Tennessee's Hendon Hooker moving up, new faces join college football quarterback rankings

Once atop the Heisman Trophy list as he chased history to be the second two-time winner in the award's history, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young's hold on the Heisman has slipped during an often frustrating start to the regular season.

He was held in check by Texas, though Young did provide the late spark in the No. 1 Crimson Tide's win. He tossed two interceptions a week later against Louisiana-Monroe. Young left Saturday's win against Arkansas in the second quarter after suffering a sprained shoulder, leaving backup Jalen Milroe to fend off the Razorbacks' comeback effort with some key plays in the second half.

At the same time, Young did toss five touchdowns in the opener against Utah State and another four in a blowout win against Vanderbilt. Despite the uneven start, he's tied for sixth in the Bowl Subdivision among Power Five quarterbacks with 14 touchdowns.

While Young tries to rally into form, his grasp on the Heisman has been wrestled away by Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, Tennessee's Hendon Hooker and others. If Young can't go Saturday night against Texas A&M, he might find himself well off the Heisman pace and in need of a major charge in the second half to make FBS history.

For the second week in a row, Stroud tops the list of college football's best passers with last week's rankings in parenthesis.

1. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State (1)

Stroud has been predictably excellent as No. 3 Ohio State's offense once again assumes the mantle of the nation's best. He's been teamed with a ferocious running game keyed by Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson. The Buckeyes have run for at least 250 yards in the last three games, with Williams going for 290 yards and seven scores in the past two games alone.

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2. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee (3)

Hooker will face his toughest test of the season against an LSU pass defense that has given up just five touchdowns in 137 attempts. The No. 8 Volunteers may not miss a beat. Tennessee's passing game is second in FBS in yards per game (365.8) and tops the Power Five in efficiency (196.3) and yards per attempt (11.3) while Hooker has yet to toss his first interception on the season.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) escapes from Florida linebacker Shemar James (6) during the second half Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn.
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) escapes from Florida linebacker Shemar James (6) during the second half Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn.

3. Bryce Young, Alabama (2)

Young remains in the top three for now, though that could change should he be unable to go against the Razorbacks. Before going down with his shoulder injury, Young threw for 173 yards on 13.3 yards per attempt and spotted the Crimson Tide a 14-point lead.

4. Caleb Williams, Southern California (4)

After two so-so weeks against Fresno State and Oregon State, Williams had a season-high 348 yards as the No. 6 Trojans topped Arizona State. He should put up yards in bunches this weekend against Washington State, which ranks 95th nationally in yards allowed per attempt and 116th in yards given up per game.

5. Sam Hartman, Wake Forest (6)

Since missing the season opener, Hartman has thrown 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions as the No. 15 Demon Deacons attempt to continue their rebound from the overtime loss to No. 5 Clemson and capture a spot in one of the New Year's Six bowls. He's been even better against Power Five competition: Hartman has thrown 12 scores with no picks against Vanderbilt, Clemson and Florida State.

6. Jalon Daniels, Kansas (7)

Iowa State put the clamps down on Daniels and the Jayhawks' offense, limiting the junior to just 102 yards of total offense and a single touchdown. That didn't stop No. 17 Kansas from pulling out a 14-11 win that vaulted the program into the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll for the first time since 2009. Daniels will need to rediscover his September form in this weekend's crucial matchup against No. 18 TCU.

7. Stetson Bennett, Georgia (5)

Harassed and bruised by Missouri's pass rush, Bennett rebounded in the second half to lead No. 1 Georgia to the come-from-behind win. That makes two games in a row where the Bulldogs have struggled against inferior competition, raising the possibility that Kirby Smart asks the offense to dial things back in the passing game — Bennett's averaging roughly 50% more attempts per game compared to last year — and revert back to a more running-driven attack.

8. Drake Maye, North Carolina (NR)

As it turns out, UNC didn't struggle in the transition from former quarterback Sam Howell. After playing in four games as a true freshman, Maye has actually improved upon Howell's final season, tossing an FBS-leading 19 touchdowns against just one interception and leading an offense that ranks eighth nationally in yards per play.

9. J.J. McCarthy, Michigan (9)

No. 4 Michigan's cautious and conservative game plan was the key to getting past Iowa's upset bid. While running back Blake Corum has taken on a more starring role, McCarthy continues to complete passes at a ridiculous rate (FBS-best 78.6%) and has yet to throw an interception in 84 attempts. And at 10.1 yards per throw, he's made the most of his opportunities.

10. Will Rogers, Mississippi State (NR)

The FBS leader in completions (171) is tied with Maye for touchdowns in Mike Leach's high-volume passing offense. Rogers has thrown for at least three scores in each of No. 23 Mississippi State's four wins, including three without an interception in Saturday's convincing win against Texas A&M.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: C.J. Stroud, Hendon Hooker top college football quarterback rankings