College Football: Top 5 Quarterbacks heading into Week 6
Week 6 of the 2023 College Football season is looming, and so far, the college football world have seen superb quarterback play as teams enter conference play. Premier passers such as USC’s Caleb Williams, Notre Dame’s Sam Hartman and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. are having impressive outings thus far, which quarterbacks make it on the top 5?
5. Shedeur Sanders (Colorado)
Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders has been one of the most impressive players during the season so far. Sanders has transitioned nicely from FCS competition (Jackson State) to FBS at Colorado.
The former Jackson State quarterback and the Buffaloes are coming off two consecutive losses to No. 8 Oregon and No. 9 USC. Against Oregon on the road, Sanders posted pedestrian numbers (159 passing yards and 1 touchdown), but bounced back the following week against the Trojans. The Colorado quarterback tossed for 371 passing yards along with four touchdowns in a 48-41 home loss to Lincoln Riley’s team.
Sanders has been without star two-way player (defensive back/wideout) Travis Hunter for the past two weeks, but Sanders has still shown he can be a prolific passer without Colorado’s second-best player.
4. J.J McCarthy (Michigan)
Michigan quarterback J.J McCarthy and the Wolverines currently sit at 5-0 as they prepare to do battle against Minnesota head coach P.J Fleck and the Golden Gophers this weekend. McCarthy hasn’t posted prolific stats like his counterparts such as Penix Jr., or Williams, but he’s been highly efficient in 2023. The junior Wolverine quarterback currently ranks third in the nation in completion percentage (79%), fifth in passing efficiency (191.64) and ranks first in QBR (94.2), respectively.
McCarthy is going up against a Minnesota defense that ranks third in the country in passes intercepted (8) in week 6, but expect the Wolverines to thrive as they continue their quest to secure their third straight Big 10 championship.
3. Sam Hartman (Notre Dame)
Notre Dame passer Sam Hartman has been everything the Fighting Irish has needed in 2023 thus far. The grad transfer quarterback has tossed for 14 touchdowns with no interceptions, respectively. After a heartbreaking home loss to Ohio State in week 4, Hartman and the Irish had to go on the road to face a red-hot Duke team led by second-year head coach Mike Elko.
Notre Dame was without top pass catchers in junior Jayden Thomas and freshman Jaden Greathouse against Duke in week 5, but Hartman still rallied his team to victory by leaning on junior tight-end Mitchell Evans (134 reception yards, led team). The Fighting Irish trailed the Blue Devils 13-14 with 2:04 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Irish needed to get into at least field goal range.
Hartman and the offense started on their own 3-yard line and proceeded to go on a 10-play, 97-yard drive that was capped off with a 30-yard breakaway run by Notre Dame halfback Audric Estime to put the Irish on top 21-14. During the drive, Hartman was faced with a 4th and 16 with the game in the balance, but Hartman took it upon himself to rush for the first down and successfully converted it with a 17-yard run to keep the game alive.
The former Wake Forest quarterback displayed poise in a hostile environment on the road during the waning minutes of the game. Hartman and the Fighting Irish now look ahead to facing No. 25 Louisville on the road, as the Irish try to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive.
2. Michael Penix Jr. (Washington)
Huskies star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been one of the most abounding pass throwers in college football the past two seasons. Penix Jr. currently leads the nation in total passing yards (1999), tied for second in touchdown passes (16), leads the country in passing yards per game (399.80) and has the Huskies offense ranked first in total offense, respectively.
The Huskies are coming off a competitive road victory against Arizona on the road, a game where Penix Jr. failed to pass for a touchdown. Washington is currently the No. 7 team in the country as they head into their bye-week before facing Bo Nix and the No. 8 Oregon Ducks on Oct. 14.
1. Caleb Williams (USC)
USC star quarterback Caleb Williams comes in as the best quarterback heading into week 6 after passing for 403 yards along with 6 touchdown passes in a 48-41 road victory against Colorado. Williams currently leads the nation in passing touchdowns (21), passing efficiency (217.70) and ranks fifth in QBR (88.5), respectively.
Williams and the offense have been clicking all season, but the Trojans defense has been subpar to say the least. The USC defense gives up an average of 24.20 points per game and 7.05 yards per pass attempt. If Williams can continue to produce prolific numbers and manage to get the Trojans to their first-ever College Football Playoff appearance with a below-average defense, the USC quarterback will likely take home the Heisman trophy once again.
The former Oklahoma quarterback has the potential to make history as only the second player to win back-to-back Hiesman trophies since former Ohio State running back Archie Griffin did back during the 1974-1975 seasons, respectively.