An early look at the each Big Ten team's 2016 quarterback situation

Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett should be among the Heisman Trophy favorites heading into next season. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Five of the top nine Big Ten quarterbacks in passing yards per game will be gone in 2016, which means a new crop of signal-callers will have the opportunity to shine. There are plenty of familiar faces, too, from J.T. Barrett to C.J. Beathard to Tommy Armstrong Jr., among others.

Here's a look at the leading candidate(s) to start for each conference program:

Illinois: Returning for his senior season, Wes Lunt will have a chance to be one of the top quarterbacks in the Big Ten. He ranked fourth in the league in passing yards per game (230.1) and threw 14 touchdowns passes and six interceptions this season. Head coach Bill Cubit has raved about Lunt's improved football IQ since transferring from Oklahoma State after the 2012 season.

Indiana: Zander Diamont has been the Hoosiers' backup to Nate Sudfeld the past two years and appeared in two games in 2015. Danny Cameron also played, albeit briefly. But the wild card in the QB race appears to be junior college transfer Richard Lagow, who will arrive in time for spring practice. He was on the roster at UConn and Oklahoma State before playing at Cisco (Texas) Junior College and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Iowa: C.J. Beathard will be a fifth-year senior who has been through it all. He threw for 2,809 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions last season. After leading the Hawkeyes to the brink of the College Football Playoff, he'll be an unquestioned leader and among the best QBs in the Big Ten.

Maryland: The Terrapins' quarterbacks were historically bad, throwing 29 interceptions in 2015, or one every 13.4 passes. Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe combined for 28 of those picks, and both will be back in 2016. Maryland fans hope four-star recruit Dwayne Haskins stays committed to the school, arrives this summer and wins the starting job as a true freshman.

Michigan: One of the more hectic competitions could come in Ann Arbor because no one has earned the starting spot to replace Jake Rudock. Houston transfer John O'Korn has the most starting experience. He threw for 3,117 yards with 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a freshman for the Cougars in 2013. Junior-to-be Wilton Speight appeared in seven games this season in a backup role. Shane Morris, Alex Malzone and even incoming freshman Brandon Peters could be in the mix.

Michigan State: Connor Cook and his 34 career wins are gone. The story this offseason will be about the impending QB battle between Tyler O'Connor and Damion Terry. Both were instrumental in helping MSU beat Ohio State when Cook sat out with a sprained shoulder. O'Connor appears to have the slight edge at this stage, but both will have their chances in the coming months.

Minnesota: Surgery on his left foot will limit Mitch Leidner for the next four months, but the starting quarterback job will be his in his senior year. Leidner started all 13 games and was the MVP of the Quick Lane Bowl. Demry Croft and Seth Green will battle for backup spots.

Nebraska: Tommy Armstrong Jr. made it known in an Instagram post that he wants a fresh start in his senior season. He'll need to cut down on interceptions -- he threw 16 this season, the second-most in the country. But he's got the arm and ability to do that. His bowl performance against UCLA was a step in the right direction.

Northwestern: The Wildcats' offense averaged the fewest points in the league but still won 10 games this season. Considering quarterback Clayton Thorson was just a redshirt freshman, there's plenty of upside. Thorson threw seven touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also ran for 397 yard and five touchdowns. With Justin Jackson at tailback, Thorson will have a great safety valve.

Ohio State: J.T. Barrett is back, so the Buckeyes will have some stability at quarterback. Barrett threw for 992 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions this season. He added 682 yards on the ground with 11 scores and will be the team's leading returning rusher. With Cardale Jones off to the NFL, Urban Meyer shouldn't have to worry about splitting game reps, and Barrett will be a Heisman Trophy favorite entering the season.

Penn State: Trace McSorley's performance in the TaxSlayer Bowl provided optimism for the future as the Nittany Lions adjust to life after Christian Hackenberg. McSorley replaced an injured Hackenberg against Georgia and passed for 147 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. True freshman Tommy Stevens and incoming freshman Jake Zembiec will have a tough time catching McSorley in the QB race.

Purdue: David Blough performed admirably, particularly for a redshirt freshman in the Big Ten. He threw for 1,574 yards with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions in eight starts. With Austin Appleby exploring transfer options, the job should belong to Blough alone. Purdue will have a new quarterbacks coach, and the Boilermakers need to have a better season in Year 4 under head coach Darrell Hazell.

Rutgers: First-year Scarlet Knights coach Chris Ash will have to decide whether he wants Chris Laviano or Hayden Rettig to be the team's starting quarterback. Laviano was the choice under previous coach Kyle Flood and completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 2,247 yards with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Rettig, an LSU transfer, appeared in five games and threw two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Wisconsin: After waiting four seasons for his shot, fifth-year senior Bart Houston will finally earn the opportunity to take over for Joel Stave. Houston completed 27-of-47 passes for 281 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in 2015. He also helped Wisconsin beat Illinois after Stave suffered a head injury. He is a pro-style QB who should perfectly fit coach Paul Chryst's system.