We’ve seen some outstanding performances in college football’s bowl games over the past two weeks. It’s safe to say more will come as we head into the more sterling matchups over the weekend.
Let’s take a look at some of the most dominant performances by rushers up to New Years Eve:
5. Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State – 19 carries, 115 yards, TD, rec, 26 yards. Las Vegas Bowl (SDSU 34 – HOU 10)
Don’t let Pumphrey’s smaller stats compared to other bowl game performances fool you: with his showing at the Las Vegas Bowl he cemented himself as college football’s most productive rusher ever. Well, sort of.
Pumphrey broke the NCAA career rushing record in his college finale, running for 115 yards and a touchdown in San Diego State’s 34-10 victory over Houston. While the Cougar’s pathetic showing was a big story, Pumphrey’s historic performance stole the show.
Pumphrey finished with 6,405 career rushing yards, which the NCAA claims makes him the all-time leading rusher in FBS history. It’s a bit of a tricky situation since Ron Dayne’s bowl stats weren’t counted during his career (Dayne rushed for 7,125 yards, but the NCAA didn’t count bowl game stats until 2002).
The coolest part about it was Pumphrey’s post game interview with his father. It was pretty special to be able for fans to catch that moment.
4. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee – 11 carries, 118 yards, 3 TD. Music City Bowl (TENN 38 – NEB 24)
Okay, we cheated: Joshua Dobbs is not a running back, but his ground game at the Music City Bowl was too hard to disrespect.
Dobbs and his Volunteers had a rough season in Knoxville but he may have made up for it in Nashville. Dobbs almost single-handedly powered his team over a respectable Nebraska defense. He reached the endzone four times in total, three of which came on the ground.
He also did something that even Peyton and Tee Martin couldn’t do: beat the ‘Huskers. And as the SEC Network let us know, Dobbs made history while doing it.
The senior signal-caller averaged 10.7 yards per carry and scored on nearly one-third of his 11 carries at the Music City Bowl. He was solid in the air too, throwing a touchdown and no interceptions.
Two of Dobb’s rushing TDs came in the second quarter and helped build a nice 21-7 lead for the Vols. Nebraska cut the lead to 10 points in the third quarter, but Dobbs struck again, cementing the lead at 31-14.
History is made!
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 30, 2016
— Marshall Hughes (@marshallhughes) December 31, 2016
3. Joe Williams, Utah – 26 carries, 222 yards, TD, rec, 56 yards. Foster Farms Bowl (UTAH 26 – IND 24)
The retiree Joe Williams did it all at the Foster Farms Bowl, scoring once on 26 carries for over 200 yards and even catching one long pass that went for over 50 yards. But it was one long run in the final quarter that propelled Utah to a game-winning field goal. The play had announcer Gus Johnson totally freaking out, a la ‘gusgasm’:
— Utah Athletics (@utahathletics) December 29, 2016
It was a tight, exciting match all game and no one knew who would ultimately take it. But Williams and his monster 8.5 yards per carry lit a fire under the Utes offense. Some other notable people watching the game appreciated the Williams show:
— Todd Gurley II (@TG3II) December 29, 2016
Joe Williams is a freaking MONSTER!
— EB5™ (@eno_benjamin5) December 29, 2016
Joe Williams led the state of Utah in rushing this season
He also played in fewer games than any player in the state that had 100+ carries
— Ute Pilot (@ute_pilot) December 29, 2016
Despite missing four games after he decided to retire in September, Williams came back and ended his senior season with 1,407 yards and 10 TDs. Pretty nice year given the circumstances.
2. Anthony Wales, Western Kentucky – 35 carries, 245 yards, 3 TD, 4 rec, 84 yards. Boca Raton Bowl (WKU 51 – MEM 31)
Who could have predicted 82 points in the Boca Raton Bowl? We knew Western Kentucky and Memphis could score with all their firepower and this dust-up was enjoyable to watch.
The Hilltoppers’ senior rusher Anthony Wales racked up a ridiculous 329 combined yards on 39 total touches. His season-ending stats were even more bonkers following the bowl game: 1,627 rush yards, 27 TDs and 323 receiving yards and 2 TDs.
In Boca Raton Wales decided it was go-time. He scored in the second, third and fourth quarter, none more important than his TD before halftime that helped ice the game. There was also this fake kneel-down that the Hilltoppers executed to near perfection:
1. Justin Jackson, Northwestern – 32 carries, 224 yards, 3 TDs, 2 rec, 9 yards. New Era Pinstripe Bowl (NW 31 – PITT 24)
Let’s be honest: this bowl was supposed to be all about James Conner, right? The story all along was how the cancer-surviving back would triumphantly ride off in the sunset after a monster bowl performance. Well, it didn’t end up that way (but cheers to Conner. We’re sure he’ll have a good look in the NFL).
Instead, Northwestern’s beast Justin Jackson took center stage on a cold afternoon in New York, rushing for 224 yards and hitting pay dirt three times. He averaged seven yards per carry against a formidable Pitt front seven. Jackson helped his team secure its first bowl win since 2002.
The junior from Carol Stream, IL scored the Wildcats’ first three TDs on 8-, 16- and 40-yard runs. He finished his year with 1,524 rush yards and 15 TDs, along with 219 receiving yards.
— Calacus PR (@Calacus_PR) December 30, 2016