Three B1G schools in Athlon's best coach-QB tandems

Two of the most important keys to a successful college football team are a good quarterback and head coach. Our friends over at Athlon Sports recently compiled a list of the top head coach-quarterback combinations in college football this year. Three Big Ten coach-quarterback combos appear on the list, which consists of 20 spots, as well as a “5 we don’t know about yet” category.

Here are the three Big Ten tandems and a few graphs on why they earned a spot on the list:

[ MORE: Four Big Ten teams ranked in SN’s preseason top 25 ]

2. Ohio State: Urban Meyer – Braxton Miller

“Aside from Waco, Texas, there might not be a more perfect marriage of system and skill set than Meyer’s spread offense and Miller’s dual-threat talents. The duo has produced over 6,000 yards of total offense and a perfect 24-0 record in the regular season over the last two years since Meyer got to Columbus.”

4. Penn State: James Franklin – Christian Hackenberg

Hack (Hackengerg) is a No. 1 overall type of talent and, now, he has cult-of-personality James Franklin running the show in Happy Valley. Franklin is unproven in the Big Ten but his SEC resume speaks for itself, as he led the Commodores to unprecedented heights in Nashville. Huge things are in store for this duo, especially considering the easy schedule and the potential removal of the bowl ban in ’14.”

6. Michigan State: Mark Dantonio – Connor Cook

“Mark Dantonio is consistently overlooked when it comes to the nation’s best coaches and Cook wasn’t even the starter going into last season. Cook’s growth over the second half of the season was obvious as the Spartans’ QB set career highs in passing yards in back-to-back wins over Ohio State (304 yds) in the B1G title game and Stanford (332 yds) in the Rose Bowl. Now, the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder enters 2014 with massive expectations.”

These are the duos one would expect to represent the Big Ten in such a ranking. It is a bit of a surprise to see Penn State ahead of Michigan State, however. Not only are the Spartans the reigning Big Ten and Rose Bowl champs, Connor Cook was an All-Big Ten second-team quarterback (coaches) and Mark Dantonio was the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2013. That’s pretty impressive.

As for a duo that could work its way into the discussion, how about Devin Gardner and Brady Hoke? After a turnover-prone start last season, Gardner was very productive in Big Ten play. Give him some improved line play, and he could help propel Michigan to a bounceback season.

About Sean Merriman BTN.com web editor Sean Merriman covers football and men’s basketball and provides original content for BTN.com. You can follow him on Twitter @BTNSean.

Originally from Farmington Hills, MI, I have worked at the Big Ten Network since 2012 and took over my role as web editor and blogger in August, 2013. Follow me on twitter for constant Big Ten updates @srmerriman. Thanks and enjoy!!

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5 Comments

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Scott on 5/28/2014 @ 5:11pm EST Said:

Wouldn’t a wise selection be the tandem that features the reigning Big Ten Champions, the reigning Rose Bowl champions, the reigning Big Ten offensive MVP, and the reigning Rose Bowl offensive MVP?

Doug on 5/28/2014 @ 7:48pm EST Said:

Silly Merriman, Gardner ahd Hoke LOL. Gardner is switching his jersey to – 48 for the MSU game.

David on 5/28/2014 @ 9:33pm EST Said:

Scott, that would make too much sense. It’s always about propping up the schools with big fan bases and leaving logic to the wayside.

Gurndogg on 5/29/2014 @ 11:40am EST Said:

Sorry but its Hackenberg for #1. thing plus I agree Cook has to before him. Now as an OSU fan I’m not sure Cook shouldn’t be 1st. Yes I know B. Miller has won the Silver Football 2 times, All-ten 2 & UFM, him went 24-0 1st 2 regular season but Cook & M.D have been the best in head-to-head even tho its a team game Cook has still out played Miller. GO BUCKs! OH

Paul on 5/29/2014 @ 11:48am EST Said:

Coming from a Nebraska fan who has seen all of these QB’s play in person I would have to go with Michigan State. Connor Cook is only going to get better, has a big league arm and can make all the throws. He can throw the deep ball with touch and can squeeze the short and intermediate throws into tight windows. Cook has Prototypical size and an emerging star RB who is as good as any in the conference. Braxton is easily the most exciting to watch, that really goes without saying. However he still makes some silly mistakes when throwing the ball. I think he’s asked to run too much in Urban’s system which adds to the potential for further injury but that’s what he’s best at so why fix it? I would have selected Penn State if Bill O’Brien was still there. I think Hackenberg will have to adjust to having a new HC. It’s hard to replace a QB guru like O’Brien.