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Checkdowns: QB Playoff Wins by College

Watching Matt Barkley today against UCLA, I tweeted that Mark Sanchez is responsible for 4 of the 9 playoff wins by USC quarterbacks. Since twitter is not a very good medium for showing large datasets, here’s a quick look at which colleges have produced the quarterbacks with the most playoff victories.

Two pieces of fine print. One, I am using the player’s last college as his college, so Oklahoma does not get credit for Troy Aikman in this scenario. Second, I am giving only the quarterback who threw for the most passing yards for his team in that game as the “quarterback” to avoid giving credit to players who came in and took a couple of snaps at the end of blowouts (or who started games but were benched or injured early). So the number of playoff wins for each quarterback — listed in parentheses in the table below — could slightly differ from official figures.


Notre Dame28Joe Montana (16)Joe Theismann (6)Daryle Lamonica (4)Steve Beuerlein (1)George Ratterman (1)
Stanford25John Elway (14)Jim Plunkett (8)John Brodie (2)Frankie Albert (1)
Purdue19Bob Griese (7)Drew Brees (5)Len Dawson (5)Jim Everett (2)
UCLA19Troy Aikman (11)Jay Schroeder (3)Billy Kilmer (2)Bob Waterfield (2)Tommy Maddox (1)
Michigan19Tom Brady (16)Jim Harbaugh (2)Elvis Grbac (1)
Alabama19Bart Starr (8)Ken Stabler (7)Richard Todd (2)Joe Namath (2)
Miami (FL)15Jim Kelly (9)Bernie Kosar (3)Vinny Testaverde (2)Steve Walsh (1)
Louisiana Tech14Terry Bradshaw (14)
Southern Mississippi13Brett Favre (13)
Brigham Young12Steve Young (8)Jim McMahon (3)Gifford Nielsen (1)
California11Aaron Rodgers (4)Craig Morton (4)Joe Kapp (2)Steve Bartkowski (1)
Navy11Roger Staubach (11)
Tennessee10Peyton Manning (9)Pat Ryan (1)
Delaware10Joe Flacco (5)Rich Gannon (4)Scott Brunner (1)
Mississippi10Eli Manning (8)Charlie Conerly (2)
Miami (OH)10Ben Roethlisberger (10)
USC9Mark Sanchez (4)Pat Haden (2)Bill Nelsen (2)Rodney Peete (1)
Washington9Mark Brunell (4)Warren Moon (3)Chris Chandler (2)
Arizona State9Danny White (6)Jake Plummer (2)Mark Malone (1)
Syracuse9Donovan McNabb (9)
Northern Iowa9Kurt Warner (9)
Northwestern9Otto Graham (9)
Pittsburgh8Dan Marino (8)
Maryland8Neil O'Donnell (3)Boomer Esiason (3)Frank Reich (2)
Washington State8Mark Rypien (5)Drew Bledsoe (3)
Georgia7Fran Tarkenton (6)Zeke Bratkowski (1)
Oregon6Dan Fouts (3)Norm Van Brocklin (2)Chris Miller (1)
Morehead State6Phil Simms (6)
Boston College5Matt Hasselbeck (5)
Alcorn State5Steve McNair (5)
Rice5Tobin Rote (3)Tommy Kramer (1)Frank Ryan (1)
West Virginia5Jeff Hostetler (4)Marc Bulger (1)
La-Lafayette5Jake Delhomme (5)
Grambling State5Doug Williams (4)James Harris (1)
Louisville5Johnny Unitas (5)
Fresno St.5Trent Dilfer (5)
Columbia5Sid Luckman (5)
North Carolina State4Philip Rivers (3)Erik Kramer (1)
Youngstown State4Ron Jaworski (4)
Nebraska4Vince Ferragamo (3)Glenn Presnell (1)
Illinois4Tony Eason (3)Jeff George (1)
Louisiana-Monroe4Stan Humphries (3)Bubby Brister (1)
Florida State4Brad Johnson (4)
Michigan State4Earl Morrall (4)
LSU3David Woodley (3)
UNLV3Randall Cunningham (3)
Milton3Dave Krieg (3)
Florida3Rex Grossman (2)Tim Tebow (1)
Penn St.3Kerry Collins (3)
Texas3Bobby Layne (3)
Ohio State3Mike Tomczak (3)
Kentucky3George Blanda (2)Babe Parilli (1)
TCU3Sammy Baugh (3)
Tulsa3Tommy Thompson (3)
Texas A&M-Commerce3Wade Wilson (3)
Santa Clara3Dan Pastorini (3)
San Jose State3Jeff Garcia (2)Steve DeBerg (1)
Virginia Tech2Michael Vick (2)
Marshall2Chad Pennington (2)
Augustana (IL)2Ken Anderson (2)
Dartmouth2Jay Fiedler (2)
Occidental2Jack Kemp (2)
Regis2Arnie Herber (2)
Central Florida2Daunte Culpepper (2)
Colorado2Kordell Stewart (2)
Fordham2Ed Danowski (2)
Vanderbilt2Jay Cutler (1)Billy Wade (1)
Virginia1Aaron Brooks (1)
SMU1Don Meredith (1)
Eastern Illinois1Tony Romo (1)
Arkansas1Joe Ferguson (1)
Tulane1Shaun King (1)
Auburn1Dieter Brock (1)
Pacific1Bob Lee (1)
Utah1Alex Smith (1)
North Carolina1T.J. Yates (1)
East Carolina1David Garrard (1)
Clemson1Steve Fuller (1)
Kansas St.1Lynn Dickey (1)
Missouri1Paul Christman (1)
Benedictine1Irv Comp (1)
Millikin1George Corbett (1)

