B1G QB rankings entering Week 10: Stroud continues his run of dominance
CJ Stroud and everyone else.
That’s becoming the theme in the B1G when it comes to the quarterbacks. It’s not exactly breaking news that this hasn’t been the best season the league has seen from the position. That’s not to say there aren’t some skilled guys in the conference, but not many are playing at a consistently high level.
Well, except for Stroud. He’s now thrown for 2,230 yards with 23 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions while completing passes at a 67.1% clip. He hasn’t thrown a pick since Week 3 against Tulsa.
Stroud is only getting better.
A few other quarterbacks in the league are getting better, too. It’s just been way more inconsistent than what we’re seeing in Columbus. That makes it a little tougher to rank as we hit the final month of the year. But, here it goes.
Unranked this week
Ryan Hilinski, Northwestern
Brandon Peters, Illinois
Graham Mertz, Wisconsin
Donaven McCulley/Michael Penix Jr./Jack Tuttle, Indiana
10. Noah Vedral, Rutgers
Last week vs. Illinois: 10-of-21, 138 yards (56 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD)
Sometimes, not making the big mistake is enough to win the game. That was the case for Vedral against Illinois and why he’s still holding down the No. 10 spot in the quarterback rankings this week. He continues to be a threat with the short-to-intermediate passing game and can keep defenses honest with his legs. Most importantly, he’s only tossed 3 interceptions this season. Nothing has been flashy from Vedral, but he continues to play within himself.
9. Spencer Petras, Iowa
Last week vs. Wisconsin: 9-of-19, 93 yards (1 rushing TD)
The quarterback who had a very successful start to the season isn’t the same guy who’s been on the field the past 2 games. And really, when you look at the numbers, Petras has struggled throughout the year. In 5 of Iowa’s 8 games, Petras has completed fewer than 55% of his passes and has thrown for over 200 yards in just 3 games. He’s still capable of being a consistent QB when put in the right situations, it’s just not what we’ve seen from him the past few weeks.
8. Tanner Morgan, Minnesota
Last week vs. Northwestern: 12-of-17, 134 yards, 1 INT (29 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD)
Minnesota continues to lean on a heavy rushing attack and ask Morgan to do just enough to keep defenses off-balance. He needs to be more protective of the football, throwing 5 interceptions with just 6 touchdowns through the first 8 games. His 60.8% completion rate is good enough because of the Gophers’ ground game, but you’d also like to see a tad more consistency with the options he has at receiver. Nothing much more to say on Morgan, other than there’s still a question about whether he’d be able to win a game for Minnesota if the run game ever gets slowed down.
7. Aidan O’Connell, Purdue
Last week vs. Nebraska: 34-of-45, 233 yards, 2 TDs
High-risk, high-reward continues to be a theme for O’Connell. In losses to Minnesota and Wisconsin, he had issues with turnovers. That wasn’t the case in road victories over Iowa and Nebraska. In each of his last 3 games, O’Connell has completed passes at a 75% clip or higher, a key to success for the Boilermakers without a substantial rushing presence. If the Purdue quarterback can find a way to eliminate the high interception totals, he’s easily one of the Top 5 players at the position in the B1G. Because of the inconsistency in that regard, he sits a few spots below.
6. Cade McNamara, Michigan
Last week vs #8 Michigan State: 28-of-44, 383 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT (23 rushing yards)
Even though it came in a loss, McNamara had one of his best outings of the season. He was able to throw the ball down the field, consistently hit his targets and provide the Wolverines with some explosiveness through the air. That’s a good sign for Michigan in the month of November. The one concern for McNamara is that Michigan State’s pass defense is the worst in the B1G. How will he look against more opportunistic defenses like Penn State and Ohio State?
5. Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
Last week vs. Purdue: 14-of-29, 269 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs (1 rushing TD)
Martinez slips down the ladder this week after his worst outing of the season. Throughout Saturday’s loss to Purdue, the senior leader was trying to do way too much in creating plays. Throwing 4 interceptions will get the Huskers beat by just about anyone. But it’s hard to ignore Martinez’s dynamic play-making ability and what he’s meant to the offense. We’ll see how he responds in the final 3 games against Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa.
4. Sean Clifford, Penn State
Last week vs. #5 Ohio State: 35-of-52, 361 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
When he’s at full strength, Clifford gives Penn State a much better opportunity to win. He looked like a completely different player in Columbus than two weeks ago in a loss to Illinois. Clifford still struggled with some key turnovers, tossing an interception and losing a fumble throughout the course of the game. But he did throw for over 350 yards against an improving Buckeye defense, even when the Nittany Lions couldn’t run. As poorly as Clifford played against Illinois, he showed what he’s capable of doing last Saturday.
3. Payton Thorne, Michigan State
Last week vs. #6 Michigan: 19-of-30, 196 yards, 2 INTs
Thorne slips down a spot after his past 2 outings against Indiana and Michigan. He’s thrown just 1 touchdown pass with 4 interceptions. That allowed both the Hoosiers and Wolverines to stick around in those games. The Michigan State gunslinger has still played really well throughout the season, quickly approaching 2,000 yards with 15 touchdowns and a 61.5% completion rate. Against the better defensive teams, though, he’s struggled. He can easily move back to that No. 2 spot with a strong performance this weekend against Purdue.
2. Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland
Last week vs. Indiana: 26-of-40, 419 yards, 2 TDs
After a tough 2-game stretch against Iowa and Ohio State, Tagovailoa has responded nicely in Maryland’s last 2 games against Minnesota and Indiana. Yes, the Terps took a loss to the Gophers, but Tagovailoa has completed better than 63% of his passes in the last 2 games and has thrown 3 touchdowns without an interception. He couldn’t be contained last weekend, throwing for over 419 yards on just 26 completions. Maryland’s offense needs a lot more of that in the final month of the 2021 campaign.
1. CJ Stroud, Ohio State
Last week vs. #20 Penn State: 22-of-34, 305 yards, 1 TD
Many of us wanted to see what Stroud could do against a skilled Penn State defense. His response? Over 300 yards with a touchdown toss and no interceptions in a 9-point victory. That’s pretty good. Stroud has proven he can throw the ball on anyone in the B1G. There isn’t another quarterback in the conference who can say that right now. Stroud isn’t just the best quarterback in the league, he’s working his way into the Heisman Trophy conversation.