Ranking Big Ten quarterbacks by PFF grade through Week 1

·6 min read

For the Big Ten, Week 1 is in the books, and some teams really like what they have at quarterback. But not every team is set with its starter.

Of course, Michigan football has a quarterback controversy, with Cade McNamara, the incumbent starter from last year, getting the nod in Week 1 before J.J. McCarthy starts in Week 2. Alan Bowman got a handful of snaps in the season opener against Colorado State, as well. Rutgers played three quarterbacks in its win over Boston College, as well.

Taking PFF’s overall offensive grades for the quarterbacks that saw relatively decent playing time in Week 1, we saw a good 19 go out and make plays. While our future breakdowns will likely see a solid 14, given that teams will have a defined starter, here is how PFF graded out the quarterbacks in the Big Ten.

Spencer Petras - Iowa

Photo: Isaiah Hole

PFF Grade: 33.1

Context

If it was possible for Iowa to regress, it certainly did on the offensive side of the ball. Helped out with no run game, Petras threw for an appalling 11-for-25, 109 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He had an abysmal QBR rating of just 1.1.

Cade McNamara - Michigan

Photo: Isaiah Hole

PFF Grade: 48.4

Context

In a game where the incumbent starter for the Wolverines was supposed to showcase the ability we heard about in fall camp, he did nothing of the sort. Completing just 50-percent of his 18 passes, McNamara managed just 136 yards and a touchdown against an overmatched opponent.

Gavin Wimsatt - Rutgers

Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

PFF Grade: 51.3

Context

Rutgers played three quarterbacks, but Wimsatt is one of two to earn a ranking here. He was 5-for-9 for 47 yards through the air, and threw an interception. Assuredly, his offensive rating was aided by a rush of 48 yards, though he also lost yardage when he kept the ball.

Alan Bowman - Michigan

Photo: Isaiah Hole

PFF Grade: 55.5

Context

Bowman came in during garbage time for the Wolverines, but managed to go 5-for-6 for 40 yards. It wasn’t anything to write home about, but given his efficiency during his drive, he earns a mention and a ranking here.

Sean Clifford - Penn State

Photo: Isaiah Hole

PFF Grade: 56.8

Context

Clifford continues to be an enigma for Penn State. For much of his game against Purdue, he was completing under 50-percent of his passes, but then came alive when the game mattered most. He managed to go 20-for-37 for 282 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception, along with five carries for 11 yards.

Aidan O'Connell - Purdue

(Nikos Frazier/Journal & Courier via AP)

PFF Grade: 57.9

Context

Purdue asked O’Connell to throw over and over and over again — even when it needed to run the ball to ice the game away from Penn State. He was kind of the inverse of Clifford in that he wasn’t making his biggest throws in the biggest of moments. He finished having gone 29-for-58 for 356 yards and a touchdown.

Payton Thorne - Michigan State

Photo: Isaiah Hole

PFF Grade: 64.0

Context

With all the talk of the Michigan State offense being explosive in 2022, especially with an experienced quarterback in Thorne, we didn’t see that on Friday night against Western Michigan. Thorne finished with a paltry 50-percent completion record against an overmatched Broncos team, having gone 12-for-24 for 233 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception. He made a couple of big plays, but it wasn’t the start that fans in East Lansing were hoping for.

Evan Simon - Rutgers

Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

PFF Grade: 67.2

Context

Simon got the bulk of the action for the Scarlet Knights and managed the game well when he was in. He completed 8-of-12 of his passes for 63 yards.

Connor Bazelak - Indiana

Rich Janzaruk-The Herald-Times

PFF Grade: 71.7

Context

The Missouri transfer was asked to shoulder the load through the air since the Hoosiers couldn’t get anything going on the ground against Illinois. As a result, though he was just above 50-percent passing, he threw for 330 yards, going 28-for-52. He threw one touchdown and one interception in the comeback victory.

Taulia Tagovailoa - Maryland

(AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

PFF Grade: 72.2

Context

Generally the leader of the pack in the Big Ten a year ago, Tagovailoa had a relatively mediocre outing in Week 1, per his standards. Still, he went 24-for-34 for 290 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

Casey Thompson - Nebraska

Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

PFF Grade: 76.9

Context

Thompson is one of two quarterbacks with more than one start under his belt, and his follow up to his impressive Week 0 game against Northwestern wasn’t as shining as his first. Still, the Texas transfer went 14-for-21 for 193 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Ryan Hilinski - Northwestern

Photo: Isaiah Hole

PFF Grade: 78.3

Context

Hilinski had the week off after starting in Week 0 against Nebraska, and he looked worlds better than he had the year before. He went 27-for-38 for 314 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions — perhaps one of the biggest surprises yet of this young college football season.

Tommy DeVito - Illinois

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

PFF Grade: 79.8

Context

DeVito ended up being on the losing end, but the Syracuse transfer was very efficient, complementing the run game. He threw for 235 yards, having gone 21-for-35, with two touchdowns, but one really untimely interception late in the game.

Graham Mertz - Wisconsin

Photo: Isaiah Hole

PFF Grade: 81.4

Context

Mertz wasn’t asked to do much, but he did very well with what he was tasked with. Unusually efficient and taking care of the football, the Wisconsin quarterback went 14-for-16 for 219 yards and one touchdown.

CJ Stroud - Ohio State

(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

PFF Grade: 83.1

Context

Compared to expectations, Stroud had something of a lackluster outing against Notre Dame, but given that it was a top 5 matchup, he’s getting some grace. While his numbers weren’t huge, he made big plays when being flushed out of the pocket, and he did so without Jaxon Smith-Njigba out on the field. He finished having gone 24-for-34 for 223 yards and two touchdowns.

Tanner Morgan - Minnesota

Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

PFF Grade: 86.6

Context

Reunited with offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, Morgan wasn’t asked to do much, but he still looked improved upon last year. He completed an efficient 13-for-19 attempts for 174 yards.

J.J. McCarthy - Michigan

Photo: Isaiah Hole

PFF Grade: 90.2

Context

Sure to enhance the powder keg of controversy already in Ann Arbor, the top quarterback in the Big Ten according to PFF is J.J. McCarthy, who came in to relieve Cade McNamara in spurts in Week 1. He was 4-for-4 for 30 yards through the air, and carried the ball three times for 50 yards and a touchdown. The offense appeared to be more crisp with McCarthy leading the charge, which doesn’t bode well for McNamara — especially considering that McCarthy is getting the start in Week 2 against Hawaii.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire