Power Ranking the 10 College Football QBs We'd Want with the Game on the Line
At least one game each Saturday will come down to a two-minute drill where a team will either drive to the end zone for a thrilling last-second victory or turn the ball over on downs, short of the goal line.
Though this scenario could also end in with a fumble, interception or field goal, the general idea is the same—your team's season is on the line and more than likely your fate is now in the hands of the 20-something kid under center.
Yes, your Saturday, your weekend and your season comes down to whether your team's QB can display the calm, cool composure necessary to drive a football down the field within a very limited time frame.
The following slideshow power ranks the 10 guys in 2012 that we’d most want to be in our team's colors if the game came down to a two-minute drill.
Each of these QBs boast pass efficiency, decision-making skills and each play for teams that have been ultra-successful at scoring in the fourth quarter in 2012.
Bonus points are given to guys who can run the ball, because when you’ve got two minutes left on the clock, the double-threat is even more, well, threatening.
10. Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Clemson’s Tajh Boyd is 176-of-260 passing for 2,336 yards, 20 TDs and six picks in 2012 earning the No. 10 spot nationally in passer efficiency with a solid rating of 163.9.
In terms of what Boyd can bring to the table for a little late-game scoring, he leads the offense that ranks No. 21 in the nation in fourth-quarter points in 2012.
Recent highlights include a solid 17-point fourth-quarter run vs. Georgia Tech in Week 6, but really the Tigers final period points are relative to the fact that they have blown out the majority of their opponents this season.
9. Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech
The leader of one of the most prolific offenses in 2012, Louisiana Tech’s Colby Cameron is currently the No. 14 QB in the FBS in terms of pass efficiency.
Cameron is 225-of-319 passing for 2,598 yards, 21 TDs and zero picks through eight games earning him a passer rating of 160.7.
Cameron was the on-field engineer of two-touchdown fourth quarters at Houston, vs. Rice and vs. UNLV and was also under center for the Bulldogs 27-point final-period near-miss vs. Texas A&M.
Overall, the Bulldogs rank No. 5 nationally in fourth-quarter points which is even more impressive when you throw in the fact that they’ve faced three BCS teams in 2012.
What Techsters have got to like about their gunslinger, especially when the game is on the line, is that he hasn’t thrown a pick all year, making him all the more dangerous when the clock gets low on ticks.
8. Geno Smith, West Virginia
Putting West Virginia’s two-game offensive skid to one side, Geno Smith is still as hazardous to opposing defenses as ever, and this means that the fourth quarter is no exception.
Smith is 217-of-292 passing for 2,417 yards, 26 TDs and two picks making him No. 4 in terms of passer rating.
And despite the fact that much of the Mountaineers’ early work this season involved lopsided scoreboards, West Virginia No. 6 in terms of final-period scoring.
This ranking is due in large fact to 14-point fourth-quarter performances vs. Marshall, vs. Baylor and then in the thriller at Texas.
7. A.J. McCarron, Alabama
Working rather quietly out of the Tuscaloosa metropolitan area in 2012, we find A.J. McCarron who is the nation’s top-rated QB playing for the nation’s top-rated team.
McCarron and company rank No. 7 nationally in fourth-quarter points, and his stats point to an efficient, careful delivery of the ball.
Through eight games McCarron is 122-of-177 passing for 1,684 yards, 18 TDs and zero INTs making him scary no matter which quarter it is.
6. Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
A guy who hasn’t gotten a lot of love from a nation standpoint this season, Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly headlines the No. 2-ranked fourth-quarter scoring offense in the land.
Though Kelly is not a top rusher by any stretch of the imagination his 300-plus ground yards complement his passing numbers which include 147-of-217 passing, 2,008 yards, 19 TDs and five picks.
Kelly’s numbers equate to an impressive No. 5 ranking in passer rating and his body of late-game work includes a 13-point comeback win at Missouri and then 17-point final-period runs at Colorado and vs. UCLA (that sadly ended in defeat).
5. E.J. Manuel, Florida State
A critical component of Florida State’s success in 2012, QB E.J. Manuel is 161-of-230 passing for 2,315 yards, 16 TDs and four INTs in 2012, earning him the No. 3 spot in passer rating.
Even though the Seminoles are another team that has enjoyed their fair share of lopsided victories, FSU managed two big fourth-quarter finishes that are definitely season “makers” as opposed to “breakers.”
Manuel led the ‘Noles O to a 14-point final period vs. Clemson and then engineered a 17-point ending at Miami (Fla.).
4. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
After watching “Johnny Football” storm through eight college football games as a mere freshman, it’s difficult to shake the feeling that he can do just about anything..
And that includes create some real havoc at the end of game.
Manziel is 173-of-269 passing for 2,216 yards, 16 TDs and six INTs as a passer in 2012 (No. 30 nationally), but what makes him dangerous, in every quarter, are his rushing stats; 793 yards and 13 additional scores on 117 carries.
To illustrate what the youngster can do late in games, he’s the guy who brought A&M back with 14 final-period points to beat Ole Miss and then racked up two TDs in a thrilling fourth-quarter vs. Louisiana Tech that ended with a 59-57 Aggie win.
3. Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Perhaps the most valuable offensive contributor to any specific team, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller is responsible for around 65 percent of the Buckeye’s total offensive output in 2012.
Miller is 112-of-198 passing for 1,527 yards, 12 TDs and six INTs as a passer and then has wowed just about everyone with 1,093 yards and 12 additional scores on 166 carries as a rusher.
Simply put, if the games on the line, it’s the play of the young Miller that will likely be the deciding factor for Ohio State.
And, as they say, the proof is in the pudding (whatever the hell that means…); Miller orchestrated a 15-point game-saving fourth-quarter run vs. Cal, and then he led the Bucks to 14 more game-saving points in an epic near-miss at Indiana.
2. Collin Klein, Kansas State
Though Kansas State’s Collin Klein hasn’t been in position to pull the Wildcats out of the fire of near-defeat in 2012, this doesn’t mean that he isn’t precisely the kind of guy you’d want leading your team in a season-saving two-minute drill.
Klein is currently the No. 2-ranked QB in terms of passer rating, and despite K-State’s romp-a-domp through its first eight opponents, the Wildcats rank No. 1 nationally in fourth-quarter scoring.
Klein is 117-of-165 passing for 1,630 yards, 12 TDs and two picks thus far in 2012, stats that are boosted immeasurably by rushing numbers which include 639 yards and a whopping 16 TDs on 122 carries.
If you’re wondering what Klein and company can do when the chips are down, how about their 14-point final-period run in the 24-19 oh so important victory at Oklahoma?
1. Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Way up at No. 1 on our list we find a bit of an unknown in Northern Illinois’ super-QB Jordan Lynch.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch Lynch and the 8-1 Huskies, you may want to watch a little MAC ball before the season shuts down for good.
Lynch has simply done it all this season, and his body of work makes it fairly simple to declare him the right guy to lead us to victory when the game is on the line.
Lynch is 147-of-239 passing for 1,984 yards, 17 TDs and three INTs as a passer and then has managed to tack on a mind-bending 1,185 yards and 15 TDs on 170 carries as a rusher.
If you’re wondering how solid Lynch’s numbers as runner are, well, he’s the No. 5-ranked rusher in the country through nine weeks of play. And this means that only four guys have rushed for more yards this season than has Lynch, and they are all running backs.
As a team, Northern Illinois ranks No. 3 nationally in fourth-quarter scoring, and when you put all these components together, the Lynch-led Huskies have put on a show in the final period this season.
To illustrate, there is the 13-point fourth quarter comeback win at Army (41-40) and the 17-point fourth-quarter comeback win vs. Kansas (30-23).
And if that’s not enough to wet your whistle, how about 14 fourth-quarter points to ice Ball State (35-23) and then last weekend’s 17-point final period tour de force to best Western Michigan (48-34)?