We here at the Quarterback Scramble would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the great signal callers around college football, all those kids who scrapped their way into (and, in some cases, out of) the Heisman Trophy race, for making the 2011 regular season so freakin' entertaining.
And I'm not talking about guys like Andrew Luck, Kellen Moore, Brandon Weeden and Matt Barkley necessarily—the ones we knew would be terrific—though they certainly deserve some praise and, as such, will receive some.
No, I'm referring instead to the surprises of the season, the guys who came out of nowhere and dazzled us with their play—Robert Griffin III, Case Keenum, Chandler Harnish, etc.
When they were on national TV, that is.
The true beauty of college football as a sport is the element of surprise coupled with the thrill of seeing some dude scramble out of trouble and chuck the ball 30 or 40 yards downfield for a score.
Okay, so maybe the parameters aren't THAT strict, but you get what I mean, don't you? The NBA likes to say it's where amazing happens, but that phrase applies much more accurately to Saturdays on the gridiron.
Or Tuesdays and Wednesdays, if you play in the MAC.
Now, all we're left with is a protracted bowl season full of boring matchups, shameless product pushing and, of course, BCS controversy.
But before we all get too wrapped up in who's playing who in the Toilet Bowl presented by Roto Rooter, let's have a look at the quarterback rankings—brief this week, after all the DNPs from Championship Saturday—as we approach the holiday season.
Note to all my die-hard fans who can't live without their weekly Top-25 fix: There will be one more, final edition of the QB Scramble to come after the bowl season, so sit tight.
Interestingly enough, Championship Saturday turned out to be a fairly bad day for quarterbacks overall, and not just because there were so few of them playing.
Some of the QB Scramble's own posted unseasonably poor performances during their final games of the regular season, particularly on the biggest stages, under the brightest and the most pressing circumstances.
Like these two.
17. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech: 22-of-44 for 274 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in a 38-10 loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.
2011 Stats: 2,799 yards, 19 TDs, 9 INTs, 59.2 percent pass completions; 137 carries, 416 yards, 10 TDs rushing
19. Landry Jones, Oklahoma: 27-of-50 for 250 yards and two interceptions in a 44-10 defeat against Oklahoma State in the Bedlam Game.
2011 Stats: 4,302 yards, 28 TDs, 14 INTs, 63.1 percent pass completions
We've got a tidy list of honorable mentions from last week, ultimately as a result of the equally tidy schedule of games that was played.
Still, some solid performances from folks outside the usual fray.
Riley Nelson, BYU: 25-of-37 for 363 yards with three touchdowns in a 41-20 win at Hawaii.
2011 Stats: 1,467 yards, 16 TDs, 5 INTs, 61.1 percent pass completions; 75 carries, 376 yards, 1 TD rushing
Tyler Lantrip, Nevada: 24-of-31 for 340 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-3 victory over Idaho.
2011 Stats: 1,496 yards, 10 TDs, 6 INTs, 61.8 percent pass completions; 55 carries, 198 yards rushing
Derek Carr, Fresno State: 19-of-35 for 336 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in a 35-28 loss at San Diego State.
2011 Stats: 3,544 yards, 26 TDs, 9 INTs, 62.6 percent pass completions
Ryan Aplin, Arkansas State: 25-of-37 for 356 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, with 16 carries for 35 yards rushing in a 45-14 win against Troy.
2011 Stats: 3,235 yards, 18 TDs, 13 INTs, 65.6 percent pass completions; 151 carries, 605 yards, 9 TDs rushing
Zac Dysert played his last game of the season during Rivalry Week, when Miami (OH) lost to Ohio and dropped to 4-8 overall.
2011 Stats: 3,513 yards, 23 TDs, 11 INTs, 65.8 percent pass completions; 125 carries, 115 yards, 4 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 24
Keep your eye out for Connor Shaw during the bowl season, when he will lead South Carolina against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl on January 2.
2011 Stats: 1,218 yards, 12 TDs, 6 INTs, 65.5 percent pass completions; 116 yards, 483 yards, 7 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 23
Ryan Tannehill will play his last game as a collegian when head coach-less Texas A&M tangos with Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas on New Year's Eve.
2011 Stats: 3,415 yards, 28 TDs, 14 INTs, 61.1 percent pass completions; 55 carries, 296 yards, 4 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 22
Like Tannehill, Brock Osweiler will be tasked with guiding Arizona State, sans Dennis Erickson, to its seventh win of the season when it takes on (gulp!) Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on December 22.
