Wide receivers: Memo to the Downtown Athletic Club: Please return
Heisman Trophy ballot number 147 to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED ASAP. This
voter, uh, discounted Florida State's PETER WARRICK, who in the
Seminoles' 46-29 Sugar Bowl victory caught six passes for 163
yards and two touchdowns and added a two-point conversion.
Virginia Beach native PLAXICO BURRESS wanted to play for Gators
coach Steve Spurrier but didn't have the grades to get into
Florida, so he attended Fork Union Military Academy and migrated
to Michigan State. In the Citrus Bowl the 6'6" junior posted up
the Gators' 5'8" cornerback Robert Cromartie for touchdown
catches of 37, 21 and 30 yards and finished with 13 catches for
185 yards in the Spartans' 37-34 victory. Asked about Burress
after the game, Spurrier said, "I can't comment on that. The
university is in charge of admissions, not me.... I guess I did
just comment on it."
Left tackle: Watch out, Big Ten. Illinois capped its season by
routing Virginia 63-21 in the Micronpc.com Bowl. Junior MARQUES
SULLIVAN was the standout on an offensive line that cleared the
way for Illinois's 325 yards and six touchdowns on the ground
against the Cavaliers. All five Fighting Illini starting linemen
return next season.
Left guard: It goes without saying that Utah senior LUIS PARK is
the best Brazilian-Korean-American to play college football in
this or any other year. Park, born in Brazil of Korean parents
who emigrated to California, led the way for the Utes' Mike
Anderson to rush for 254 yards, the sixth-best postseason
performance ever, in a 17-16 Las Vegas Bowl victory over Fresno
Center: Nebraska sophomore DOMINIC RAIOLA showed in the Fiesta
Bowl that he could be the next great Cornhuskers lineman. Raiola
led a rushing attack that ground out 321 yards against a
Tennessee defense that had been giving up 89.6 yards per game on
the ground. Nebraska closed out the 31-21 win by running the ball
on its last 23 snaps.
Right guard: The play that turned the tide in the Rose Bowl
started with a hole created by Wisconsin junior DAVE COSTA. On
the second snap of the second half, Ron Dayne churned through
Costa's wake and rumbled 64 yards before being dragged down from
behind. Two plays later Dayne scored, and the Badgers took the
lead for good in their 17-9 defeat of Stanford.
Right tackle: Ole Miss senior TODD WADE, all 6'8", 315 pounds of
him, smothered any Oklahoma player who attempted to lay his hands
on Rebels quarterback Romaro Miller in the Independence Bowl. The
All-SEC tackle is the reason that Miller likes to roll to his
right. Miller rolled all night, passing for 202 yards and two
touchdowns in the Rebels' 27-25 victory.
Tight end: After Georgia quarterback Quincy Carter's pass into
coverage deflected off two Purdue defenders, redshirt freshman
RANDY MCMICHAEL pinned the ball against his helmet and then
gathered it in. The resulting touchdown, with 1:19 to play, tied
the Outback Bowl and completed Georgia's comeback from a 25-0
deficit. The Bulldogs won the game with an overtime field goal.
Quarterback: With the speed of a tailback and the elusiveness of
a president, Virginia Tech's MICHAEL VICK put on the best
performance by a freshman in a national championship game since
who? Dare we say Michael Jordan? We dare.
Running backs: DAYNE got his 200 yards against the Cardinal in
typical fashion: a yard here, a yard there and then boom! In four
bowl games with Wisconsin, Dayne rushed for 728 yards on 106
carries. Sophomore CORTLEN JOHNSON ran through and around Boston
College for 201 yards and two touchdowns in Colorado's 62-28
victory in the Insight.com Bowl.
Kicker: Ole Miss junior LES BINKLEY, who made 14 of 16 field
goals in the regular season, ignored the timeout that the Sooners
called to ice him and kicked a 39-yarder to win the Independence
Kick returner: Alabama sophomore FREDDIE MILONS showed during the
Crimson Tide's 35-34 overtime loss to Michigan in the Orange Bowl
why he's the leading candidate to replace Warrick as the college
game's most exciting player. In the second quarter Milons set up
a touchdown with a 23-yard punt return, and later he took one 62
yards for a score.
Ends: TCU junior AARON SCHOBEL already holds the school's career
record for sacks with 24 1/2, and he got three more that won't be
added to that mark in the Horned Frogs' 28-14 defeat of East
Carolina in the inaugural Mobile Alabama Bowl. Southern
Mississippi senior ADALIUS THOMAS closed out his career with
three second-half sacks as the Golden Eagles shut down Colorado
State and won the Liberty Bowl 23-17.
Tackles: Wake Forest senior FRED ROBBINS was the anchor of the
most improved defense in the Atlantic Coast Conference this
season, and he looked the part in making three sacks in the Demon
Deacons' 23-3 victory over Arizona State in the Aloha Bowl.
Arkansas senior D.J. COOPER, who grew up in the Dallas suburb of
Mesquite, made all five of his tackles in the Cotton Bowl behind
the Texas line of scrimmage, a big reason the Longhorns finished
with minus-27 rushing yards. The Razorbacks romped 27-6.
Linebackers: Penn State junior LAVAR ARRINGTON knew the Alamo
Bowl would be his last college game, so he put on a show. The
Butkus Award winner made 14 tackles, one short of his single-game
high this season. Arrington's one sack of Texas A&M quarterback
Randy McCown paled beside the three interceptions he forced by
hitting McCown as he threw. Clemson sophomore KEITH ADAMS, who
led the nation in tackles with 176, added seven more in the
Tigers' 17-7 loss to Mississippi State in the Peach Bowl. In
Miami's 28-13 Gator Bowl victory, MVP NATE WEBSTER made 14
tackles in leading a Hurricanes defense that held Georgia Tech's
Joe Hamilton without a touchdown pass for the first time this
Cornerbacks: Wisconsin sophomore JAMAR FLETCHER limited Stanford
All-America wideout Troy Walters to three first-half catches in
the Rose Bowl and didn't get called for pass interference--even
when he probably should have drawn a flag. Clemson quarterbacks
Brandon Streeter and Woodrow Dantzler threw five interceptions
against Mississippi State in the Peach Bowl, and senior ROBERT
BEAN didn't get a single one. But Bean did make eight tackles,
break up three passes and block a field goal in the Bulldogs'
Strong safety: Nebraska senior All-America MIKE BROWN's leaping
interception at the Huskers' goal line halted Tennessee's first
serious scoring threat in the Fiesta. Brown also finished with
Free safety: Marshall senior ROGERS BECKETT returned his second
interception of BYU quarterback Kevin Feterik 16 yards to the
Cougars' one-yard line, setting up the Thundering Herd's final
touchdown in its 21-3 Motor City Bowl victory.
Punter: Minnesota's RYAN RINDELS didn't rank in the top 50
nationally or in the top half of Big Ten punters after averaging
41.0 yards per kick during the regular season. Tell that to
Oregon. Rindels averaged 46.1 yards per punt, dropped one at the
Ducks' one-yard line and had a net punting average of 40.7 yards
in the Gophers' 24-20 loss in the Sun Bowl.
Coach: No kidding: A Pac-10 team won with defense. Oregon won the
Sun Bowl by holding Minnesota to 96 rushing yards. A big share of
the credit should go to the Ducks' defensive coordinator, NICK
ALIOTTI, who a year ago was forced out of the same job at UCLA
because of the Bruins' defensive shortcomings.
COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY BOB ROSATO High-rise Burress averaged 14.2 yards a catch for the Spartans in their Citrus Bowl victory over Florida.