Here comes day 2 of the Best of 2014 series and today we'll look at the best single-game performances of the 2014 regular season. There are some great nominees, and I probably left a few off, but this is a democracy, so let's discuss! The consensus among the comments will receive the hallowed NAFEITFOBA
Best Single-Game Performance
Jay Ajayi vs. Utah State
Aside from the championship game, this was the Broncos most pivotal game of the year. Much had been said about the "vaunted" Aggie defense going into the de facto division championship matchup...well, if the Aggie D was vaunted before the game, they were haunted after—the Jay Train rushed for 229 yards and scored 5 TDs as the Broncos left Utah State in the dust. His performance ultimately clinched him the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year Award. Oh, wait...
Jay Ajayi vs. Colorado State
The Broncos put up the fifth most yards in school history against the Rams (676) and 280 belonged to Ajayi, who rushed for 219 yards and 2 scores and caught 4 passes for 61 yards and another score. This is the game that first sparked the "is Jay Ajayi being over-utilized?" argument. The answer: a resounding "no".
Grant Hedrick vs. New Mexico
There's really no two ways about it...this was an amazing performance by the senior signal-caller. Most will remember the Broncos' defensive struggles and the "controversial" 4th down call when reminiscing (or having nightmares) about the tussle in Albequerque—but you'd do well to remember Grant's dazzling performance. Hedrick accounted for 498 of Boise State's 658 total yards (75%) and was responsible for 6 touchdowns (2 on the ground, 4 through the air). Grant's game will go down in Bronco lore as well, because it was the first time since in the FBS era, the Broncos have had a player pass for over 300 yards and rush for over 100 yards in a game.
Tanner Vallejo vs. Fresno State (part deux)
Vallejo was a man possessed in the Mountain West Championship game, possessed by Dick Butkus, possibly. The sophomore (hooray) linebacker—who happened to carry The Hammer that evening—notched 13 tackles—3 for loss—and also put points on the board with a 63 yard pick six. Maybe equally as awesome, fellow sophomore Ben Weaver had 16 tackles on the night...I think we're good at LB for the next two years.
Kamalei Correa vs. Wyoming
Correa was pretty good at wrecking stuff this year, but after a sub-par performance against San Diego State (by his standards), he told Coach Yates he "owed" him two games. The following week, the Broncos headed to Laramie and Correa played possibly his best game of the season. Correa had just 4 tackles against the Cowboys, but he made them count—3 of them were sacks. That's a good ratio, by the way.
Darian Thompson vs. Nevada
Thompson seemed to have his best games against all the right teams this year and the right-the-ship matchup in Reno was definitely one. Thompson had a solid 6 tackles against the Wolf Pack, but more importantly picked off Nevada QB Cody Fajardo twice...helping pad his impressive INT numbers on the year and helping the Broncos escape with a win.