2011 Stats: 3,641 yards, 24 TDs, 12 INTs, 63.1 percent pass completions; 75 carries, 128 yards, 3 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 21
Say "so long" to Dominique Davis, who will be absent from the 2011-12 bowl season on account of East Carolina's 5-7 record and won't return next year on account of having exhausted his collegiate eligibility.
2011 Stats: 3,225 yards, 25 TDs, 19 INTs, 67.6 percent pass completions; 93 carries, 172 yards, 5 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 20
Not going to lie here—Kirk Cousins probably should've been hangin' around the QB Scramble all season. The senior has performed particularly well over the last five games, culminating in a 281-yard, three-touchdown, one-pick performance in Michigan State's 42-39 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Be sure to check him out one last time in college when the Spartans meet Georgia in the Outback Bowl on January 2.
2011 Stats: 3,016 yards, 24 TDs, 7 INTs, 65 percent pass completions
Last Week's Ranking: NR
After a month of off-and-on mediocrity, Tajh Boyd and Clemson turned the jets back on to wallop Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game, 38-10. Boyd bolstered his case to return to the QB Scramble with 240 yards and three touchdowns passing along with 28 yards and another touchdown rushing in that laugher.
Next up, he and the Tigers will take on West Virginia in the Orange Bowl on January 4.
2011 Stats: 3,578 yards, 31 TDs, 10 INTs, 60.5 percent pass completions; 132 carries, 186 yards, 5 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: NR
Tyler Tettleton tanked.
Not only did he tank; he did so with the MAC Championship on the line, throwing three picks and no touchdowns to go along with 218 yards for Ohio. His 51 yards and one touchdown were nice, but were far from enough from keeping Northern Illinois from railing off 23 unanswered points to upend the Bobcats.
Tettleton will look to redeem himself when Ohio meets Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on December 17.
2011 Stats: 3,086 yards, 26 TDs, 10 INTs, 63.6 percent pass completions; 150 carries, 627 yards, 9 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 9
Lost in the scrum of disappointment following Houston's loss to Southern Miss in the Conference USA Championship Game was the brilliance of Austin Davis. The senior scorched the Cougars for 279 yards, four touchdowns and an interception, along with 47 yards rushing, in the Golden Eagles' 49-28 triumph.
Davis will look to finish his collegiate career on another high note when USM faces Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.
2011 Stats: 3,331 yards, 28 TDs, 11 INTs, 61.8 percent pass completions; 101 carries, 332 yards, 4 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 25
Geno Smith must be thanking his lucky stars that West Virginia's success extends far beyond the pocket. Smith mustered just 237 yards with two interceptions last Thursday, though the Mountaineers still managed to edge South Florida, 30-27.
Smith will several weeks to rebound before he takes the field for WVU against Clemson in the Orange Bowl on January 4th.
2011 Stats: 3,978 yards, 25 TDs, 7 INTs, 65 percent pass completions
Last Week's Ranking: 11
Circle December 26 on your calendar so you remember to tune in to see James Franklin and Missouri go toe-to-toe with North Carolina in the Independence Bowl.
2011 Stats: 2,733 yards, 20 TDs, 10 INTs, 63.2 percent pass completions; 199 carries, 839 yards, 13 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 18
Watch for Tyler Wilson to get back to his slinging ways when Arkansas faces off with Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl on January 6.
2011 Stats: 3,422 yards, 22 TDs, 6 INTs, 63.1 percent pass completions
Last Week's Ranking: 16
Cody Fajardo sat out Nevada's 56-3 win over Idaho with an ankle injury. Look for him to be back in action when the Wolfpack take on C-USA champ Southern Miss in the Hawaii Bowl on December 24.
2011 Stats: 1,647 yards, 6 TDs, 5 INTs, 71.4 percent pass completions; 119 carries, 680 yards, 11 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 15
It would be easy to penalize Aaron Murray harshly for the numbers he put up for Georgia in the SEC Championship Game—163 yards with one touchdown and two picks on 16-of-40 passing.
But, then again, who hasn't struggled against LSU's NFL-caliber secondary this season?
He'll have an opportunity to atone for his shortcomings when the Bulldogs battle Michigan State in the Outback Bowl on January 2.
2011 Stats: 2,861 yards, 33 TDs, 12 INTs, 58.8 percent pass completions; 79 carries, 116 yards, 2 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 10
Rightly or wrongly, Denard Robinson will next be seen untying some Hokie shoelaces when Michigan meets Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl on January 3.
2011 Stats: 2,056 yards, 18 TDs, 14 INTs, 56.1 percent pass completions; 208 carries, 1,163 yards, 16 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 13
Don't miss out on Nick Foles when he takes the pros by storm in the 2012 NFL Draft.
