Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus (vs. Miami)
The second week of the college football season just concluded and there have been some notable performances by quarterbacks in the Big Ten thus far. The teams predicted to finish atop the Big Ten conference have stood tall and won big games, essentially giving the conference a jolt in terms of respect around the nation.
But college football is just like professional football: A very good quarterback can take a team to the highest plateau. When looking at what quarterbacks in the Big Ten have already done two games into the season, one can’t help but be impressed by the stellar play of the signal callers.
In celebration of the solid quarterback play thus far, I’ve decided to rank the top five quarterbacks in the conference. The criteria on which I based my acute rankings are team play, personal play and level of opponent. Some quarterbacks have shown more than others, but that also has to do with how games have been won.
Each quarterback’s team on this list has not lost a game. Let’s get into it.
QB Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien has grown into the role as offensive leader, becoming more patient and mature in Bret Bielema’s offense.
He has managed his team well so far, although he only has one touchdown as opposed to two interceptions—and those came against weaker opponents in UNLV and San Jose State. Tolzien will need to make big throws once conference play starts (which is true for the majority of quarterbacks in the Big Ten thus far).
QB Kirk Cousins, Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State is undefeated, and it has been the running game which has carried the Spartans so far. Still, Kirk Cousins has played well for the most part, although missing some open receivers has been a problem not many anticipated for the junior. He certainly has plenty of room for improvement.
The offense is expected to be let loose in the upcoming game against Notre Dame. Cousins had a crucial interception in last year’s game at South Bend, but he has the poise and skill set to overcome that mistake. He also has the conference’s best receiving corps to help him.
QB Ricky Stanzi, Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi is second among Big Ten quarterbacks in passer rating (183.59), throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions. He is the undeniable leader of the Hawkeyes and his presence alone gives Kirk Ferentz’s team a chance to win.
Stanzi’s season almost suffered a major blow as he hurt his ankle in the team’s opener against Eastern Illinois. Luckily for him and the Iowa faithful, it wasn’t serious and he will continue to try to get Iowa to the Promised Land.
QB Denard Robinson, Michigan Wolverines
The roller coaster known as the Rich Rodriguez regime has endured heartbreak and painful losses over his first two seasons as coach, but the light at the end of the tunnel may have come early in the form of Denard Robinson.
A Michael Vick-like QB, Robinson has led the Wolverines to an undefeated start by using his feet more than his arm. He leads the Big Ten in rushing yards, and three of his five total touchdowns have come on the ground. There are still skeptics who believe he will not be able to run wild on most Big Ten defenses. For now, he is the Michigan offense.
QB Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State Buckeyes
As Ohio State continues to roll over its competition, Pryor continues to get better. He has five total touchdowns in the first two games, but maybe more importantly, he has no interceptions. He can run and pass, a lethal combination that led to the Buckeyes’ victory in the Rose Bowl last season.
Pryor is highly-touted and seems to be making fewer and fewer mistakes as he gets older. He is the biggest threat in the Big Ten on either side of the ball, reminding me of a young Daunte Culpepper because of his throwing ability and ability to improvise when offensive schemes break down. If he keeps playing at this level there is no reason Ohio State shouldn’t play in the BCS championship game