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

Oakland - J. Lester 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 0 2nd Prd 18:33
Boston 1
NY Rangers 1 2nd Prd 18:28
Philadelphia 1
Ottawa 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Carolina 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Dallas
Colorado 8:00 PM
Calgary
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Is it the right move to replace Ron Gardenhire?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT