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All 18 projected starting quarterbacks in the new-look Big Ten in 2024

With four new teams in the conference this season, how does each program stack up at quarterback?

NCAA Football: Holiday Bowl-Louisville at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten will officially be bigger than ever to start the 2024 college football season, as new members Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington now bring the conference to 18 total teams. While things could still change when the spring transfer portal window opens on April 15, we at least have a pretty good idea — or so we think — of who will be the starting at quarterback for almost every B1G school.

Among those expected to be QB1 in the Big Ten this upcoming season, eight of them have transferred in from other programs this offseason, and seven are returning as starters from a year ago (with four of those seven being former transfers themselves). Below is a quick overview of each school’s expected starting quarterback, listed alphabetically by team.

Illinois - Luke Altmeyer

Luke Altmeyer began his career at Ole Miss, attempting 54 total passes for the Rebels in his first two collegiate seasons over nine games with 317 yards, three touchdowns and three picks. With Jaxson Dart joining the team in 2022, Altmeyer elected to take his talents to Illinois, and where he took over as the Illini’s starting QB last season. The former four-star prospect had an up-and-down year in 2023, throwing for 1,883 yards with 13 TDs and 10 INTs. He also added 282 yards rushing with three scores on the ground.

Indiana - Kurtis Rourke

Spending the first five years of his career at Ohio, Kurtis Rourke had been one of the best quarterbacks in the MAC each of the last two seasons. The 2022 MAC Offensive Player of the Year led the conference in completion percentage in both 2022 and 2023. He suffered an ACL tear at the end of 2022 and missed two games last year with an undisclosed injury, but still started 11 games for the Bobcats in 2023. Across three full seasons as Ohio’s starting quarterback, Rourke threw for 7,265 yards with 47 TDs and 16 INTs. Having started 35 total games for Ohio, Rourke will now play his final year of eligibility at Indiana.

Iowa - Cade McNamara

Cade McNamara played his first three collegiate seasons at Michigan, starting for the Wolverines in 2021 before being unseated by J.J. McCarthy in 2022. As a result, McNamara decided to transfer to Iowa prior to the 2023 season, where he started the first five games of the year for the Hawkeyes before suffering a torn ACL against Michigan State on Sept. 30. Deacon Hill was less than stellar — to put it nicely — replacing McNamara the rest of the way, and so the super-senior should retake the starting role as long as he is healthy in 2024.

Maryland - MJ Morris

The Taulia Tagovailoa era at Maryland has finally come to an end, with Tua’s younger brother having started each of the last four seasons for the Terrapins, amassing over 11,000 yards passing with 77 TDs. In his place will be a newcomer to Mike Locksley’s program in NC State transfer MJ Morris. A rising redshirt sophomore, Morris started seven games and played in nine total in his two years with the Wolfpack, totaling 1,367 yards passing with 14 TDs to six INTs. Morris took over as NC State’s starting QB last season following the team’s 3-2 start, and helped lead the Wolfpack to a 3-1 record before stepping down as the starter to preserve his redshirt.

Michigan - Jayden Denegal/Jadyn Davis

The defending national champions have perhaps the most unsettled quarterback position in the entire conference, and it could get even more murky with Jim Harbaugh leaving to take the Los Angeles Chargers job. While it is expected that Sherrone Moore will take over as Michigan’s new head coach, potentially mitigating an exodus of players via the transfer portal, that has not yet been made official.

Either way, with J.J. McCarthy also gone, the starting job in 2024 likely sits between Jayden Denegal and Jadyn Davis. Denegal, a former three-star prospect in 2022, has attempted just five total passes in his two years with the program. Davis is an incoming high four-star freshman, rated as the No. 7 QB and No. 93 player overall in the 2024 class. Alex Orji saw the field in place of McCarthy in non-garbage time more than anyone last season, but has not attempted a single pass in his two years with the Wolverines while compiling 21 rushing attempts.

