It was not the best of weekends for Big Ten quarterbacks.
Wilton Speight completed less than 50 percent of passes and only threw for 103 yards, but he still ended up with more than four other starters and a fifth quarterback who played the majority of the game after the starter was injured.
Having five teams without a quarterback who threw for 100 yards is pretty crazy, but Wisconsin is a heavy favorite to win the West and hasn’t had someone reach the century mark four times in conference play. Not reaching 200 yards is a bad day at the office for most Power 5 teams, but sub-100-yard days are typically reserved for triple option-based programs. Even Navy quarterback Will Worth threw for 111 yards in a win against Tulsa this week.
It hasn’t been the best of years for quarterbacks in the conference, but this past weekend was especially bleak.
This is our look at the top quarterbacks in the conference right now. Considering the week-to-week fluidity in college football, the most recent results are weighted a little more heavily than what happened in September.
Injured: Perry Hills, Maryland; Brian Lewerke, Michigan State
Here is Land of 10’s Big Ten quarterback rankings heading into Week 11:
10. C.J. Beathard, Iowa
Last week: 8 of 19, 66 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Why he’s here: Because Maryland and Illinois have injuries, Rutgers regressed in a big way against Michigan State and Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook hasn’t throw for 100 yards in three starts. Beathard completed three passes for 14 yards to anyone not named Akrum Wadley, who was the Iowa offense in an upset win against Michigan.
9. Mitch Leidner, Minnesota
Last week: 18 of 27, 180 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 15 rushing yards, 1 TD
Why he’s here: Mitch Leidner hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since Oct. 1. He’s thrown one against an FBS opponent this season in eight games. But he did complete two-thirds of his passes and run for his eighth touchdown of the season against Nebraska. Again, the quarterback play at the bottom of this league is in shambles.
8. Tyler O’Connor, Michigan State
Last week: 10 of 15, 141 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT, 18 rushing yards
Why he’s here: Tyler O’Connor has had one of the weirdest seasons of any quarterback in the nation. He’s fourth in the Big Ten in quarterback rating, fourth in completion percentage, tied for third in yards per attempt, eighth in yards per game … and yet his coach seems to always want to play someone else. Being a veteran on a team going nowhere can lead to that.
It looked like Brian Lewerke was going to take his job, but he got hurt. Damion Terry really doesn’t look like a Big Ten quarterback, even by the low standards being set in 2016. O’Connor didn’t play well against Wisconsin or Michigan, but neither has anyone else in the league. He was plenty efficient and effective to help end a seven-game losing streak at Rutgers.
7. David Blough, Purdue
Last week: 21 of 36, 184 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTS, 37 rushing yards, 1 TD
Why he’s here: David Blough had settled in as the quarterback who played well in a losing effort, but even he had a bad day against Northwestern. It’s not going to get easier next week against Wisconsin.
6. Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska
Last week: 19 of 27, 217 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 61 rushing yards, 1 TD
Why he’s here: A week after leaving the field on a stretcher and the stadium in an ambulance, Tommy Armstrong returned and played one of his best games of the season against Minnesota. He topped 70 percent. He’s still last among qualified Big Ten quarterbacks in completion percentage, but the Cornhuskers are 8-2 and going to finish the season as one of the most improved teams in the nation.
5. Richard Lagow, Indiana
Last week: 23 of 40, 292 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTS
Why he’s here: Richard Lagow had his first game with at least one touchdown pass and no interceptions in conference play. He did it against a pretty good pass defense from Penn State, showcasing his big arm while managing to avoid some of the poor decisions he’s made to toss 13 interceptions this season.
4. Wilton Speight, Michigan
Last week: 11 of 26, 103 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT
Why he’s here: After a few weeks of looking like one of the most improved quarterbacks in the nation, Wilton Speight had a setback against Iowa. It was his worst game of the season, but the same could be said for several guys on Michigan’s offense. There are still only three quarterbacks in the country with at least 250 passing attempts and fewer than Speight’s four interceptions this season.
3. Trace McSorley, Penn State
Last week: 16 of 30, 332 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 13 rushing yards, 1 TD
Why he’s here: Despite injuring his ankle, Trace McSorley still had a huge day against Indiana, including an 8-for-10 for 222 yards stretch in the second half that helped rally the Nittany Lions from a 10-point deficit. He leads the conference in yards per attempt and is third in rushing yards by a quarterback.
2. Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
Last week: 23 of 36, 352 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 2 rushing yards, 1 TD
Why he’s here: Clayton Thorson had his third game of the season with four touchdowns to help Northwestern overcome a slow start to hammer Purdue. His chances of being the first-team all-Big Ten quarterback have probably faded, but Thorson’s quality play is going to help Austin Carr make a run at Big Ten offensive player of the year.
1. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Last week: 18 of 27, 253 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 47 rushing yards, 2 TDs
Why he’s here: After a four-game mini-slump when J.T. Barrett was only responsible for five touchdowns and the offense did not look like an elite, well-oiled machine, the Ohio State quarterback has responded with six touchdown passes and two rushing scores in the past two weeks. The offense looks great again, too, after back-to-back 62-3 victories.