In the buildup to the opening of the football season, quarterback debates raged at a furious rate in the Big Ten over the past eight months -- notably at five schools without a returning starter or clear leader at the position.
And now Week 1 is behind us. Isn't it glorious to have some clarity?
To begin, Big Ten incumbents Connor Cook at Michigan State, Wes Lunt at Illinois, Mitch Leidner at Minnesota, Tommy Armstrong Jr. at Nebraska, Joel Stave at Wisconsin and Nate Sudfeld at Indiana generally performed as expected, considering the competition.
The most stunning QB development occurred at Penn State. Third-year starter Christian Hackenberg was sacked a video game-like 10 times in a 27-10 loss to Temple. Quarterbacks of the other 13 teams in the league were sacked 11 times.
Let that sink in as you consider these Week 1 headlines from the results of the Big Ten’s quarterback competitions:
Still not over: Amid the backdrop of brewing scandals, Rutgers thrashed Norfolk State 63-13 as the sophomore duo of Hayden Rettig and Chris Laviano posted a QBR of 98.1, second nationally to Arkansas through one game. Laviano, suspended for the first half, threw just four passes -- all completions -- and three went for touchdowns to Leonte Carroo in a span of less than eight minutes. Rettig, the LSU transfer, played the first half and finished 9-of-11 for 110 yards with one score. He also showed solid athleticism on a fourth-down scramble for a TD. Competition resumes Saturday as Rutgers hosts Washington State.
Surprise, surprise: What exactly was Northwestern hiding in Clayton Thorson, the ESPN 300 prospect from the Class of 2014? Apparently, he can run, illustrated in the Wildcats’ 16-6 upset win over Stanford. Thorson, a redshirt freshman who won the job in August over senior Zack Oliver and sophomore Matt Alviti, rushed for 68 yards on eight carries -- including a 42-yard gallop for the only touchdown of the game. Thorson also completed 12 of 24 passes for 105 yards without a pick.
Rough landing: If Jake Rudock had avoided big mistakes and managed the game -- tasks that he handled well at Iowa last year -- Michigan likely would have won coach Jim Harbaugh’s debut. A fifth-year senior who outdueled junior Shane Morris for the job, Rudock threw three interceptions that marred a two-touchdown, 27-for-43 performance in the Wolverines’ 24-17 loss Thursday at Utah. It’s not all bad, though; he displayed a nice chemistry with tight end Jake Butt and just missed several deep throws to open targets. Give him time to get sharp, and the Michigan offense may look much-improved in November.
No wrong answer: While most outside eyes focused in recent days on sophomore J.T. Barrett, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer went with Cardale Jones to end the most-watched QB race nationally. Jones came out hot and posted a QBR of 94.3, No. 7 nationally in the Buckeyes’ come-from-behind 42-24 win over Virginia Tech. In his first road start, and operating without three top receivers, Jones finished 9-of-18 for 186 yards with two touchdowns and one interception (on a tipped ball). He also rushed for 99 yards and one score as the Hokies focused defensive attention on RB Ezekiel Elliott. For a touch of fun, Barrett completed his lone pass for a 26-yard TD. And ex-QB Braxton Miller -- now at wide receiver -- got involved, too.
Reason for concern: With Perry Hills at the helm for his first start since 2012, Maryland won comfortably, 50-21 over Richmond, largely because of punt-returning superman William Likely and the rushing of back Wes Brown. Hills threw inconsistently, completing 12 of 21 passes for 138 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Somewhat unexpectedly, the fourth-year junior beat out Caleb Rowe and Daxx Garman for the job last month. From here, the Terps’ schedule progressively ramps up, with a three-week stretch looming against West Virginia, Michigan and Ohio State.
Elsewhere, junior Austin Appleby committed six turnovers in Purdue's 41-31 loss to Marshall after reclaiming the QB job in August over redshirt freshman David Blough. Time to rethink?
And Iowa junior C.J. Beathard, promoted above Rudock in January, showed well, accounting for 237 yards and three scores without a turnover in the Hawkeyes’ 31-14 win over Illinois State.
So much new information in such a short time. It makes Week 1 almost worth the long wait.