Ranking Week 1 Big Ten quarterback performances

B1G HIGHLIGHT - Connor Cook takes huge hit to left knee on TD pass to Tony Lippett.

After Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller went down with a season-ending injury, the biggest question around the Big Ten became: Who is the top quarterback?

Big Ten fans got some answers on Saturday, as we saw several quarterback compile outstanding performances.

Here are my Big Ten quarterback rankings from Week 1.

1. Connor Cook, Michigan State. Cook only played one half, but it sure was a special one. The reigning MVP of the Big Ten title game and Rose Bowl hit 12-of-13 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns in the Spartans’ 45-7 victory over Jacksonville State. More impressive: Cook hurt his knee on a gruesome hit on the first touchdown. This is what you call  a “resilient effort.”

2. Devin Gardner, Michigan. Like Cook, Gardner made quick work of his team’s opponent in Week 1. Michigan’s senior QB completed 13-of-14 pass attempts for 173 yards and three touchdowns, all to Devin Funchess, in the Wolverines’ 52-14 blowout win over Appalachian State.

B1G HIGHLIGHT - Devin Gardner and Devin Funchess hook up for Michigan's first TD.

3. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State. The Nittany Lions’ sophomore QB put on quite a show against UCF in Ireland. Hackenberg hit 32-of-47 passes while passing for a school-record 454 yards in Penn State’s 26-24 win. This kid is is the real deal.

4. Wes Lunt, Illinois. Lunt, who transferred from Oklahoma State, lived up to the hype in his first start. The redshirt sophomore completed 25-of-39 passes for 291 yards and four touchdowns. Lunt completed passes to nine different players, including a 15-yarder to running back Josh Ferguson that put Illinois up for good, 21-17.

5. Tommy Armstrong Jr., Nebraska. Armstrong was outstanding in the Huskers’ 52-7 season-opening win over Florida Atlantic. With the graduation of Taylor Martinez, this is Armstrong’s team, and he delivered by hitting on 15-of-29 pass attempts for 271 and two touchdowns. He also added 62 yards and a rushing touchdown in Nebraska’s blowout win.

6. C.J. Brown, Maryland. Attention, Big Ten: Brown can hurt you with his feet, too. Maryland’s sixth-year senior QB rushed for 62 yards and three touchdowns in the Terps’ 52-7 win over James Madison. Brown also completed 11-of-24 passes for 111 yards and a score. He’ll need to improve upon his effort through the air, but he did more than enough with his legs.

B1G HIGHLIGHT - C.J. Brown avoids rush, Stefon Diggs makes highlight catch.

7. Gary Nova, Rutgers. Nova made quite an impression in the Scarlet Knight’s Big Ten debut. The senior signal-caller threw for 281 yards and two scores, including a 78-yard strike to Levonte Carroo on the game’s first play, in Rutgers’ impressive 41-38 victory over Washington State.

8. Jake Rudock, Iowa. The Hawkeyes’ passing game wasn’t clicking in the first half, but Rudock bounced back and led his team to a 31-23 win. Rudock completed 31-of-41 passes (76 percent) for 251 yards and two touchdowns.

B1G HIGHLIGHT - Jake Rudock with the throw, Tevaun Smith with the incredible one-handed TD grab.

9. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State. All eyes were on the Buckeyes’ redshirt freshman quarterback after taking over for the injured Braxton Miller. Barrett was solid in his college debut, completing 12 passes for 226 yards, to go along with two touchdowns and a pick. He also added 50 yards on the ground in a 34-17 win over Navy in Baltimore.

10. Danny Etling, Purdue. Etling had a quality showing in Purdue’s 43-34 win over Western Michigan on Saturday afternoon. The sophomore signal-caller threw for 181 yards and two touchdowns, while also adding a four-yard rushing score.

11. Mitch Leidner, Minnesota. Leidner got off to a slow start, but really came on in the second half. He finished the game with 144 yards passing and a touchdown, while also adding 15 yards on the ground and two rushing scores in the Gophers’ 42-20 victory over Eastern Illinois.

12. Trevor Siemian, Northwestern. Siemian struggled in his first game as the Wildcats’ full-time starter, completing 23-of-43 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown, to go along with two interceptions in a 31-24 loss to Cal on Saturday. He also scored on a fancy trick play.

13. Nate Sudfeld, Indiana. It wasn’t a great game for Sudfeld, but the running game picked up the slack in a 28-10 win over Indiana State. Sudfeld hit 11-of-18 passes for 111 yards and a pick. He also rushed 10 times for 31 yards in the win.

14. Tanner McEvoy, Wisconsin. McEvoy’s first career start at quarterback for the Badgers didn’t go as planned. The dual-threat signal caller completed just 8-of-24 passes for 50 yards and two interceptions in a 28-24 loss to LSU on Saturday night.

Originally from Farmington Hills, MI, I have worked at the Big Ten Network since 2012 and took over my role as web editor and blogger in August, 2013. Follow me on twitter for constant Big Ten updates @srmerriman. Thanks and enjoy!!

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23 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (23 Comments)
Michael Ritschel on 8/31/2014 @ 1:57am EDT Said:

In no world was CJ Brown’s performance better than Nova’s.

dhaab1965 on 8/31/2014 @ 4:24am EDT Said:

MSU fan bias alert!

dhaab1965 on 8/31/2014 @ 4:26am EDT Said:

MSU fan bias alert! Hackenberg deserved the best game of the day. After all, he had to play an entire game, not just one half of a blowout game versus a weak opponent.

Bob on 8/31/2014 @ 9:02am EDT Said:

Rudock was definitely top 3, he’s QB rating proves it.

ED Green on 8/31/2014 @ 10:07am EDT Said:

Why all the hoopla about Michigan beating up on a team that strong High School Teams in Texas and Ohio could have beaten. It seems that Michigan is the favorite child of BTN and that’s hard to understand. Dinardo is showing early signs of dementia when saying that Michigan is “under-rated”. Admittedly, my playing was ‘way back in the Fifties, but I’m lucid enough to see Michigan, playing Appalachian State, did nothing any other BIG Team would not have done.

Michael Copper (@Michael_Copper) on 8/31/2014 @ 11:19am EDT Said:

Hackenberg’s SCHOOL RECORD 454 yards against a worthy opponent with an experienced secondary has to trump warm up duty against the sisters of the blind…just sayin’.

Nick Skias on 8/31/2014 @ 12:00pm EDT Said:

I guess in ranking the QBs, the level of competition had no bearing? Jacksonville St and Appalachian State? These were scrimmages.

SpartyOn78 on 8/31/2014 @ 12:02pm EDT Said:

12 for 13 287 yards in 1 half….He would of easily demolished what hackenburg had over a full game…

Boz on 8/31/2014 @ 12:21pm EDT Said:

Hackenberg should be number one…without his performance PSU looses. Plus the two you ranked above him played the Little Sister of the Poor. Give me a break

Tom B on 8/31/2014 @ 12:42pm EDT Said:

While all you “gurus ” have to write a story, clearly only on B10 QB played against a D which had virtually everyone back from last yea,r including a complete2 deep secondary, An, with 4 of 5 new starters on his O-line struggling, he still lit that D up r 50 yards……….so while we continue to get dissed by this writer and this site generally, we’ll just keep being who We Are.

Dave Dorn on 8/31/2014 @ 12:51pm EDT Said:

Wis. too think just a couple years ago QB wasn’t even a concern for us, now it could end our season quickly, sad.

Brenda Ruby on 8/31/2014 @ 1:45pm EDT Said:

Sorry, Sean, you’re off the mark on this one. You can’t cite someone as a great quarterback based on play against a second-rate team. Please take the competition under consideration

Darius on 8/31/2014 @ 4:15pm EDT Said:

Hackenberg was most impressive by far… Best performance against best D. period!

Scott Dietterick on 8/31/2014 @ 5:29pm EDT Said:

454 yards and a game-winning drive against the No. 10 team in the country from last year with all 4 secondary players returning (and with his only great receiver now in the NFL) earns only 3rd place? The first two must have been world-beaters? Nah, just beat up on two FCS schools!

nathan merz on 8/31/2014 @ 5:36pm EDT Said:

i’m okay with your rating, just not with your explanation. Jake Rudock completed pretty much ever pass he had in the first half. Their passing game was fine in the first half they didn’t take any shots deep until late in the third. At one point he was like 21 of 26 or something with 140 yards. They were clicking fine, they just didn’t attempt to pass down field. Jake played a great game, its IOWA BRO!!!

schneiders on 8/31/2014 @ 6:26pm EDT Said:

yeah Ican see how a QB who went 31-41 for 251 yards 2 TD’s, O int’s with no sacks who also had 17 yards with a 76% completion rate, can only be rated as being the 8th best QB on the day.

Iowa did just enough to beat a very good D2 school. KF has never been one to pile up the stats and run up the score,

stats are for losers and you only get a 1 win the win column, whether you gain 700 yards and score 70 points vs 10 points and 100 yards.

Greg in Omaha on 8/31/2014 @ 6:46pm EDT Said:

Gardner probably would have had the exact same numbers if he faced UCF.

Caseysbro on 8/31/2014 @ 7:51pm EDT Said:

Where in Michigan does the author live? No way Christian Hackenberg isn’t No. 1!

lsowcik on 9/1/2014 @ 1:10am EDT Said:

CHRISTENBERG OMG HE IS NUMBER 1

Ken on 9/1/2014 @ 7:26am EDT Said:

This writer’s work is junk.

Cas Kriechbaum on 9/1/2014 @ 1:53pm EDT Said:

I really don’t understand why at this point in time Hackenburg isn’t #1

Keroman on 9/1/2014 @ 8:22pm EDT Said:

Cook is a good upperclassman college QB and was more efficient this week so I have no problem with him being ranked #1 right now. But let’s be honest, Hackenberg shredded a quality defense with a crappy O-line and no running game to help him. He is the conference’s best QB (as a true sophomore) and its really not even close. If he were the starting QB at MSU, Michigan, or OSU it wouldn’t even be up for debate.

schneiders on 9/2/2014 @ 9:44pm EDT Said:

JR is definitely better than the Maryland QB, plus UNI is rated #12 in the FCS pole. I will take them over Florida Atlantic and Apalachion State any day,

KF has never been one to worry about players individual stats or the team stats “EVER”.

Rudock managed a good game against a very good FCS opponent that prepared for Iowa all summer vs Iowa who probably spent 1 week on preparing for UNI.