Thirty quarterbacks have led their team to the College Football Playoff. Some more than once. Two, every time.

Eight of them won a national title — including Stetson Bennett, the only QB to win 2.

Twelve became first-round picks in the NFL Draft. Six won the Heisman Trophy.

So, yes, the 10-year era of the 4-team College Football Playoff has been loaded with elite quarterbacks.

Who are the best of the best? We ranked all 30 based on tangibles and intangibles, breaking ties with the simple question: Title on the line, whose hands do you want the ball in?

Here are the best 30 quarterbacks to start in a College Football Playoff game.

30. Cade McNamara, Michigan

McNamara managed Michigan’s first Playoff run in 2021, but he played so poorly in a semifinal loss that Jim Harbaugh benched him in favor of JJ McCarthy — and the Wolverines haven’t looked back since. McNamara ended up transferring to Iowa.

29. Kelly Bryant, Clemson

Somebody had to replace Clemson legend Deshaun Watson, and Bryant drew the unenviable and thankless task.

He played well enough to get the Tigers back to the Playoff in 2017, but the offensive no-show in a 24-7 semifinal loss to Alabama was all Dabo Swinney needed to see before going all-in on the next Tiger great, Trevor Lawrence in 2018. Bryant eventually transferred to Missouri.

28. Connor Cook, Michigan State

Cook made it to the NFL, which makes him better than 99.99% of quarterbacks on the planet. But against Alabama in the 2015 Playoff semifinal, we began to understand why he didn’t last very long. Cook went 19-for-39 with 0 TDs and 2 interceptions in a 38-0 blowout loss.

27. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Ridder wasn’t terrible in Cincinnati’s 2021 semifinal loss to Alabama, he was … just kind of there. The Tide held him to just 144 yards passing and 0 TD passes — ending his 24-game streak with at least 1. Eighteen times during that streak, Ridder tossed at least 2 TD passes. So, yes, the semifinal was a dud, but he gets credit for leading the first Group of 5 team into the Playoff. Ridder finished that season with 30 TD passes — 1 more than Stetson Bennett.

26. Jake Browning, Washington

Browning’s best season came as a sophomore in 2016, when he threw a career-high 43 TD passes.

He was never the same after facing Alabama in the 2016 Playoff semifinal. He finished 20-for-38 for 150 yards. He managed to throw a TD pass but also threw 2 interceptions, 1 of which Ryan Anderson returned for a pick-6.

25. Max Duggan, TCU

All anybody will remember about Duggan is 65-7 — the score of Georgia’s beatdown in the national title game.

That’s too bad because Duggan was one of the most prolific passers in TCU history. And let’s not forget he did win a Playoff game in 2022. He totaled 4 TDs (2 passing/2 rushing) to lead TCU past Michigan in a Fiesta Bowl semifinal thriller.

24. Ian Book, Notre Dame

Book gets credit for leading the Irish to the Playoff in 2018 and 2020. But the Irish lost both semifinal games by a combined margin of 61-17. Book failed to throw a TD pass in either game and was picked off twice.

23. Jake Fromm, Georgia

How much higher would Fromm be on this list if not for 2nd-and-26? Top 15? Top 10?

Unfortunately, for purposes of this discussion, Fromm wasn’t the reason Georgia outlasted Oklahoma in an epic Rose Bowl semifinal, and he struggled in the 2017 championship game loss to Alabama. His 2nd-half interception — the ensuing play after Georgia forced a turnover — was the turning point in the Tide’s comeback.

Fromm spent 2 more years as Georgia’s quarterback — prompting the transfer of 5-star  passers Jacob Eason and Justin Fields — but couldn’t get Georgia back to the Playoff.

22. Jake Coker, Alabama

Coker did just enough in the passing game to allow Derrick Henry to do everything else.

Give Coker credit for guiding the Tide to the 2015 national championship. That’s a forever achievement.

But let’s also remember that Henry won the Heisman Trophy and broke Herschel Walker’s single-season SEC rushing record, finishing with the new magic number that will never be broken: 2,219.

21. Blake Sims, Alabama

You’re not going to believe this, but Alabama used to be a running football team. Seriously.

Want proof? Sims set single-season program records when he threw for 3,487 yards and 28 TDs in 2014. (Those numbers represent a 9-game stretch for some of the recent Bama QBs.)

Sims not only led Alabama to the Playoff that season, he planted the seeds that the passing game could, indeed, thrive in Tuscaloosa.

