Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the QBs

Keith Becker uosportsdude.comCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2009

It’s never too early to start talking about the Rose Bowl. And even though we’re still 18 days away from the annual New Years Day tradition, I’m about nine days and eighteen hours behind everyone else.

With so much time to kill before the actual game (insert I want a playoff rant here), I will compare the Ducks and Buckeyes position by position to see who stacks up better on paper – because as we all know, whoever is better on paper always wins the game. Uhh, never mind.

Where better to start than the quarterbacks? Let’s get it on.

If I had told you in December of 2007 that Jeremiah Masoli would be better than Terrelle Pryor you probably would have laughed harder than the first time you showed your unsuspecting friend the two girls one cup video.

Pryor, the all-everything uber recruit, drew Vince Young comparisons before he even signed a letter of intent. The Army All-American Bowl MVP was ranked No. 1 by every single recruiting service in the world, galaxy and universe.

My roommate even started a Facebook fan page called “Make Terrell Pryor an Oregon Duck” that quickly amassed 2,000 supporters. Of course, on March 19th, the name of the page was swiftly changed to “Terrelle Pryor Will Get Owned by the Oregon Ducks”.

Funny how fast things change in the world of sports.

What about Masoli. Where was he in 2007? Masoli was trying to rebound from being expelled from Bay Area football power house Serra High School (in my hometown!) after he, and three other captains, were arrested and charged with robbing a kid at the mall.

Fortunately, Masoli got back on track at Community College of San Francisco, a national junior college power, winning the national championship and player of the year honors as a freshman.

Quietly and with little fan fare, the Ducks landed the three star recruit and listed him fifth on their depth chart going into last season. There was no such Facebook page was made for him.

Four injured quarterbacks later, Masoli was starting and we all know the story from there.

Masoli is what Pryor was supposed to be, a spread-option machine, perfect for Chip Kelly’s wide open system. And well, Pryor is the tenth most efficient quarterback in the Big Ten – slightly behind expectations.

Ok, maybe that’s selling Pryor a bit short.  He still has all the potential in the world, and having been thrust into the starting role as a freshman in one the country’s biggest programs, and having coach who has no idea how to run a spread offense is no easy situation to deal with.

That said, he still has trouble making the correct reads and knowing when to take off or stay in the pocket. His interceptions are up and his completion percentage is down from last year. Also, Prior has been sacked 18 times for more than 200 yards.

With a month to prepare for Oregon’s speedy, yet undersized defense, Pryor might be at an advantage. The Ducks have never seen such a gifted dual-threat quarterback before, so they might have some trouble stopping him in the open field.

But if the Oregon defense can bring pressure and fluster the sophomore quarterback, there’s a good chance Pryor will start to lose his composure, like in the Purdue game where he was visibly upset, even starting arguments with his teammates on the field.

Masoli, on the other hand, has played just about as well as humanly possible since the start of Pac-10 play. Since the Cal game, Masoli holds a 63-percent completion percentage and a 15:3 touchdown to interception ratio, not including his seven rushing touchdowns.

Another plus for Masoli is that he gets up for big games: Both Civil Wars, the Holiday Bowl and the last few games in the Pac-10.  Masoli truly thrives when the pressure is on (see Masoli’s run late in the fourth quarter against the Beavs in you don’t believe me).

I fully expect Masoli to be the better quarterback on New Years Day.

Rating (I will rate each position on a 1-10 scale and keep a running tally as we go along):

Masoli 9, Pryor 7.

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