Meet the Under-the-Radar Quarterback Tearing Up the Big Ten

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor ISeptember 17, 2013

Sep 14, 2013; Bloomington, IN, USA;  Indiana Hoosiers quarterback Nate Sudfeld (7) under center against the Bowling Green Falcons at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Braxton Miller, Taylor Martinez and Devin Gardner—those are the three quarterbacks in the Big Ten most were aware of on a casual level this offseason, as well as the guys garnering the most headlines

Miller was supposed to win the Heisman Trophy, Martinez has been around forever and has won a ton of football games and Devin Gardner was the answer to all that ailed the Wolverines' offense. 

However, everyone has overlooked the man who's shown himself over the last three weeks to be the best passing quarterback in the Big Ten—Indiana's Nate Sudfeld. 

You can be forgiven for not knowing this guy or not seeing what has transpired over the last three weeks. After all, Indiana had a three-way quarterback battle going on all throughout camp, and Sudfeld, who saw very limited action last year, was supposed to be the odd man out. 

Instead, he took the opportunity given to him in the season opener against Indiana State and has never looked back, demonstrating that he is the clear right choice to lead the Hoosiers' offense this season. 

Even if it took until this past Saturday for head coach Kevin Wilson to give the reigns to Sudfeld full-time, it was clear from the outside looking in who the right choice was all along. 

Sudfeld finished the season opener against Indiana State 12-of-17 passing for 219 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. 

A week later Sudfeld would complete 73 percent of his passes, again throwing for four touchdowns and one interception in a wild comeback attempt against Navy. 

However, on Saturday, it was his performance against the best defense the Hoosiers have seen to date that put him completely in the driver's seat. 

Sudfeld put on a 17-of-26 for 335 yard, two touchdown performance in the Hoosiers' 42-10 victory over the previously undefeated Bowling Green Falcons. 

Prior to this game, the Falcons allowed an average of just 193 yards to opponents through the air. 

It appears as though Sudfeld won the job once and for all, following that performance this past Saturday. However, to those paying attention, he's already proved he is the best passer in the Big Ten. 

No—I'm not saying the best quarterback; in this day and age, there is more to playing the position than just passing. 

However, what I am clearly stating is that there is not a single quarterback in the Big Ten that is a better passing quarterback than Sudfeld—at least not at this point in time. 

The numbers Sudfeld has put up through the season's first three weeks are staggering. He is first in the Big Ten in yards (917), average per game (305.7) and touchdowns (10), all while ranking just fifth in passing attempts in the conference.

He also tops the list in passer efficiency in the Big Ten (195.3) for quarterbacks that have attempted at least nine passes or more this season.

That number puts him in the same company of names that reads like a who's who of quarterbacks nationally—ranking seventh, behind the likes of Jameis Winston (Florida State), Zach Mettenberger (LSU), Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville), Blake Bortles (UCF) and Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M).

He ranks ahead of names like Aaron Murray (Georgia) and Chuckie Keeton (Utah State). Call me crazy, but those are all quarterbacks you want to be associated with. 

Sudfeld is also one of just 12 quarterbacks to throw for over 900 yards passing in FBS football.

While the Big Ten gauntlet may be a different animal for IU and its quarterback, the numbers and the company Sudfeld is keeping sure suggest he is the best passing quarterback in the conference and one of the better ones nationally too.  


*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten Lead Writer. Follow Andy on Twitter: @andycoppens.