Ever since college football went to a single game championship format, first with the BCS and now with the playoff semifinals format, we’ve seen our share of fantastic individual performances.
I’ve compiled the list below of my top five, the best I’ve personally seen since the BCS went into effect. With Monday night’s National Championship rematch between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers on tap, especially after last year’s sensational 45-40 Bama victory, I’m hoping that someone else can add their name to the list.
5. Peter Warrick, Florida State, 2000
The Sugar Bowl MVP caught six passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns and added another TD on a 59-yards punt return. He also scored a two-point conversion, meaning he was singlehandedly responsible for 20 of FSU’s 46 points. His 220 all-purpose yards earned him game MVP honors and his splendid end zone catch still stands the test of time nearly 17 years later.
4. Andre Johnson, Miami, 2002
Johnson caught seven passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns, and had 226 total all-purpose yards in the first Rose Bowl that served as the BCS National Championship game.
3. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State, 2015
Elliott, just a sophomore, rushed for 246 yards and four touchdowns on a career-high 36 carries en route to game MVP honors. In the final three games of the year– the Big Ten championship against Wisconsin, the Allstate Sugar Bowl semifinal against Alabama and the final against Oregon — he had 696 rushing yards, giving NFL scouts an advance look at what he’s been doing this year with the Dallas Cowboys.
2. Vince Young, Texas, 2006
Young set a Rose Bowl record with 467 yards of total offense in leading Texas to a 4138 upset victory over Pete Carroll’s phenomenal USC machine, delivering the Longhorns their first national title since 1970. He completed 30 of his 40 throws for 267 yards, but the majority of his damage to the Trojan defense was done on the ground. He carried the rock 19 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns, none of which was more memorable than the nine-yard, fourth down scamper that gave Texas the lead with 19 seconds left in the game.
1. Deshaun Watson, Clemson, 2016
If the Heisman Tropy was given out after the completion of the season, Watson would have walked away with it after his historic performance against a historically great Alabama defense. Watson owns the record for most total yards ever in national championship game history, with 478 yards (405 passing and 73 rushing) against one of the best defensive squads that Nick Saban has ever fielded.