Auburn QB Cam Newton
Many comparisons have been made between two of the country's Heisman-leading dual-threat QBs, Cam Newton of Auburn and Terrelle Pryor of The Ohio State University.
Both are big, highly athletic, mobile QBs who are leading their undefeated teams in a march towards a potential BCS championship game matchup in January.
Both teams face big games this weekend, and we're sure to have a clearer picture of their progress after Saturday.
But it says here Newton is ahead of Pryor, albeit slightly, in terms of determining not only who's having the better statistical season, but who's the better overall QB as well.
Decide for yourself:
Tale of the Tape
Newton is a junior listed at 6'6", 250 lbs. The Florida transfer has completed 65 percent of his passes and posted 12 TD passes against five INTs.
Most impressive, however, are Newton's rushing stats. He's always a threat to break from the pocket and has a nasty streak, consistently pummeling LBs and DBs for extra yards. He's rushed for 672 yards and nine TDs and averages 112 yards per game and 6.5 yards per attempt. In fact, he's the leading rusher in the SEC and 12th in the country.
Pryor, also a junior, is listed at 6'6", 233 lbs. This three-year starter has thrown for 15 TDs against just three INTs and completes 68 percent of his throws.
Pryor is also a running threat but too often waits too long before escaping a collapsing pocket. He's been sacked 11 times already this season—way too many for a guy with his athletic ability. But three rushing attempts last week against Indiana for minus-19 yards doesn't exactly say "dual threat" to me.
On the intangible side, Newton is a first-year player, having played at Blinn JC last year after transferring from Florida in 2008. Although he enrolled in the spring, having to come in and learn OC Gus Malzahn's complicated zone read system, which requires quick and decisive decision-making skills, is certainly impressive.
Additionally, Newton plays in arguably the toughest conference in the country and has led the Tigers to three comeback wins in six games, putting his stamp on his young legacy.
The toughest challenges lie ahead for Newton and the Tigers, however. This week's game against Arkansas, next week vs. LSU, the Iron Bowl matchup against defending national champ Alabama and a potential SEC championship game all loom large in the headlights.
Ohio State is rightly criticized for its soft schedule. The Big Ten is not the SEC week in and week out—no offense given. Pryor always seems to leave Buckeye fans in head-scratching mode, wanting more from him, as he gave against Oregon in the Rose Bowl as one example.
Pryor does carry around some pretty weighty expectations, unlike Newton. For the most part, much of the criticism thrown his way has been unwarranted. But Ohio State simply does not play in enough marquee games for him to out-perform at the highest level. Unless Pryor wins a national championship, it's likely his legacy will never be fulfilled.
He does have a chance on national television this week against Wisconsin to catch some more Heisman buzz, but it doesn't help when Michigan QB Denard Robinson is putting up video game-like numbers each week in the same conference.
I think what Newton has accomplished in a shorter time frame against superior competition ranks him higher than Pryor at this stage of their careers. A lot could change this weekend, but here's hoping both squads win out and have a change to match up for the national title.
Great story lines don't always make great games, but these two superb athletes hold their teams' destinies in their hands.