B1G QB rankings entering Week 5: Martinez climbing the ladder even as Huskers slip
Dismissing Adrian Martinez as one of the B1G’s top quarterbacks would be an easy avenue to venture down. In fact, you could argue many are driving on that path.
Nebraska is 2-3 this season and has suffered back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and Michigan State. Neither of those defeats fall on the shoulders of the quarterback, though.
Even in those losses, Martinez has played exceptionally well. He just…needs some help.
Martinez wasn’t the only B1G quarterback who put on a show this weekend, obviously. Indiana’s Michael Penix lit up Western Kentucky for over 300 yards, Sean Clifford fired up over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns and Taulia Tagovailoa continued to play at a high level.
A few other quarterbacks — Tanner Morgan, Graham Mertz and Brandon Peters — ran into some issues. The result was a change in this week’s rankings.
Not ranked this week
Tanner Morgan, Minnesota
Brandon Peters/Artur Sitkowski, Illinois
Graham Mertz, Wisconsin
Hunter Johnson/Ryan Hilinski/Andrew Marty, Northwestern
10. Michael Penix Jr., Indiana
Last week vs. Western Kentucky: 35-of-53, 373 yards (1 rushing TD)
Everything looked a lot better for Penix in Saturday’s game against Western Kentucky. He was hitting his targets, proved to be accurate and didn’t throw any interceptions — an issue he’s faced in games against Iowa and Cincinnati. Penix still sits at No. 10 because his top performances have come against Idaho and WKU. He needs to prove he can do it against a good defense. The Indiana quarterback gets his chance this weekend against Penn State.
9. Cade McNamara, Michigan
Last week vs. Rutgers: 9-of-16, 163 yards
Right now, Michigan is still using McNamara in more of a game-manager role. So far, it’s working pretty well. McNamara is averaging just 133.5 yards per game through the air this season, which has been a solid compliment to a sturdy rushing attack. Against some of the better opponents on the schedule, the Wolverines may have to lean on McNamara at some points in the game. Will he answer the bell?
8. Spencer Petras, Iowa
Last week vs. Colorado State: 15-of-23, 224 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
The best two games Petras has played this season have come in the last two games. In wins over Kent State and Colorado State, the Iowa quarterback threw for over 200 yards and totaled 3 touchdown passes with only 1 interception. He also completed better than 65% of his passes in the two contests. There are still some questions about Petras entering the B1G season, but he appears to be getting better each week.
7. Noah Vedral, Rutgers
Last week vs. #19 Michigan: 18-of-31, 156 yards, 1 TD (46 rushing yards)
Vedral might be the quarterback flying under the radar in the B1G right now. After 4 games, he’s completing passes at a rate just under 68%, is averaging 6.8 yards per completion and has thrown 5 touchdown passes without a pick. The offense continues to utilize his strengths and he actually played pretty well against a really talented Michigan defense. Vedral is going to be tested by another athletic defense this weekend, with the Scarlet Knights hosting Ohio State.
6. Jack Plummer, Purdue
Last week vs. Illinois: 12-of-21, 95 yards
Saturday’s game against Illinois was the least impressive we’ve seen out of Plummer. There were some factors in play. Purdue was without top receiver David Bell, it’s top two running backs and tight end Payne Durham left the game with an injury. Plummer wasn’t really able to stretch the field, didn’t get the Boilermakers in the end zone and wasn’t extremely accurate. Jeff Brohm has also hinted at a potential quarterback change, possibly naming Aidan O’Connell the starter. We’ll see what happens this weekend against Minnesota.
5. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Last week vs. Akron: N/A
Ryan Day decided to sit Stroud during the Akron game. We’ll see him back in action — at least that’s what we assume — this week.
4. Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
Last week vs. #20 Michigan State: 24-of-34, 244 yards, 1 INT (72 rushing yards, 2 TDs)
Nebraska has lost back-to-back games but Martinez continues to climb in these rankings. He’s thrown for 1,268 yards and rushed for 355 yards while accounting for 11 total touchdowns. The quarterback has not been the issue for the Husker offense. It would be interesting to see what Martinez could do with an offensive line that could protect him adequately on a week-to-week basis. Even with a rough start to the season in the win-loss columns, Martinez is producing at a high level.
3. Payton Thorne, Michigan State
Last week vs. Nebraska: 14-of-23, 183 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Thorne continues to show consistency under center, even against a really good Nebraska defense. Last week’s game marked the first time in 2021 Thorne has a thrown an interception this season, and he undoubtedly struggled at times throughout the game. He didn’t make too many mistakes and still hit Jayden Reed for a beautiful touchdown pass on a flea flicker. Even on a bad day, Thorne is demonstrating his ability to lead the Spartans offense.
2. Sean Clifford, Penn State
Last week vs. Villanova: 19-of-26, 401 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT
Considering how well he’s performed through 4 games, it seems odd that everyone was questioning Clifford coming into the season. But that was the case. Right now, he’s silenced the doubters and is a big reason why Penn State is considered to be one of the top teams in the B1G. Clifford is hitting throws all over the field, getting the ball into the hands of the Nittany Lions’ playmakers and making good decisions. That’s a pretty good combination.
1. Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland
Last week vs. Kent State: 31-of-41, 384 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
There isn’t a throw Tagovailoa can’t make. He’s thrown a B1G-best 10 touchdown passes, ranks No. 3 in the nation in completion percentage (75.5%) and has thrown just 1 interception in 4 games. Oh, and he’s got Maryland sitting at 4-0. Tagovailoa has orchestrated blowout wins, engineered a comeback victory and been a leader under center since the beginning of the season. Nobody in the B1G is playing at a higher level than the Maryland QB through the first month of the season.