Greg Paulus: Will the Big Ten's Nemesis Strike Again?

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Greg Paulus: Will the Big Ten's Nemesis Strike Again?
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Without question, the most famous member of Syracuse University's 2009 football team is the third-string quarterback. 

Of course, this isn't just any ordinary third-string quarterback we're talking about.

This is Greg Paulus.

The same Paulus who started 100 games at point guard for the Duke Blue Devils' basketball team.

The Paulus who was widely considered the best high school quarterback (if not the best high school football player period) in the country, five short years ago.

(If you need a refresher course on the history, read this 2004 recruiting post where Paulus is compared to Joe Montana and ranked above future stars like Mark Sanchez, Derrick Williams, and Rashard Mendenhall.)

Of course, quarterbacking is in Paulus' bloodlines. Even while Paulus has been in sneakers instead of cleats at Duke University, his brother Mike has been under center for the North Carolina football team, just a few miles down Tobacco Road.

So no, Paulus isn't a normal third-string quarterback. In fact, by the time Syracuse opens its football season in four weeks, he could very well be the starter.

First-year Orange head coach Doug Marrone told reporters at the Big East Conference Football Media Day this week that he still hasn't seen Paulus throw a football in person, due to rules governing offseason workouts.

Perhaps for that reason alone, the graduate student with only one year of gridiron eligibility currently finds himself looking up the 2009 preseason depth chart at both projected starter Ryan Nassib and 2008 starter Cameron Dantley.

Once camp begins, however, it's anybody's job for the taking, and Paulus could very well surpass both returning veterans by the first game.

If Paulus, a former Gatorade National High School Football Player of the Year, does earn the starting nod before the season opener, he couldn't script a better start to the schedule—after all, Syracuse's first three games are against Big Ten teams.

And if there's anything Paulus loves, it's competing against (and having his way with) the Big Ten.

Let's look at the numbers, shall we? 

In the last four basketball seasons, Paulus and the Blue Devils' squad have gone 7-1 against Big Ten opponents, with the only blemish an 81-73 defeat at Michigan in a regular-season rematch this past December.  

In total, Paulus and company have knocked off five different Big Ten programs (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Purdue, and Wisconsin) during his college basketball career; and it hasn't really been close.  

The average margin of victory in the seven wins was over 15 points a game.

SEC football fans like to throw around numbers about their league's supposed dominance over the Big Ten, but they don't even come close to the one-sided record Duke's basketball team has amassed against the conference under head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

In fact, the Blue Devils are still undefeated in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, 10-0 all-time, with Paulus participating in almost half of those games.

(And just to be clear, the point guard contributed for Coach K as both a starter and a reserve over the past few seasons. In other words, just because he may not be "the guy" from day one in Syracuse, don't count him out!)

So for Big Ten-killer Paulus, what better way to start his college football career than hosting Minnesota, visiting Penn State, and hosting Northwestern in the season's first three weekends? 

For an Orange squad that has only won three games just a year ago, hopes are high that Paulus can make a difference in 2009—but there's no way he can match 2008's win total in his first three games alone.

Or can he?

Let's just say that from the Big Ten's point of view, fans had better hope the Orange quarterback needs a few weeks to knock off five years of rust. Because with the way Greg Paulus has owned the Big Ten, the Gophers, Lions, and Wildcats have a bit more reason to worry this September.

 

**This article was originally posted on FirstandBigTen.com, a Bleacher Report blog covering Big Ten football.  Find out more about FBT on Twitter or discuss articles at @FirstandBigTen.**

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