Sean Merriman, BTN.com web editor, August 31, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.