Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.

Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.

Big Ten's best QBs prefer running to passing

Posted by: Phil Miller under College football, The Big 10 Updated: October 9, 2012 - 9:59 AM

       Denard Robinson is back on top of the Big Ten rushing leaders. Michigan's senior quarterback, the conference's No. 1 ground-gainer as a sophomore (at 130.9 yards per game), slipped back to fifth place last season (with a 90.5-yard average), behind a quartet of talented tailbacks: Wisconsin's Montee Ball, Iowa's Marcus Coker, Nebraska's Rex Burkhead and Penn State's Silas Redd, now with USC.
     But Robinson was his old self Saturday, destroying Purdue's defense with 235 yards on 24 carries, moving him back into first place. He's the most dynamic offensive player in the conference, and has been for three years now.
     Here's the thing, though: Robinson's 53.9 percent completion rate is last in the conference, and his eight interceptions are the most of any quarterback. So just exactly how good a quarterback is he?
     The Gophers certainly know he's good enough to beat them; Robinson completed 15 of 19 passes against Minnesota last year, and ran for 51 yards on just six carries, as the Wolverines spread around the playing time in a 58-0 rout.
     But would you rate the Wolverines' playmaker as the Big Ten's best quarterback?
     I don't think you could last season, not in a league with seniors Russell Wilson, Dan Persa and Kirk Cousins. But the competition isn't nearly as deep this season, at least through the first six weeks of the season, and Robinson's legs may be enough to earn him first-team All-Big Ten honors in December. He's in a tight race with sophomore Braxton Miller of Ohio State at the moment, a duel of players with similar styles.
     The current top five QBs, a list that could change dramatically as conference play goes on:
     1. Robinson, Michigan. He's been held below 100 rushing yards twice this season, and it's no coincidence that the Wolverines lost both games. But if you can't stop him, if you can't force him to pass into traffic, he appears just as elusive now as he was when he shocked the league two years ago.
     2. Miller, Ohio State. He was force-fed the Buckeye offense as a freshman last season when Terrelle Pryor abruptly turned pro, and the results weren't good. Ohio State had the worst passing attack in the conference. But Miller has absorbed Urban Meyer's spread offense and flourished, putting up a remarkable season for a sophomore. He averages 127 rushing yards a game, and he's already a far better passer than Robinson, completing 61.5 percent of his throws.
     3. Matt McGloin, Penn State. He's held the Nittany Lions together by turning them into a passing team, with a league-leading 249 yards per game, and his 12 touchdown passes also are the most in the Big Ten. Even better, he's only thrown two interceptions, while competing 61.5 percent of his passes.
     4. Taylor Martinez, Nebraska. Coach Bo Pelini's faith in the junior passer has paid off, as Martinez has become a viable two-threat quarterback. Martinez averages 57 yards on the ground, and is the league's most efficient passer, completing 66.4 percent of his passes and equalling McGloin's dozen touchdowns.
     5. Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State. There's a real drop-off after the first four, especially since half the conference -- Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Purdue, Northwestern and Indiana -- has started more than one quarterback this season, whether because of injury, inconsistent play or, in the unique case of Northwestern's Kain Colter, the desire to use him at other positions. James Vandenberg of Iowa, the preseason pick of several league observers, has been a disappointment, having reached the end zone only twice all year. That leaves Maxwell, a junior, who has been good but not great; he's a game manager being asked not to make mistakes. Maxwell has done that well, throwing only three interceptions to go with six touchdowns.