Michigan State - Aidan Chiles

Michigan State had a brutal 2023 both on and off the field, but hit a home run in hiring Jonathan Smith away from Oregon State to replace the fired Mel Tucker. In brining in Smith, the Spartans were also able to land former Beaver QB Aidan Chiles — the No. 2 QB in the transfer portal behind only Julian Sayin. Chiles served as the primary backup to DJ Uiagalelei at Oregon State, completing 24-of-35 pass attempts for 309 yards with four TDs and another three scores on the ground. The dual-threat QB was the No. 7 QB and No. 58 overall player in the 2023 class, per 247Sports.

Minnesota - Max Brosmer

With last year’s starter Athan Kaliakmanis transferring to Rutgers — more on him later — P.J. Fleck had to look to the transfer portal to find his next starting quarterback. The search brought him to the FCS ranks, where the Golden Gophers landed on former New Hampshire Wildcat Max Brosmer. A two-star recruit rated in the low 3,000s as a prospect in 2019, Brosmer spent the last two seasons as the starter at New Hampshire, totaling 6,613 yards with 56 TDs to 14 INTs in that span. His 3,449 passing yards this past season led all of FCS. Brosmer will look to turn around a Minnesota offense that ranked No. 123 nationally in passing yards per game in 2023.

Nebraska - Dylan Raiola

Nebraska whiffed in the transfer portal last season when it brought in Jeff Sims from Georgia Tech. Sims was dismal for the Cornhuskers, throwing six picks and only one touchdown over the team’s first five games before getting benched in favor of Heinrich Haarberg, who performed admirably in his place. While Haarberg was able to lead Nebraska to all five of its wins last year, it would be tough to see Matt Rhule not elect to hand the reins over to five-star incoming freshman Dylan Raiola. The former Ohio State and Georgia commit is the No. 3 QB and No. 10 player overall in the 2024 class on the 247Sports Composite.

Northwestern - Brendan Sullivan

Northwestern was supposed to be one of the worst teams in the country in 2024, but instead pulled off a miraculous 8-5 season under now full-time head coach David Braun. With last year’s quarterback in Ben Bryant having exhausted eligibility, the job will now flip over to Brendan Sullivan, who already has experience starting games under Braun. Sullivan started four games for the Wildcats in 2023 when Bryant was banged up, throwing for 653 yards with five TDs and just one INT. Northwestern went 2-2 in those starts, which included a tough 81-yard passing performance for Sullivan against Iowa’s defense in a 10-7 loss. Still, the rising senior has passed for over 1,300 yards over the last two seasons, and has already shown capable of winning games as the starter.

Oregon - Dillon Gabriel

The best quarterback in the Big Ten comes from a Big 12 school and now plays at a program that was formerly in the Pac-12 — you got all that? Dillon Gabriel transferred to Oregon this offseason after spending three years at UCF and the last two seasons at Oklahoma. Gabriel brings with him five years of experience as a starting QB at the collegiate level, passing for over 3,100 yards in every season outside of 2021, when he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury after just three games. This past year, Gabriel finished atop the Big 12 in both passing yards (3,660) and passing touchdowns (30) with only six INTs and a career-high 12 rushing TDs.

Ohio State - Will Howard

Speaking of quarterbacks coming over from the Big 12, Ohio State also found its new starting QB from the conference via the transfer portal in Kansas State’s Will Howard. The former three-star recruit was the No. 7 rated QB in the transfer portal, and comes to Columbus having passed for just under 5,800 yards and rushing for over 900 yards in 34 career games with the Wildcats. After helping lead Kansas State to a Big 12 title in 2022, Howard was banged up throughout parts of 2023, but still managed to throw for 2,643 yards with 24 TDs to 10 INTs while also adding another 19 TDs and 351 yards on the ground. With much better weapons around him at Ohio State, there is reason to think he can excel with the Buckeyes.

Penn State - Drew Allar

There was a ton of hype coming into last season surrounding five-star quarterback prospect Drew Allar at Penn State. Having joined the Nittany Lions as the No. 4 QB and the No. 32 overall player in the 2022 recruiting class, Allar became the starter for James Franklin last season. While the efficiency stats were certainly there for the Ohio native, throwing 25 TDs to only two picks, Allar struggled pushing the ball down the field, averaging just 6.8 yards per attempt. There is reason to think Allar can improve heading into year two as the starter, including what should be a better receiving core with the addition of Julian Fleming.

Purdue - Hudson Card

Ryan Walters got off to a tough start in his first year at the helm at Purdue in 2023, finishing with just a 4-8 record and a 3-6 mark in the Big Ten. The conference isn’t going to get any easier in 2024, but he will have the benefit of a returning starter at quarterback in Hudson Card. Previously at Texas, where he started five games over two seasons and totaled a little over 1,500 yards total in his three years with the Longhorns, Card transferred to Purdue prior to last season. Card put up good-but-not-great numbers with the Boilermakers in year one, passing for 2,387 yards with 15 TDs to eight INTs.

Rutgers - Gavin Wimsatt/Athan Kaliakmanis

Rutgers has one of the most intriguing QB rooms in the Big Ten. Heading into the offseason, it seemed all but assured that Gavin Wimsatt would return as the team’s starting quarterback in 2024. Wimsatt’s numbers were not great, throwing for 1,735 yards with nine TDs and eight picks, but he added nearly 500 yards and 11 TDs on the ground as well. The Scarlet Knights then went on to add Minnesota transfer Athan Kaliakmanis, who also did not have a good year throwing the ball in 2023 (1,838 yards, 14 TDs, 9 INTs) and does not have the run threat of a guy like Wimsatt. The two will likely battle it out for the starting job this spring, with Kaliakmanis having a potential leg-up given his prior connection to Rutgers OC Kirk Ciarrocca from his time with the Gophers.

UCLA - Ethan Garbers

After rotating between three quarterbacks during the 2023 season, one of them is now the clear favorite to start this upcoming campaign. With Dante Moore off to Oregon, Ethan Garbers comes into the year as the probable QB1 for UCLA having helped to lead the Bruins to a 35-22 win over Boise State in the LA Bowl. Garbers came into the game in the second half against the Broncos, completing 9-of-12 passes for 152 yards and two TDs en route to being named the game’s offensive MVP. In total, Garbers finished the season with 1,136 yards with 11 TDs and only three picks.

USC - Miller Moss

Now that the most overrated quarterback in college football is off to the NFL, Lincoln Riley will have a new man under center in 2024. With Caleb Williams entering the NFL Draft and Malachi Nelson transferring to Boise State, Riley elected not to add a QB through the transfer portal, instead deciding to put his faith in Miller Moss. It is easy to see why that is the case, as Moss put on a show in the Trojans’ Holiday Bowl victory over Louisville with six touchdown passes to go along with 372 yards passing and one pick. Moss spent the last two years sitting behind Williams, and is now the frontrunner to star in Riley’s QB-forward offense.

Washington - Will Rogers

It was nearly the shortest pitstop ever for Will Rogers as a Husky, transferring to Washington and appearing on the sideline during the College Football Playoff before re-entering the transfer portal following the departure of Kalen DeBoer. However, Rogers made the decision to withdraw from the portal and return to Washington, where he is now the heir apparent to Michael Penix Jr. — albeit on a much different team than the one led by DeBoer and former offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb. Rogers put up gaudy numbers in Mississippi State’s air raid offense, throwing for over 12,000 yards with 94 TD passes and 28 INTs in his four years with the Bulldogs.

Wisconsin - Tyler Van Dyke

Luke Fickell will be hoping this transfer portal QB works out better than the last one. After adding Tanner Mordecai from SMU prior to last season, this time around Wisconsin is bringing in Tyler Van Dyke from Miami. It had been a largely up-and-down career for the former four-star prospect during his time with the Hurricanes, winning ACC Rookie of the Year in 2021 but getting benched this past season for freshman Emory Williams. Van Dyke would regain his role as the starter after an injury to Williams, and overall finished the year with 2,703 yards passing to go along with 19 TDs but with a career-high 12 INTs. If things don't work out with Van Dyke, the Badgers could instead opt to go with Braedyn Locke, who showed flashes when filling in for an injured Mordecai during the 2023 campaign.