Every preseason, Sports on Earth ranks the top players in college football at each position. Our quarterback list in July (with a few late-preseason tweaks) featured 35 players. A lot can change even from July to the start of the regular season, and a lot more has changed since then, including improved players, breakthrough stars and, unfortunately, some key injuries.
So, with three weekends left before the playoff and bowl matchups are set, let's reset the national quarterback landscape. These are not NFL Draft rankings (although NFL fans should tune into USC-UCLA on Saturday for the highly anticipated Sam Darnold-Josh Rosen showdown.) These rankings take into account a somewhat subjective assessment of talent and production put on display through the first 11 weeks of the 2017 season, plus consideration of career accomplishments and an appraisal of where players stand heading into the next few weeks and the postseason. This list does not include players who are out for the rest of the year (like Ole Miss' Shea Patterson) or players who have missed significant portions of the season (like Oregon's Justin Herbert).
If you could have any current quarterback based on this season (not projecting into the future), who would it be? Let's count down the top 30.
30. Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame. As we saw in the loss at Miami, Wimbush still needs a lot of work as a passer, but he has upside there, and he's been a key part of what's mostly been a dominant Irish rushing attack. Among QBs with at least 200 pass attempts, Wimbush ranks fifth with 663 yards on the ground, plus five TDs.
29. Nick Stevens, Colorado State. Mountain West quarterback play in the Mountain Division hasn't been as strong as hoped -- Josh Allen hasn't played up to the NFL Draft hype and Brett Rypien has had mixed results -- but Stevens has put together the best individual body of work. He averages 8.5 yards per attempt with 24 touchdowns. At 288.5 yards per game, he averages nearly 50 more yards than anyone else in the conference.
28. Josh Jackson, Virginia Tech. Jackson has slowed down a bit after a fast start to his redshirt freshman season, but the future is clearly bright for his pairing with coach Justin Fuente. Jackson is completing 61.6 percent of his passes for 2,382 yards, 17 TDs and six picks, and he showed he can run if needed in his college debut, when he had 101 yards on the ground against West Virginia, what's still the Hokies' best win.
27. Nic Shimonek, Texas Tech. The next in line of prolific Texas Tech passer, Shimonek replaced Patrick Mahomes and is doing what a Red Raiders quarterback is supposed to do: He's completing 70 percent of his passes with an average of 331 yards per game and 8.4 yards per attempt.
26. Jake Fromm, Georgia. The recipient of constant praise as a true freshman early enrollee in the offseason, Fromm replaced the injured Jacob Eason in Week 1 and hasn't let go of the job, even though Eason has been available. While not asked to do much on a team dominated by its defense and run game -- until last week's loss to Auburn, at least -- Fromm has shown maturity and poise, ranking eighth in passer rating with 16 TDs, four picks and an average of 9.2 yards per attempt for a playoff contender.
25. Kelly Bryant, Clemson. Bryant had impossible shoes to fill in replacing Deshaun Watson, and his production has slowed down since he had to deal with an ankle injury. Still, despite a somewhat limited passing output -- 65.3 percent, 1,924 yards, only seven TDs and five picks -- Bryant has been an effective dual-threat, also rushing for 608 yards and 10 TDs. At some point, Clemson will have to ask him to do more as a passer, but the Tigers have yet to lose a game he's finished.
24. Kenny Hill, TCU. Hill's senior season has been the best of an inconsistent career that saw him flash stardom at Texas A&M before falling out of favor and transferring to TCU, where he had just four more TDs (17) than INTs (13) last year in a 6-7 season. This year, TCU is a Big 12 title contender boasting an 8-2 record. Hill has thrown only five picks and has jumped to 26th in passer rating with a 65.9 percent completion rate.
23. Eric Dungey, Syracuse. There may be no tougher player in college football. Dungey has been hit a ton in his college career, but he ranks sixth nationally in total offense per game at 343. In a fast-paced Syracuse offense, he has thrown for 2,495 yards, 14 TDs and nine picks and rushed for 595 yards and nine TDs. He played a superb game to beat Clemson.
22. Logan Woodside, Toledo. Woodside has been one of the nation's most efficient passers for the second year in a row. Although his numbers have dipped a bit, he's averaging 9.8 yards per attempt with 20 TDs and just two picks for an 8-2 Rockets team that's scoring 36 points per game.
21. Ryan Finley, N.C. State. The Boise State transfer was an underrated passer entering this season, and he's establishing himself as a potential NFL prospect. Although he's thrown four picks in his past three games, Finley was not intercepted in any of N.C. State's first seven games. He has thrown for 2,665 yards and 15 TDs and led the Wolfpack to their highest AP ranking since 2004.
20. Quinton Flowers, South Florida. Flowers' numbers haven't been as strong under a new coaching staff -- he's dropped from 117 rushing yards per game to 83 -- but he's still a dynamic player who has thrown 15 TDs vs. four picks and has rushed for 751 yards and nine TDs. He's done that while leading a Bulls team that scores nearly 40 points per game.
19. Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State. Fitzgerald remains a work-in-progress passer, averaging just 6.3 yards per attempt with 13 TDs and 10 INTs, but he's an effective leader of a Dan Mullen offense because of his running ability. He has 137 rushes for 867 yards and 13 touchdowns, placing him sixth in the SEC in rushing. He's cracked the 100-yard mark on the ground in five of the Bulldogs' seven wins.
18. Luke Falk, Washington State. The Pac-12's all-time leading passer has had some down moments -- he was benched during the loss to Arizona and struggled with turnovers in the loss to Cal -- but he's likely going to throw for over 4,000 yards for the third straight season in Mike Leach's Air Raid offense. Although Falk is an excellent distributor in a high-volume passing offense, he hasn't averaged more than seven yards per attempt in a game since Sept. 23, so this season hasn't been quite as strong as hoped individually despite the Cougars' 9-2 record.
17. Malik Rosier, Miami. Rosier has done a stellar job replacing three-year starter Brad Kaaya. He's been solid as a passer, throwing 20 TDs and seven picks with an average of 8.1 yards per attempt. His completion percentage is only 56.7, but he's made big throws in big moments to allow Miami to stay undefeated. Rosier has also brought mobility to the table, adding a new dimension to the offense when needed with 339 yards on the ground.
16. Jake Browning, Washington. A Heisman candidate for the first two months of last season, Browning returned from shoulder surgery to have what's been a quieter 2017 season. The combination of injury problems -- including WR Chico McClatcher and OT Trey Adams -- and the departure of star wideout John Ross has held back Browning a bit. His completion rate has improved to 68 percent, but he's thrown 16 touchdowns in 10 games after finding the end zone 43 times in 14 games last year. He's still a steady, reliable distributor.
15. Drew Lock, Missouri. Lock has had an uneven career, with some huge performances against lesser opponents and lackluster outings against top teams. This year started out the same: 521 yards and seven TDs against Missouri State, followed by a rough patch in which Mizzou failed to crack 14 points in three straight blowout losses. Lock is putting together a stellar second half of the season, though, as Missouri has won four in a row to take aim at bowl eligibility. He has averaged over 10 yards per attempt in five of 10 games and has thrown a national-high 35 TD passes.
14. Riley Ferguson, Memphis. Ferguson's season started slowly for weather-related reasons: Memphis' first game was played in heavy rain, and its game against UCF was postponed because of Hurricane Irma. That left a high-profile showdown with Josh Rosen and UCLA as Ferguson's first real chance to impress in Week 3. He did just that, throwing for 398 yards and six TDs in a Memphis win. Ferguson has again formed an excellent tandem with wideout Anthony Miller, and he leads the American Athletic Conference in passing yards (320 per game) and touchdown passes (27).
13. Jalen Hurts, Alabama. Hurts continues to be difficult to place on a list like this. He ranks 92nd in pass attempts per game, for a few reasons: 1) Alabama plays in a lot of blowouts, 2) the Crimson Tide can heavily lean on their running game and 3) he's still developing as a passer. Still, he's done what Alabama has needed him to do: He has thrown only one interception, he averages 8.5 yards per pass attempt and he made several big throws to lead Bama to a comeback win over Mississippi State last week. Plus, Hurts is an exceptional runner who has 656 yards on the ground. The only game Alabama has lost with Hurts at quarterback was last year's national title game.
12. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn. The Tigers entered this season counting on Stidham, a Baylor transfer, to upgrade the passing game. He's done that: The team has improved from 54th to eighth in passer rating. This is a run-heavy Auburn offense -- Stidham attempts only 24.3 passes per game -- but he's posted a passer rating of at least 190 in five of the past seven games. He averages 9.1 yards per attempt -- 10.0 in SEC play -- and he's been intercepted only three times.
11. Trace McSorley, Penn State. With defenses spending so much energy trying to contain tailback Saquon Barkley, there's been added pressure on McSorley to deliver. Although Penn State hasn't hit as many big plays in the passing game as last year, McSorley is coming through with another stellar season, ranking 17th in passer rating while also proving to be an adept runner when needed. He led one of the most memorable drives of the season to beat Iowa with a last-play touchdown strike to Juwan Johnson.
10. John Wolford, Wake Forest. Few players have improved as much as Wolford, and few offenses have improved as much as Wake Forest's. The Demon Deacons have risen from 125th to 28th in yards per play. Wolford has gone from 191 yards of total offense per game to 321. He ranks ninth nationally in passer rating and 16th in the ACC in rushing. He's put up at least 390 total yards in three straight games, including 499 yards in last week's 64-43 win over Syracuse. At his current pace, Wolford would be one of 23 players since 2000 to post a quarterback rating of at least 160 while rushing for over 500 yards.
