Big Ten quarterback rankings entering Week 12: It's slim pickings after CJ Stroud
CJ Stroud is back atop the FBS list for touchdown passes this season, tied for the No. 1 spot at 34 after connecting for 5 scores against woeful Indiana.
Purdue senior Aidan O’Connell struck for 3 scores in a road upset of Illinois that further muddled the Big Ten West.
Elsewhere around the B1G on Saturday, good QB games and good weather were sparse. The league is more ground-based and defense-oriented than it has been in a while.
Injuries and poor outings are thinning and reproportioning the QB herd.
But the show will go on with 7 more league games this coming Saturday, and we’ll keep assessing the guys behind center.
For now, this is where things seem to stand:
14. Gavin Wimsatt, Rutgers
Week 11 stats: 20-34, 236 yards, 2 TDs
Season: 48.5%, 97.8 ypg, 4 TDs, 6 INTs, 97.57 rating
Wimsatt made his 3rd straight start and put up the best numbers of his career in a 27-21 loss to Michigan State. The redshirt freshman threw for multiple TDs in a game for the first time as a Scarlet Knight.
13. Brendan Sullivan, Northwestern
Week 11 stats: 9-11, 94 yards
Season: 74.0%, 117.8 ypg, 4 TDs, 3 INTs, 132.99 rating
Sullivan made his 4th start since replacing Ryan Hilinski but got dinged up and exited early in a loss to Minnesota. Hilinski and 2 others also saw time behind center for the Wildcats. Sullivan, a 6-3, 212-pound sophomore, should remain the starter if his health allows.
12. Casey Thompson, Nebraska
Week 11 stats: DNP
Season stats: 62.9%, 252.9 ypg, 12 TDs, 10 INTs, 147.56 rating
Thompson sat out for a 2nd consecutive week with an injury. Neither Chubba Purdy nor Logan Smothers got much going, combining to go 10-of-20 for 71 yards in a 34-3 loss to Michigan. The Huskers have Wisconsin and Iowa left, so whoever plays faces further punishment.
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11. Connor Bazelak, Indiana
Week 11 stats: 3-5, 12 yards
Season: 54.8%, 234.6 ypg, 12 TDs, 9 INTs, 106.74 rating
The Missouri transfer returned from an injury DNP, but didn’t last long in a loss to Ohio State. Dexter Williams finished, going 6-of-19 for 107 yards and 2 TDs. The Hoosiers are beat up heading into their final 2 games — at Michigan State and vs. Purdue.
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10. Spencer Petras, Iowa
Week 11 stats: 14-23, 94 yards
Season: 56.2%, 149.5 ypg, 5 TDs, 5 INTs, 108.80 rating
Petras absorbed 6 sacks and lost a fumble, but also ran for a touchdown as the Hawkeyes beat Wisconsin despite only 146 yards of offense. Only in Iowa.
9. Tanner Morgan, Minnesota
Week 11 stats: DNP, injury
Season: 67.3%, 165.5 ypg, 7 TDs, 5 INTs, 148.57 rating
The 6th-year senior sat out with what PJ Fleck last weekend termed an “upper-body” injury, and redshirt freshman Athan Kaliakmanis led a run-oriented attack to earn his first victory as a college starter — 31-3 over Northwestern. The Gophers will hope to get Morgan back for B1G West showdowns with Iowa and Wisconsin. Kaliakmanis went 7-of-13 for 64 yards and handed off 58 times.
8. Graham Mertz, Wisconsin
Week 11 stats: 16-35, 176 yards, TD, 2 INTs
Season: 58.1%, 188.3 ypg, 18 TDs, 8 INTs, 141.73 rating
The 3rd-year starter just doesn’t seem to have the clutch gene. He turned the ball over 3 times, including a pick-6 that gave Iowa enough cushion to survive its own anemic offense.
7. Payton Thorne, Michigan State
Week 11 stats: 19-35, 256 yards, 2 TDs
Season: 63.2%, 215.2 ypg, 16 TDs, 9 INTs, 134.63 rating
Thorne has been a true gamer for the Spartans, battling through aches and pains to start every game this season. He did enough against Rutgers to lead the Spartans to a 2nd straight victory. MSU is 5-5 with games remaining against Indiana and Penn State.
6. Sean Clifford, Penn State
Week 11 stats: 12-23, 139 yards, TD
Season: 62.1%, 218.4 ypg, 17 TDs, 7 INTs, 142.69 rating
The 6th-year senior guided Penn State to a romp over Maryland and became his program’s first 10,000-yard career passer. But the ground game did most of the work as Clifford misfired on several deep balls and other throws before giving way to 5-star freshman Drew Allar in the third quarter.
5. Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland
Week 11 stats: 11-22, 74 yards
Season: 68.3%, 239.1 ypg, 14 TDs, 6 INTs, 144.83 rating
Tagovailoa was held well under 100 passing yards for a 2nd week in a row and was sacked 7 times. Maryland couldn’t get anything going against Penn State’s defense in a 30-0 loss, netting a season-low 134 yards. Tagovailoa has never led or beaten a Top 25 team in his 3 years as the Terps’ starter.
4. Aidan O’Connell, Purdue
Week 11 stats: 25-40, 237 yards, 3 TDs, INT
Season: 63.8%, 297.2 ypg, 18 TDs, 11 INTs, 129.68 rating
The 6th-year senior moved into 2nd place in the B1G in TD throws this year, leading his team to a key West Division victory at Illinois. Against the nation’s leading defense, O’Connell rallied Purdue after a slow start, hitting tight end Payne Durham for a pair of second-half touchdowns.
3. JJ McCarthy, Michigan
Week 11 stats: 8-17, 129 yards, 2 TDs
Season: 69.0%, 174.4 ypg, 14 TDs, 2 INTs, 157.60 rating
The sophomore played another turnover-free game, and that was all that was needed against woeful Nebraska. The 5-star recruit from a year ago will need to find a higher gear and hit some deep balls going forward. Next up is a game against Illinois’ stout defense, then a trip to Ohio State for The Game.
2. Tommy DeVito, Illinois
Week 11 stats: 18-32, 201 yards, TD, INT
Season: 70.0%, 208.3 ypg, 15 TDs, 3 INTs, 146.17 rating
The Syracuse transfer played his typical solid game, despite his 3rd interception of the season. Illinois lost the game with a plethora of foolish penalties and its weakest rushing output of the season.
1. CJ Stroud, Ohio State
Week 11 stats: 17-28, 297 yards, 5 TDs
Season: 67.1%, 275.9 ypg, 34 TDs, 4 INTs, 188.16 rating
Stroud carved up Indiana, unfazed by snow flurries in Columbus a week after being shut down on the road by wind, rain and Northwestern. After managing just 1 TD pass over the past 2 games, Stroud looked like the guy who averaged 4 per game through his first 7 outings this season. He continues to lead the FBS in QB rating, slightly ahead of Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker and North Carolina’s Drake Maye.