It’s time for my weekly ranking of the best quarterbacks in college football, which is shaping up to be a two-man race from a single state.
- Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
No reason to drop Baker this week. His 386-yard, three-touchdown game against Ohio State remains the best performance by any player in college football so far this season.
- Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
If you want to find the best quarterbacks in college football, you don’t even have to leave the state of Oklahoma. Rudolph is throwing darts right now. He could not have made it look any easier against Pittsburgh, racking up 497 yards with five touchdowns. The Cowboys are playing in the arguably the biggest game of the week this Saturday against TCU, which will be a great chance for Rudolph to boost his Heisman stock. My only concern: can Rudolph keep this up? Or is he Geno Smith reincarnated?
- Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Poor Lamar Jackson. He throws for 317 yards and three touchdowns, and his Cardinals still get trounced at home by Clemson. Dating back to last season, Jackson has completed 50 percent or less of his passes in three of his last five games. Still, he’s accounted for more than 1400 yards through the air and on the ground through three games. He’s the most dynamic player in college football. Louisville’s just not that good around him.
- Josh Jackson, Virginia Tech
I was fully prepared to drop Josh Jackson out of the top five after he barely hung on to the fifth spot last week, but then he goes out and lights up ECU for 372 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s now thrown 85 passes to start his career without a pick. He’s been the best freshman quarterback in college football so far.
It’s all fun and games right now against Delaware-ECU-ODU…but it’s going to get real in two weeks against Clemson. If Jackson somehow leads an upset in Lane Stadium on Sept. 30, Heisman whispers would start to circle.
- Riley Ferguson, Memphis
Memphis was a trendy upset pick last week when it hosted UCLA at noon ET. Ferguson woke the Bruins defense up when he tossed six touchdowns, along with 398 yards in a 48-45 win. The Tigers should be 6-0 when they travel to Houston on October 19 in a matchup of the two best Group of Five teams in the country, in my opinion. Ferguson won’t get the attention or hype of the players ahead of him on this list, but give him credit this week for shredding a so-called Pac-12 contender.
Kelly Bryant, Clemson
Literally the only concern I had about Clemson this season was whether or not Kelly Bryant could avoid screwing things up. Not only is he not screwing up, he’s turned into a playmaker for the Tigers. Bryant lit up Louisville for 316 yards and a touchdown, but he also added two touchdowns on the ground. He’s a true dual-threat weapon for Dabo Swinney’s club, and suddenly Clemson looks like the best team in college football – again.
Tanner Lee, Nebraska
Lee transferred to Nebraska by way of Tulane, and many expected him to solve the Huskers’ biggest problem in recent years with stable quarterback play. Two pick-sixes in the first half against Northern Illinois is the opposite of stable. Lee has been an unmitigated disaster so far, and Nebraska is one of the biggest disappointments in the country. After losing to Oregon 42-35 in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated, the Huskers lost at home to Northern Illinois 21-17. Northern Illinois finished 5-7 last season. It’s not a game Nebraska should ever lose. Through three games, Lee has thrown more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (five). What a mess.