Big Ten West
7. Illinois Fighting Illini
AJ Bush wasn’t miserable – running for 733 yards and eight scores, and throwing for 1,413 yards and six scores, but with ten picks – but he’s replaceable. MJ Rivers is a 6-4, 215-pounder with good mobility and decent skills, but he has to quickly grow into the job.
Isaiah Williams might be the star recruit who could jump right in and find a role right away, but Matt Robinson and Coran Taylor are the most likely options to fight for the No. 2 job.
Current Projected Starter: MJ Rivers, Soph.
– 2019 Illinois Schedule Analysis
6. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Sophomore Tanner Morgan turned into the bowl-winning starter, but fellow sophomore Zack Annexstad was the starter early on. Both are limited, neither one is special, but they’re both back with enough experience to be solid.
Jacob Clark is that good. The four-star recruit from Texas has 6-4, 210-pound size and the upside to take over the job right away. But for now, it’ll be a coin-flip for the No. 1 stop going into the fall, but Morgan will be the one to beat out.
Current Projected Starter: Tanner Morgan, Soph.
– 2019 Minnesota Schedule Analysis
5. Northwestern Wildcats
Hunter Johnson, time to be that star you could’ve been at Clemson.
One of the nation’s top recruits a few years ago, he didn’t get his shot when Kelly Bryant stepped up, and then was pushed out of the mix when that Trevor Lawrence guy came in.
TJ Green was the main backup last season, Aidan Smith is a decent option for the mix, and Jason Whittaker and Andrew Marty are big passers who fit the mold.
But this needs to be Johnson’s gig. It’s rare that Northwestern has a player at this five-star level – he’s got the skills to be even better than Clayton Thorson.
Current Projected Starter: Hunter Johnson, Soph.
– 2019 Northwestern Schedule Analysis
4. Purdue Boilermakers
Okay, Elijah Sindelar – it’s your world now.
David Blough is gone after throwing for 3,705 yards and 25 touchdowns, but Sindelar has the talent and skills to be even better – if he can keep the picks to a minimum.
Jack Plummer was last year’s solid recruit – he’s the likely No. 2 – and Nick Sipe will get his chances. Jeff Brohm brought in Paul Piferi to groom for the future. But for now, it appears to be Sindelar or bust.
Current Projected Starter: Elijah Sindelar, Sr.
– 2019 Purdue Schedule Analysis
3. Iowa Hawkeyes
Nate Stanley doesn’t have his star tight ends – TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant – to work with anymore, but he’s good enough to make everyone else around him better.
He completed 59% of his passes for 2,852 yards and 26 touchdowns with ten picks, and now he’s back for his third year as the starter. Sophomore Peyton Mansell was the No. 2 guy last season, but he’ll have to fight 6-5, 225-pound redshirt freshman Spencer Petras for the job. Alex Padilla was signed on, but he’ll redshirt.
Current Projected Starter: Nate Stanley, Sr.
– 2019 Iowa Schedule Analysis
2. Nebraska Cornhuskers
The Huskers have the guy for the next three years. Adrian Martinez grew into more and more of a superstar-looking franchise-maker for Scott Frost – hitting 65% of his passes for 2,617 yards and 17 touchdowns and eight picks, and running for 629 yards and eight scores – and the depth is solid.
Junior Andrew Bunch might consider his transfer options, and sophomore Noah Vedral has enough skill to step in if needed. Luke McCaffrey – from those McCaffreys – is coming in from the recruiting class, but he’s expected to redshirt.
Current Projected Starter: Adrian Martinez, Soph.
– 2019 Nebraska Schedule Analysis
1. Wisconsin Badgers
Alex Hornibrook needs to be fully back and healthy after suffering threw concussion issues late last season. The only positive out of his problems was the time logged in by Jack Coan, who came up with a good-enough performance to beat Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Hornibrook was just okay before getting hurt, completing 60% of his passes for 1,532 yards and 13 scores with 11 picks. Coan was inconsistent, but he hit 60% of his throw for 515 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions.
Danny Vanden Boom is a promising sophomore who has seen a little bit of time, but star recruit Graham Mertz is the main man for the near future.
Current Projected Starter: Alex Hornibrook, Sr.
– 2019 Wisconsin Schedule Analysis