When the Game's on the Line

The separation between good players and great players often boils down to performance in the waning moments of closely contested games.  And there is probably no player, in any sport, more influential to a team's success than the quarterback.  Some guys may have all the ability in the world, but lack that extra something-perhaps the elusive "it" factor-to raise their level of play when the pressure is on.  It is also possible that the cause and effect of this theory are reversed.  Maybe a player is labeled as "great" because he consistently shined in tough situations.  Maybe the great ones were just incredibly lucky.  With names like Unitas, Marino, Elway and Montana topping the list of most NFL 4th quarter comebacks, fair or not, it is easy to make the connection.

The holes in the late-game-accolades greatness theory get a little bigger when applied to the college ranks.  The variation in competition at the professional level is much less than college.  NFL quarterbacks are also surrounded and supported by professionals, while college kids have to deal with, well, kids and the ups and downs that come with that deal.  Acknowledging the potential pitfalls with this line of comparison let's see how the 2010 FSU close 4th quarter, quarterback production compared to the top ten teams in the land.

#1 Auburn:

Cam Newton -

  • Team record - 8-0
  • Completed 18 of 29 passes (62.1%), for 182 yards (6.28 ypa), 4 TD's
  • Ran for 201 yards on 43 carries (4.67 ypc)
  • 34.7% of passes and runs resulted in 1st downs or scores

#2 TCU:

Andy Dalton -

  • Team record - 2-0
  • Completed 7 of 13 passes (53.8%), for 59 yards (4.54 ypa)
  • Ran for 11 yards on 3 carries (3.67 ypc)
  • 18.8% of passes and runs resulted in 1st downs or scores

#3 Oregon:

Darrin Thomas -

  • Team record - 1-1
  • Completed 12 of 21 passes (57.1%), for 145 yards (6.90 ypa), 1 TD
  • Ran for 16 yards on 5 carries (3.20 ypc)
  • 34.6% of passes and runs resulted in 1st downs or scores

#4 Stanford:

Andrew Luck -

  • Team record - 2-0
  • Completed 13 of 14 passes (92.9%) for 87 yards (6.21 ypa), 2 TD's, 1 INT
  • Ran for 14 yards on 2 carries (7.0 ypc)
  • 62.5% of passes and runs resulted in 1st downs or scores

#5 Ohio State:

Terrelle Pryor -

  • Team record - 2-1
  • Completed 9 of 18 passes (50.0%) for 91 yards (5.06 ypa), 0 TD's , 1 INT
  • Ran for 67 yards on 11 carries (6.09 ypc)
  • 27.6% of passes and runs resulted in 1st downs or scores

#6 Oklahoma:

Landry Jones -

  • Team record - 6-2
  • Completed 41 of 73 passes (56.2%) for 519 yards (7.11 ypa), 3 TD's , 3 INT's
  • Ran for 2 yards on 2 carries (1.0 ypc)
  • 28.0% of passes and runs resulted in 1st downs or scores

#7 Wisconsin:

Scott Tolzien -

  • Team record - 3-2
  • Completed 18 of 32 passes (56.3%) for 215 yards (6.72 ypa), 1 TD's and 1 INT
  • Ran for 13 yards on 4 carries (3.25 ypc)
  • 36.1% of passes and runs resulted in 1st downs or scores

#8 LSU:

Jordan Jefferson -

  • Team record - 5-2
  • Completed 15 of 25 passes (60.0%) for 182 yards (7.28 ypa), 1 TD
  • Ran for 55 yards on 13 carries (4.23 ypc), with 2 TD's
  • 36.8% of passes and runs resulted in 1st downs or scores

Jarrett Lee -

  • Team record - 3-1
  • Competed 15 of 21 (71.4%) passes for 223 yards (10.62 ypa), 1 TD, 1 INT
  • Ran for 3 yards on 1 carry
  • 40.9% of passes and runs resulted in 1st downs or scores

#9 Boise State:

Kellen Moore -

  • Team record - 2-1
  • Completed 12 of 23 passes (52.2%) for 177 yards (7.70 ypa), 2 TD's
  • Ran for 1 yard on 1 carry (1.0 ypc)
  • 37.5% of passes and runs resulted in 1st downs or scores

#10 Alabama:

Greg McElroy -

  • Team record - 1-3
  • Completed 17 of 26 passes (65.4%) for 217 yards (8.35 ypa), 2 TD's
  • Ran for 3 yards on 2 carries (1.5 ypc)
  • 39.3% of passes and runs resulted in 1st downs or scores

#17 Florida State:

Christian Ponder -

  • Team record - 2-2
  • Completed 14 of 21 passes (66.7%) for 162 yards (7.71 ypa)
  • Ran for 37 yards on 9 carries (4.11 ypc)
  • 30.0% of passes and runs resulted in 1st downs or scores

EJ Manuel -

  • Team record - 2-0
  • Completed 12 of 15 passes (80.0%) for 102 yards (6.80 ypa), 1 TD
  • Ran for 63 yards on 11 carries (5.73 ypc), 1 TD
  • 46.2% of passes and runs resulted in 1st downs or scores
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