The Big Ten loses a lot of talented running backs in 2009, but it does have a lot of returning talent at the quarterback position. Many of the QBs on this list were very young in 08, or took over the reigns under center at mid-season. Therefore, the quarterback position, in the Big Ten, should be much improved in '09.
5. Adam Weber
2008 Stats: 255-410 2,761 Yards 62.2% 15 TDs - 8 Ints 126.93 Rating
Weber was intrumental in leading the Gophers to their 7-1 start in 2008. Weber showed that he can look like an All-Big Ten QB against inferior competition, but on the same hand, he looked incredibly average down the stretch when the Gophers finished 0-5. Weber had a 4-4 touchdown to interception ratio in the Gophers last four games. Weber should steadily improve and will be greatly helped out by the return of all-Big Ten WR Erik Decker.
Stanzi was the exact opposite of Weber in 2008. When Ricky first took over the job, he was a turnover machine. At times he looked lost in the offense, as if the game was going too fast. However, he really started to show what he was capable of down the stretch. Stanzi came into his own during a last minute drive against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium. I look for Stanzi to have a big year, and expand the Hawkeye's offensive attack more as they won't have Shonn Greene to lean on. You could make an arguement that, given Stanzi's progressive growth, that any of the top four on this list could be number one by seasons end.
As mentioned, Stanzi needs to show steady improvement to keep the Hawkeye offense in top shape. Terrelle Pryor faces similar circumstances. The Buckeyes will be without Beanie Wells and their two top receivers in Robiskie and Hartline. Pryor will need to use his legs and show improvement in his passing game in order for OSU to be successful. There is no doubt that Pryor has a whole world of potential, and if he can begin to tap into that, he like Stanzi could be number one by seasons end.
Clark had a breakout year in 2008. But, the question still remains of whether or not he can perform in the 'big game'. Penn State's game-winning drive against Ohio State was contrived by the now transferred Pat Devlin. In Penn State's only regular season loss, Clark had a horrible game against Iowa (9-23, 86 Yards, 0 TDs- 1 Int) and didn't do enough in their Rose Bowl loss to USC (2 TDs - 2 Ints). Not to mention Clark loses his top three receivers in Deion Butler, Derrick Williams, and Jordan Norwood. Penn State's defense should be solid, as always, in 2009. But, a lot will be dependent on how Clark can lead the Penn State offense with a new crop of receivers.
Juice gets the number one preseason slot strictly based off of experience having thrown for over 6,405 career yards and 48 TDs. Illinois faced a very disappointing season in 08 after a promising year in 2007. While the defense loses some stars, they should have a reliable running back in Jason Ford. And, more importantly, Arrelious Benn returns to the Fighting Illini. Benn is the most talented receiver in the Big Ten heading into 2009. And, with Juice's physical skills and experience as a senior, both should put up gaudy numbers. Now, whether that transfers into wins on the field is up to Ron Zook. (Don't hold your breath)
I'll be back tommorow with my wide receiver rankings!