Who are the best returning quarterbacks in the Big Ten? With nine of the 14 starters returning in 2022 that is a tough question to answer. The conference is loaded with experience at the most important position in football, which will make those teams’ coaches very happy. There may even be a Heisman Trophy winner in this bunch. Here at Last Word on College Football, we are ranking the best returning players for the 2022 season. Today, we look at the best returning quarterbacks in the Big Ten.
Best Returning Big Ten Quarterbacks
#3: Sean Clifford, Penn State
If there was the Van Wilder of quarterbacks, he would reside in Happy Valley. Sean Clifford is taking full advantage of the extra year of eligibility and returning for his sixth season with the Penn State Nittany Lions. Surprisingly it will be the first time Clifford will have the same offensive coordinator in back-to-back seasons. Mike Yurcich is back once again calling plays. Clifford finished fifth in the Big Ten last season with 3,157 yards with 21 touchdowns. He did that with the lack of a consistent running attack and getting sacked 30 times last season. In his career, he has thrown for 7,839 yards and 62 touchdowns. He will have to find a new favorite receiver with Jahan Dotson now off to the NFL. Dotson led the team with 91 receptions and 1,182 yards with 12 touchdowns. Second leading receiver Parker Washington returns though and will look to fill the big shoes of Dotson.
#2: Aidan O’Connell, Purdue
Aidan O’Connell has flourished under the tutelage of head coach Jeff Brohm. In his first full year as a starter, O’Connell finished with 3,712 yards and completed 72% of his passes. He also added in 28 touchdown passes on route to a 9-4 2021 campaign. O’Connell ranked third in the Big Ten in yards, and second in touchdown passes. He went over 300 yards six times on the season and had two games with 500 or more. That included the 48-45 shootout victory over Tennessee in the Music City Bowl. In that game, he passed for 534 yards and five touchdowns. Like Clifford, O’Connell will be without his go-to target from 2021. All-Big Ten performer David Bell was second in both yards (1,286) and catches (93) last season. Help is on the way though in Iowa transfer Tyrone Tracy, and second-leading receiver Milton Wright.
#1: C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
There is no question who is the best returning quarterback in the Big Ten. The best thrower of the football in this league is second-year starter C.J. Stroud. The first-year starter was a Heisman finalist and led the Big Ten in all the important passing categories. He completed 72% of his passes for 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns. As with Ohio State every year it is not those accomplishments the fanbase remembers. It is if the Buckeyes made and won the College Football Playoff. Due to losing to Michigan in the final game of the season, those goals could not be realized despite the great season from Stroud. Ohio State loses receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson but returns Big Ten leading receiver Jaxson Smith-Njigba. Other weapons for Stroud to utilize are Marvin Harrison, Jr. and running back Treveyon Henderson. The Buckeyes will be favored to win each game this season, but it all starts with C.J. Stroud as the best returning quarterback in the Big Ten.