Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook just put the nation on notice with his monstrous performance in the Spartans' 24-20 Rose Bowl victory over Stanford. Get used to seeing Cook in the spotlight, and don't be surprised if he emerges as the Big Ten's best signal-caller in 2014.
The sophomore from Ohio, who's rated by CBS Sports as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2016 NFL draft class, torched the Stanford Cardinal defense to the tune of 332 yards, a season high, and two touchdowns.
|Stats from Big Ten Quarterbacks in Bowl Games|
|School||Player||Bowl Game||Comp/Att||Pass Yards||Pass TD||INT|
|Michigan||Shane Morris||Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl||24/38||196||0||1|
|Nebraska||Tommy Armstrong Jr.||Gator Bowl||6/14||163||2||1|
|Iowa||Jake Rudock||Outback Bowl||9/22||102||0||1|
|Wisconsin||Joel Stave||Capital One Bowl||9/13||80||2||1|
|Minnesota||Mitch Leidner||Texas Bowl||11/22||205||2||0|
|Michigan State||Connor Cook||Rose Bowl||22/36||332||2||1|
Those numbers are the best that any Big Ten quarterback has put up in the bowl season so far, with only Braxton Miller from Ohio State left to play.
With Miller possibly going to the NFL, the stage is set for Cook to take the throne as the conference's best gunslinger.
In all honesty, he was widely underrated in the 2013 season. He didn't have a single multi-interception game all year, he threw for at least 200 yards eight times and had seven games with two or more touchdown passes.
In the Big Ten, among quarterbacks who attempted at least 300 passes (seven players), Cook threw the fewest interceptions with just five.
Before the Rose Bowl, his best showing was against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship, when Ohio State was one win away from a national title berth.
In that game, Cook threw for a then-season-high 304 yards and three touchdowns en route to a 34-24 win.
Among Cook's competitors for the title of the conference's best quarterback will be Christian Hackenberg from Penn State, Nate Sudfeld from Indiana and either Devin Gardner or Shane Morris, whoever ends up winning the Michigan job in the offseason.
But all of those teams are on a downslide, while Michigan State is looking like a possible national title contender next season.
If the Spartans want to have a chance at playing for a national title next season, it'll be Connor Cook to take them there.