Top 10 QBs in college football through Week 12
We have a new No. 1 quarterback in our weekly rankings, which we put together with the help of Pro Football Focus college grades and signature stats. Heading into one of the most exciting college football weekends of the year, here are the top 10 QBs in the nation:
1. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma Sooners
We couldn’t keep Mayfield out of the top spot any longer. The combination of Mayfield topping our PFF QB grades for the second straight week (he has earned a 93.0 on our 0-100 scale), Mayfield playing well in the Sooners’ blowout win over West Virginia and previous No. 1 Lamar Jackson struggling in Louisville’s loss to Houston led to us bumping him up to No. 1. Oklahoma’s two early-season losses will likely keep Mayfield out of the Heisman discussion, but he is a deserving candidate. His adjusted completion rate of 78.7 percent is most among Power-5 quarterbacks.
2. Lamar Jackson, Louisville Cardinals
Jackson is still likely to win the Heisman after Louisville’s blowout loss to Houston on Thursday night, even after he struggled quite a bit through the air. But even though we’ve moved Mayfield ahead of him temporarily, Jackson is still the most dynamic offensive weapon in the country, having earned an outrageously high 97.0 rushing grade and forced 45 missed tackles en route to his 19 rushing touchdowns. His passing performance has been right around average, but coupled with his running ability that’s more than enough to be one of the best QBs in the country.
3. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State Cowboys
Rudolph has had the fastest rise up these rankings in the second half of the season, and he currently owns the second-highest PFF grade among QBs (behind Mayfield, and one spot ahead of Jackson) at 91.9. His passing duel with Mayfield in two weeks when Oklahoma State and Oklahoma meet in the Bedlam game should be outstanding. Rudolph has done some of his best work this season on deep passes, ranking second in QB rating in the Power-5 on throws of 20-plus yards.
4. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson Tigers
Watson hasn’t yet reached the level of play many of us expected from him entering the season, but he’ll have the opportunity to once again take the College Football Playoff and make it his stage if the Tigers can get past South Carolina and then win the ACC title game. And while we’re calling it a “down” year, Watson still ranks fifth among Power-5 quarterbacks in PFF grades, so it’s hardly been a poor showing from him. We’ve yet to see him produce as a runner the way he did a season ago, so perhaps that’s something he’s been waiting to use towards the season’s end.
5. Greg Ward Jr., Houston Cougars
While the Cougars scored a huge win over Louisville last Thursday, it’s hard to give Ward too much credit for it. He graded well below-average and really struggled on the 12 dropbacks when he was under pressure, completing just 2-of-10 passes for 28 yards and earning a passer rating of just 39.6. That drops him a couple of spots in these rankings, but on the season he is still one of the best QBs in the country, ranking sixth in PFF grades with a score of 89.2.
6. Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech Red Raiders
Mahomes has been one of the most prolific quarterbacks in college football this year, and he currently ranks fourth in PFF grades at 89.8, behind only Mayfield, Rudolph and Jackson. It’s fair to point that he feasts on some subpar Big 12 defenses (you can make the same argument against Mayfield and Rudolph), but he has nonetheless been very impressive this season. His adjusted completion rate of 76.6 percent ranks tied for seventh in the nation, and he has one of the 10 lowest sack percentages in the country – a sign of his elusiveness to avoid the sack after pass-rushers get close to him.
7. Jake Browning, Washington Huskies
Browning bounced back from a rough performance in the Huskies’ loss to USC two weeks ago to earn an above-average grade in the win over Arizona State. He has another big test coming up this weekend in the Apple Cup against Washington State. The Huskies and Cougars are both 7-1 in conference play, meaning a berth in the Pac-12 title game is up for grabs. The key for Browning could come down to whether he gets good pass protection from his line. When throwing from a clean pocket, Browning is one of the best QBs in college football with a passer rating of 134.7 – second behind only Mayfield in the Power-5.
8. Luke Falk, Washington State Cougars
Falk ranks just one spot behind in-state rival Browning in PFF’s QB rankings – Browning comes in at sixth with a grade of 81.6, while Falk is seventh at 81.1 – but he’ll have a chance to change that with a big game at home in the Apple Cup. Falk owns the third-best adjusted completion rate in the nation at 78.4 percent, and he is tied with Mayfield for third-best in the Power-5 in QB rating on deep passes at 121.5.
9. Sam Darnold, USC Trojans
The Trojans lost Darnold’s first start with USC – 31-27 to Utah in Week 4 – but they haven’t lost since, as the freshman has engineered a seven-game winning streak. Darnold is tied for fifth in the nation in adjusted completion rate at 77.0 percent, and while he benefits from some excellent pass protection from the USC offensive line, he has excelled when under pressure. USC gets Notre Dame this weekend and could possibly advance to the Pac-12 title game if Colorado loses this weekend.
10. Quinton Flowers, USF Bulls
Flowers makes this list for the first time this week, as he currently ranks seventh in PFF’s quarterback grades. His rushing grade of 96.8 (which barely trails Jackson’s) is a big reason behind his success. He has broken 45 tackles this year (one fewer than Jackson), and rushed for 1,312 yards and 13 touchdowns on 155 carries. He has earned an above-average grade as a passer as well, leading to one of the best overall QB performances of the season.