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Monday, January 12, 2009
SEC bowl helmet stickers


Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Now that the bowl season has come and gone, it's time to reward those in the SEC who stepped up with our final round of helmet stickers. The SEC (outside of Alabama and South Carolina) really flexed its muscle during the bowl bonanza, and special props go to Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt for winning their games despite being underdogs. There were several memorable performances to choose from:

Tim Tebow, quarterback, Florida: Is he the greatest college football player in history? He's already established himself as one of the best and will be back for his senior season. As a competitor, he's one of the fiercest to ever come through the SEC. And typically, he was at his best in the fourth quarter of Florida's 24-14 win over Oklahoma in the FedEx BCS National Championship Game. Tebow finished with 231 yards passing and two touchdowns and also rushed for 109 yards. He was exceptional on third down. But, then, he has been all season.

Percy Harvin, running back/receiver, Florida: If not for the sprained ankle and hairline fracture, Harvin wouldn't have been caught by the Sooners on a couple of those runs where he hit the sideline. But even at less than 100 percent, he was the most dynamic player on the field with 122 yards rushing (averaging 13.5 yards per carry) and five catches for 49 yards. Without him, the Gators probably don't win the game.

Torrey Davis, defensive tackle, Florida: Davis had made more news off the field than he had on the field in what had been a disappointing sophomore season. That all changed with his fourth-down tackle of Oklahoma's Chris Brown for a 2-yard loss in the second quarter. The Sooners had it fourth-and-goal at the 1 and were poised to take a 14-7 lead, but Davis shot through the line and changed the entire complexion of the game.

Jevan Snead, quarterback, Ole Miss: Nobody played a bigger role in Ole Miss' six-game winning streak to end the season than Snead, who capped it off with a career-high 292 passing yards and three touchdown passes in the Rebels' 47-34 win over Texas Tech in the AT&T Cotton Bowl. All three of his touchdown passes came in the first half after Texas Tech had taken an early 14-0 lead. Snead threw 16 touchdown passes and only three interceptions during Ole Miss' six-game unbeaten streak.

Houston Nutt, head coach, Ole Miss: Yes, he could pass for a highly-strung, tent revival preacher, but the charismatic Nutt was exactly what the Ole Miss program needed. A brilliant motivator, he engineered the biggest turnaround from one season to the next since the legendary John Vaught's debut in 1947. The Rebels went from winless in the SEC in 2007 to 9-4 overall (5-3 SEC) in 2008, including the 47-34 dismantling of Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl.

LSU's defense: The Tigers, maligned for much of the season for being the ultimate underachievers on defense, took out some frustration in the Chick-fil-A Bowl by thrashing Georgia Tech 38-3. LSU's defense smothered Georgia Tech's option attack and held the Yellow Jackets to just 162 rushing yards. It's the same Georgia Tech offense that ended the regular season by torching Miami for 472 rushing yards and Georgia for 409 yards on the ground.

Bobby Johnson, head coach, Vanderbilt: The feel-good story of the bowl season was the Commodores bouncing back from a disappointing finish to the regular season and knocking off Boston College, 16-14, in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl for their first bowl victory since 1955. Johnson and his staff have done a superlative job with this program. Getting a school with the academic standards of Vanderbilt to seven wins in a conference the caliber of the SEC speaks for itself. Forget what Johnson's record at Vanderbilt says. The guy can coach.

Bryant Hahnfeldt, kicker, Vanderbilt: On a day when Vanderbilt didn't score an offensive touchdown and was held to just 200 yards of total offense, Hahnfeldt was the Commodores' offense. The senior kicker went out in style with field goals of 45, 42 and 26 yards. The 45-yarder with 3:26 left was the game-winner.

Ventrell Jenkins, defensive tackle, Kentucky: The Wildcats' defense ended the season the way it started it, and Jenkins' 56-yard fumble return for a touchdown was the difference. He scooped up a loose ball, forced by fellow defensive tackle Myron Pryor, used a mean stiff-arm and showcased uncanny balance for a 285-pound lineman on his way to the end zone in Kentucky's 25-19 win over East Carolina in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The Wildcats rallied from a 16-3 halftime deficit.

Matthew Stafford, quarterback, Georgia: In what turned out to be his final game at Georgia, Stafford shook off a poor first half to throw all three of his touchdown passes in the second half, leading the Bulldogs to a 24-12 victory over Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl. Stafford completed 14 of his final 17 passes, including his three touchdown strikes. He set a single-season school record with 25 touchdown passes.