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Friday, December 7, 2012
SEC: Who will transform in a bowl?

By Edward Aschoff

Johnthan Banks is probably soaring after winning the Jim Thorpe Award. The award given to the nation's top defensive back would make any corner giddy, but Mississippi State's senior is still looking for more.

After such a good first half of the 2012 season, Banks had some struggles during the second half. Through the first seven games, Banks recorded four interceptions and was at the center of the debate for the country's top cornerback. But by the end of the season, Banks had the same amount of interceptions and was probably tired of watching highlights of him during the last five games.

The All-American talent had a bit of a drought in the month of November, and you know that had to have irked him. He thrives on making big plays and wasn't making the kinds that made him so deadly in the defensive backfield. The player so used to frustrating quarterbacks and wide receivers even saw himself chasing down receivers from behind. Getting beaten was never really something Banks had to worry about, but he was a victim at times in November.

But Banks is still a special talent, and against Northwestern in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl, he'll look like the old Banks that made a living taking the ball away from the opposition.

The Wildcats don't really throw the ball all that much. In fact, Northwestern ended the season ranking 112th in passing offense with 166.8 yards per game. The Wildcats also threw just 14 touchdown passes, but also only threw four interceptions. With an offense that is very run heavy, the Wildcats will try to keep Banks out of their way as much as possible.

But the Wildcats will have to throw the ball, and when they do, Banks will be there to make it very difficult for them. He hasn't been productive in the big-play department in quite so time, but that will change on Jan. 1. The Wildcats will be forced into tough situations with Banks manning the Bulldogs' defensive backfield.

He's going to make life miserable for Northwestern's passing game. The interception drought will end and Banks will truly look like the Thorpe Award winner when the Bulldogs take on the Wildcats in January.