9. McKenzie Milton, UCF. As a freshman, Milton didn't finish in the top 100 in passer rating and UCF finished 123rd in yards per play. As a sophomore, in his second season under coach Scott Frost, Milton ranks second in passer rating and UCF ranks second in yards per play. It's been an unbelievable ascent, as Milton is leading an undefeated team that scores nearly 50 points per game. He's completing 69.6 percent of his passes with 22 TDs, five INTs and an average of 10.8 yards per attempt.
8. Will Grier, West Virginia. Grier has had occasional turnover issues, but the Florida transfer has proven to be the match for Dana Holgorsen's offense that he was expected to be. As his former team continues to struggle on offense, Grier is averaging 9.1 yards per pass attempt with 3,440 yards and 31 touchdowns. Only Mason Rudolph has completed more passes of 30-plus yards, and only Drew Lock has thrown more touchdowns.
7. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State. The version of Barrett that we saw after the Oklahoma loss, from the win over Army through the perfect fourth-quarter comeback against Penn State, was as good as any quarterback in the country. Barrett can struggle when pressured, though, and he's been intercepted six times in the past two games, in addition to having a tough game in the loss to Oklahoma. Ultimately, Barrett has improved his average per pass attempt by 1.8 yards from last year, helping him to climb from 55th to sixth nationally in passer rating. He's still an effective runner, too.
6. Josh Rosen, UCLA. Rosen returned from 2016's season-ending shoulder injury to immediately lead the second-biggest comeback in college football history in Week 1 against Texas A&M. Rosen's supporting cast is lacking -- and the defense has really fallen off -- but he averages 343 passing yards per game. He's a pro-ready quarterback in terms of mechanics and arm talent, even if he's flown under the radar much of this season because of the Bruins' troubles since that opening comeback. His presence makes Saturday's game vs. Sam Darnold and USC a must-watch event.
5. Khalil Tate, Arizona. Hardly anybody knew Tate's name in September. Now he ranks seventh in the country in rushing despite barely playing early in the season. Tate had 10 rushes and nine pass attempts in four September games. Then he relieved the injured Brandon Dawkins on Oct. 7 against Colorado and promptly emerged as a superstar who turned Arizona's season around. Tate set the FBS single-game QB rushing record with 327 yards against the Buffaloes. He's rushed for at least 137 yards in six straight games, and the Wildcats have a 5-1 record in that span. In total, Tate has 111 rushes for 1,293 yards and 11 TDs (11.7 yards per carry) and he is also averaging 9.5 yards per pass attempt, completing 61.9 percent for 998 yards, eight TDs and six picks.
4. Sam Darnold, USC. Darnold has invited so much NFL Draft-related scrutiny that he's become sort of underrated. It's a somewhat familiar trend: After a breakthrough 2016 season, Darnold received nonstop offseason hype, becoming the favorite to win the Heisman and be the No. 1 pick in the draft. All that hype led to intense scrutiny and backlash after every mistake. Although Darnold has committed too many turnovers (including 11 interceptions), he's completed 63.4 percent for 3,198 yards and 24 TDs. He's mobile with a strong arm, and even though he tries to do too much at times, he's capable of making throws that few quarterbacks can make. He's still deserving of the draft love, even if he can't win the Heisman.
3. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State. Baker Mayfield is the state of Oklahoma's best Heisman candidate and won the head-to-head matchup, but Rudolph leads the nation in passing yards, throwing for 3,690 yards and 30 TDs in 10 games. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior averages 10.2 yards per attempt, again proving to be adept in a big-play passing offense that scores 45.7 points per game.
2. Lamar Jackson, Louisville. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner deserves more credit for how spectacular he's been again in 2017, as I wrote last month. Yes, his team is just 6-4, but blame that on the downfall of the defense. Despite playing behind a middling offensive line, Jackson has become the first player to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Jackson averages 417 yards of total offense per game -- 300 passing, 117 rushing -- and has accounted for 36 total TDs. Through 10 games, his numbers aren't far off the ridiculous pace he set to win the Heisman last year. A strong argument can be made for him to be No. 1 here, even if Baker Mayfield is the better Heisman choice.
1. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma. In his first two seasons at Oklahoma, Mayfield finished fourth and third in the Heisman vote. Last year, he set the single-season passer rating record. He's on pace to surpass all of that: He's the overwhelming Heisman favorite with three weeks of games left, and his current passer rating of 202.1 is on track to beat his record-setting mark of 196.4. Mayfield plays with confidence and a chip on his shoulder. He's a fearless quarterback with enough arm strength to consistent connect for big plays and the mobility to escape pressure, improvise and make plays on the move. Despite losing a Heisman finalist wideout and two 1,000-yard rushers from his supporting cast, Mayfield is playing the best football of his college career as a senior. He may end up being one of the most accomplished passers in the history of the sport.