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
Orlando
New York 6:00 PM
Indiana
Denver 7:00 PM
Memphis
Chicago 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Montreal 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Boston 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Arizona 6:30 PM
Toronto
Dallas 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Detroit 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Columbus 6:30 PM
Florida
Nashville 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Minnesota 8:00 PM
Calgary
Buffalo 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Anaheim 9:00 PM
San Jose
DePaul 70 2nd Half 0:52
Providence 80
Michigan State 5:00 PM
Rutgers
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Army
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Youngstown St 6:00 PM
Detroit
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
Furman
Saint Louis 6:00 PM
George Mason
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Jacksonville
High Point 6:00 PM
Liberty
Central Conn St 6:00 PM
Long Island
Western Ky 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Dayton 6:00 PM
Massachusetts
Chattanooga 6:00 PM
Mercer
Wofford 6:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Maryland 6:00 PM
Ohio State
FIU 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fair-Dickinson 6:00 PM
Robert Morris
Mount St Marys 6:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Bryant 6:00 PM
St Francis-PA
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Stetson
Coll of Charleston 6:00 PM
Towson
Western Carolina 6:00 PM
Va Military
Sacred Heart 6:00 PM
Wagner
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Kennesaw St 6:00 PM
North Florida
Appalachian St 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Holy Cross 6:30 PM
Loyola-Maryland
Eastern Ill 6:30 PM
UT Martin
Jacksonville St 7:00 PM
Belmont
Connecticut 7:00 PM
Cincinnati
Rider 7:00 PM
Saint Peters
SIU Edwardsville 7:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Marshall 7:00 PM
Southern Miss
Tenn Tech 7:00 PM
Tennessee St
Middle Tennessee 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ill-Chicago 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Weber State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
Denver 7:00 PM
North Dakota St
IUPU-Ft Wayne 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Louisiana 7:05 PM
South Alabama
Georgia State 7:15 PM
Texas-Arlington
Ark-Little Rock 7:30 PM
Arkansas State
ULM 7:30 PM
Troy
Portland 8:00 PM
Gonzaga
Kentucky 8:00 PM
Missouri
Eastern Ky 8:00 PM
Murray State
UAB 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Idaho State 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
UMKC 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Chicago State 8:05 PM
Utah Valley U
Colorado 8:30 PM
USC
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
Hawaii 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Pepperdine 9:00 PM
Pacific
Santa Clara 9:00 PM
San Diego
Utah 9:00 PM
UCLA
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Montana 9:05 PM
Portland State
Montana State 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Long Beach State 9:30 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Loyola Marymount 9:30 PM
St Marys-CA
San Francisco 10:00 PM
BYU
California 10:00 PM
Washington St
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Saint Josephs 51 FINAL
Saint Louis 52
Appalachian St 4:00 PM
Georgia Southern
Niagara 4:00 PM
Saint Peters
Old Dominion 5:00 PM
FIU
Southern Miss 5:00 PM
Marshall
Georgia State 5:00 PM
TX-Arlington
Ark-Little Rock 5:05 PM
Arkansas State
ULM 5:15 PM
Troy
Pittsburgh 5:30 PM
(17) Duke
(6) Tennessee 6:00 PM
(10) Kentucky
(24) Oklahoma 6:00 PM
(14) Texas
Nebraska Omaha 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
UC-Riverside 6:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Army 6:00 PM
Boston U
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Nicholls
Charlotte 6:00 PM
Florida Atlantic
Towson 6:00 PM
Delaware
Hofstra 6:00 PM
Northeastern
New Hampshire 6:00 PM
Maine
Albany 6:00 PM
Vermont
Hartford 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
UNC-Wilmington 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Clemson 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Alabama 6:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
(23) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(8) Louisville
Missouri 6:00 PM
Florida
Iona 6:00 PM
Fairfield
Manhattan 6:00 PM
Marist
NC State 6:00 PM
Virginia
(4) Notre Dame 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(22) Rutgers 6:00 PM
Purdue
(5) Maryland 6:00 PM
Michigan
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
Cleveland State
Wright State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
USC Upstate
North Florida 6:00 PM
Kennesaw St
Stetson 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Loyola-Maryland 6:05 PM
Holy Cross
Lamar 6:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Fla Gulf Coast 6:30 PM
Lipscomb
Vanderbilt 7:00 PM
(18) Miss State
IUPUI 7:00 PM
Western Ill
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
McNeese State 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Oral Roberts 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
Louisiana Tech 7:00 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
UAB
Auburn 7:00 PM
Arkansas
Grand Canyon 7:00 PM
UMKC
Illinois 7:00 PM
(15) Nebraska
(20) Iowa 7:00 PM
Northwestern
Utah Valley U 7:05 PM
Chicago State
Green Bay 7:05 PM
Valparaiso
Ole Miss 8:00 PM
LSU
Portland State 8:00 PM
Montana
Sacramento St 8:00 PM
Montana State
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Weber State
Ohio State 8:00 PM
Wisconsin
Northern Colorado 8:00 PM
Idaho State
BYU 9:00 PM
San Francisco
St Marys-CA 9:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Pacific 9:00 PM
Pepperdine
Cal-Irvine 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
San Diego 9:00 PM
Santa Clara
UC Davis 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Long Beach St 10:59 PM
Hawaii

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which of these teams is the most frustrating to watch right now?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT