Give Taulia Tagovailoa some slack.

The Big Ten is a tough, tough league in which to play quarterback, especially on an also-ran team.

Tagovailoa has persevered through 4 seasons and 41 starts at Maryland, helping the Terrapins reach bowl games 3 years in a row.

The knocks on Tua’s little brother are that he doesn’t win enough (23-18) and throws too many interceptions (37, including 11 this season). But let’s be real: He can’t play as carefully as the QBs of the 3 teams above the Terps in the B1G East. Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State have the top 3 scoring defenses in the country this season. Maryland comes in at No. 49.

The 5-11, 208-pound Tagovailoa can’t settle for punts and live to fight on another possession. Maryland doesn’t have that luxury. Is it maddening that the veteran QB has thrown 2 interceptions in each of his team’s 7-point losses to Michigan the past 2 years? Sure. But no one else has played the Wolverines that close in consecutive games, and Tagovailoa is the primary reason the Terps did.

Tagovailoa posted his 15h career 300-yard passing game Saturday in a 42-24 victory over Rutgers for 4th-place bragging rights in the East. In the process, he topped 11,000 career passing yards and surpassed Purdue’s Curtis Painter for the No. 1 spot in Big Ten history.

Tagovailoa probably could have transferred to somewhere on the West Coast and found a lane into the Heisman race ala former Indiana QB Michael Penix Jr. Instead, he stuck it out with Mike Locksley in College Park. He may be even more of an NFL longshot because of that.

But it’s time to give the 23-year-old his due in these rankings.

In a league where 2 teams — Rutgers, Nebraska — haven’t had even a 200-yard passer all year, Tagovailoa stands tall.

B1G individual passing games in 2023

300+ yards: 13
200-299 yards: 60
100-199 yards: 76
< 100 yards: 19

(Numbers reflect each team’s leading passer each game, whether that player started or not.)

The Big Ten adds 4 schools next season, and 3 of them have QBs with more passing yards on the season than Tagovailoa. But Washington’s Penix, Oregon’s Bo Nix and USC’s Caleb Williams might all be in the NFL by then, with only Williams having college eligibility left. So who knows if there will be an offensive injection into the stodgy Big Ten.

As for this season, cue the band Europe: It’s the Final Countdown.

14. Deacon Hill, Iowa

Week 13: at Nebraska (W, 13-10), 11-28, 94 yards, INT
Season: 88.7 ypg, 48.3%, 5 TDs, 6 INTs, 91.29 rating

The 6-3, 258-pound redshirt sophomore threw a disastrous late-game pick, but Iowa’s defense saved him by getting one of their own 2 plays later to set up the winning field goal. Hill’s best stat is his 6-1 win-loss record since replacing injured Cade McNamara as the starter.

Next year: McNamara says he’s coming back, which would drop Hill from worst starter in the league to worst backup.

13. Chubba Purdy, Nebraska

Week 13: vs. Iowa (L, 13-10), 15-28, 189 yards, TD, INT
Season: 63.7 ypg, 54.4%, 2 TD, 3 INTs, 111.74 rating

Purdy threw the game away with a final minute pick and also lost a fumble, ensuring Nebraska’s finish as the most turnover prone team among the 133 FBS schools.

Next year: Purdy, Heinrich Haarberg and Jeff Sims are all eligible to return, though Matt Rhule could also look elsewhere.

12. Katin Houser, Michigan State

Week 13: vs. Penn State (L, 42-0), 11-19, 87 yards, INT
Season: 102.7 ypg, 58.6%, 6 TDs, 5 INTs, 113.46 rating

Michigan State finished the season as the lowest-scoring team in the Big Ten, brutal in a league that includes Iowa. New coach Jonathan Smith seemingly isn’t going to have the option of keeping Houser at QB1.

Next year: Houser was a 4-star, top-100 recruit in 2022. He might have been Smith’s choice, but word is the 6-3, 215-pound Californian is hitting the transfer portal along with freshman Sam Leavitt and RS junior-to-be Noah Kim. Will Smith try to talk any of them into returning, or will he bring in his own guy?

11. Gavin Wimsatt, Rutgers

Week 13: vs. Maryland (L, 42-24), 13-34, 165 yards, TD, INT
Season: 137.6 ypg, 47.8%, 9 TDs, 8 INTs, 103.43 rating

Wimsatt added 48 yards and 2 TDs on the ground vs. the Terps, making him the leading B1G quarterback in rushing yards (488) and TDs (9) this season. But he’ll have to become a much better passer or the Scarlet Knights’ ceiling will remain at 6 wins, which is where they’re at after 4 straight losses to close the regular season.

Next year: The 6-3, 225-pound Wimsatt will be a redshirt junior, and he’ll probably remain Greg Schiano’s best option.

10. Athan Kaliakmanis, Minnesota

Week 13: vs. Wisconsin (L, 28-14), 16-28, 167 yards, TD, INT
Season: 153.2 ypg, 53.1%, 14 TDs, 9 INTs, 115.17 rating

The Gophers didn’t score in the second half of the final game of their 5-7 regular season. Besieged by injuries, Minnesota had bigger problems than QB play, though Kaliakmanis rarely rose to the occasion in his first full season as the starter.

Next year: PJ Fleck is likely to stick with his 2021 4-star recruit and hope to put a better and healthier team around the 6-4, 215-pound gunslinger.

