B1G QB rankings entering Week 3: It may be a different league, but a Tagovailoa is back on top
Do you know what I’ve learned through two weeks of the B1G football season? Ranking quarterbacks is going to be really difficult this year.
The early portion of the season always presents challenges when attempting to determine where quarterbacks stand among their peers. Opponents vary quite a bit from team to team. Some guys have multiple years of experience while others are just getting their feet wet. Injuries are already playing a factor.
So, here’s the deal — a lot is going to change in the quarterback rankings throughout the year. Right now, there is no Dwayne Haskins or Justin Fields that has set himself apart from the crowd. There’s a good chance multiple QBs from this league spend time in the No. 1 spot.
If that’s the case, it should make for a really interesting season.
Here’s how the B1G quarterbacks stand after two weeks. Don’t worry, it’s bound to change quite a bit following this weekend’s action:
Not ranked this week
Cade McNamara, Michigan
Spencer Petras, Iowa
Graham Mertz, Wisconsin
Art Sitkowski/Brandon Peters, Illinois
10. Noah Vedral, Rutgers
Last week vs. Syracuse: 22-of-28, 145 yards, 1 TD
Rutgers hasn’t exactly been marching up and down the field with Vedral taking the snaps, but he’s been consistent and hasn’t made any costly mistakes through the first two games of the season. Consequently, the Scarlet Knights are off to their first 2-0 start since 2014. Vedral isn’t asked to do too much and he’s playing within himself right now. Even if he’s not lighting up the scoreboard, he’s been effective enough to get the job done.
9. Michael Penix Jr., Indiana
Last week vs. Idaho: 11-of-16, 68 yards, 2 TDs (1 rushing TD)
It’s fair to admit that Penix is getting the benefit of the doubt here. The Indiana quarterback bounced back after an ugly outing against Iowa but was pulled pretty early in the contest. Even though he threw the ball 16 times, Penix was only responsible for 68 yards through the air. He did have two touchdown passes, though. We’re about to find out how good Indiana’s quarterback is this weekend with a Top 10 Cincinnati team coming into Memorial Stadium.
8. Hunter Johnson, Northwestern
Last week vs. Indiana State: 9-of-16, 66 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Johnson’s performance against FCS foe Indiana State was not nearly as crisp as you’d like to see. He completed fewer than 10 passes and tossed a pick against the Sycamores one week after playing really well against a much better Michigan State team. Northwestern didn’t need Johnson to do much since it was so productive on the ground, but he’s got to show the kind of consistency he had in Week 1 for the Wildcats’ offense to be a threat when the B1G season is in full swing. Johnson wasn’t great, but it could’ve been worse.
7. Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
Last week vs. Buffalo: 13-of-19, 242 yards, 2 TDs (112 rushing yards)
Maybe the last two weeks have gotten Martinez back into a rhythm as the Huskers prepare for their nonconference finale against Oklahoma. Over the last two weeks, Martinez has thrown for 496 yards while completing more than 70% of his passes with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s also rushed for 145 yards and a pair of tuddies. Yes, it’s against Fordham and Buffalo, but it’s still a sign of improvement. We’ll see what he can do against the Sooners in Week 3.
6. Tanner Morgan, Minnesota
Last week vs. Miami (OH): 8-of-17, 112 yards, 2 TDs
We’re not seeing that same consistency out of Morgan that we saw in 2019. Part of that is not having Chris Autman-Bell on the field and losing Mohamed Ibrahim in the opener. Still, Morgan has to be able to hit his targets more frequently if the Minnesota offense wants to be as potent as it could be this season. Morgan has 3 touchdowns without an interception, that’s the good news. He’s only thrown for 317 yards and his completion rate is just over 52%. That percentage has to improve before hitting the thick of the B1G slate.
5. Payton Thorne, Michigan State
Last week vs. Youngstown State: 15-of-21, 280 yards, 4 TDs (1 rushing TD)
Was Saturday Thorne’s breakout game? The Michigan State quarterback unleashed on Youngstown, tossing a 75-yard and 85-yard touchdown pass to Jayden Reed in the first half. Despite playing in only the second half of the season in 2020, Thorne has posted a 65% completion rate, has 5 touchdown passes to his name and has yet to throw an interception. Yes, it was against Youngstown State, but Thorne has demonstrated the ability to lead a potentially explosive B1G offense through two games.
4. Sean Clifford, Penn State
Last week vs. Ball State: 21-of-29, 230 yards, 1 TD (66 rushing yards, 1 TD)
Clifford is another quarterback tough to judge through the first two games, primarily because of that season-opening contest against Wisconsin. He was solid against the Badgers, connecting on some explosive plays deep down the field. This week, Clifford showed more consistency against an inferior Ball State team and showed off his ability to tuck the ball and run. The big question for Clifford is whether or not he can be more consistent against good opponents. We won’t have to wait long before his next test with Auburn coming to Happy Valley this weekend.
3. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Last week vs. #12 Oregon: 35-of-54, 484 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
There’s no question Stroud has an incredibly high ceiling. He’s also still a young quarterback learning on the fly. The situation hasn’t been easy, either, having to play Minnesota and Oregon in the first two games of the season. Stroud could easily climb higher on this list as the season progresses, but he’s still showing his inexperience at times. Having said that, he still leads the B1G with 778 passing yards and 7 touchdown tosses. So, maybe after a cupcake games ahead, the Buckeyes QB will be able to get into even more of a rhythm.
2. Jack Plummer, Purdue
Last week vs. UConn: 16-of-20, 245 yards, 4 TDs
What’s most impressive about Plummer’s hot start is his ability to play mistake-free and complete a high percentage of passes even while under pressure. Purdue’s offensive line wasn’t good against Oregon State but had little trouble against UConn. How will Plummer handle the duress when B1G defensive lines are attacking on a weekly basis? That’s still something we don’t know. Right now, though, Plummer has been accurate, tossed 6 touchdown passes with no interceptions and has the Boilermakers sitting at 2-0.
1. Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland
Last week vs. Howard: 22-of-27, 274 yards, 3 TDs
Again, it’s early in the season, but Tagovailoa has looked really impressive through Maryland’s first two games. One of those contests was against a West Virginia team that is (supposedly) pretty good defensively. Through the first two weekends of the year, Tagovailoa leads the B1G with a blistering 76.2% completion rate and has 6 touchdown passes to his name. He’s got great weapons at receiver and has been mobile enough to avoid getting sacked. Those are all pretty good qualities and enough to have the Maryland QB at the top of this week’s list.