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QBracket: Tommy Armstrong Jr. Lands the First Upset as QBs Reach the Final Four

March 16, 2021

And then there were four.

Our quarterback bracket saw its first upset in the Elite Eight, but three of the top four seeds still remain.

A reminder: we only seeded the quarterbacks, we need you to vote on who advances. Beginning Tuesday afternoon, voting will open for the Final Four matchups, so make sure you’re following Hail Varsity on both Twitter and Instagram to vote. We’ll leave the voting open for a few days before revealing the two finalists at the end of the week.

Here are the results from the second round:

  • No. 1 Taylor Martinez defeats No. 8 Tanner Lee: After getting 92% and 97% of the Twitter and Instagram votes from the first round matchup, Martinez remained the overwhelming favorite to win this competition through the second round. Martinez’s multi-year excellence remains the trump card here, particularly against Lee’s lone season of production. Martinez drew 94% of the Twitter vote and 90% of the votes on Instagram.
  • No. 5 Tommy Armstrong Jr. defeats No. 4 Jammal Lord: Our first upset! Armstrong has across-the-board, multi-year production to rival Martinez, and it’s fitting that the two will now meet in the semis. Armstrong took 68% of the votes on Twitter and 81% of the Instagram vote.
  • No. 2 Zac Taylor defeats No. 7 Zac Lee: Taylor took a whopping 96% of the Twitter vote and 87% of the Instagram vote . He’s cruising in this competition.
  • No. 3 Joe Ganz defeats No. 6 Adrian Martinez: On the whole, this was as close as any matchup has been. Ganz won 72% of the near-600 Twitter votes, but Martinez won 54% of the more than 1,000 votes on Instagram. Ganz took the matchup with 55% of the overall vote, but the huge tally of votes for Martinez on Instagram made this interesting.

Here’s what the bracket looks like now:

  • No. 1 Taylor Martinez vs. No. 5 Tommy Armstrong Jr. 
  • No. 2 Zac Taylor vs. No. 3 Joe Ganz

A refresher on the remaining quarterbacks, which can also be found here.

No. 1: Taylor Martinez (2009-13)

Record as a starter: 29-14

Career stats: 7,258 passing yards, 59.8% completion rate, 56 passing touchdowns against 29 interceptions, 2,975 rushing yards, 31 rushing touchdowns

Despite an injury-shortened four-game senior season, Taylor Martinez departed Nebraska with a dripping red pen in hand after rewriting the program’s record books. A two-time captain, Martinez set career program records for total offense, passing yards, completions, touchdowns, and starts. 

He also broke the single-season program records for total offense and total touchdowns thanks to a prolific 2012 campaign. He produced 3,890 yards and 33 touchdowns while leading the Huskers to a 10-4 record, a Big Ten Championship appearance, and a Capital One Bowl appearance.

Jammal Lord is the only quarterback on our list to even come close to matching the kind of rushing production Martinez had as a Husker, and Martinez has north of 7,000 passing yards in his three-ish seasons of play.

No. 2: Zac Taylor (2005-06)

Record as a starter: 17-9

Career stats: 5,850 passing yards, 57.2% completion rate, 45 passing touchdowns against 20 interceptions, minus-73 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns

A junior college quarterback after transferring from Wake Forest, Zac Taylor took the reins immediately at Nebraska in 2005 and started the next 26 games. He led Nebraska under then-coach Bill Callahan to 8-4 and 9-5 records in his two seasons. 

His 2006 campaign—which earned him the Big 12’s Offensive Player of the Year award—remains the best season by a Husker quarterback in terms of touchdowns thrown (26) and second-best in terms of yardage accumulated (3,197).

No. 3: Joe Ganz (2004-08)

Record as a starter: 10-6

Career stats: 5,125 passing yards, 65.1% completion rate, 44 passing touchdowns against 18 interceptions, 341 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns

Ganz perhaps best represents the old age of college quarterbacks. He redshirted in 2004 and won scout team MVP. He sat behind Zac Taylor in 2005 but never saw a snap. He backed up Taylor again in 2006, played in five games, but only threw 13 passes. He then lost the starting job to Sam Keller ahead of the 2007 season and sat on the bench for the first eight games, appearing only twice. 

When Keller went down with an injury, Ganz grabbed the job and never looked back. 

He owns single-game program records for passing attempts, yards, and touchdowns. A 510-yard, seven-score day against Kansas State in November of 2007 stands as the most productive single game by a Nebraska quarterback of all time. 

His 2008 single-season record for completion percentage (67.86%) stood until this past season. His single-season records of 3,568 yards and yards per game still stand. He also owns the program record for career completion percentage, yards per attempt, and passer rating. 

No. 5: Tommy Armstrong Jr. (2012-16)

Record as a starter: 30-14

Career stats: 8,871 passing yards, 53.3% completion rate, 67 passing touchdowns against 44 interceptions, 1,819 rushing yards, 23 rushing touchdowns

Purely from a numbers standpoint, Tommy Armstrong Jr. has a case to be one of Nebraska’s all-time quarterbacks. He won the vast majority of his games as a starter, he owns career records for passing yards, total offense, passing touchdowns, and total touchdowns. Of course, it wasn’t all just about the production with Armstrong. 

He took over mid-season in 2013 after Taylor Martinez went down injured, and went 7-1 as a starter as a redshirt freshman. As a full-time starter in each of his final three seasons, Armstrong helped guide Nebraska to a 9-4 record twice and a 6-7 record in 2015, the first season under former coach Mike Riley.

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