandon Wegher gained 113 yards on 16 carries (7.0 ypc) and scored a touchdown to lead Iowa over Georgia, 24-14, in the BCS Orange Bowl.

Freshman multi-threat receiver Mohamed Sanu scored twice from a wildcat formation and caught a TD pass to lead Rutgers over Central Florida, 45-24, in the St. Petersburg Bowl.

Freshman QB Tom Savage, also from Rutgers, went 14-of-27 for a career-best 294 yards and a 2 touchdown passes in Rutgers’ victory.

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley