With Part One out of the way, we move on to the top five quarterbacks, and all five teams could be in contention for the conference championship. There are no prizes for guessing who number one is, but the next four on the list should create a little contention. While a solid case could be made for each, and the gap between is slim at best, none have more than a full season under their belt, and only one, JW Walsh, has played more than one year. Feel free to offer any opinions, objections or abuse in the comments section, or find me on Twitter.
5. Davis Webb, Texas Tech
Webb’s freshman season didn’t quite go as planned, losing the starting job in camp to walk-on Baker Mayfield. Mayfield started hot, and Webb only saw limited action until a leg injury put Mayfield out and Webb took over. Webb played just like a freshman should, making some great plays, then struggling on other occasions, but he kept the offense moving. Then came the game against Kansas State. Webb struggled early, and was replaced by Mayfield again, and sat on the bench for the rest of the regular season. Mayfield announced he was transferring at the end of the season, clearing the way for Webb to start against Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl. Coming off a five-game losing streak, the Red Raiders weren’t expected to beat the ranked Sun Devils (#21), but no one told Webb, who gutted ASU to the tune of 403 yards and 4 TDs. This season, Webb has the starting job to himself, and the system to be a star – let’s see what he can do without having to look over his shoulder.
4. Jake Waters, Kansas State(December 27, 2013 – Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)
The former all-everything JUCO quarterback was a good pickup for the Wildcats in 2013, in particular due to the departure of Collin Klein, a Heisman Trophy finalist. While Waters didn’t replicate his Butler CC success, he certainly showed he was good enough to play in the Big 12, passing for 2469 yards and 18 TDs, with 9 interceptions, despite splitting time with Daniel Sams, who was a better runner. After a slow start, Waters/Sams led the Wildcats to a 6-1 finish, including a big bowl win over Michigan in which Waters was dominant. Now, with Sams transferring, Waters has the job to himself, and has taken the weight of team leadership on his shoulders so far this year. With Bill Snyder coaching and some quality talent surrounding Waters on offense, the senior should have K-State in the running for the conference crown in 2014.
3. Trevor Knight, Oklahoma
The hero of the Sugar Bowl has many salivating at his prospects last season after his play against Alabama last season. Despite being a redshirt freshman with just four starts to his name, Knight played like a salty veteran against the Tide, passing for 348 yards and 4 TDs, and giving their pass rushers fits with his mobility in the pocket. As a result of his play (and the Sooners overall talent), many pundits see Oklahoma as a national title contender this season. But wait just a moment. Despite starting 4 games previously, Knight’s bowl passing number almost doubled his stats for the year (819 yards, 9 TDs), and he rarely played at his Sugar bowl level. Don’t take this as negative, but merely cautionary. Bob Stoops knows his way around quarterbacks, and Knight did look outstanding on the big stage. Let’s see if he can sustain it over the course of a year.
2. JW Walsh, Oklahoma State(November 16, 2012 – Source: Brett Deering/Getty Images North America)
The “old man” of the conference, with a whole two seasons under his belt, Walsh is a talented dual-threat who is capable of making big plays on the ground and through the air. Despite his obvious ability, Walsh has failed to finish both of his seasons. While competition has been stiff at OSU with Wes Lunt and Clint Chelf on board, Walsh has had the opportunity to take control, yet hasn’t. He can hardly be blamed for 2012, when a “season-ending” knee injury cut short his campaign. Despite being written off for the year, Walsh did come back for some duty towards the end of the season. In 2013, after taking over from Chelf in week two, he was inconsistent after a hot start, and was benched midway through the year, hardly playing again. Now Walsh has the job to himself, but the senior has to show he can be consistent making the “regular” plays, as well as the big plays. He has the talent, he has the experience, but can he keep the Cowboys high-octane offense rolling in 2014?
1. Bryce Petty, Baylor
There are few slam dunks in college football, but only the most zealous of fans would argue against Petty being the top quarterback in the Big 12, at least at this stage in the year. After sitting behind Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence in his first two years, Petty was finally unleashed upon the conference by coach Art Briles. With three years in the system, and some excellent mentors to learn from, the junior tore up the Big 12 en route to an 11-2 record and a Big 12 championship. Petty passed for 4200 yards and 32 TDs on just 403 attempts, throwing a mere 3 interceptions along the way. While he was no RGIII, opponents needed to keep an eye on his scrambling, particularly near the goalline, as he added 209 yards and another 14 TDs. Petty didn’t get a Heisman invitation last season, which was a surprise to many. If he repeats, or exceeds, last season’s production, try and keep him out of New York in December.