Greatest SEC Quarterback of 2017, Week 11: Jalen Hurts vs. Nick Fitzgerald

Quarterback-Jalen Hurts-Nick Fitzgerald-Alabama-Mississippi State

Enough tug of war between Alabama’s Jalen Hurts and Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald for the No. 1 spot. It’s time for the conference’s top-2 quarterbacks – according to our “greatness” metric, QBG, at least — to settle things in Starkville (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Hurts has been efficient when called upon this season, but Alabama has not leaned on him like it did in 2016. Fitzgerald has often been a mess in the passing game, but is one of the country’s best running quarterbacks. Both have been holding down the top of our rankings, and one of them is in for a major bump if he produces a strong performance in victory this weekend.

To give you an idea of how QBG works, here are the core factors:

  • Passing yardage
  • Rushing yardage/sack yardage
  • Total points (touchdowns plus team conversions)
  • Interceptions
  • Efficiency (output vs. above-average number of attempts)
  • Win/loss
  • Strength of opponent
  • Era (output pitted against contemporary stats)

Note: This is not a ranking of the “best” quarterbacks with the tightest spirals or the quickest decision-making abilities or the fastest 40 times. It’s about “greatness,” that all-important factor that — until now — was unquantifiable.

NATIONAL: Week 2 • Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7 Week 8Week 9Week 10 • Week 11

SEC: Week 2Week 3 • Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7Week 8Week 9Week 10

Here’s how the SEC QB rankings shake out entering Week 10 (key below):

⬆️⬆️⬆️ Major mover
⬆️ Notable mover
🔥 Consecutive great games
❄️ Consecutive disappointing games
⛔️ Negative score in most recent game

1. Jalen Hurts, Alabama ⬆️

Quarterback-Jalen Hurts-Alabama
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

National ranking: No. 13. After a couple weeks of allowing his teammates to soak up the spotlight, Hurts produced a solid game against No. 19 LSU in Tuscaloosa. The sophomore accounted for 227 total yards and a pair of scores in a defensive battle. It was around this time last year that Hurts hit a wall, but he appears to be on track for a good November.

2. Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State

Quarterback-Nick Fitzgerald-Mississippi State
Tim Warner/Getty Images

National ranking: No. 17. Few quarterbacks are as frustrating through the air. Fitzgerald has thrown 10 interceptions and is averaging jut 6.2 yards per pass attempt. But he’s special when he gets into the open field; his 801 rushing yards are sixth-best of any quarterback in the country, and his 12 rushing touchdowns are seventh-best. We’ll see if Fitzgerald can find breathing room against a banged-up Alabama defense this Saturday.

3. Drew Lock, Missouri

Quarterback-Drew Lock-Missouri
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

National ranking: No. 21. The nation’s leader in touchdown passes tossed 3 more in a win against Florida. Lock — 21 touchdowns in his past five games — has the 4-5 Tigers cruising toward a bowl bid after a horrid start, and is 9 touchdowns away from Andre Woodson’s single-season SEC record.

4. Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt ⬆️

Quarterback-Kyle Shurmur-Vanderbilt
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

National ranking: No. 37. Speaking of records, Shurmur is poised to obliterate Vanderbilt’s single-season passing touchdowns mark. Sitting at 20, he needs 3 more in the Commodores’ final three games to pass Whit Taylor. An upcoming matchup with Kentucky — which allowed 4 touchdowns to Ole Miss’ Jordan Ta’amu this past weekend — means Shurmur might make history as soon as Saturday.

5. Shea Patterson, Ole Miss

Quarterback-Shea Patterson-Ole Miss
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

National ranking: No. 40. Might there be a quarterback controversy in Oxford next autumn? Patterson is out for the season with a torn PCL, and backup Jordan Ta’amu just threw for 382 yards and 4 touchdowns against Kentucky to lead the Rebels to their first SEC win of the year.

6. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn ⬆️

Quarterback-Jarrett Stidham-Auburn
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

National ranking: No. 43. Set him free! Auburn has been leaning on its run game for the majority of the season, keeping the efficient Stidham in the background. But he fired 27 passes against Texas A&M for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns, and hopefully will get to show off more of his game against Georgia on Saturday night.

7. Danny Etling, LSU

Quarterback-Danny Etling-LSU
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

National ranking: No. 49. As expected, Etling and the LSU passing offense floundered against Alabama. The Tigers’ opportunity to win the West is gone, and their focus now turns to a potential major bowl push. Louisiana State has three winnable games this month against Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas A&M, and if both Alabama and Georgia make the College Football Playoff, a 9-3 record might get Ed Orgeron’s squad into the Cotton Bowl or a comparable game.