20. JT Barrett, Ohio State

Barrett famously didn’t play in the 2014 Playoff, but he was a huge reason the Buckeyes got there. Before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in the regular-season finale against Michigan, Barrett threw 34 TD passes — 10 more than anybody else in the Big Ten. Cardale Jones took over and promptly led the Buckeyes to the national title.

Barrett led OSU to the Playoff again in 2016, but that didn’t go well. He threw 2 interceptions and was vastly outplayed by Clemson star Deshaun Watson in a semifinal blowout.

19. Jalen Milroe, Alabama

Are we projecting a bit? Absolutely, because no matter what Milroe does in the next month, there is every reason to believe he has a chance to join the list of QBs who led their team to the Playoff in back-to-back seasons.

And he’s absolutely dangerous enough to win it all this year, too.

18. Quinn Ewers, Texas

Ewers missed some time in the regular season, which led to modest numbers (3,161 yards, 21 TD passes), but when he has been healthy, he has shown why he received a perfect recruiting score.

Of particular importance, Ewers played his best in the big games this season. He dominated Alabama (349 yards, 3 TDs) to legitimize the “Texas is back” talk and absolutely went off against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship. Ewers threw for 452 yards and 4 TDs in that game — and his performance, compared directly with QB-depleted Florida State, played a huge role in the Longhorns getting into the Playoff.

17. JJ McCarthy, Michigan

McCarthy plays like he graduated from Alabama’s game-manager program, but he’s now 3-for-3 in making the Playoff.

As a freshman, he replaced ineffective starter Cade McNamara in a semifinal loss to Georgia. As a sophomore, he replaced McNamara as Michigan’s starter and led the Wolverines to an undefeated season and No. 2 seed in the Playoff. He threw for 343 yards and 2 TDs — but his 2 pick-6s fueled TCU’s 51-45 upset.

He’s back again this year after beating Ohio State and winning the Big Ten championship for the 2nd consecutive year (the 3rd consecutive year Michigan pulled off the double).

16. Cardale Jones, Ohio State

Forget 1-year wonder. Jones was a 3-game wonder. But he also was the most recent Ohio State quarterback to win a national championship. The fact that he won a Playoff that included 2 Heisman Trophy winners — 2013 winner Jameis Winston and 2014 winner Marcus Mariota — who also were the first 2 picks in the 2015 NFL Draft is one of the greatest “never saw that coming” tales in college football history.

15. Michael Penix, Washington

No, he hasn’t done a thing in a Playoff game, yet. But he enters the 2023 Playoff as the most dangerous QB in the field.

Penix leads the nation in passing yards (4,218) and is 3rd in TD passes (33).

14. CJ Stroud, Ohio State

Would Stroud be in the top 10 of this list had his kicker made the game-winning field goal against Georgia in the 2022 semifinal?

Absolutely. And because he likely would have gone off against TCU in the title game, he could have mounted a Joe Burrow-like case for the top 5.

Alas, Stroud gets credit for doing everything possible to upset Georgia. Not only did he throw for 348 yards and 4 TDs, he drove the Buckeyes into position to attempt a walk-off field goal. All of which capped a season in which he threw for 3,688 yards and 41 TDs.

13. Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

Murray continued what Baker Mayfield started by winning the Heisman in 2018 and leading the Sooners to their 3rd Playoff appearance in 4 seasons.

Once there, Murray posed plenty of problems for Alabama in the semifinal, too. Murray threw for 308 yards and 2 TDs and added a rushing TD in a 45-34 loss.

12. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Mariota won the 2014 Heisman Trophy and blasted FSU (and Jameis Winston) in the 2014 Playoff semifinal — before being routed in the title game by a far more physical Ohio State squad.

(So why haven’t we gotten to Winston yet? Well, he won the Heisman and a natty in 2013 and earned a chance to defend the title in 2014.)

11. Jameis Winston, FSU

OK, so the 2014 season was marred by off-field issues, but Winston still put the Seminoles in position to win back-to-back national titles.

His 2013 season, while just before the Playoff era began, was historic and still counts because, you know, it’s the same quarterback.

Winston left FSU with a Heisman Trophy, a national championship, and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

10. Mac Jones, Alabama

Was he a 1-year wonder? Of course, but what a year it was: 4,500 passing yards, 41 TD passes … and the 2020 national championship.

9. Bryce Young, Alabama

The only quarterback in Alabama history to lift the Heisman Trophy, Young was the starter on the 2021 Tide team that lost to Georgia in the national title game.

Young has a ring, though. He was a backup to Mac Jones on Alabama’s 2020 national title team.

