It’ll take more than one quiet performance to move No. 3 Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud down the list of the top quarterbacks in the Bowl Subdivision. Even if his numbers in last weekend’s win against No. 9 Notre Dame rank among the least productive starts of his career, Stroud still threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns without an interception — totals that would be more than adequate for the wide majority of FBS passers.
But Stroud finds himself falling behind Alabama’s Bryce Young after the first full Saturday of the 2022 season. Despite playing just one series in the second half, Young finished with five touchdowns and set a career high for rushing yards as the No. 1 Crimson Tide pitched a shutout against Utah State.
The nation’s top two quarterbacks will be compared to one another all season and dominate the Heisman Trophy conversation, especially if the Crimson Tide and Buckeyes reach the College Football Playoff, as expected.
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There are others worth watching, including several of Young’s peers in the SEC. One such quarterback, No. 2 Georgia’s Stetson Bennett, kicked off the Bulldogs’ national title defense with one of the best games of his career.
Heading into Week 2, here are the best quarterbacks in the country:
1. Bryce Young, Alabama
Young obliterated his previous career best with 100 yards on the ground. (He finished last season with zero rushing yards, so the outburst was unexpected.) Since taking over the starting job before last season, Young has thrown 18 touchdowns in four games against Group of Five competition.
2. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Stroud’s numbers against Notre Dame isn’t a signal of any issues with the Ohio State offense but more a reflection of how the Buckeyes’ scheme adapted to match what the Fighting Irish were presenting on defense. A more run-heavy second half paced the win and indicated that OSU may have more offensive balance than a year ago. Look for Stroud to put up big numbers as the Buckeyes close non-conference play against Arkansas State and Toledo.
3. Caleb Williams, Southern California
Williams’ first start for No. 12 USC saw him throw for 249 yards with nearly as many touchdowns (two) as incomplete passes (three). While it came against Rice, this seamless transition to the Pac-12 bodes well for his continued development in his first full year as a starting quarterback. And both of those touchdowns were thrown to former Pittsburgh transfer Jordan Addison, showing how this pair has already landed on the same page.
4. Stetson Bennett, Georgia
Georgia’s 49-3 destruction of Oregon showed off a new approach that put Bennett at the center of the offense. Only once last season, in the SEC championship game loss to Alabama, did Bennett attempt more than 30 passes. But he made 31 attempts against the Ducks, completing 25 for a career-best 368 yards, and spread the ball across what looks like another outstanding collection of skill talent.
5. Tyler Van Dyke, Miami (Fla.)
Van Dyke and the No. 16 Hurricanes didn’t need to break a sweat in taking care of Bethune-Cookman. The third-year sophomore hit on 81.35% of his throws for 193 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions, leaving him fourth nationally in efficiency rating (223.8) after one game.
6. Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State
Sanders accounted for six total touchdowns as No. 10 Oklahoma State’s offense torched Central Michigan in a 58-44 win. While he’ll need to show he’s past the inconsistencies that have stymied his development into an all-conference passer, Sanders’ performance in the opener carries over his four-touchdown game against Notre Dame in last year’s Fiesta Bowl and increase the optimism about this being a breakout season.
7. Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
McCall did to Army’s defense in the opener what he does to everyone. He averaged at least 10 yards per attempt (10.2) for the 11th time in his past 12 starts. He had multiple touchdown passes (two) for the 11th time in his past 14 starts. He completed at least 70% of his throws for the eighth time in his past 12 starts. His consistency is remarkable.
8. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
Despite his growth into one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC, Hooker may find himself squeezed out of all-conference honors even if he tops 3,500 yards and 30 touchdowns during the regular season. He’ll get a crack at Young and Bennett when the Volunteers meet Alabama and Georgia during the regular season. Hooker can make national news as early as this week when Tennessee meets No. 14 Pittsburgh.
9. Frank Harris, Texas-San Antonio
Harris nearly led UTSA to a huge upset of Houston with 337 yards and three touchdowns in the 37-35 triple-overtime defeat. One of the most underrated quarterbacks in the country dating to the midway point of last year, Harris is going to pop onto the radar as the Roadrunners look to repeat atop Conference USA. A brutal non-conference slate provides opportunity: UTSA next takes on Army and Texas before heading into league play at the end of September.
10. KJ Jefferson, Arkansas
Jefferson had 223 passing yards and 56 yards on the ground as No. 17 Arkansas earned a very physical win against Cincinnati. This is the fifth time the junior has gone for at least 200 through the air with at least 50 rushing yards, joining games last season against Texas A&M, Mississippi, Auburn and Missouri.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College football quarterback rankings led by Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud