It’s pretty easy to see the tiers that have developed among Big Ten quarterbacks.
The top four guys have forged a pretty sizable gap between them and the rest of the signal-callers in the league. The next two guys throw for a ton of yards, but also throw it to the other team too often.
Then there are a lot of guys who teams are mostly hoping they do enough to help get a win without making too many negative plays. Injuries are definitely hurting the league’s quarterback depth, as three more starters did not finish their games Saturday.
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: Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska; Perry Hills, Maryland; Wes Lunt, Illinois; Brian Lewerke, Michigan State; Tyler O’Connor, Michigan State
Here is Land of 10’s Big Ten quarterback rankings heading into Week 10:
10. Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin
Last week: 11 of 19, 92 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs
Why he’s here: It’s still something of a default issue. Michigan State might be down to its third-string quarterback. Illinois is playing its third-string quarterback. Maryland has turned to two different quarterbacks when Hills has been injured. Nebraska completed 9 of 33 passes against Ohio State, and Armstrong’s status moving forward remains to be determined.
9. Mitch Leidner, Minnesota
Last week: 14 of 23, 231 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 74 rushing yards, 2 TDs
Why he’s here: Mitch Leidner did a nice job acting as the de facto No. 2 rushing option behind Rodney Smith with Shannon Brooks unavailable against Purdue. It was the third-most passing yards he’s had this season as well, though everyone throws the ball well against the Boilermakers.
8. Giovanni Rescigno, Rutgers
Last week: 19 of 36, 258 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 2 rushing yards, 1 TD
Why he’s here: Giovanni Rescigno continues to help Rutgers be competitive, which was not the case before he took over during the game against Illinois. He has nearly 600 yards in less than three games. Rutgers had 538 in the previous five contests.
7. C.J. Beathard, Iowa
Last week: 18 of 26, 204 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Why he’s here: C.J. Beathard had almost no impact on Iowa’s 41-14 loss at Penn State. It’s hard to say if that’s the game plan, the lack of receiving talent or the quarterback, but the Hawkeyes’ passing attack was a lot of dumpoffs and quick tosses for short gains. It felt like all of the above.
6. Richard Lagow, Indiana
Last week: 28 of 40, 394 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs,
Why he’s here: To be honest, it’s in part because Armstrong, Hills and Lunt are all hurt. Richard Lagow put up huge yardage numbers against Rutgers, but the turnovers continue to be an issue. Indiana actually trailed 24-13 at one point against the Scarlet Knights. He has 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, which is tied with the next guy on this list for the most in the country.
5. David Blough, Purdue
Last week: 28 of 49, 391 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT
Why he’s here: David Blough is up to 13 touchdown passes in his past four games. He also has five 300-yard passing games. His defense has also allowed at least 44 points in four of the past six games, but he continues to be a source of hope for 2017.
4. Trace McSorley, Penn State
Last week: 11 of 18, 240 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 40 rushing yards, 1 TD
Why he’s here: Penn State’s offense has lit up Maryland, Purdue and Iowa in three of the past four games. Trace McSorley was efficient early against the Hawkeyes, and helped the Nittany Lions build a huge lead. He’s second in the Big Ten in yards per attempt (8.5). Even more impressive, he’s been responsible for 13 touchdowns and zero turnovers in the past five games.
3. Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
Last week: 28 of 52, 277 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs
Why he’s here: Considering the opponent, Thorson had a pretty good game against Wisconsin. The 277 yards was a season-high against the Badgers, but it was also easily the most passing attempts. He made it through two weeks against Ohio State and Wisconsin, and has some inviting matchups to finish the season.
2. Wilton Speight, Michigan
Last week: 19 of 24, 362 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 16 rushing yards, 1 TD
Why he’s here: Wilton Speight has now completed 51 of 72 passes for 859 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. He was nearly perfect against Maryland, and his improvement as the season progresses could be the difference in Michigan making the College Football Playoff and potentially winning a national championship.
1. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Last week: 26 of 38, 290 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs, 39 rushing yards
Why he’s here: The Buckeyes obliterated a top-10 team, beating Nebraska by 59 points. J.T. Barrett still had a couple of open throws that he missed, but a four-touchdown game after only throwing for three scores in the previous four contests was a big step forward that Ohio State’s offense needed. It’s been a weird year for Barrett. He has 18 of his 21 touchdown passes in four games, and two of those four-plus touchdown games were against teams ranked in the top 10.