- Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud has 13 TDs and three interceptions in the last three games.
- Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker threw for 239 yards and two scores in an impressive win vs. LSU.
- Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman is 40 yards shy of fourth place for passing yards in ACC history.
It’s becoming more difficult to rank Alabama’s Bryce Young near the top of a list of the nation’s best quarterbacks simply due to his unavailability: Young missed a huge chunk of the No. 1 Crimson Tide’s win against Arkansas and all of last Saturday’s narrow escape against Texas A&M.
Young may return this weekend against No. 8 Tennessee, lead the Tide to an impressive road win against the unbeaten Volunteers and springboard himself back into Heisman Trophy contention. It’s clear that Alabama’s offense is a different beast with him under center, supporting the idea that Young is the most impactful single player in the country.
But missing most of this two-game stretch and potentially this Saturday’s rivalry game has cost Young any lead he may have had in the early Heisman race and focused the debate on No. 3 Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker.
As big as Saturday is for Young, it may be even bigger for Hooker. Outplaying Young and sparking a win in the series – Tennessee hasn’t won since 2006 – may make the senior the Heisman leader, or at worst the co-leader midway through October. There’s also the obvious NFL angle: Hooker could continue to push his way toward the very top of next year’s draft with a win and good showing against the Tide.
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While Young falls, Hooker is securely in second place on this week’s list of the top quarterbacks in the Bowl Subdivision. (Last week’s ranking is in parentheses.)
1. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State (1)
You’ve got to poke around to find a nitpick, but here’s one: Stroud has tossed one interception in each of the No. 3 Buckeyes’ last three games, something he hadn’t done since his first three starts to open last season. He’s tossed 13 touchdowns during this stretch, however. Stroud’s been particular unkind to Michigan State, with a combined 793 yards and 12 touchdowns in his two meetings against the Spartans.
2. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee (2)
Pundits who thought Hooker and UT would encounter a struggle with LSU were just a bit off base. Instead, Hooker threw for 239 yards and two scores with another 56 yards on the ground as the Volunteers pulled off a very easy and very impressive 40-13 win. Individually and for the team at large, it’s all on the line Saturday against the Tide.
3. Sam Hartman, Wake Forest (5)
Hartman earns a bump up the list after another highly productive start for the No. 14 Demon Deacons. He averaged 12.9 yards per attempt in last weekend’s 45-10 rout of Army to continue an assault on the school and ACC record books. Already the program’s career leader in touchdown passes with 88, Hartman is 40 yards shy of passing former North Carolina State passer Ryan Finley for fourth in ACC history for passing yards and 3,022 yards away from Philip Rivers’ career record.
4. Max Duggan, TCU (NR)
Duggan has taken off in a big way for No. 15 TCU since taking over the starting job in Week 2. He’s throw 14 touchdowns and just one pick as the Horned Frogs have quickly turned back into Big 12 contenders under new coach Sonny Dykes. Duggan’s had startlingly similar numbers in his two conference games, going 23 of 33 for 302 yards and three scores against Oklahoma — with almost all coming in the first half — and then hitting on 23 of 33 throws for 308 yards and three touchdowns in TCU’s 38-31 win against No. 20 Kansas.
5. Caleb Williams, Southern California (4)
After two spotty games in three weeks to open Pac-12 play, Williams and No. 6 Southern California need to rally before Saturday’s trip to No. 19 Utah. Though more productive than in September’s 17-14 win against Oregon State, when he completed just 44.4% of his attempts, Williams was held to 188 yards and 6.5 yards per throw in the Trojans’ 30-14 win against Washington State.
6. J.J. McCarthy, Michigan (9)
McCarthy set new career highs in attempts (36), completions (28) and yards (304) while tying his previous career best with three touchdowns in Michigan’s 31-10 win against Indiana. He did toss his first interception on the year in 120 attempts, leaving Hooker, Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel, Vanderbilt’s AJ Swann and Kansas State’s Adrian Martinez as the only Power Five quarterbacks with at least 100 throws without an interception.
7. Bryce Young, Alabama (3)
It’s unfair to truly compare Young to backup Jalen Milroe, who simply doesn’t have the experience to step right into the starting job and keep the Alabama offense humming at a record-setting clip. But the 24-20 win against the Aggies saw the Tide leave buckets of points on the field via turnovers and moments of poor decision making under center. Young is a special player who any program would struggle to replace.
8. DJ Uiagalelei, Clemson (NR)
Calling Uiagalelei an outright success story seems a little off base, given how he arrived on campus as a big-time prospect and validated that early hype with two tremendous starts as a true freshman. He’s still taken his game to another level for No. 5 Clemson with a run of very solid starts, ending any discussion over freshman Cade Klubnik potentially taking over as the starter and potentially setting up a monster second half to the regular season. Uiagalelei has thrown for at least 200 yards in every game, added 311 yards on the ground and accounted for 17 total touchdowns after finishing with just 13 scores a year ago.
9. Will Rogers, Mississippi State (10)
The records keep falling for No. 17 Mississippi State’s underrated junior. The latest is the SEC career record for completions, shattering former Georgia star Aaron Murray’s mark in nearly half the time — Rogers needed 28 games to break Murray’s mark of 921 completions set in 52 games. After tearing through Arkansas for almost 400 yards and three scores, Rogers is nearing the program records for touchdown passes, touchdowns accounted for and total offense.
10. Adrian Martinez, Kansas State (NR)
Teams have tried to take Deuce Vaughn out of the equation and force Martinez to win games for the No. 16 Wildcats. It’s clear the Nebraska transfer can do just that. With the running game bogged down by Iowa State’s defense, Martinez took over with a season-high 246 yards and a score to help the Wildcats pull down a 10-9 win. In addition to avoiding the turnover-heavy play that defined his time with the Cornhuskers, a physically stronger Martinez has been one of the best running quarterbacks in the FBS.