8. Jake Fromm, Georgia

Quarterback-Jake Fromm-Georgia
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

National ranking: No. 53. We haven’t gotten a “breakout” game from Fromm, but the wait might end this weekend vs. No. 10 Auburn. If the Tigers are able to slow the Bulldogs’ rushing offense, it might be up to the freshman to lead Georgia to its first win over a top-10 team since … last November vs. Auburn.

9. Jordan Ta’amu, Ole Miss ⬆️⬆️⬆️

Quarterback-Jordan Ta'amu-Ole Miss
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

National ranking: No. 62. You didn’t watch Ole Miss-Kentucky? Can’t blame you. But you missed an excellent performance from the Rebels’ new quarterback.

Jordan Ta’amu, a Hawaii native and JUCO transfer from New Mexico Military Institute, recorded 382 passing yards and 4 touchdowns in Mississippi’s first SEC win of the season. If he finishes strong, he’ll force the Rebels coaching staff into a tough spot next season when Shea Patterson returns to the field.

10. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M ❄️

Quarterback-Kellen Mond-Texas A&M
Bob Levey/Getty Images

National ranking: No. 74. We might not see much of Mond again this season. The freshman was benched against Auburn after a mostly-ineffective two-and-a-half game stretch, and backup Nick Starkel is back in the starting lineup this week.

11. Jake Bentley, South Carolina (7.95)
12. Stephen Johnson, Kentucky (6.34)
13. Austin Allen, Arkansas (3.49)
14. Cole Kelley, Arkansas (3.31) ⬆️
15. Feleipe Franks, Florida (3.00) ❄️
16. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (2.95)
17. Quinten Dormady, Tennessee (1.96)
18. Jarrett Guarantano, Tennessee (1.60)
19. Nick Starkel, Texas A&M (1.37) ⬆️
20. Keytaon Thompson, Mississippi State (1.19)

21. Malik Willis, Auburn (0.91)
22. Malik Zaire, Florida (0.59) ⬆️
23. Luke Del Rio, Florida (0.58)
24. Myles Brennan, LSU (0.31)
25. Deuce Wallace, Vanderbilt (0.27)
26. Micah Wilson, Missouri (0.20)
27. Jake Hubenak, Texas A&M (0.11)
28. Will McBride, Tennessee (0.05) ⬆️
29. Jacob Eason, Georgia (0.04)
30. Drew Barker, Kentucky (0.03)
31. Devin Adams, Auburn (0.01)
32. Shawn Stankavage, Vanderbilt (0.007)
33. Brice Ramsey, Georgia (-0.33)

Top 15 greatest single-game QB performances

QB Game PAtt-Yds-TD-Int RAtt-Yds-TD QBG
1 Nick Fitzgerald, MSU vs. #12 LSU 23 — 180 — 2 — 0 14 — 88 — 2 21.24
2 Drew Lock, MIZ @ #4 UGA 25 — 253 — 4 — 1 2 — 15 — 0 11.05
3 Jordan Ta’amu, OLE @ UK 40 — 382 — 4 — 0 10 — 8 — 0 10.97
4 Jalen Hurts, ALA vs. #3 FSU 18 — 96 — 1 — 0 15 — 55 — 0 9.86
5 Shea Patterson, OLE vs. Vandy 35 — 351 — 4 — 0 7 — 8 — 1 9.45 
6 Jalen Hurts, ALA vs. Col. St. 17 — 248 — 2 — 0 11 — 103 — 1 9.26
7 Shea Patterson, OLE vs. So. Ala. 35 — 429 — 4 — 0 6 — 6 — 0 8.74
8 Jalen Hurts, ALA vs. Ole Miss 19 — 197 — 2 — 0 10 — 101 — 1 7.68
9 Danny Etling, LSU vs. #10 AUB 24 — 206 — 1 — 0 6 — (-9) — 0 7.64 
10 Jarrett Stidham, AUB @ TAMU 27 — 268 — 3 — 0 7 — 27 — 0 7.59
11 Drew Lock, MIZ vs. Idaho 33 — 467 — 6 — 1 2 — (-2) — 0 7.32
12 Jalen Hurts, ALA vs. #19 LSU 24 — 183 — 1 — 0 14 — 44 — 1 7.21
13 Kyle Shurmur, VAN vs. #18 KSU 23 — 205 — 1 — 0 2 — 0 — 1 6.76
14 Jake Fromm, UGA vs. MSU 12 — 201 — 2 — 0 1 — 0 — 0 6.59
15 Nick Fitzgerald, MSU vs. UK 26 — 155 — 1 — 0 12 — 115 — 2 6.50

 

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