Welcome to the Elite Tier, Quinn Ewers. After knocking off Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, does the Texas Longhorns signal-caller have enough on his resume to take the No. 1 spot here, though?
Our weekly iteration of our 2023 Big 12 QB Rankings is here, taking a look at where they stack up through the first three weeks of the season.
2023 Big 12 QB Rankings
As with all of our conference rankings and our national quarterback evaluations, the Big 12 QB rankings below consider everything involved with quarterbacking at the major college football level.
While statistics will be mentioned, they were not the lone deciding factor in ranking the athletes. The list below prefers programs with a solidified quarterback situation and one signal-caller who plays significant snaps against top-tier competition. Two-quarterback systems will always be looked down upon, especially in those cases where an answer has not yet been provided for the long term.
Other factors in these rankings include but are not limited to game film, injury history, play-calling, offensive system knowledge and continuity, general quarterbacking mechanics, level of competition, the elevation of supporting casts, and several other influential factors.
Tier 1: Elite Big 12 QBs
1) Dillon Gabriel | Oklahoma
Last Week’s Ranking: 1st (no change)
It was over in the first half for the Oklahoma Sooners against Tulsa, and to be honest, maybe even before they stepped on the field. After Washington picked apart the Tulsa secondary, Oklahoma had a good roadmap of how to do such a thing as well.
From the confines of home, Dillon Gabriel dotted the field brilliantly against the Golden Hurricane, proving once again that he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. Gabriel was a magician over the middle of the field, finding his receivers at every level and throwing them open or perfectly in stride.
He made a few errors under pressure, but we’ll chalk those up to trusting his arm too much in a not-so-closely contested game.
2) Quinn Ewers | Texas
Last Week’s Ranking: 2nd (no change)
With the run game moving the ball all too well, Quinn Ewers didn’t have to do much against Wyoming. The Cowboys secondary is no joke, and Ewers didn’t have his finest performance, yet it didn’t matter. Ewers still threw for two scores and did a great job of picking his shots when necessary.
We know what Ewers is at his best and though Week 3 wasn’t his pinnacle, he’s absolutely one of the two best QBs in the Big 12.
Tier 2: Well-Above-Average Big 12 QBs
3) Jalon Daniels | Kansas
Last Week’s Ranking: 4th (+1)
We welcomed Jalon Daniels back to the party last week against Illinois and he once again didn’t disappoint in Week 3 against Nevada. The Wolf Pack kept it closer than Kansas fans would have wanted but Daniels still showcased why he’s so highly regarded.
Completing nearly 80% of his throws for just under 300 yards will do that for a quarterback, especially when that same QB is putting up those numbers from a clean pocket on standard dropbacks. Daniels is dynamic but the growth he’s shown from throwing inside the structure through two weeks is inspiring.
4) Kedon Slovis | BYU
Last Week’s Ranking: 5th (+1)
When the Cougars needed a big play, it was Kedon Slovis who treated. It wasn’t his best performance overall, but in hostile SEC country, Slovis delivered. So did Chase Roberts, but we’re not here to discuss Roberts’ ridiculous one-handed, OBJ-esque touchdown grab in the back of the end zone.
Or maybe we are? You know who immaculately placed that pass for Roberts to snare it out of the air with one hand? Kedon Slovis.
Slovis came up big in the clutch and made amends for early mistakes against Arkansas. Going up against Daniels, who sits right above him on this list, Slovis will have to limit mistakes and make more of those ‘wow’ throws BYU fans have come to expect out of him.
5) Will Howard | Kansas State
Last Week’s Ranking: 3rd (-2)
Kansas State was bested by an SEC foe and a huge leg when Harrison Mevis blasted a 61-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. Will Howard didn’t have his best game but he certainly wasn’t the culprit for the loss.
Throwing for 270 yards and a trio of scores, Howard did a good job of pushing the offense down the field and keeping them on schedule through most of the game. His decision-making was clear and sharp, the offense will need to get better as a whole if they want to repeat in the Big 12, however.
Tier 3: Above-Average Big 12 QBs
6) Emory Jones | Cincinnati
Last Week’s Ranking: 7th (+1)
It was an ugly game from an offensive standpoint in the battle for the Victory Bell. Cincinnati let their in-state rivals take home the Bell in the end and Emory Jones’ two interceptions did no help in retaining it in the Queen City.
Jones struggled to make reads downfield and was too reliant upon his legs in Week 3. That will have to improve and he’ll have to see the field better if they want to compete in the Big 12 this fall.
7) John Rhys Plumlee, Timmy McClain | UCF
Last Week’s Ranking: 6th (-1)
The debut of Timmy McClain in place of the injured John Rhys Plumlee looked good on paper and even better on film. Yes, it was against Villanova, but there were plenty of translatable attributes that McClain put forth that gives hope for UCF while they’re without Plumlee.
