With many of the nation’s top passers leading teams at or near the top of the early College Football Playoff power rankings, no conference has better quarterbacks or better quarterback play than the SEC.
With Bryce Young, Matt Corral and JT Daniels, the league dominates this week’s list of the best quarterbacks in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Combined, this threesome has thrown for 29 touchdowns and three interceptions across 10 games, all wins.
After leading No. 2 Georgia past No. 19 Clemson in the opener and missing the Bulldogs’ victory against Alabama-Birmingham with an oblique injury, Daniels has been highly productive in routs of South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
No. 1 Alabama and No. 12 Ole Miss meet Saturday with high stakes related to the SEC West and the playoff. The impact will extend to the Heisman Trophy, with Young or Corral taking a major lead in the race for postseason hardware.
1. Bryce Young, Alabama
Young tossed the first interception in 144 career attempts in Alabama’s 63-14 win against Southern Mississippi. Technically, only one of his 22 throws wasn’t caught by somebody: Young had 20 completions for 313 yards and a career-best five touchdowns. He’s thrown at least three touchdowns in each of his four starts.
2. Matt Corral, Ole Miss
After ripping through Alabama’s defense in last year’s meeting, what will Corral do for an encore? While the Tide eventually pulled away for a 63-48 win, Corral completed 21 of 28 attempts for 365 yards and two touchdowns with another 40 yards on the ground. As a passer and a runner, he’s been just outstanding in the Rebels’ 3-0 start.
3. JT Daniels, Georgia
There’s now enough of a sample size for Daniels to make this list, even if he was barely needed in Georgia’s 62-0 win against Vanderbilt. Through two SEC games, Daniels has hit on 78.1% of his throws with five touchdowns as the Bulldogs continue to join Alabama in separating themselves from the rest of the pack.
4. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Saturday will see Ridder and the No. 8 Bearcats take on No. 7 Notre Dame in one of the biggest games of the regular season. In seven career games against Power Five competition, including this month’s win against Indiana, Ridder has completed 106 of his 174 throws for 1,105 yards and seven touchdowns along with 236 rushing yards and another four scores.
5. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
With 1,342 passing yards and 15 scores through four games, Pickett is set to challenge a number of Pittsburgh passing records and cap his career as the program’s best quarterback since Dan Marino. He’ll make a run at the single-season records for yards (3,679) and touchdowns (37). He’s 58 completions, 194 attempts, 25 touchdowns and 1,941 yards shy of the Panthers’ career marks. The leap Pickett has made in his final season has his team in the mix for the ACC Coastal championship.
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6. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA
Thompson-Robinson threw for 251 yards and had four total scores, including the second game of his career with multiple touchdowns on the ground, as the Bruins rebounded to beat Stanford 35-24 in the Pac-12 opener. The senior is the first UCLA quarterback to throw for 250 or more yards in three straight games since Josh Rosen in 2017.
7. Jake Haener, Fresno State
Haener’s worst game came in the No. 21 Bulldogs’ 31-24 loss at No. 3 Oregon, when he completed 69.8% of his throws for 298 yards and a touchdown without an interception. It’s been that kind of year for the former Washington transfer, who went for 378 yards and five touchdowns in Saturday’s close call with UNLV and is developing into a legitimate NFL draft prospect. And he’s been great late: Haener is completing 78.1% of his passes for 816 yards and eight scores in the second half, with nine completions of 25 or more yards.
8. Tanner Mordecai, SMU
There’s an issue with turnovers: Mordecai already has two games with multiple interceptions, though that hasn’t stopped SMU from winning four straight and making a run at the Top 25. The former Oklahoma transfer leads the FBS with 20 touchdowns and is one of five Group of Five quarterbacks with 10 or more touchdowns while completing at least 70% of their attempts.
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9. Sam Hartman, Wake Forest
Hartman has moved beyond a sour finish to last season — he had two brutal games in losses to Louisville and Wisconsin — to lead No. 25 Wake Forest to an unbeaten September. He’s been particularly good in double-digit wins against Florida State and Virginia, with 529 passing yards on 8.8 yards per attempt and five scores.
10. Sean Clifford, Penn State
The three-year starter is playing the best football of his career as the No. 6 Nittany Lions build a case for the top spot in the Big Ten. Clifford completed 47 of 58 attempts for 685 yards and six touchdowns in wins against Auburn and Villanova, giving him 1,162 yards and eight scores on 9.7 yards per attempt through four games. He’s dwarfing his previous career bests in every major category and playing as well as any Penn State quarterback since Trace McSorley in the home stretch of the 2017 season.
Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg