The 8 Debate

December 31, 2012

There's no greater stage for a college football player than a bowl game. Just ask BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who scored a pair of touchowns in last Thursday's Poinsettia Bowl. Impressive as that was, it doesn't crack the list of the eight greatest individual bowl performances.

1 Vince Young, Texas 2006 Rose Bowl

With the national title on the line against No. 1 USC, Young threw for 267 yards and ran for 200—the last eight coming on a game-winning TD run (right) with 19 seconds left.

2 Joe Montana, Notre Dame 1979 Cotton Bowl

It's arguably a better story than Rudy: A flu-ravaged quarterback, his body temperature down to 96°, gets pumped full of chicken bouillon at halftime, returns to the field with less than eight minutes left and throws a touchdown pass with no time on the clock, giving the Irish a 35--34 win over Houston in a game they once trailed 34--12.

3 Dicky Moegle, Rice 1954 Cotton Bowl

In one of the oddest plays in college football history, Moegle was awarded a 95-yard TD when he was tackled on a breakaway by an Alabama player who jumped off the bench. But Moegle had been terrorizing the Tide all day: He got 265 yards on just 11 carries.

4 Charles White, USC 1980 Rose Bowl

In a battle of undefeated teams, White ran all over Ohio State, racking up a Rose Bowl--record 247 yards. Alas, Alabama won the Sugar Bowl the same day, relegating the Trojans to a No. 2 finish.

5 Matt Leinart, USC 2005 Orange Bowl

Number 2 Oklahoma entered the game having given up six points in its previous three games. Leinart's top-ranked Trojans put up 38 by halftime. Leinart finished with 332 yards passing and an Orange Bowl--record five TD passes.

6 Tim Tebow, Florida 2010 Sugar Bowl

Tebow gave Cincinnati's Cinderella season an unhappy ending, throwing for a BCS-record 462 yards passing as the Gators won 55--24.

7 Lee Roy Jordan, Alabama 1963 Orange Bowl

Some math: Oklahoma ran 60 plays from scrimmage. Four were incomplete passes and zero were for scores, meaning a Sooner was tackled 56 times. Jordan had 31 of them.

8 Bobby Layne, Texas 1946 Cotton Bowl

The Longhorns put up 40 points on Missouri (which had 27), and Layne had a hand in them all, rushing for three TDs, throwing for two, catching one and kicking four extra points. He did have a PAT blocked. No one's perfect.

The 2005 Orange Bowl marked the first time two Heisman winners faced each other: USC's Matt Leinart won the award in 2004, and Oklahoma QB Jason White was the '03 winner.

College Football's Greatest Bowl Game Performances

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PHOTOPETER READ MILLER (LEINART) PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONPHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY NICOLE ZIGMONT; ROBERT BECK (YOUNG) PHOTO

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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Birdie (-1)
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