McClain spotted his receivers outside the numbers well, pushing the ball to the boundary with ease. He was solid with his decisions and short of some ball security issues on the ground, McClain played a pretty flawless game against a team you’d hope he would do such a thing.
Tier 4: Average Big 12 QBs
8) Chandler Morris | TCU
Last Week’s Ranking: 10th (+2)
A big-armed Chandler Morris came up big against Houston for TCU in Week 3. While last week’s game against Nicholls was never going to be a needle-mover, this performance against now-Big-12 foe Houston certainly is.
Morris tested the waters deep and was terrific when doing so. He spotted his receivers quickly and did a great job of manufacturing throwing lanes to reach his receivers downfield. Morris didn’t force it anywhere, he played with what the defense gave him.
It was a good sign of things to come for TCU as they continue to gel together.
9) Tyler Shough, Behren Morton | Texas Tech
Last Week’s Ranking: 11th (+2)
We’re putting Behren Morton on here because we had him ranked as the Texas Tech starting quarterback in the preseason. Against Tarleton State, he showcased why, as he was great in relief of Tyler Shough. Morton is the needle-mover for us in these Big 12 QB Rankings.
Shough, though, certainly appears to be the starter moving forward as he’ll start against West Virginia, even though he struggled against Tarleton. He hasn’t had his best season despite a close-fought loss to Oregon, and Shough could use a rebound performance to buoy his spirits and keep Morton from taking his place.
10) Donovan Smith | Houston
Last Week’s Ranking: 8th (-2)
The Donovan Smith Experience is coming full circle for Houston this season. He wasn’t terrible against TCU but he certainly wasn’t at his best. Smith wasn’t accurate to hardly any level of the field and wilted against pressure.
The worst part is, he was under pressure a decent amount and in critical situations. When the Houston offense needed something from him, Smith failed to deliver.
Tier 5: Work-To-Be-Done Big 12 QBs
11) Sawyer Robertson | Baylor
Last Week’s Ranking: 9th (-2)
Baylor has got to figure out what they’re going to do at quarterback because this is too talented a roster to waste in Big 12 play. Credit to Sawyer Robertson for continuing to battle through it at quarterback but he’s far off from where Blake Shapen is, and that’s not too much higher in these rankings.
Robertson was not at his best against LIU and couldn’t hit an open receiver to save his job or give hope of things to come until Shapen returns. Does Robertson even get the start against rival Texas in Week 4?
12) Nicco Marchiol, Garrett Greene | West Virginia
Last Week’s Ranking: 13th (+1)
The Backyard Brawl is always fun to watch. Nicco Marchiol thought he would be watching but was thrust into action after Garrett Greene went out.
The game plan on offense changed when Marchiol entered the lineup and Pittsburgh looked stunned as such. Marchiol attempted just nine passes and threw a touchdown, but it’s clear the plan was never to let him unleash the ball with his arm.
They better figure out what they’re doing at quarterback quickly in Morgantown.
13) Rocco Becht | Iowa State
Last Week’s Ranking: 12th (-1)
It wasn’t all that bad for Rocco Becht against Ohio. In fact, he made some ‘wow’ throws, including his touchdown over the middle of the field that he layered beautifully and put it in a place where only Jayden Higgins could make the grab.
It was his overall game management and flow that stymied the Cyclones against MAC foe Ohio. Becht has to do a better job of sensing pressure, not trusting his arm too much, and living to play another down for Iowa State to contend in any games moving forward.
14) Alan Bowman, Garret Rangel, Gunnar Gundy | Oklahoma State
Last Week’s Ranking: 12th (-2)
We were hesitant to move up the quarterback situation for Oklahoma State last week despite knocking off Pac-12 foe Arizona State. Here’s what we said:
Somehow, this idea works for Mike Gundy and Co. in Stillwater, though using a three-QB system once the rigors of Big 12 play hits seems unlikely. We’ve still got plenty of questions for this quarterback situation, but until they lose a game, it’s certainly not been an issue as their roster has overperformed expectations already.
Well, they didn’t even hit Big 12 play before the issues reared their ugly heads and they’ve lost a game in convincing fashion, drawing criticism around the quarterback situation. And rightfully so.
Each quarterback played once again against South Alabama in a game that saw the Cowboys completely overwhelmed and kicked in the mouth. Alan Bowman got the start, Garret Rangel and Gunnar Gundy each played their allotted drives. And it wasn’t good.
Together, they completed fewer than 50% of their passes and could never get into a rhythm. As we said in Week 2, this team is going to have to ride the hot hand and not try to change these three out as Big 12 play is here. Otherwise, it’s going to get ugly.