College Football 2013: The Season's 5 Best Single-Game Performances, Which Freshman QB Not Named Winston Made the List?By Russell Westerholm
College football has seen some memorable performances, both in statistical and morale value.
While "moral victories" cannot be quantified, two players on this list led their teams to wins in what may as well have been their bowl game.
Then there is the "statement win," which are victories that the entire sport take notice of. Two of the players on the list delivered statements wins when their team needed it, with ridiculous numbers on nights where the nation was watching.
The last of these five delivered a memorable game in a losing effort in a clash of defensive fortitude and offensive firepower that will not soon be forgotten.
5. Christian Hackenberg leads Penn State to season finale upset of Wisconsin
If Bill O'Brien stays in Happy Valley, Christian Hackenberg will be the reason.
A true freshman, Hackenberg enjoyed a nice season, tossing 20 scores and 10 picks, but he gave the Nittany Lions faithful a game to remember.
NCAA sanctions have kept the team out of bowl game eligibility and reduced scholarships have weakened their recruiting abilities, but O'Brien hit the nail on the head with Hackenberg. The freshman QB was nearly perfect against the 15th-ranked Badgers, throwing for four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also accumulated 339 yards through the air and completed 70 percent of his passes.
Penn State fans were treated to a defacto bowl game with this road-game 31-24 upset on the final game of their season.
4. Andre Williams dominates NC State's defense
Running back Andre Williams came virtually out of nowhere to compete for the Heisman this year, and his game against NC State was certainly a big factor.
He rushed for a Boston College single-game record 339 yards and scored twice on 42 carries in a 38-21 victory. The win also ensured bowl eligibility for the BC Eagles. NC State may have finished 0-7 against fellow ACC opponents, but Williams' game and season provided a much-needed spark for the BC football community.
3. Tre Mason puts away Missouri in the SEC Championship
Against Missouri for the SEC Championship, running back Tre Mason backed up his coach's claim that the Auburn Tigers could "run on anyone."
He was a one-man wrecking crew with 304 yards, four touchdowns, 46 carries and an average of 6.6 yards per carry in a 59-42 victory. The game likely contributed to Mason's name appearing as a Heisman finalist and also helped propel Auburn to the National Championship game.
Also not to be forgotten is Mason's 29 carries and 164 yards in the Alabama Iron Bowl upset.
2. Johnny Manziel loses Alabama rematch, but terrorizes Tide defense... again
Alabama may not be playing for the National Championship this year, but the Crimson Tide defense is still not be reckoned with, unless your name is Johnny Manziel.
Last year, Manziel lead Texas A&M to an unbelievable upset in Tuscaloosa and nearly did so again in the rematch taking place in College Station. With many experts and pundits opining that a year of preparation for Saban and the Tide would handle Manziel, but the game's most exciting player found new ways to carve up the nation's best defense.
Manziel accumulated 98 yards on the ground and 464 yards through the air, putting on display arm strength and accuracy downfield no one knew he possessed. Saban may have come away with a 49-42 win, but his expression afterwards made him looked more like he dodged a train.
1. Jameis Winston's "statement win" against Clemson
Jameis Winston's five best games could have arguably filled these five spots, but leading Florida State to a mid-season upset of Clemson was one of the highlights in the eventual Heisman winner's season.
At the time, Clemson was ranked third-overall and Florida State was fifth, Tajh Boyd, a senior, was also a Heisman favorite. The game was also in Clemson, S.C., also known as "Death Valley."
None of it mattered in the slightest to the freshman phenom, who threw for 444 yards, three touchdowns, adding another score on the ground. Florida State won convincingly 51-14 en route to a National Championship appearance.