The games don't matter, but the results certainly do. Spring football has come to a close, giving us crowds of over 61,000 at the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Tennessee. It also provided performances to praise and degrade over the months ahead. Here is a look at the season's biggest winners and losers. (Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports)
John Reed-USA TODAY SportsJohn Reed
Winner: Nick Marshall, QB Auburn
Gus Malzahn's has focused on making the Tigers' passing game -- which averaged just 173 yards per game (106th in FBS) -- more of a compliment to last season's top-ranked rushing unit (328.3). That starts with Marshall, who with a litany of top players at the position gone across the SEC, has a chance to become one of the league's biggest stars. He looked more comfortable in the pocket in finishing 13 of 22 for 236 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions and, as Malzahn noted, "he didn't put the ball in jeopardy."
Loser: Todd Grantham, DC Louisville
Grantham, the new Cardinals defensive coordinator, who will be pulling down $975,000 this season, didn't have quite the desired impact on the D this spring. The offense racked up 951 yards and 11 touchdowns, including 542 and four TDs through the air via Will Gardner. Grantham is installing a 3-4 scheme and Louisville did lost seven starters on defense, including its two leading tacklers, but considering the offense was also adjusting to new/old coach Bobby Petrino's playbook, and it had that level of success, it may be a tough transition to the new defensive alignment.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsDale Zanine
Winner: Hutson Mason, QB Georgia
Mason isn't an unknown commodity. He waited four seasons to enter a season as the Bulldogs' No. 1 QB, and actually got a head start when Aaron Murray was lost to a knee injury last November. Still, he's following the most prolific passer in SEC history and Mason looked polished in his first G-Day as Georgia's No. 1 QB, throwing for 241 yards, a TD and zero picks on 18 of 27 passing. The redshirt senior may not make anyone forget Murray, but he's setting the Bulldogs up for a transition that should be a smooth one.
Jim Brown-USA TODAY SportsJim Brown
Loser: Georgia Tech
This isn't all about the attendance -- some sources had it as low as 117, while a school spokesman said it was closer to 2,000 -- a situation that had a lot to do with bad weather that included 40-degree temperatures and heavy rain. The Yellow Jackets fumbled 13 times and the expected starting QB, Justin Thomas, was out with a shoulder injury. Likely backup Tim Byerly at least added a bright spot with 101 rushing yard and 69 passing yards and two combined TDs. As coach Paul Johnson said afterward "It was less than ideal."
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsKyle Terada
Winner: Stanford defense
The Cardinal entered the spring needing to find replacements for defensive end Ben Gardner, free safety Ed Reynolds and linebackers Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov, but those losses mattered little in a spring game the defense won 47-23. In a format in which it was offense (Cardinal) vs. defense (White), both Chandler Dorrell and John Flacco intercepted a pass for a score as the D racked up eight sacks, eight pass breakups and 14 tackles for loss.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY SportsMarvin Gentry
Loser: Blake Sims, QB Alabama
There was never going to be an answer to the Crimson Tide's QB search in the A-Day Game, not with Florida State transfer Jacob Coker unavailable until the summer due to his still take classes in Tallahassee. Redshirt junior Blake Sims hit on 40 of 52 attempts in the two previous scrimmages combined, but he didn't exactly seize the opportunity of having the spotlight to himself in the spring game going 13 of 30 -- including 5 of 15 through the first three quarters -- for 178 yards, two interceptions and one TD.
Winner: Imani Cross, RB Nebraska
Maybe the best scene of the spring came out of Nebraska, as Bo Pelini came out of the tunnel holding a cat as a nod to Twitter tribute account @FauxPelini, but Cross did his part to add some excitement as he ran for 100 yards and two scores vs. the Cornhuskers' No. 1 defense. That he did this with top runner Ameer Abdullah out to avoid any possible injury, it sets the stage for Nebraska to have a potentially potent 1-2 combo in its backfield this fall.
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY SportsMark D. Smith
Loser: Trevor Knight, QB Oklahoma
After a regular season in which the Sooners dealt with the Blake Bell/Trevor Knight debate, Knight's performance vs. Alabama in the Sugar Bowl (32 of 44 for 348 yards and four TDs) seemed like a signal that Oklahoma was set at QB. The spring game didn't exactly back that up, as Knight went 5 of 14 for 53 yards and an interception. Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield was 9 of 9 for 125 yards and two TDs, but the Texas Tech transfer has to set out a year and Bell has switched to tight end, so Knight can at least rest assured he's still the starter in Norman.
Winner: Yellowhammer State attendance
On April 19, 73,605 flooded Bryant-Denny Stadium for Alabama's spring game, while 160 miles away, 70,465 attended Auburn's game at Jordan-Hare. Those two figures ranked first and third among all spring game attendance figures. Adding to the state's impressive seat-filling was Troy, which had 5,500 at its game; that's more than 10 major-conference schools, including Illinois (5,105), Minnesota (5,000), Syraucse (4,021), Duke (4,000) and Oklahoma State (2,500). (Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports)
Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY SportsBrendan Maloney
Loser: Tyrone Swoopes, QB Texas
The only healthy scholarship QB on the Longhorns roster, Swoopes did threw for 229 yards, three scores and an interception. Dig a little deeper, though, and it was up and down as missed on seven of his first nine passes in looking overwhelmed at times against the No. 2 defense. His first four possessions included a pick, a punt, a three-and-out and a missed field goal after generating zero yards on three plays. It's unlikely the performance was enough to keep injured David Ash, out with a fractured left foot, from remaining Texas' starter.