Tackles: Mississippi State senior Willie Blade, after making 16 tackles in regulation, including four behind the line of scrimmage, made his best Independence Bowl play in overtime. He sliced up the middle and blocked a Texas A&M point-after attempt that was returned 85 yards for a defensive two-point conversion, the final margin in the Bulldogs' win. Thanks to David Pugh, Virginia Tech didn't need to blitz Clemson to control the line. The 6'3", 271-pound junior, who had one sack and two hurries of Tigers quarterback Woody Dantzler plus four other tackles, spent the day in the Clemson backfield as the Hokies' defense led the way to a 41-20 Gator Bowl victory.
Outside linebackers: Oregon State senior Darnell Robinson forced two turnovers to fuel the Beavers' 29-point third quarter in their 41-9 Fiesta Bowl thumping of Notre Dame. Marshall junior Michael Owens scored a safety by tackling Cincinnati tailback Ray Jackson in the end zone, blitzed his way to two sacks and had 11 tackles, three for a loss, in the Thundering Herd's 25-14 triumph in the Motor City Bowl.
Middle linebacker: Southern Mississippi freshman Rod Davis stalked TCU Heisman finalist LaDainian Tomlinson for four quarters in the Mobile Alabama Bowl, and it paid off with a 28-21 upset victory. Davis made 14 tackles, including 10 of Tomlinson, who rushed for a season-low 118 yards.
Cornerbacks: Oregon junior Rashad Bauman stands only 5'8", but he held 6'5" Texas freshman Roy Williams to just two catches in the Ducks' 35-30 victory in the Holiday Bowl. Bauman also made five tackles, and his interception at the Oregon 15-yard line with 1:24 remaining sealed the win. After Reche Caldwell of Florida burned Miami for six catches and 110 yards in the first half, sophomore Phillip Buchanon got busy. Caldwell caught no passes in the second half, and Buchanon's fourth-quarter interception set up the Hurricanes' final touchdown in their Sugar Bowl victory.
Strong safety: The last of senior John Howell's eight tackles helped Colorado State seal its 22-17 Liberty Bowl victory over Louisville. On fourth-and-seven at the Cardinals' 40, Howell stopped quarterback Dave Ragone for a one-yard gain with 3:46 to play.
Free safety: Oklahoma senior J.T. Thatcher made sure no Florida State receiver filled the shoes of academically ineligible Marvin Minnis as quarterback Chris Weinke's go-to guy. Thatcher, who recovered quickly from a jarring hit in the first half of the Orange Bowl, had six tackles and broke up two passes in the Sooners' 13-2 victory.
Kicker: Miami sophomore Todd Sievers made three field goals, but none were as long as the 50-yard extra point he booted following two 15-yard penalties after Miami's last TD.
Punter: Boise State senior Jeff Edwards averaged 42.6 yards on seven punts, but it was his 22-yard run on a fake punt early in the fourth quarter that set up the touchdown that broke open the Broncos' 38-23 Humanitarian Bowl win over UTEP.
Returner: East Carolina generously lists senior Keith Stokes at 5'8", 180 pounds. Take away an inch and 10 pounds, and you'll have the guy who floored Texas Tech in the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl the first two times he touched the ball. His 37-yard kickoff return to start the game set up the Pirates' first touchdown, and his 71-yard punt return for a TD minutes later set the tone for their 40-27 victory. Stokes finished with 187 return yards and 266 all-purpose yards.