Which B1G quarterbacks will pass for 3,000 yards in 2021?
In a normal college football season, there are certain metrics that convey accomplishment.
Over 1,000 rushing yards. More than 10 receiving touchdowns. Double-digit sacks.
The amount of statistical analysis available regarding quarterbacks is staggering. But good old-fashioned yards remain a significant indicator of a signal caller’s success, and 3,000 yards in a year is often the benchmark to beat.
That’s an average of 250 per contest during a 12-game regular season. It likely means you’re moving the ball and limiting turnovers, too.
Which B1G QBs might hit 3 grand in 2021? Here are the most likely candidates, in no particular order.
Michael Penix Jr., Indiana
Four Hoosier QBs have thrown for 3,000 yards in a season. Assuming he’s healthy, Penix is a candidate to break Nate Sudfeld’s program record of 3,573 yards. Penix is a potential Heisman candidate for a reason. His 274 yards per game led the B1G in 2020.
Sean Clifford, Penn State
Just 3 QBs in program history have thrown for 3,000 yards in a season. Trace McSorely did it twice and holds the record with 3,614 yards. Matt McGloin (3,271) and Daryll Clark (3,003) are the only other members of the club.
Clifford, a senior from Illinois, went over 2,600 yards during his sophomore year in 2019. It’ll take some work to get to 3,000, but Clifford has shown flashes indicating he might be able to get there. Case in point: his 340 yards against No. 10 Minnesota in 2019. He also has competition this spring just to keep the job.
Ryan Hilinski, Northwestern
Four NW QBs have topped 3,000 yards, including Clayton Thorson, who did so in 2016 and 2018. C.J. Bacher set the pace with 3,656 yards in 2007.
Who knows how congruent a fit the well-traveled grad transfer will be in Evansville. As a freshman at South Carolina, he threw for 2,357 yards — against SEC defenses.
Tanner Morgan, Minnesota
Morgan has already done it — he threw for 3,253 yards during an electric sophomore showing in 2019. In fact, he’s the only QB in program history to top 3,000 yards.
The catch: He had a pair of future NFL wideouts in Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman. Can Morgan return to form after an up-and-down 2020, with a perceived downgrade in the talent of his targets?
Whoever’s playing quarterback at Ohio State
Save for a pandemic-shortened 2020, 2016 was the last time the Buckeyes didn’t have a QB eclipse the 3,000-yard echelon. The Buckeyes are replacing Justin Fields, but with perhaps the top receiving core in FBS, C.J. Stroud or Jack Miller will be in good “hands” (OK, sorry, it’s the offseason, we couldn’t help it).
Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
Say what? Are we talking about the same kid who struggled mightily in 2019 then did as much damage with his legs as his arm last season? That’s the question in Lincoln. If Martinez can regain his freshman form — he threw for 238 yards per game while completing 65 percent of his passes back in 2018 — watch out. He could become the 5th QB in program history to top 3,000 yards in a season.
Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland
Just 2 Terps QBs have topped 3,000 yards passing — and none since Scott Milanovich threw for a program-record 3,499 yards in 1993.
Tagovailoa showed just how dangerous he can be last season, throwing for 1,011 yards on 61.5% passing. Turnovers were an issue, but if he can cut those down and extrapolate the above performance across a full season, and you just might see him go over 3,000.