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Ranking the Quarterback Rooms: Big Ten

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 01: C.J. Stroud #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes throws a pass against the Utah Utes during the first quarter in the Rose Bowl Game at Rose Bowl Stadium on January 01, 2022 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 01: C.J. Stroud #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes throws a pass against the Utah Utes during the first quarter in the Rose Bowl Game at Rose Bowl Stadium on January 01, 2022 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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Outside of Ohio State, the quarterback position in the Big 10 is a wasteland. Almost every team has more questions than answers. So I've decided to rank the situations across the conference from best to worst. This isn't just how good the starter is - it also takes into account the depth at the position. So while the starters are obviously the most important component, who is behind them matters.

1. Ohio State

Starter: CJ Stroud

Depth: Kyle McCord, Devin Brown

The obvious answer here, Stroud is head and shoulders above the rest of the league in every facet of his game. He's among the Heisman favorites for a reason. McCord and Brown were both Top 50 recruits, and have plenty of arm talent. There's no reason to think that the Buckeyes won't be atop this list for the next half-decade at least.

2. Michigan

Starter: Cade McNamara

Depth: JJ McCarthy

The Wolverines navigated a two quarterback system last year about as well as you could, making it to the playoff. Despite the obvious limitations of both players (McNamara's lack of mobility, McCarthy's erratic accuracy), they're set up to succeed again this season.

3. Purdue

Starter: Aidan O'Connell

Depth: Austin Burton, Brady Allen

Aidan O'Connell was one of the most underappreciated players of this past season, throwing for over 3,700 yards and 28 touchdowns, proving time and again that he can really air it out. Now without Jack Plummer around, O'Connell, if healthy, will take all of the snaps and should put up some huge numbers. Allen was a huge pickup for the Boilermakers in the 2022 class, and the Rivals150 player is the future of the position in West Lafayette.

4. Michigan State

Starter: Payton Thorne

Depth: Noah Kim, Hamp Fay, Katin Houser

The Spartans were one of the biggest breakout teams of 2021, and while the biggest catalyst for that was Kenneth Walker, Payton Thorne deserves a lot of credit. With Walker off to the NFL, even more of the offensive load will rest on the shoulders of Thorne, and he's proven he's up to the task. Behind him, it's a mostly unproven room, but 2022 Rivals150 members Katin Houser has a ton of upside.

5. Penn State

Starter: Sean Clifford

Depth: Christian Veilleux, Drew Allar, Beau Pribula

Sean Clifford enters his fourth year as the starter for the Nittany Lions, but he has seemingly plateaued since his breakout sophomore campaign. Despite that, he's still a solid option for a team that has big aspirations. Drew Allar, a 2022 Rivals100 recruit, has the most upside behind him, but the staff is also very high on Veilleux.

6. Maryland

Starter: Taulia Tagavailoa

Depth: Cameron Edge, Eric Najarian

In his first full season as the starter, Tagavailoa was arguably the second best quarterback in the conference, throwing for over 3,800 yards and 26 touchdowns and completing nearly 70% of his passes. He still turns the ball over a little too much, but he's an explosive playmaker. Behind him, however, the depth is true freshmen and former walk-ons. Cameron Edge was a four-star in the 2022 class, choosing Maryland over the likes of Penn State, Tennessee, LSU, Oregon, and others.

7. Indiana

Starter: Connor Bazelak

Depth: Donaven McCulley

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Indiana was in the market for a transfer quarterback after Michael Penix left via the portal, and they picked up a really good one in Connor Bazelak. The starter for the past two seasons at Missouri, he threw for nearly 5,000 yards over those two seasons in a run-heavy offense. He'll bring stability to the position, while McCulley, the 2021 Rivals100 member, will push him and is the unquestioned future at the position.

8. Minnesota

Starter: Tanner Morgan

Depth: Cole Kramer, Athan Kaliakmanis, Jacob Clark

Tanner Morgan is back for seemingly his tenth season for the Golden Gophers. So while we know what his ceiling is, the veteran is unlikely to make a ton of catastrophic mistakes. Behind him, Jacob Clark and Athan Kaliakmanis have not seen the field very much, so there are definitely questions there.

9. Iowa

Starter: Spencer Petras

Depth: Alex Padilla, Joey Labas, Carson May

Iowa fans have grumbled for a while about Spencer Petras, who can make an unbelievable throw on one play, and then make absolutely bone-headed decisions on the next one, but there's no denying his arm talent. However, a lot of his issues have stemmed from the unimaginative playcalling of Brian Ferentz. Alex Padilla has flashed at times with his legs, but he's probably not the real future in Iowa City. 2022 Rivals250 member Carson May has the biggest upside behind him, but he's raw as a prospect.

10. Wisconsin

Starter: GrahamMertz

Depth: Chase Wolf, Deacon Hill, Myles Burkett

Out of all the teams in the conference, the Badgers have the highest variance in terms of where they could land on this list. There are times when GrahamMertz looks like the guy we thought he would be coming out of high school, but he too often rushes his throws. He wasn't helped by an offensive line last year that was one of the worst in the country in terms of pass blocking though. Chase Wolf has simply not been good in mop-up duty, throwing twice as many interceptions as touchdowns, but Deacon Hill is a sleeper from the 2021 class that I've previously compared to former Texas QB Sam Ehlinger, and could prove to be a diamond in the rough with a big arm and huge frame.

11. Nebraska

Starter: Casey Thompson

Depth: Chubba Purdy, Logan Smothers

After Adrian Martinez departed via the portal, Nebraska did well to bring in both Casey Thompson and Chubba Purdy. Thompson should be the starter this season, but Purdy offers more upside in the future. Logan Smothers was a big pickup for Scott Frost in the 2020 class but hasn't had much of an opportunity in his two years on campus.

12. Illinois

Starter: Tommy DeVito

Depth: Artur Sitkowski, Donovan Leary

Illinois added former Syracuse signal-caller Tommy DeVito in the portal to replace Brandon Peters, and he offers more stability than Sitkowski, who has been erratic as a starter at both Rutgers and Illinois. Sitkowski was a big recruit coming out of high school but has not shown the polish needed to compete in the Big Ten as of yet. Leary was a nice addition in the 2022 class, picking the Illini over schools like Boston College, Maryland, and Virginia Tech.

13. Rutgers

Starter: Noah Vedral

Depth: Gavin Wimsatt, Evan Simon

Noah Vedral is the starter for now, but everyone knows that Gavin Wimsatt will be the starter sooner or later for the Scarlet Knights. Wimsatt reclassified at the start of the 2021 season, getting on campus just before the season started. He's got true dual-threat ability and has the upside to be a high-end starter in the Big Ten.

14. Northwestern

Starter: Ryan Hilinski

Depth: Andrew Marty, Carl Richardson, Brendan Sullivan

Simply put, the quarterback position is not in a great place at the moment in Evanston. Ryan Hilinski did not perform well after transferring from South Carolina, and Andrew Marty was no better. And with Hunter Johnson transferring back to Clemson, there really is not much else on the roster. It's going to be an uphill climb for the Wildcats.