1: Brian Lewerke, Michigan State Spartans
This ranking will be a surprise to some, but it shouldn’t. He led a team who the previous season had the worst season in years with only 3 victories and turned it into a 10-win season this past year. He did it with a young offensive line as well as with inexperienced receivers. His star running back L.J. Scott rushed for just under 900 yards and was unable to take the pressure off the Arizona native Lewerke. He didn’t have much playing experience from the season before only playing in four games with two of them being starts in the 2016. However, Lewerke bounced back from his 2016 season-ending injury and passed for 2,580 yards and 17 touchdowns and added 486 rushing yards and five touchdowns last season. This season with L.J. Scott coming back for his senior year and with now an experienced and talented group of receivers, look out Big Ten East because Lewerke will have the Spartans battling for the Big Ten East Divisional title.
2: Trace McSorley, Penn State Nittany Lions
Why he is not ranked number one is because last season he arguably had the best running back in the entire nation last season. The one game that Saquon Barkley was held in check on the road at Michigan State being held to 0 yards rushing in the first half and finishing with only 63 yards, McSorley was intercepted three times leading to a loss which ended their chances of a Big Ten title. With that being said he still is a great quarterback and is nothing like Christian Hackenberg. McSorley has a multipurpose skill set that should make him in contention for the best quarterback in the Big Ten. No returning quarterback in the Big Ten has more experience in high-pressure games than him. The Virginia native has thrown for over 3,200 yards the past two seasons and has thrown for over 26 touchdowns the past two seasons.
3: Nathan Stanley, Iowa Hawkeyes
The Wisconsin native may look to be a surprise here, but he shouldn’t be. Prior to last season, he had only a total of 9 passing attempts. In his first year as the starter for the Hawkeyes, Stanley passed for 25 touchdowns and threw for 2,338 yards with only 6 interceptions on the season. He played big in huge games outperforming #7 overall draft pick Josh Allen in a 24-3 victory as well as key performances against in-state rival Iowa State in an overtime thriller on the road. The big highlight was him leading the Hawkeyes to a shocking 55-24 victory over Ohio State. He did have one really bad game at Wisconsin but as a Sophomore on the road at Madison, it is understandable. However, he never threw more than one pick in a game. How many starting quarterbacks can say that?
4. Shea Patterson, Michigan Wolverines
Patterson started ten games for Mississippi in two seasons. His record at quarterback was 4-6 in that time, throwing for 3,139 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. A season-ending knee injury ended Patterson’s 2017 season after only seven games. Now as the starting quarterback at Michigan, he must do a better job of limiting his turnovers after throwing nine interceptions on 260 attempts in 2017. However, he will have better talent surrounding him in Ann Arbor. Out of high school, the Louisiana native was ranked as a five-star recruit with rivals.com. Rivals.com had him ranked #3 overall recruit coming out of the IMG Academy. Time will tell how he will perform and expectations are very high coming from the fans who wear the Maize and Blue.
5: Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State Buckeyes
The Maryland native ended the 2017 season by completing 40 of 57 passes for 565 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. The only game he saw significant playing time was in a blowout victory versus UNLV. Coming out of high school, rivals.com had him as a 4 star 100th overall ranked recruit. This will be his first year as a starter and Ohio State is a national championship contender this season with a very favorable schedule. Haskins may have a better season than many of the quarterbacks in the Big Ten because of the enormous amount of talent surrounding him on the offensive side of the ball for Ohio State. Time will tell how well he plays this season.
6: Clayton Thorson, Northwestern Wildcats
Thorson suffered a major knee injury in the Music City Bowl win over Kentucky giving Northwestern a 10-win season. Questions surround if Thorson will return to full strength. It is believed that he will be fully ready for the season opener and if he does, he as a senior can be a top 5 quarterback in the Big Ten. He has thrown for over 2,800 in the past two seasons. He has a ton of experience and has passed for 44 touchdowns at Northwestern. He did however statistically speaking have a better season his sophomore season than his junior season. The Wildcat offense allows him surprisingly to get into the end zone on the ground but with not a lot of total rushing yards. Many of their most difficult games are at home so don’t be surprised if Thorson ends up leading the Wildcats to a Big Ten West Division Title.
7: David Blough Purdue Boilermakers
The Texas native Blough goes into August camp as Purdue’s starter, but Elijah Sindelar will be waiting and putting pressure on Blough. Blough is another quarterback with three years of experience. His sophomore year he threw for 3,352 yards with 25 touchdowns. The only problem was that he also threw for 21 interceptions that season. Last season he split playing time, and his stats dropped big time. He did, however, have the best quarterback rating of his three seasons at Purdue and only threw for four interceptions last season. His season was cut short with a season-ending leg injury making him miss the last four games for the Boilermakers. Blough is a running threat getting into the end zone 10 times on the ground in three seasons. Purdue may shock everyone with a second place finish in the Big Ten West this season.
8: Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin Badgers
The Pennsylvania native Hornibrook lead the Badgers to a 13-win season and a division title last season. So why such a low ranking? One reason being is that he had a veteran-led offensive line and arguably the second-best running back in the big ten last season. Second, Wisconsin by many accounts had the best defense in the entire Big Ten previous season allowing Hornibrook not to have to win a game with his arm. Hornibrook is a light version of famous former Badger quarterback Jim Sorgi. However, he should have a better season and take a step forward after throwing for 2,386 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. He has to limit his interceptions thrown which he had 15 of them last season. There is little doubt that he is a legit game manager behind a fantastic running game and a good and improving receiving unit. However, famous former Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel was a good game manager but was never ranked as a top quarterback in the Big Ten.