B1G QB rankings entering Week 7: A Buckeye is back at the top of the B1G
Two guys stood out from the rest in Week 6. Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Michigan State’s Payton Thorne are playing at really high levels right now.
Both were outstanding on Saturday. Stroud racked up over 400 yards and had 5 touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ blowout victory over Maryland. Thorne tossed up 340 yards and 3 touchdowns in a road win over Rutgers, with all those scoring strikes coming from further than 60 yards out.
Not bad outings.
Week 6 saw impressive play from Iowa’s Spencer Petras, Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez and Michigan’s Cade McNamara, as well. None were quite at the same level, though.
Now that Week 6 is in the books, the season has essentially hit that halfway mark. That means we’re starting to see some separation among the quarterbacks in this league. So, without further delay, here’s a look at the most recent QB rankings:
Not ranked this week
Brandon Peters/Art Sitkowski, Illinois
Ryan Hilinski/Hunter Johnson/Andrew Marty, Northwestern
Graham Mertz, Wisconsin
Michael Penix Jr., Indiana
10. Aidan O’Connell/Jack Plummer, Purdue
Last week: OFF
Jeff Brohm still hasn’t revealed who he’ll start against Iowa. O’Connell can stretch the field, but Plummer has 7 touchdowns without an interception. Considering how well the Hawkeyes are turning teams over this year, it might be best to go with consistency.
9. Tanner Morgan, Minnesota
Last week: OFF
Both Dylan Wright and Chris Autman-Bell are expected to be back in the lineup at receiver, giving Morgan more options in the passing game. Minnesota is going to need a big day from its quarterback against Nebraska with Trey Potts now out for the season, as well. Thus far, Morgan is completing passes at just a 52.2% clip. That number has to improve.
8. Noah Vedral, Rutgers
Last week vs. #11 Michigan State: 15-of-30, 208 yards
Vedral has struggled in the last 3 games, but he’s also faced off against Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State, all teams currently ranked in the Top 10. He was also without top receiver Bo Melton last week, which is another knock to the passing game. Vedral just doesn’t have the ability to create big plays to keep Rutgers in games. It’ll be interesting to see what he looks like over the course of the next few weeks with games against Northwestern and Illinois on the horizon. Those two defenses may allow the Rutgers QB to get back into a rhythm.
7. Cade McNamara, Michigan
Last week vs. Nebraska: 22-of-38, 255 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT
Putting a 6-0 quarterback in the No. 7 slot might seem a bit low, but it’s because Michigan has been so dependent on the ground this season. McNamara hasn’t had to be much more than a game manager through the first half of the season, which isn’t a bad thing. He had his first interception of the season against Nebraska but still threw for 255 yards and led the Wolverines to a victory. McNamara has thrown the fewest passes among 6-game starters in the B1G and has a modest 60.5% completion rate. The positive? He’s not turning the ball over frequently.
6. Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland
Last week vs. #7 Ohio State: 28-of-39, 279 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
Much like Vedral at No. 8, Tagovailoa has fallen on some hard times the past few weeks. That’s also because he’s seen Iowa and Ohio State the past two weeks, along with losing top targets Dontay Demus Jr. and Jeshaun Jones. Tagovailoa has thrown 8 interceptions in the last 3 games but is still Maryland’s best weapon to put points on the board. He’s got to adjust with this (somewhat) new receiver corps. The week off doesn’t come at a better time.
5. Sean Clifford, Penn State
Last week vs. #3 Iowa: 15-of-25, 146 yards, 2 INTs, (36 rushing yards, 1 TD)
Admittedly, this might be a little unfair to the Penn State quarterback. When he left the game, the Nittany Lions were ahead 17-3 and he might be higher on the list. But he did toss two interceptions in the game. There’s no doubt Clifford is still one of the top quarterbacks in this league and he’ll have plenty of chances to climb back up this list. The four guys in front of him are also playing at a pretty high level right now, and that’s important, too.
4. Spencer Petras, Iowa
Last week vs. #4 Penn State: 17-of-31, 195 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
When the season started, it looked like Petras would be in that “game manager” role that we talked about with McNamara at Michigan. That hasn’t been the case. Petras has been excellent over the last 4 games. Saturday’s game against Penn State was his worst performance of the bunch and he still had 2 touchdowns and completed nearly 55% of his passes. That’s a pretty good Nittany Lions defense, too. As the season continues to progress, Petras looks more and more comfortable under center. That’s a recipe to lead the Hawkeyes to the B1G Championship Game.
3. Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
Last week vs. #9 Michigan: 18-of-28, 291 yards, 3 TDs (38 rushing yards, 1 TD)
Turnovers at the end of games have been significant. However, Martinez is a huge reason why Nebraska’s offense is even in position to win some of these games. He continues to put up huge numbers, totaling 1,757 yards through the air, 450 on the ground and accounting for 19 total touchdowns. He’s done that while completing 66.3% of his passes and averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Martinez cannot continue to turn the ball over in late-game situations. But he’s still worthy of being recognized as one of the top quarterbacks in the B1G right now.
2. Payton Thorne, Michigan State
Last week vs. Rutgers: 16-of-27, 340 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
No player in the B1G is flying under the radar more than the quarterback in East Lansing. A lot of that has to do with the guys around him — Kenneth Walker III, Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor — but Thorne is playing at an elite level right now. He’s throw 5 touchdown passes of 60-yards or more, tying a B1G-high since 2003. He’s also thrown for 1,568 yards and 14 touchdowns with just 2 interceptions while maintaining a 62.4% completion rate. Oh, and he has the Spartans sitting at 6-0 right now. Thorne has proven to be accurate and consistent while also ripping off big plays and stretching the field. That’s a pretty dangerous combination.
1. CJ Stroud, Ohio State
Last week vs. Maryland: 24-of-33, 406 yards, 5 TDs
Oh look, an Ohio State quarterback at the top of the list. A few weeks ago, we thought this might be the year another school would put a guy in the No. 1 slot, but Stroud has really elevated his game over the last few weeks. Since sitting out against Akron, the freshman has thrown for 736 yards and 10 touchdowns with a 73.2% completion rate and 0 interceptions. He’s thrown for 300 yards or more 3 times this season and hasn’t had a multi-interception game this season. Now that Stroud has a few games under his belt, he looks like the real deal. Will he be able to do it in a pivotal stretch over the next two months when the competition ratchets up in the B1G?