- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Time to take a last look back at the best and worst of bowl season.
Best quarterback not named Bridgewater: Brendon Kay, Cincinnati. No question that Teddy Bridgewater had the best day among Big East quarterbacks with his performance against Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. But I am here to remind you about the terrific day Kay had in a 48-34 win against Duke in the Belk Bowl. Kay finished 17-of-25 for a career-high 332 yards and a career-best four touchdown passes. He also added 76 yards rushing, his second game in 2012 tallying 70 or more yards on the ground. Kay, the game's Most Valuable Player, tied a Cincinnati bowl record with his four touchdown passes.
Worst offense: Rutgers. We all know we were watching a pretty miserable offensive performance in a 13-10 overtime loss to Virginia Tech in the Russell Athletic Bowl. But just how bad was it? Well, Virginia Tech and Rutgers mustered 196 yards of total offense -- the worst performance of all 70 bowl teams. No other bowl team went below 200 yards of total offense. But, hey, Gary Nova -- still the Rutgers quarterback.
Best individual performance: Bridgewater did what we have grown accustomed to seeing. But best bowl performance of all goes to Syracuse running back Prince-Tyson Gulley, who was an absolute machine in a 38-14 win against West Virginia in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Gulley ran for a career-high and bowl-record 213 yards and three total touchdowns. Only two players had more rushing yards during bowl season. And Gulley, well, he obliterated his old single-game career high of 98 yards, set against Louisville in November.
Worst overall performance: Pitt. Rutgers' offense was abysmal in the bowl game, but the Scarlet Knights played well enough on defense to win. Pitt? Well, Pitt flat out did not show up in the BBVA Compass Bowl, and lost 38-17. Recurring theme of the season, right? With Ray Graham out, Pitt was severely limited with its options on offense, even though Rushel Shell was productive early. Tino Sunseri was ... Tino Sunseri, ending his streak of games without an interception. And the Panthers finished with 266 total yards, while allowing Ole Miss to run for 224.
Best game: Louisville 33, Florida 23. There is no getting around how big this win is, not just for Louisville but for the Big East. What is particularly interesting is I have heard more people give credit to Louisville than blame Florida for failing to show up. Props to coach Charlie Strong, who wanted this game so badly, you could just see him pounding home that message over and over and over again during bowl preparation. His players wanted to win more, plain and simple.
Best quote: "We hit a streak this year, we were 9‑0 and no one gave us respect. And it's funny to watch, people get to the Big East, they say don't talk about the Big East, they don't play anybody. I hope they opened up their eyes, because on any given night, if you prepare well, if you focus in and if the preparation's there for your team, you can go beat anybody. That just shows it doesn't matter. There's so much parity in college football right now, who is to say who is the best team out there." -- Louisville coach Charlie Strong.