For bettors preparing for the 2021 college football season, it pays to know the quality of the quarterbacks. There are four scenarios for evaluating: Returning starter and coaching staff; returning starter with new staff and system; new starter taking over a system that has been in place; and new starter with new coaching staff.
I examined the expected quarterback situations across the country and ranked the teams by conference in this important area. Over the next two days in Bet Smart, we’ll look at the quarterback hierarchies in the Power Five conferences.
1. North Carolina (Sam Howell): In-state star who stayed home has led Tar Heels to 15 wins in two seasons since arriving after a 2-9 campaign.
2. Clemson (D.J. Uiagalelei): Takes over for Trevor Lawrence with lofty expectations. Former highly rated recruit stepped in when Lawrence was out last year, throwing for five TDs and rushing for four. Brings different element to Clemson offense.
3. Miami (D’Eriq King): Transferred from Houston before 2020. Unexpectedly back for 2021 after injury in bowl game. Small-but-dynamic playmaker.
4. Boston College (Phil Jurkovec): Returning starter had big 2020 season, throwing for 2,558 yards and 17-5 TD-INT ratio. Big, strong kid with matching arm.
5. Florida State (McKenzie Milton): UCF transfer returning to play for first time after brutal injury. Missed last two seasons, but put up huge numbers (72 TDs) in three years with Golden Knights.
6. Louisville (Malik Cunningham): Dual-threat QB who accounted for more than 3,200 yards of offense and 27 TDs last year. Has 14 career starts, but Louisville is coming off a 4-7 season.
7. Pittsburgh (Kenny Pickett): Pickett has been starting games at Pitt since 2017, but hasn’t put up big numbers in any season. Perhaps the extra year of eligibility can change that.
1. Oklahoma (Spencer Rattler): Still listed as redshirt freshman after gaining extra year of eligibility, but surely has just two years left at Oklahoma before heading to NFL. Elite athlete, but on the small side at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds. Will put up massive numbers in hunt for Heisman Trophy.
2. Iowa State (Brock Purdy): Was first-team All-Big 12 last year, even with Rattler in the league. Not the athlete Rattler is, but solid as they come as a multiyear starting QB. Back with full complement of offensive starters, including RB Breece Hall.
3. Texas Tech (Tyler Shough): Oregon transfer is a big kid at 6-5, 230. He should post better numbers in coach Matt Wells’ offense. Struggled down the stretch last year for Ducks after huge three-game start.
4. TCU (Max Duggan): Dual threat who rushed for 10 TDs and threw for 10 more in 2020. Multiyear starter stands 6-2 and weighs 201.
5. Texas (Hudson Card): Stable of highly rated quarterbacks in battle to replace Sam Ehlinger, none bigger than 6-2. With Steve Sarkisian taking over, Longhorns have hopes of recreating Alabama’s recent offensive prowess.
6. Oklahoma State (Spencer Sanders): Started nine games last year for 8-3 Cowboys and 10 games in 2019 for 8-5 team. Putting up decent numbers, but not at the level of his predecessors with 30 passing TDs total.
7. West Virginia (Jarret Doege): Transferred from Bowling Green before 2019 and has thrown 60 career TD passes. Helped WVU improve by 6 ppg in coach Neal Brown’s second season.
Monday: SEC, Big Ten, Pac 12.
Steve Makinen is editor of Point Spread Weekly, VSiN’s digital magazine for sports bettors.