Michigan continues to roll, and Ohio State is now four weeks into what qualifies as a funk for the Buckeyes.
Wilton Speight is clearly improving, much in the same way that Jake Rudock did last season under Jim Harbaugh’s tutelage. Ohio State’s offense has started slow and then turned awesome later in the year each of the past two seasons, but the Buckeyes have some issues right now.
Neither Speight nor J.T. Barrett is the best quarterback in the Big Ten right now, anyway, but they are the top two contenders chasing the guy who checks in at No. 1.
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.
Injured: Wes Lunt, Illinois; Brian Lewerke, Michigan State
Here is Land of 10’s Big Ten quarterback rankings heading into Week 10:
10. Giovanni Rescigno, Rutgers
Last week: Bye
Why he’s here: Well, the quarterback situations at Illinois and Michigan State are a mess. Alex Hornibrook threw for 71 yards against Nebraska and has more interceptions than touchdowns. Mitch Leidner hasn’t thrown for 170 yards or a touchdown in his past three starts. So … yeah. No. 10 by default.
9. C.J. Beathard, Iowa
Last week: Bye
Why he’s here: From last week: “C.J. 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.” Still applies. He’s about to face a tough pass defense in a tough environment at Penn State.
8. Richard Lagow, Indiana
Last week: 16 of 25, 207 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs
Why he’s here: Richard Lagow has completed at least 59 percent of his passes in each of the past three games and has 720 passing yards in that span. He has also has one touchdown and four interceptions, and it was the running game that dominated Saturday against Maryland, often with someone else taking the snap.
7. Tommy Armstrong, Jr., Nebraska
Last week: 12 of 31, 153 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 39 rushing yards, 1 TD
Why he’s here: Tommy Armstrong, Jr., has completed 39 of 88 passes with one touchdown and five interceptions in the past three games, and one of those was against Purdue’s bad defense. He would have dropped further, but Wisconsin’s defense is very good and he does have 80 yards and two touchdowns on the ground on the past two weeks.
6. Perry Hills, Maryland
Last week: 22 of 33, 248 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, minus-4 rushing yards, 2 TDs
Why he’s here: Perry Hills has been more productive throwing the ball since he returned from a second bout with a shoulder injury. He hasn’t been nearly as effective running this season as he was in 2015, and that dates back to the original shoulder problem. Since he was injured against Central Florida, Hills has run for 50 yards on 38 carries in four games. He’s completed 57 of 80 passes with seven touchdowns and three interceptions in that span.
5. David Blough, Purdue
Last week: 34 of 50, 281 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Why he’s here: David Blough has had two pretty nice games in a row against really good teams (Nebraska and Penn State). The Boilermakers led the Cornhuskers at halftime and were tied with the Nittany Lions. He can’t make his defense stop anybody, and that’s probably not going to change anytime soon.
4. Trace McSorley, Penn State
Last week: 12 of 23, 228 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT
Why he’s here: It hasn’t always looked pretty, but Trace McSorley has seven touchdown passes without an interception in the past four games. He’s also hitting on a bunch of big plays. McSorley has 20 passes of 30-plus yards. That’s four more than anyone else in the Big Ten.
3. Wilton Speight, Michigan
Last week: 16 of 25, 244 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT
Why he’s here: Wilton Speight has 497 yards on just 48 pass attempts in the past two games. Michigan State did a nice job of getting past Michigan’s offensive line, but Speight proved able to avoid the pass rushers and still make strong throws down the field.
2. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Last week: 21 of 33, 223 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 71 rushing yards
Why he’s here: Quarterback rating is not necessarily the best way to assess performance at the position in college football, but J.T. Barrett has been below 130 for four straight games now. Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs is at 129.67, and he’s 70th in the country. Barrett is still running pretty successfully against everyone not named Penn State, but Ohio State’s passing game clearly needs to get better before Michigan comes to Columbus.
1. Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
Last week: 22 of 42, 256 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 44 rushing yards, 1 TD
Why he’s here: Clayton Thorson put up 300 total yards against Ohio State, which has one of the best defenses in the nation. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, who leads the nation with a 195.85 quarterback rating, had 231 total and two interceptions. McSorley had 217. If Barrett continues to just be so-so, Thorson should be the first-team all-Big Ten quarterback … unless Speight passes both of them.