8. Justin Fields, Georgia/Ohio State

You’d be hard-pressed to find another QB with tougher luck than Fields.

The uber-talented 5-star was relegated to backup duty at Georgia, where he became a posterchild for how to waste a 5-star talent … on special teams? Georgia still had success, mind you, but as history has shown, Jake Fromm was not Justin Fields.

Fields found a home at Ohio State and promptly led the Buckeyes to the Playoff semifinal in 2019 and national championship game in 2020. He didn’t just get there, either. In the 2020 semifinal showdown against Trevor Lawrence, Fields threw for 385 yards and 6 TDs to lead the Bucks to the title game against Alabama.

7. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Mayfield someday will become a College Football Hall of Famer.

He’s already a Heisman Trophy winner.

It’s fair to wonder whether he would have won a national championship — or 2 — had the Sooners had any semblance of a defense.

Mayfield led Oklahoma to the Playoff in 2015 and 2017, the season he won the Heisman. Oklahoma bowed out both times in the semifinal.

6. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

Forget Playoff history. Tagovailoa is responsible for the greatest walk-off moment in college football history. His “2nd-and-26” TD strike to DeVonta Smith to beat Georgia in overtime and win the 2017 national title game will be remembered forever. (Just don’t forget that Tagovailoa came off the bench that game, like he did that season, to rescue the Tide.)

Tagovailoa also led Alabama back to the Playoff in 2018, but they were overwhelmed in the title game by a true freshman from Clemson.

5. Jalen Hurts, Alabama/Oklahoma

Hurts reached the Playoff all 4 years. He started in 3 of those years — for 2 different teams. He’s the only QB to do any of that.

He also very nearly became the first true freshman since Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway in 1986 to win a national championship. Never forget: In the 2016 championship game, Hurts’ 30-yard TD run gave Alabama a 31-28 lead over Clemson with just 2:07 left. That’s, of course, when Deshaun Watson authored the signature drive of his illustrious career.

No matter. Hurts led the Tide back to the title game in 2017. Sure, he had some historic help, but he started in the championship game victory over Georgia.

After transferring to Oklahoma, he led the Sooners to the 2019 Playoff semifinals.

4. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

Lawrence led Clemson to the Playoff in all 3 of his seasons — but he made history as a freshman — doing what Hurts couldn’t quite.

Lawrence became the first true freshman since Holieway to win a national title, doing so by leading the Tigers to a 44-16 beatdown of Alabama. Lawrence was unstoppable, too. He threw for 347 yards and 3 TDs — upstaging the older, more celebrated Tagovailoa, who threw 2 costly interceptions, including a tone-setting pick-6.

Lawrence ran into Joe Burrow and LSU’s historic offense in the 2019 championship game before bowing out in a 2020 semifinal against Ohio State — a game in which he threw for 400 yards and 2 TDs.

3. Stetson Bennett, Georgia

Game manager? Please, people. Save the Hollywood scripts for, you know, Hollywood. All Bennett managed to do was lead Georgia to back-to-back national titles — while being named the Offensive MVP both times.

The 2nd time — in 2022 — he also was a Heisman Trophy finalist.

2. Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Watson led Clemson to the 2015 national title game against Alabama and did his part, too. He threw for 405 yards and 4 TDs, and ran for another 73 yards. But he didn’t play defense … and Clemson had no answer for Derrick Henry.

Watson gained revenge, though, in 2016. Again he dominated Alabama in the national title game, and this time throwing for 420 yards and 3 TDs — including the walk-off winner to Hunter Renfrow in the final seconds to cap a 35-31 comeback victory. Watson added a rushing TD as well.

Because he was so singularly unstoppable in both championship games, if you wanted to put him at No. 1, I wouldn’t argue much.

If he had Georgia’s defense, there’s no doubt he’d have 2 rings and probably a Heisman Trophy, too.

1. Joe Burrow, LSU

Other quarterbacks made more Playoff appearances.

Nobody in college football history dominated a season — or a Playoff — like Burrow did in 2019.

The numbers don’t even make sense, but here they are:

In 2 Playoff games, Burrow was 60-for-88 for 956 yards with 12 TDs and 0 interceptions. His 2-game yardage total is a record — by almost 200 yards. His 12 TD passes are 3 more than anybody else.

He holds the single-game Playoff records for yards (493) and passing TDs (7) — both in the semifinal.

He initially set the championship game record with 463 yards and 5 TD passes.

Debate every other spot, but there’s no denying who is No. 1.