Tackles: While UCLA focused on stopping Wisconsin All-America end Tom Burke, Badgers freshman WENDELL BRYANT came through the Bruins line to make four tackles and a sack, a fourth-down bear hug of Cade McNown that sealed the win. Florida freshman GERARD WARREN was a disruptive force with two tackles and a sack in the Gators' blowout of Syracuse.
Ends: Kansas State allowed only 14 sacks in 12 games before the Wildcats ran into Purdue seniors ROSEVELT COLVIN and Chike Okeafor in the Alamo Bowl. They combined for five sacks of Michael Bishop, but we put Colvin on our team because he also blocked a field goal attempt and forced a fumble that led to a Boilermakers field goal in the 37-34 upset. Virginia Tech junior COREY MOORE blocked a punt to set up one TD and spent much of the day in the Alabama backfield as the Hokies romped 38-7 in the Music City Bowl. Moore also had one sack in earning game MVP honors.
Linebackers: In the first quarter of the Sugar Bowl, Ohio State ran away from Texas A&M senior DAT NGUYEN, the Lombardi Award winner, and he made only two tackles. But by the end of the game, Nguyen had his typical 14 tackles and an atypical two sacks (he had only four all season). Florida senior MIKE PETERSON spent his career in the shadow of teammate Jevon Kearse, but Peterson led the Gators this season with 127 tackles and added 12 more against Syracuse. Tennessee sophomore ERIC WESTMORELAND had one sack, three tackles for losses and delivered a menacing sideline hit to Florida State quarterback Marcus Outzen.
Cornerbacks: Anyone could have predicted that Arizona All-America CHRIS McALISTER would intercept two passes and recover a fumble in the Wildcats' 23-20 victory over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. But no one could have predicted Missouri sophomore JULIAN JONES's impact against West Virginia in the Insight.com Bowl. Jones, who started because coach Larry Smith had suspended Wade Perkins for violating team rules, made 10 tackles, intercepted a pass, blocked a punt for a safety and returned a free kick 39 yards to begin a touchdown drive in the Tigers' 34-31 victory.
Free safety: Texas A&M couldn't run against Ohio State (96 yards), and with junior GARY BERRY on patrol, the Aggies didn't pass well, either. A&M's Branndon Stewart completed 22 of 39 passes for 187 yards, a meager 4.8 yards per attempt. Berry, with a team-leading 12 tackles, made yards after the catch hard to come by.
Strong safety: Colorado beat Oregon 51-43 in an Aloha Bowl shoot-'em-up. Imagine how many more points the Ducks could have scored if Buffaloes sophomore JOHN SANDERS hadn't intercepted a pass, forced one fumble and returned another 23 yards.
Kick returner: After Colorado sophomore BEN KELLY ran back the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, Oregon learned its lesson. The Ducks kicked off six more times but allowed Kelly to get his hands on only two of them.
Placekicker: TRAVIS FORNEY booted four field goals for Penn State in the Nittany Lions' 26-14 Outback Bowl victory over Kentucky.
Punter: North Carolina junior BRIAN SCHMITZ mastered a 50-mph wind at Sam Boyd Stadium and averaged 44 yards on five punts, four of which pinned San Diego State inside its 11-yard line. The Tar Heels won the Las Vegas Bowl 20-13.