Our Big Ten postseason player rankings, based on 2012 performance only, have reached the rarefied air of the top 5. These are the best of the best.
Kicking off the fab five is a man known to create a little magic ...
No. 5: Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska, junior, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds
Preseason ranking: No. 25
2012 numbers: Completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,871 yards and 23 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions. Ran for 1,019 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Why he's here: Nebraska fans have come to know both Good Taylor and Bad Taylor during Martinez's first three seasons in Lincoln.
The Good Taylor does stuff that few other players in college football could, like his insanely ridiculous 76-yard touchdown scramble against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. The Bad Taylor does things like throw three interceptions at Ohio State.
But Good Taylor was mostly on display in 2012, and even during those times when Bad Taylor appeared, the other version was often good enough to make up for it, as in the Northwestern comeback. Does Martinez still make too many mistakes? Yes, as his 10 interceptions and his still too-heavy dose of fumble-itis prove.
Yet Martinez still managed to lead the Big Ten in total offense while setting career highs in completion percentage, passing yards and passing touchdowns. And though we expected him to run less last season, he also set new career marks in rushing attempts (195) and yards. While I still believe the league coaches wrongly voted for him as the All-Big Ten first team quarterback over Braxton Miller, Martinez certainly made a strong case for the honor.
Many of his turnovers still come from trying to force things in big games, a problem exacerbated by the Huskers' poor defensive showings. You can't blame Martinez too much for sometimes thinking he has to win the game himself when so much is asked of him already. But if he can simply learn to let the game come to him at all times and keep Bad Taylor locked away somewhere, we could be talking about Great Taylor as a senior in 2013.