Some of you might have seen Ivan Maisel's All-Bowl Team, which ESPN published last week. There's more than one thing that one might quibble with on the list, but let's talk about Maisel's choice of Johnny Manziel as his QB over Connor Shaw.
Manziel has a good case. Against Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Johnny Football threw for 382 yards, ran for 73 more, and had a 93.4 QBR. He threw for four touchdowns and ran for one more. He led a dramatic comeback in a game that briefly looked like it might be an embarrassing blowout loss to the Blue Devils. He basically saved what has already been a disappointing season in that sense. His play was just as highlight-laden as it has always been, with one play in particular where he spun out of a tackle and tossed a nineteen-yard touchdown to Travis Labhart getting a lot of play.
On the face of it statistically, Shaw's case isn't quite as strong. Shaw threw for 312 yards, and ran for 47. He had a QBR of only 87.7. Like Manziel, he accounted for five touchdowns, this time by throwing for three, running for one, and catching another on a WR pass from Bruce Ellington. Really impressive stuff, no doubt, but not quite as eye-opening.
Shaw was also arguably bailed out by his receivers a couple of times, particularly on one fourth-down play where Ellington made an acrobatic grab on a slightly misthrown ball. Shaq Roland also came down on a jump ball that, even if it wasn't a bad throw, exactly, was definitely on a play where the WR was the one doing doing most of the work. By contrast, many of Manziel's big plays highlighted the Texas A&M QB's penchant for creating something out of nothing.
Is Shaw completely without a case, though? One thing in his favor is that whereas Manziel bolstered his statistics against the FEI 70th-ranked defense, Shaw did so against Wisconsin's FEI 13th-ranked unit. Granted, Wisconsin's defensive weakness was clearly its secondary, but the Badgers were good against the run, meaning that there was a lot of pressure on Shaw to be the hero. The Blue Devils were bad against everything, making it mildly surprising that Manziel didn't put up more yards than he did, considering that he's put up better numbers against better defenses in the past.
You also have to really love that Shaw caught, ran for, and threw for touchdowns. I'm not sure where one would find out when the last time that happened was, but it's certainly been a while. That has to count for something.
This is probably a pointless thing to argue about, because you just knew Manziel would top the "best of" bowl lists after his New Year's Eve performance, and he probably deserves it. But I really think Shaw deserves more national accolades for his work, as well, and best QB of bowl season seems like the most reasonable thing that could have been given to him. He definitely has a case.
Who would you give the spot to? Try to take off your garnet-colored glasses for a minute and share your thoughts.