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Top 11 Big Ten quarterbacks

September 29, 2003

Top 10 lists are great and all, but haven't you even wanted someone - anyone - to give you more than 10, but less than 100? Well, that guy is here and that guy is me.

In order to give you more sports for your buck, here is the first of many sports-related top 11 lists.

And there's no better way to start a top 11 list than to look at the Big Ten and see where each team's quarterback stacks up against the rest of the conference.

No. 11 - Brett Basanez (Northwestern)

Give the kid some credit; he does play for the lowly Wildcats. He's just a sophomore and as a second-year starter, his on-field judgment should improve.

No. 10 - Zack Mills (Penn State)

His career as a Nittany Lion has been a roller coaster ride, but there is no reason the three-year starter should be playing this badly. Leading the highly touted Lions to a 2-3 record falls on his shoulders.

No. 9 - Matt LoVecchio (Indiana)

Being a one-time starter at Notre Dame must mean something, right? Wrong. There is a reason the junior transferred from South Bend, Ind., to Indiana of all places. He could help the Hoosiers lay a goose egg in the conference win category this season.

No. 8 - Jon Beutjer (Illinois)

With his team struggling, it's hard for the senior to put up big numbers. But he needs to be an on-field leader and he's not doing a great job (look at Illinois' 1-4 record).

No. 7 - Jim Sorgi (Wisconsin)

You've seen him on TV for what seems like an eternity. That's because the senior had been coming off the bench for the last three years, replacing the injured Badgers quarterback (there were a bunch of them). His leadership and game management make him a solid senior starter.

No. 6 - Nathan Chandler (Iowa)

He was as high as No. 3 on some of my pre-finalized lists. Then he played the Spartans. He looked awful, attempting to avoid sacks by throwing interceptions.

No. 5 - Asad Abdul-Khaliq (Minnesota)

The Golden Gophers are 5-0 and this guy is the main reason. If Minnesota's 2003 season mirrors that of the 2002 Hawkeyes, watch for Abdul-Khaliq to get mentions during Heisman Trophy talks.

No. 4 - Kyle Orton (Purdue)

This kid has potential and he's only a junior. Look at his numbers this year: Nine touchdowns, only one interception and 870 passing yards. No wonder Purdue is 3-1 and on the way to a probable nine-win season.

No. 3 - Craig Krenzel (Ohio State)

He won the national championship and has the Buckeyes' record unblemished again at 5-0. His ability to dictate the pace of the game makes him one of the conference's best.

No. 2 - John Navarre (U-M)

Don't laugh, Navarre really is that good. I was at the Big House when he tore apart the Notre Dame defense. Navarre will continue in the footsteps of past Wolverine quarterbacks by charging into the NFL.

No. 1 - Jeff Smoker (MSU)

Smoker was the best quarterback in the conference last year before the substance-abuse incident. This season, he's the one abusing opposing defenses - the main reason the Spartans are 4-1 and ranked No. 25.

Christopher M. Mackinder is The State News sports editor. If you disagree with his rankings, e-mail him at mackind8@msu.edu.

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