Clemson defeated Alabama 35-31 in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game Presented by AT&T on Monday night, ending the 2016 postseason with one of the greatest games in college football history.
The Tigers and Crimson Tide each placed four players on the ESPN All-Bowl team. After 42 bowl games in 24 days, here’s a look at the best individual performances of the postseason:
QB: Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Watson cemented his place among the sport’s greatest players by leading the Tigers to a 35-31 victory over Alabama in the national title game. He completed 36 of 56 passes for 420 yards with three touchdowns and ran for another score. He threw the winning 2-yard touchdown to Hunter Renfrow with one second left.
RB: Dalvin Cook, Florida State
Cook ran 20 times for 145 yards with one touchdown in leading FSU to a wild 33-32 win over Michigan in the Capital One Orange Bowl. Cook also caught three passes for 62 yards, and his rushing total helped him break his own FSU single-season record with 1,765 rushing yards.
RB: Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
After setting an Alabama bowl record with 180 rushing yards in the Crimson Tide’s 24-7 win over Washington in the CFP semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Scarbrough was well on his way to another big total against Clemson in the CFP National Championship. But then he fractured his right leg in the second half. He finished with 93 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
WR: KD Cannon, Baylor
Boise State tried to cover Cannon one-on-one in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl — and paid big-time for its mistake. Cannon set a Cactus Bowl record with 226 receiving yards on 14 catches with two touchdowns, helping the Bears end a six-game losing streak with a 31-12 victory over the Broncos.
WR: Deontay Burnett, USC
The Trojans didn’t offer Burnett a scholarship until national signing day two years ago, but he’s turned into a steal. He caught 13 passes for 164 yards with three touchdowns in USC’s 52-49 win over Penn State in the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual, including the game-tying 27-yard touchdown pass from Sam Darnold with 1:20 to play.
TE: Jaylen Samuels, NC State
Samuels battled an ankle injury for the much of the season but was finally healthy against Vanderbilt in the Camping World Independence Bowl, and it showed. The versatile tight end caught six passes for 104 yards with three touchdowns, leading the Wolfpack to a 41-17 rout.
OT: Scott Frantz, Kansas State
Frantz, a redshirt freshman, held Texas A&M All-American defensive end Myles Garrett to one tackle and zero sacks in the Wildcats’ 33-28 win over the Aggies in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl. Garrett had 32½ sacks in three seasons at A&M.
OG: Ben Powers, Oklahoma
Powers, a juco transfer, helped Oklahoma running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine run wild by controlling the line of scrimmage in a 35-19 win over Auburn in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Sooners ran for 228 yards and piled up 524 yards of offense.
C: Jay Guillermo, Clemson
Guillermo graded out at 93 percent blocking and had five knockdown blocks in the Tigers’ 31-0 rout of Ohio State in a CFP semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and then played just as well against Alabama in the CFP National Championship. The Tigers had 511 yards of offense and provided Watson with enough time to work.
OG: Marcus Keyes, Oklahoma State
Keyes and the rest of Oklahoma State’s offensive line dominated Colorado’s front in a 38-8 victory in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The Cowboys had 527 yards of offense and led 31-0 through three quarters.
OT: Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
Ramczyk, a former Division III transfer, played with a torn labrum in his hip against Western Michigan in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic but still helped the Badgers control the line of scrimmage in a 24-16 victory. He had arthroscopic surgery three days later and is expected to be a first-round pick in April’s NFL draft.
AP: Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Barkley had a career-high 306 all-purpose yards in Penn State’s heartbreaking loss to USC in the Rose Bowl. He ran 25 times for 194 yards with two touchdowns, caught five passes for 55 yards with one score and returned two kickoffs for 57 yards. His rushing total was the highest by a Penn State player in a bowl game.
DE: Solomon Thomas, Stanford
Thomas turned in one of the most dominant individual performances of the bowl season with seven tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack in the Cardinal’s 25-23 win over North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. He sacked Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky on a two-point conversion attempt with 25 seconds left to win the game.
DT: Trenton Thompson, Georgia
Thompson was named MVP of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl after recording eight tackles and three sacks in a 31-23 win over TCU. His three sacks were a Liberty Bowl record and tied the record for sacks by a Georgia player in a bowl game.
DT: Carlos Watkins, Clemson
Neither Ohio State nor Alabama had much success running up the middle against Clemson’s defense with Watkins and Dexter Lawrence filling gaps. Watkins had two sacks against the Buckeyes and six tackles and one tackle for loss against the Crimson Tide.
DE: Jonathan Allen, Alabama
Allen continued his dominant ways in Alabama’s two CFP games, totaling six tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss against Washington and seven tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss against Clemson.
LB: Matthew Thomas, Florida State
Thomas, who missed the 2015 season because of academic issues, made up for lost time in 2016. He had 15 tackles, including nine solos, with 3½ tackles for loss in the Seminoles’ 33-32 win over Michigan in the Capital One Orange Bowl.
LB: Tashawn Bower, LSU
Bower had three of LSU’s eight sacks of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in a dominant 29-9 win in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. The Tigers held Jackson to only 153 yards on 10-for-27 passing and 33 rushing yards and kept him out of the end zone for the first time in 17 games.
LB: Ryan Anderson, Alabama
Anderson and fellow Tide linebacker Reuben Foster played exceptionally well in two CFP games. Anderson had a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown against Washington and then had seven tackles, one sack, two tackles for losses and two fumble recoveries against Clemson.
CB: Chauncey Gardner, Florida
Gardner, a true freshman, intercepted two passes in the fourth quarter, returning one of them 58 yards for a touchdown, to help the Gators pull away from Iowa in a 30-3 rout at the Outback Bowl. Gardner, who was named the game’s MVP, returned his second interception of the fourth quarter 30 yards to set up a field goal.
S: Dallas Lloyd, Stanford
The quarterback-turned-safety had one of his biggest moments in his final college game, returning an interception 19 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter of Stanford’s 25-23 win over North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. He also intercepted a pass in the second quarter and returned it 45 yards.
S: Leon McQuay III, USC
McQuay turned in the biggest defensive play in the highest-scoring Rose Bowl Game in history. With the score tied at 49, McQuay intercepted Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley‘s pass and returned it 32 yards to the PSU 33 to set up the Trojans’ winning field goal in a 52-49 win. He also had seven tackles.
CB: Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson
Tankersley, the only returning starter in Clemson’s secondary, had an interception in the Tigers’ 31-0 shutout of Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and then helped hold Alabama’s receivers to only seven catches for 48 yards in the CFP National Championship Game.
K: Matt Boermeester, USC
Boermeester, who had missed two long field goal attempts earlier in the Rose Bowl Game, kicked a 46-yarder as time expired to give the Trojans a thrilling 52-49 victory over the Nittany Lions. His kick capped a 14-point fourth-quarter comeback for the Trojans.
P: JK Scott, Alabama
Talk about consistency. In two playoff games, Scott averaged 45.9 yards on a whopping 18 punts. Eight of his punts were downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, and he had six punts of more than 50 yards, including five in the loss to Clemson.
KR: Nyheim Hines, NC State
Hines had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Wolfpack’s 41-17 win over Vanderbilt in the Independence Bowl. It was only the third kickoff return for a score in NC State bowl history and tied an NCAA record for the longest in postseason history.