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Big Ten football power rankings: quarterbacks

The Big Ten contains some of the country’s best signal callers in 2018.

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Big Ten football power rankings: quarterbacks

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley throws during the 4th quarter of Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. Penn State defeated Iowa 21-19 on a last second touchdown past. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley throws during the 4th quarter of Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. Penn State defeated Iowa 21-19 on a last second touchdown past. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley throws during the 4th quarter of Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. Penn State defeated Iowa 21-19 on a last second touchdown past. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley throws during the 4th quarter of Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. Penn State defeated Iowa 21-19 on a last second touchdown past. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Adam Hensley and Pete Ruden

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Daily Iowan Pregame Editor Adam Hensley teams up with Sports Editor Pete Ruden to break down the Big Ten’s best quarterbacks heading into the 2018 season.

5) Shea Patterson, Michigan

Patterson could be something the Wolverines have desperately needed: a solid, consistent playmaker at quarterback.

A transfer from Ole Miss, Patterson threw for 2,259 yards in 2017 and also tossed 17 touchdowns. More impressively, though, he did all of that in just seven games.

With a scary ground attack that includes Karan Higdon and Chris Evans, there won’t be as much pressure on Patterson to perform.

Of course, before Patterson can be the player that Michigan desperately needs, he needs to win the starting job. But if he beats out Brandon Peters and Dylan McCaffrey, he could take the conference by storm.

 

4) Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

Haskins is Ohio State’s guy moving forward after J.T. Barrett graduated and Joe Burrow transferred ​— and for good reason.

Buckeye fans have been waiting patiently to see just what Haskins can do when called upon, and they got a glimpse last season when he had extended playing time against UNLV and Michigan.

Against the Rebels, Haskins completed 15-of-23 attempts for 228 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. In his last 2017 appearance (Ohio State’s win over Michigan), he completed 6-of-7 attempts for 94 yards. In both games, he rolled up at least 20 yards on the ground.

And that was as a true freshman. To essentially beat out Burrow, who was in the program for three years, just after his freshman year is quite significant. Barrett, a four-year starter with more than 12,000 all-purpose yards, leaves big shoes to fill, but Haskins was head coach Urban Meyer’s guy, and presumably, he remains No. 1 under acting head coach Ryan Day. (Ohio State has placed Meyer on administrative leave pending an investigation into allegations of domestic violence against fired assistant coach Zach Smith and whether Meyer was aware of the allegations.)

3) Nate Stanley, Iowa
Last season, Stanley posted one of the best seasons for an Iowa quarterback in terms of touchdown passes.

The Menomonie, Wisconsin, native tossed 26 scores, ranking No. 2 in the Hawkeye history book.

Entering the new season, Stanley also has a luxury he didn’t have when last year started ​— proven receivers.

Now, with Nick Easley showing leadership at wide receiver and Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Brandon Smith gaining experience, the air attack should take a step forward.

Tight end Noah Fant, one of the best tight ends in the country who has earned numerous national preseason honors, will also be back for another year.

 

2) Brian Lewerke, Michigan State

It’s been seven years since Kirk Cousins last suited up for Michigan State, but the Spartans might just get similar production this season from Lewerke.

Lewerke’s redshirt sophomore season stats: 2,793 yards, 20 touchdowns, 7 interceptions.

Cousins’ junior year stats: 2,825 yards, 20 touchdowns, 10 interceptions.

Cousins went on to throw for 3,316 yards and 25 touchdowns in his final year with the Spartans, and it’s not unreasonable by any means for Lewerke to match that production in his fourth year with the program. He’s got a solid combination of arm strength and speed; Lewerke ran for 559 yards and scored 5 touchdowns on the ground in 2017.

Michigan State will be right up there with Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan to win the Big Ten East in 2018. If Lewerke steps up, a Big Ten title isn’t out of the question.

1) Trace McSorley, Penn State

McSorley was the Big Ten’s best quarterback in 2017, and now, without Saquon Barkley, the passing game will be even more of a focal point for a powerful Nittany Lion offense.

McSorley led the conference with 3,570 yards through the air last year, while throwing 28 touchdowns.

Although DaeSean Hamilton, Mike Gesicki, and Barkley — three of McSorley’s top four targets — are gone, Penn State still has capable playmakers out wide.

Second-leading receiver Juwan Johnson is back, as is DeAndre Thompkins, so McSorley will have a lot of opportunities to improve.

 

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