As Mike Meyer stepped up to take the game-winning kick during Saturday's slopfest not once did the thought cross my mind that he could actually miss it. It was windy and rainy, the field slippery, from 42 yards out, in double overtime with the game on the line...pretty much as pressure packed as it gets for a placekicker.
Kick up. Good. Straight down the middle of the uprights. It was just the same as the two previous kicks Meyer made. The first, a PAT forcing the game to go into overtime and the second, a 27-yard FG, forcing a second overtime.
On the day Meyer went 4/4 on FGs and was named the B1G Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time this year. He also was recognized as the Lou Groza Award "Star of the Week." (There is also a poll associated with the Lou Groza thing...go ahead and go vote, though I think Meyer's got it wrapped up.)
He has now made 13 FGs in a row since missing a 40-yarder in the second quarter of the opener against Northern Illinois. That's 14/15 on the season. His average of 2.33 FGs made per game is second in the country. He currently has the Iowa record for consecutive PATs made at 68 surpassing Iowa great Nate Kaeding early this year. So the question is then, is Mike Meyer the best kicker in the country?
How he stacks up against the others
I had to draw a line somewhere, so I took all the kickers that have made at least 90% of their kicks and have made at least 10 field goals. That narrowed it down to a top 5. The list:
- Mike Meyer, Iowa
- Chandler Catanzaro, Clemson
- Austin Lopez, San Jose St.
- Jeff Budzien, Northwestern
- Ross Martin, Duke
So let's take a look at their stats.
Right off the bat it sticks out to me that Catanzaro and Lopez have both missed PATs. That's pretty bad, though they've attempted significantly more than Meyer. The other thing that sticks out is that Lopez, Budzien, and Martin haven't really tested their range with no attempts outside of 45 yards. So Meyer is the only one of the five that doesn't have one of those dings against him. Plus he's made the most FGs.
Digging a little deeper, let's look at how everyone has done in pressure kick situations, a kicker's true measure. I defined a pressure kick as a field goal taken in the 4th quarter or OT when trailing by any score or ahead by just 1 possession. Listed below are all the games that these kickers made pressure kicks and the distance of the FGs made.
- Meyer: NIU - 50 yards; ISU - 21; UNI - 18; CMU - 46; MSU - 27 and 42
- Catanzara: Auburn - 18
- Lopez: Navy - 32
- Budzien: Vandy - 18
- Martin: none
So yeah, that's right. Mike Meyer has made a pressure kick in the 4th quarter in 5 of Iowa's 6 games this year. Stones. No other kicker from this elite group had more than 1 of these pressure kicks. So, it's pretty clear to me from this list that if you were down 2 with 0:03 left on the clock facing a 40-yard FG for the win, who you would want kicking that ball. Mike Meyer hands down. And that just might be the greatest argument as to why he's the best in the country.