Sean Merriman, BTN.com web editor, October 27, 2015
Every year around this time, I put my thinking cap on and come up with a list of the top QB-WR duos in the Big Ten.
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There are plenty of good options to chose from this season.
In fact, three Big Ten quarterbacks have already surpassed the 2,000-yard mark heading into Week 9 of the season. A total of five Big Ten wide receivers already have 40-plus receptions.
Who are the best of the best?
Here's my list of the top 5 quarterback-wide receiver duos in the Big Ten.
1. Connor Cook and Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State. This is one of the top duos in all of college football. Cook has been nothing short of spectacular over the past three weeks, averaging more than 360 yards and two touchdowns in wins over Rutgers, Michigan and Indiana. He leads the Big Ten in both passing yards (2,070) and passing touchdowns (17) heading into a much-needed bye week. Cook's top target, Burbridge, is having a breakout senior season. He leads in conference in receptions with 52 and total receiving yards with 830. This is a no-brainer for the No. 1 spot on this impressive list.
2. Chris Laviano and Leonte Carroo, Rutgers. Outside to Baylor's Corey Coleman, who is on pace to break the college football single-season receiving touchdowns record this year, Carroo has arguably been the most impressive wideout in the nation. He has hauled in nine touchdown passes in five games this season, only two of which he played the entire game from start to finish. He is tied for fourth in the nation in touchdown catches and joins Coleman as the only two players in college football averaging more than two TD grabs per game. Laviano has been solid himself, ranking second in the Big Ten in passing efficiency (148.9) and fourth in touchdown passes (12). This duo has been outstanding in 2015.
3. J.T. Barrett and Michael Thomas, Ohio State. Had Barrett been the starter from Week 1, this duo could very-well be No. 1 on this list. With only one start this season, Barrett has already totaled 801 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015. His top target, Thomas, has been sensational as well. He ranks second in the Big Ten in touchdown catches (6), sixth in receiving yards (536) and seventh in total receptions (35). Devin Smith, who was OSU's top WR last season and a second round NFL Draft pick, had 33 total receptions in 14 games last season. That's impressive.
4. Wes Lunt and Geronimo Allison, Illinois. Yes, Illinois is just 4-3 on the season, but it's tough to overlook how impressive this duo has been this year. Lunt ranks fifth in the conference in passing yards with 1,702 and sixth in passing touchdowns with six. However, Allison is the reason this duo is No. 4 on this impressive list. The talented senior WR ranks second in the Big Ten in receiving yards (700) and third in receptions (48). He has caught eight-or-more passes in five of the Illini's seven games this season. That's an incredible statistic.
5. Nate Sudfeld and Ricky Jones, Indiana. Sudfeld has been phenomenal this season, but his numbers often go overlooked because he doesn't play for a top-tier Big Ten team. The Hoosiers' senior signal caller has the highest QB rating in the conference (155.9). He also ranks in the top three in the Big Ten in passing yards with 2,049, passing touchdowns with 14, and yards-per-attempt with 9.1. Jones has been a pleasant surprise this season after totaling just four catches in his first two years at Indiana. He ranks third in the conference with 669 yards and is tied for third with five touchdown grabs. He gets my vote for the most underrated player in the conference.