2011 Stats: 4,334 yards, 28 TDs, 14 INTs, 69.1 percent pass completions
Last Week's Ranking: 12
Darron Thomas is back in the top 10 of the QB Scramble after torching UCLA's destitute defense for 219 yards, three touchdowns and an interception through the air and another 60 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Next up, Thomas will take the field against Russell Wilson and Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on January 2.
2011 Stats: 2,493 yards, 30 TDs, 6 INTs, 61.4 percent pass completions; 50 carries, 205 yards, 3 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 14
Russell Wilson was his usual, efficient self in the Big Ten Championship Game. The senior transfer tallied 187 yards and three touchdowns on 17-of-24 passing to lead Wisconsin to a thrilling 42-39 victory over Michigan State.
Look for him to go play-for-play with Oregon's Darron Thomas in the Rose Bowl on January 2.
2011 Stats: 2,879 yards, 31 TDs, 3 INTs, 72.5 percent pass completions; 73 carries, 320 yards, 5 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 8
Brandon Weeden gets a slight demotion this week, despite the fact that Oklahoma State whooped Oklahoma in the Bedlam Game and claimed the Big 12 title as a result. Weeden contributed just 217 yards on 24-of-36 passing to that effort, though he still played much better than Landry Jones, his Sooners counterpart.
Weeden will have his work cut out for him, at least by comparison, when he matches wits with Andrew Luck and Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl on January 2.
2011 Stats: 4,328 yards, 34 TDs, 12 INTs, 72.6 percent pass completions
Last Week's Ranking: 5
Chandler Harnish's steady creep up the QB Scramble this week is as much about pure performance as it is about context.
Harnish threw for 250 yards, three touchdowns and a pick, ran for another 31 yards and, most importantly, led Northern Illinois back from a 20-point, mid-third-quarter deficit to beat Ohio, 23-20, en route to the MAC Championship.
The GODADDY.com Bowl may not be the most glamorous way for Harnish to close out his collegiate career, even if Danica Patrick and Jillian Michaels show up, but at least it'll give football fans a chance to see him in all his splendor one last time.
2011 Stats: 2,942 yards, 26 TDs, 5 INTs, 62.9 percent pass completions; 185 carries, 1382 yards, 11 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 7
Hello, Andrew Luck! See you at the Heisman Trophy ceremony on Saturday!
And then with Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl on January 2!
And then at the top of the 2012 NFL Draft in the spring!
2011 Stats: 3,170 yards, 35 TDs, 9 INTs, 70 percent pass completions; 43 carries, 153 yards, 2 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 6
It really is a shame that Kellen Moore will be seen neither at the Heisman Trophy presentation nor in the BCS.
Especially after another spectacular performance to close out the regular season against New Mexico—313 yards with three touchdowns on 28-of-33 passing.
Apparently, 11 wins couldn't buy Boise State a better sendoff for Moore than a trip to the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas to play Arizona State on December 22.
2011 Stats: 3,507 yards, 41 TDs, 7 INTs, 74.1 percent pass completions
Last Week's Ranking: 4
To say that Case Keenum picked a bad time to have his worst performance of the season in the Conference USA Championship Game would be quite an understatement. Keenum accounted for 373 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions on 41-67 in the Cougars' shocking 49-28 loss to Southern Miss, thereby costing the team a shot at the BCS and Keenum his candidacy for the Heisman Trophy.
Nonetheless, Keenum and the Cougers will try again for their 12th win of the season against Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl on January 2.
2011 Stats: 5,099 yards, 45 TDs, 5 INTs, 71.7 percent pass completions; 50 carries, 25 yards, 3 TDs
Last Week's Ranking: 1
We may have already seen the last of Matt Barkley, with USC banned from the postseason and the 2012 NFL Draft fast approaching.
But, maybe, just maybe, Barkley will come back for his senior season to lead the Trojans back to the BCS.
2011 Stats: 3,528 yards, 39 TDs, 7 INTs, 69.1 percent pass completions
Last Week's Ranking: 2
In a season crowded with great quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III stands a head above the rest in the QB Scramble. RG3 capped off a regular season that's the stuff of legends by leading Baylor to a 48-24 trouncing of Texas and throwing for 320 yards, two touchdowns and a pick (not to mention 32 yards and two touchdowns rushing).
Once RG3 is done striking the pose, he'll be back on the football field to lead the Bears against Washington in Alamo Bowl on December 29.
2011 Stats: 3,998 yards, 36 TDs, 6 INTs, 72.4 percent pass completions; 161 carries, 644 yards, 9 TDs rushing
Last Week's Ranking: 3