7 best offensive players B1G teams will face in bowls
In the 2020 college football postseason, Big Ten teams will certainly have some offensive firepower to deal with.
The B1G teams heading to bowl games will face 2 of the top 11 teams in total offense in the country: No. 3 Ole Miss (562.9 ypg) faces Indiana; and No. 11 Clemson (507.6 ypg) awaits Ohio State in a College Football Playoff semifinal. But that Rebels offense will be without All-American wide receiver Elijah Moore, who opted out of the final two Ole Miss games this season, including the bowl, so he could prepare for the NFL Draft.
Oh yeah, there is also a Heisman Trophy finalist in this mix. Big, tall quarterback with long blond hair. Plays at Clemson. Perhaps you have heard of him.
The remaining teams on the B1G’s docket are not quite as scary but they can put up points on their day. Wisconsin’s foe, Wake Forest, ranks 34th in total offense. Auburn, the opposition for Northwestern, is 76th.
Iowa was scheduled to play Missouri in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 but that game was canceled on Sunday because of positive COVID-19 tests within the Mizzou program. (Note: This list originally ran before that announcement and has since been updated.)
A reminder of the now 4-game B1G bowl schedule:
- Wisconsin vs. Wake Forest, Duke’s Mayo Bowl, Charlotte, N.C., Dec. 30, Noon ET, ESPN
- Northwestern vs. Auburn, Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET. ABC
- Ohio State vs. Clemson, Sugar Bowl (CFP semifinal), New Orleans, Jan. 1, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
- Indiana vs. Mississippi, Outback Bowl, Tampa, Jan. 2, 12:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Now let’s meet the 7 best offensive players that B1G teams will meet in bowl games this postseason.
7. RB Jerrion Ealy, Mississippi
Ole Miss averaged more than 200 yards per game on the ground, led by Ealy, who gained 745 rushing yards on 147 attempts (5.1-yard average) and 9 touchdowns. Ealy also chipped in with 15 catches for 155 yards and a TD. The sophomore had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games in October against Alabama and Arkansas. Bama hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since Ealy ran for 120 and 2 TDs on them.
6. RB Tank Bigsby, Auburn
He’s one spot behind Rountree on the SEC rushing list this season (834 yards, 5th in the league) but Bigsby’s 6.0 yards per carry ranks him third in the conference. Basically, it took Auburn a few games to figure out that its best idea on an otherwise shaky offense was just to let Bigsby do the work. The freshman had season highs with 26 carries and 192 yards in the finale against Mississippi State.
5. QB Matt Corral, Mississippi
The high-powered Rebels offense has gotten a boost from Corral, who beat out John Rhys Plumlee for the QB job. Corral has completed 71.3 percent of his passes in 2020, 2nd in the SEC, wedged between Heisman Trophy finalists Mac Jones (76.5) and Kyle Trask (69.7). Corral has thrown for 2,995 yards and 27 touchdowns but the big problem is his 14 interceptions — tops in the SEC and 2nd in the nation.
4. WR Amari Rodgers, Clemson
The top target of our No. 1 guy on this list, Rodgers was named 1st-team all-ACC by the Associated Press as well as by a combined coaches/media vote. The senior had a career year in 2020 with 69 catches, tops in the ACC, and 966 yards, which ranked second in the league. Rodgers also had 7 touchdown catches including a 67-yarder against Notre Dame in Clemson’s ACC Championship Game victory.
3. RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
The senior Doak Walker Award finalist was the first-team All-American pick as the nation’s best all-purpose player according to ESPN. Etienne didn’t have eye-popping rushing stats overall in 2020 but he was great when it counted most, gaining 124 yards on just 10 carries including a 44-yard TD in the ACC title game. He ranked in the nation’s top 10 with 1,406 yards and 15 TDs from scrimmage.
2. WR Jaquarii Roberson, Wake Forest
He had 54 catches, double anyone else on the Demon Deacons and 8th in the ACC. But Pro Football Focus graded him as a first-team All-ACC and second-team All-America; according to its all-ACC list he had the second-highest grade of any receiver in FBS at 92.4. The junior had 12 catches for 167 yards and 2 TDs in a memorable 59-53 shootout loss to North Carolina.
1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
You were expecting someone else? He has been the most dominant player in college football over the past 3 seasons and has led the Tigers to the CFP all 3 years. The junior quarterback is one of 4 Heisman Trophy finalists despite missing 2 games after a positive COVID-19 test. His play in the ACC title game (322 yards passing, 90 rushing, 3 total TDs) helped Clemson avenge its regular-season loss to Notre Dame — one of the two games Lawrence missed.