J.J. McCarthy’s College Stats: From QB Battle to National Champion

    J.J. McCarthy’s college stats show how the Michigan Wolverines quarterback changed the program from Big Ten bridesmaid to national champions.

    Since becoming the Michigan Wolverines starting quarterback, J.J. McCarthy has done nothing but win and lead. His leadership and competent play under center have transformed the Wolverines into national champions, and his college stats prove it.

    From emerging victorious in a QB battle in 2022 to his stellar playoff performances, this is McCarthy’s journey to success over his three-year college career.

    J.J. McCarthy Plays Backup in Freshman Year

    Playing his high school career at Nazareth Academy, Ill., before transferring to IMG Academy, Fla., after COVID led to the cancellation of his senior season, McCarthy was a five-star recruit and committed to Michigan as one of the top QB recruits in the country.

    As a boyhood Ohio State fan, McCarthy was expected to land with the Buckeyes. However, when HC Ryan Day chose to sign Kyle McCord over him, the Michigan quarterback was motivated to join the Wolverines and show Day exactly why he was wrong.

    The scarlet and grey were discarded, and the maize and blue were donned, but McCarthy only fleetingly saw the field in his freshman year. While he appeared in 11 games, he was used sparingly behind Cade McNamara. He debuted against Western Michigan in September 2021, completing four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.

    McCarthy showed in his first year that he had more natural ability than McNamara, leading to fans clamoring for him to start as a sophomore.

    Completions: 34
    Attempts: 59
    Yards: 519
    Comp. %: 57.6%
    TDs: 5
    INTs: 2
    Rush Attempts: 27
    Rush Yards: 124
    Rush TDs: 2

    McCarthy Wins QB Battle in Sophomore Campaign

    Michigan declared an open competition between the two QBs during the offseason, extending the contest longer than anticipated. Harbaugh surprisingly took the battle into the 2022 season, with McNamara starting the opening game of the campaign against the Colorado State Rams and McCarthy starting the second against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

    Once McCarthy took to the field, it became obvious who would win the battle. He threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns, and Michigan took a 42-0 lead into the half.

    Postgame, Harbaugh declared that McCarthy was now “the starter moving forward on merit.” The Wolverines’ quarterback has had a stranglehold on the position ever since.

    McCarthy led Michigan to an undefeated regular season, including a comprehensive win over Ohio State, to reach the Big Ten title game. A Big Ten Championship Game victory over Purdue secured the Wolverines a place in the College Football Playoff. However, they ran into a rampant TCU Horned Frogs team that denied their national championship dreams.

    Michigan lost the Fiesta Bowl 51-45, as McCarthy passed for 343 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. It gave the Wolverines’ QB a taste for success, spurring him to achieve the ultimate team in college football during his final campaign.

    Completions: 208
    Attempts: 322
    Yards: 2,719
    Comp. %: 64.6%
    TDs: 22
    INTs: 5
    Rush Attempts: 70
    Rush Yards: 306
    Rush TDs: 5

    McCarthy Leads Michigan to a National Championship

    Michigan was an unstoppable force, with McCarthy controlling the offense in his junior season. An aura of inevitability ran through the program, and they turned over team after team by wide margins.

    Suspensions for Harbuagh and upheaval over the sign-stealing scandal only seemed to rally the Wolverines players to the cause.

    After another win against Ohio State and another Big Ten title, McCarthy became the fastest quarterback in program history to win 25 games. Alongside other team leaders, he led Michigan to another playoff appearance, ranked as the top team in the country.

    McCarthy and the Wolverines defeated Alabama in overtime at the Rose Bowl. The quarterback completed 17 of his 27 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns. The National Championship Game beckoned as Michigan traveled to Texas to face the Washington Huskies.

    In the end, the game was a procession. McCarthy and Michigan were unstoppable, and the Wolverines quarterback rarely needed to produce magic for the program to emerge victorious. He completed only 10 passes for 140 yards.

    KEEP READING: Michigan Wolverines’ Top Returning Players in 2024

    Throughout his career, McCarthy was asked to do just enough to keep the offense in rhythm and orchestrate it. As a starter, McCarthy only lost one game (the 2022 CFP semifinal to TCU), ending his career with a 27-1 record.

    Completions: 240
    Attempts: 332
    Yards: 2,991
    Comp. %: 72.3%
    TDs: 22
    INTs: 4
    Rush Attempts: 64
    Rush Yards: 202
    Rush TDs: 3

    McCarthy’s Final College Stats

    Completions: 482
    Attempts: 713
    Yards: 6,226
    Comp. %: 67.6%
    TDs: 49
    INTs: 11
    Rush Attempts: 161
    Rush Yards: 632
    Rush TDs: 10

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