9. Tanner Mordecai, Wisconsin

Week 13: at Minnesota (W, 28-14), 14-22, 145 yards, 2 TDs, INT
Season: 187.6 ypg, 64.6%, 6 TDs, 4 INTs, 120.66 rating

Mordecai also ran for 69 yards in the final regular season game of his college career. He missed 3 games with an injury and has 30 less TD passes than he averaged the past 2 years at SMU.

Next year: Mordecai is out of eligibility. Luke Fickell might fish the portal again, or he could choose from among current RS freshmen Braedyn Locke, Myles Burkett and Nick Evers. Or even true freshman Cole LaCrue.

8. Hudson Card, Purdue

Week 13: vs. Indiana (W, 35-31), 21-34, 275 yards, 3 TDs
Season: 217.0 ypg, 58.9%, 15 TDs, 8 INTs, 123.02 rating

Returning after missing 1 game with bumps and bruises, the Texas transfer set the tone for next season with a strong finale. He ran for 85 yards and a score against the Hoosiers in addition to the passing numbers.

Next year: The 6-3, 210-pound Card will be a redshirt senior next season, and Ryan Walters will no doubt roll with the QB he brought in through the portal as a first-year head coach.

7. Ben Bryant, Northwestern

Week 13: at Illinois (W, 45-43), 24-32, 234 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
Season: 198.1 ypg, 61.7%, 11 TDs, 6 INTs, 126.52 rating

Bryant won for the third straight weekend since returning from an injury, helping the Wildcats enter bowl season on a roll.

Next year: Bryant, the transfer from Cincinnati, will play 1 more game in his 6-year college career. Backup Brendan Sullivan, who played well while Bryant was out, should be next up. He’ll be a redshirt junior.

6. Brendan Sorsby, Indiana

Week 13: at Purdue (L, 35-31), 17-31, 226 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs
Season: 158.7 ypg, 57.0%, 15 TDs, 5 INTs, 129.88 rating

The Hoosiers adsorbed a third straight 1-score loss, with Sorsby again playing well despite the interceptions. The 6-3, 230-pound redshirt freshman seems to have a future in Bloomington, assuming the Texan wants to stick around in the aftermath of  Tom Allen’s firing.

Next year: It should be Sorsby’s job if he wants it. He’s played phenomenally well, considering the circumstances, since wresting the starting spot from Tayven Jackson.

5. John Paddock, Illinois

Week 13: vs. Northwestern (L, 45-43), 24-34, 334 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs
Season: 182.6 ypg, 59.4%, 9 TDs, 3 INTs, 151.08 rating

Since subbing in for injured Luke Altmyer 4 weeks ago, the 6-0, 190-pound Paddock has put on quite a show. After 5 seasons at Ball State, Paddock enjoyed some final moments as a college QB, coming up a 2-point conversion short of extending his final appearance. He’ll always have the 507-yard passing game in a win over Indiana to look back on.

Next year: Bret Bielema will go back to Altmyer, the transfer he brought in from Ole Miss who has 2 years remaining.

4. Drew Allar, Penn State

Week 13: at Michigan State (W, 42-0), 17-26, 292 yards, 2 TDs
Season: 194.7 ypg, 61.1%, 23 TDs, 1 INT, 138.31 rating

Allar finished strong in his first year as the Lions’ starter, with his best game since throwing for 325 yards in the season opener.

Next year: There’s no controversy. Allar is the starter, dual-threat Beau Pribula is the backup. If James Franklin finds the right offensive coordinator, both will thrive.

3. Kyle McCord, Ohio State

Week 13: at Michigan (L, 30-24), 18-30, 271 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
Season: 264.2 ypg, 65.8%, 24 TDs, 6 INTs, 161.64 rating

McCord’s first of 2 interceptions against Michigan set up the Wolverines with 1st-and-goal from the 7. That was the difference, and the first-year starter couldn’t make up for the error, throwing his second pick, under heavy pressure, in the final minute to seal the Buckeyes’ fate.

Next year: McCord should return for his senior season, when he’ll try to live up to Ohio State fans’ huge expectations, possibly without Marvin Harrison Jr. as a target. Harrison is likely gone to the NFL, though he’s made no announcement yet. Emeka Egbuka might leave early too.

2. JJ McCarthy, Michigan

Week 13: vs. Ohio State (W, 30-24), 16-20, 148 yards, TD
Season: 206.9 ypg, 74.3%, 19 TDs, 4 INTs, 176.76 rating

McCarthy threw his first TD pass in 4 weeks and played another efficient, mistake-free game to get the better of the rival Buckeyes.

Next year: McCarthy could return for a senior season. His NFL Draft stock is good but not great, and the 2024 quarterback class is loaded. If he doesn’t return, a very open competition is likely to ensue.

1. Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland

Week 13: at Rutgers (W, 42-24), 24-31, 361, 3 TDs, INT
Season: 281.4 ypg, 66.4%, 25 TDs, 11 INTs, 145.13 rating

The 5th-year senior posted his best passing game of the season, passing Purdue’s Curtis Painter (2005-08) to become the B1G’s career passing yardage leader in the process. He’s thrown for 11,256 yards in 41 games for the Terrapins, going 23-18 while starting every game he was healthy enough to play in.

Next year: Having burned his redshirt as a true freshman at Alabama in 2019, Tagovailoa is out of eligibility. Backup Billy Edwards Jr., who will be a redshirt junior, should have first dibs.