The Big Ten, for all of it’s renewed reputation, certainly is dealing with plenty of quarterback issues already this season.
Of course, the most experienced of them all, Michigan State’s Connor Cook is doing just fine, with that huge win over Oregon.
But that’s not the norm so far.
Defending national champion Ohio State has three star QBs but is waffling between two of them. Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, a potential Top 10 NFL Draft pick next spring, is off to a dismal start statistically. Michigan’s Jake Ruddock has more interceptions (four) than touchdown passes (two).
And then there’s Maryland.
Welcome, then, to our first Big Ten Scouting Report of the season …
Maryland earned the upset at Penn State last season. But can coach Randy Edsall get his quarterback situation turned around quickly enough now?
The quick hook
It took only two games for York County native Randy Edsall to switch quarterbacks.
The Maryland head coach hopes to stabilize things quickly after his team was bombed by Bowling Green in the second half last weekend. (It was the Terps’ first home loss to a Mid-American Conference team since 1997).
Maryland already figured to be in a precarious situation after losing a lot of talent from last year’s team — a void unable to be filled yet by improved recruiting efforts. The hope, then, was that Perry Hills could step in and lead at quarterback.
However, now he’s been dropped all the way to third-string after just two performances. Caleb Rowe (who threw two interceptions in his three passes last weekend) is the new starter.
Oklahoma State transfer Daxx Garman will be the top backup.
Edsall also is switching up receivers before South Florida visits College Park, Md. this Saturday. After that, the Terps have this intimidating three-week run: West Virginia, Michigan and Ohio State.
For more on the Terps, check out the Baltimore Sun’s report here.
Ironing things out in Title Town?
There’s not a cause for concern yet, simply an intriguing dilemma building in Columbus.
Coach Urban Meyer moved one of his star quarterbacks (Braxton Miller) to receiver before the season started. But his other two? He still doesn’t seem sure who he wants to go with after a slow-developing victory over Hawaii. Last year’s late-season hero, Cardale Jones, started and later returned in the second half against the Rainbow Warriors. But J.T. Barrett got some looks, too, after Jones’ early struggles.
Ohio State’s Braxton Miller played quarterback the last time Penn State saw him. Now he’s just as elusive, only as a receiver.
Together they combined for 20-of-33 passing and 181 yards. Not bad at all. Just not what you expect from the defending national champs against an overwhelmed opponent.
For more, check out this work from the Columbus Dispatch …
New heights for the Spartans. What’s next?
In one nerve-wracking swoop, the Michigan State Spartans avenged a defeat, completed a major hurdle to climb the polls and gave another shot of national legitimacy to the Big Ten.
That’s what a last-minute victory over Oregon will do for you.
Now, what comes next for the Spartans? In one sense, their playoff path seems cleared until the grudge match with Michigan and the showdown with No. 1 Ohio State in November.
Check out these stories to learn more about the hottest team in the Big Ten … and maybe the entire nation.
Finding answers in Carolina
For sure, the Northwestern Wildcats are turning heads with their defense.
They followed up that stunning upset of Stanford by trampling Eastern Illinois the way they should. They’re allowing only 189 total yards a game, tops in the Big Ten so far.
Meanwhile, down in Champaign, the Fighting Illini are simply taking care of business.
Which is a huge step up for them.
Following coach Tim Beckman’s firing, Illinois has outscored lesser-lights Kent State and Western Illinois by a combined 96-3.
But now the Wildcats and Illini must pass a big test on the road in North Carolina on Saturday.
Northwestern visits Duke, also 2-0. At the same time, Illinois will play the Tarheels (1-1) in Chapel Hill.
Win those away from home and surely Big Ten watchers and beyond will begin paying attention. This piece in the Chicago Tribune talks about how Northwestern is dealing with their new-found success.