  • Vince

    You have San Jose State for Jeff Garcia and San Jose St. for Steve DeBerg. Also hard to believe that San Diego State’s Brian Sipe never won one (Red Right 88?).

    • Chase Stuart

      Thanks. Not sure what the San Jose State issue was, but it’s fixed now. Sipe did not ever win a playoff game.

  • So question on your metrics– when Russell Wilson wins playoff games– and he WILL win playoff games…
    Will you give credit solely to Wisconsin? His development over three years at NC State was also instrumental to his development as a pro prospect. Our system up in Seattle is in some ways a hybrid between the two systems.

    Back when the decision to start Wilson was made, Doug Farrar (Yahoo sports) pointed out on the decision that Pete Carroll brought up the fact that Wilson played in a West Coast Offense (at NC State) and a two-back power zone (at Wisconsin) in college, and the Seahawks, more or less, run a hybrid/blend of the two.

    As Farrar put it, he’s a “perfect fit for Seahawks.”

    So yeah, while Aikman’s Oklahoma time was cut short and wasn’t significant to development, I think three years starting at NC State was very significant, and you might have to change your rules…

    That being said, great article and good read.

    • Richie

      Easy, Tyler. It’s just a fun little exercise to see which colleges have produced QBs who win playoff games in the NFL. Not a hard analysis of how colleges develop QBs.

      Welcome to FP.com!

    • Chase Stuart

      Richie’s an FP veteran, but yes, most checkdowns are just data dumps. But since Tyler is a Seahawks fan and not a NC State fan (I assume), I think he’s just hoping that Wilson gets on this list next year.

      • Funny thing Chase– Richie and I know each other, we play in a fantasy league together, are friends from my days in California. We consistently make bad trades with one another and fall out of contention to luckier players who, since they don’t read sites like this, obviously aren’t as smart about football as we are.

        That being said, I actually was super curious from a college football standpoint as much as a Seahawk one. And since NC State has some past history and Wisconsin does not, I suppose Wisconsin could really use his (eventual) wins. But I do think three years at one place followed by one at another lead to some gray area with regard to defining a player’s history. And in Wilson’s case, he is in the NC State (and ACC record books,) so it is a unique case, once he DOES get his playoff wins.

        Preferably a few this year, of course. 🙂

  • Tim Truemper

    Some observations on the list based on my experience by geography or school attendance on the list. Delaware in the top 10. Amazing for school not known for producing NFL QB’s. NC State list of playoff winners does not include Roman Gabriel– wow, did not know he never won a playoff game with the powerful Rams teams he played with. Texas A & M (my grad school alma mater) is not on the list. (Kind of figured that). Ole Miss, my under grad alma mater is up there some, thanks to Eli. LSU on the list because of David Woodley, with no playoff wins for YA Tittle or Bert Jones, both much more heralded as QB’s.

  • Richie

    For the most part, this list is driven by the handful of QB’s who have won a bunch of games in the playoffs. Stanford, Notre Dame and Alabama are the only schools with 2+ QB’s with 6+ playoff wins. Drop the threshhold to 5, and you can add Purdue (who had 3 QB’s with 5+ wins.) Point being, if you have one great QB come from a school, they are going to push that school way up the list.

    Of course, if this Andrew Luck thing keeps up, Notre Dame is going to have a tough time keeping the #1 spot.