It was a pretty wacky week in the Big Ten.
A conference titan lost on the road for the first time in 21 games even though the opposing quarterback completed only 8 passes. One team that completed 5 passes in a two-week span switched quarterbacks and nearly knocked off a team with a three-year starter at the position.
Multiple multiyear starters had disappointing showings, but one is piloting the conference’s hottest offense, though that is certainly an unexpected development after a terrible start to the season.
There isn’t a lot of separation at quarterback in the Big Ten. This is our look at the top quarterbacks in the conference now. Considering the week-to-week fluidity in college football, the most recent results are weighted a little more heavily than what happened in early September.
Here is Land of 10’s Big Ten quarterback rankings heading into Week 9:
Injured: Wes Lunt, Illinois; Tyler O’Connor, Michigan State
10. Giovanni Rescigno, Rutgers
This week: 22-of-38 passing, 220 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 26 rushing yards
Why he’s here: In the previous six games, other Rutgers quarterbacks completed 48 of 123 passes before Rescigno got his first extended chance in relief against Illinois. He played competently despite limping with an injury for much of the 34-32 loss to Minnesota. If Rescigno can stay healthy, Rutgers might be able to compete with more Big Ten teams this season.
9. C.J. Beathard, Iowa
This week: 17-of-33 passing, 153 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 5 rushing yards
Why he’s here: It’s hard to justify putting him any higher. Beathard had 204 yards against Northwestern, but 162 yards or fewer in four other conference games. He’s completed more than 55 percent of his passes twice in the past six games.
8. Perry Hills, Maryland
This week: 21-of-27 passing, 200 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT, 20 yards rushing
Why he’s here: Hills missed six quarters with a shoulder injury, but he continues to be one of the most improved players in the conference. He leads the Big Ten in completion percentage among qualified passers. He had 13 interceptions in 180 attempts last year but has only 2 in 107 attempts this season.
7. Richard Lagow, Indiana
This week: 35-of-59 passing, 319 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs
Why he’s here: Lagow has come close to matching predecessor Nate Sudfeld’s numbers, but the one area that’s troubled him is interceptions. He has 11 in the past five games, including 6 in four conference games. Sudfeld had 7 in 412 attempts last season.
6. David Blough, Purdue
This week: 25-of-43 passing, 309 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Why he’s here: There’s a big gap between the top five and the rest of the conference. There are inefficient guys like Blough and Lagow totaling big yards and more efficient passers who just aren’t doing as much passing. Blough leads the conference with 2,065 passing yards. The right replacement for fired coach Darrell Hazell could turn Blough into one of the premier passers in the nation in 2017.
5. Trace McSorley, Penn State
This week: 8-of-23 passing, 154 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 63 rushing yards, 1 TD
Why he’s here: It wasn’t efficient, but McSorley hit on just enough big plays in the passing game to help himself and Saquon Barkley grind out yards on the ground against Ohio State. The defense and special teams were the heroes in a stunning upset, but McSorley engineered two big scoring drives.
4. Wilton Speight, Michigan
This week: 16-of-23 passing, 253 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT
Why he’s here: Speight continues to be steady and efficient for the Wolverines. He’s third in the conference in completion percentage and quarterback rating, tossing 13 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
3. Tommy Armstrong Jr., Nebraska
This week: 17-of-31 passing, 252 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 51 rushing yards, 1 TD
Why he’s here: Those 380 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns this season separate him from the next group, but not by much. He’s got 17 touchdowns and almost 2,000 yards of total offense. Two big tests against Wisconsin and Ohio State are forthcoming.
2. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
This week: 28-of-43 passing, 245 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 26 rushing yards
Why he’s here: Penn State’s defense swarmed Barrett, especially in the second half. Barrett’s 26 yards on 17 carries was his worst rushing day as a starter since the third game of the 2014 season. This is also the second time in three weeks that Barrett averaged fewer than 6 yards per passing attempt.
1. Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
This week: 24-of-43 passing, 285 yards, 3 TDs, 22 rushing yards
Why he’s here: Thorson and the Wildcats have turned around what looked like a lost season with wins against Iowa, Michigan State and Indiana. He has 9 touchdown passes and 1 interception in the past three weeks. Thorson is averaging 260 yards per game during the past five weeks.