Quarterbacks: There are a lot of them! Each week throughout the season, we’ll help you keep the game’s most important position in perspective by ranking the SEC starters 1-14 according to highly scientific processes and/or pure gut-level instinct. Previously: Week 1Week 2. … Week 3. … Week 4. … Week 5. … Week 6. … Week 7. … Week 8. … Week 9. … Week 10.

1. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee

Tennessee’s dream season got mugged by reality in a 27-13 loss at Georgia, the most-watched college football game of the season to date and one defined by UGA’s defense reasserting itself as the dominant unit in the sport. Hooker never stood a chance: He was sacked 6 times, picked once, and limited to his worst numbers as a Vol nearly across the board, including Total QBR (60.7) and overall efficiency (113.3). He connected on just 1-of-5 attempts of 20+ yards, and just 2-for-10 on 3rd down.

But then, hey, every other quarterback on his list has had his lows, too, most of them against much lesser outfits than Georgia. For the season, Hooker remains the SEC leader in QBR, efficiency, yards per attempt and total offense. He remains the league’s top contender for the Heisman, trailing only Ohio State’s CJ Stroud in the updated odds with prime stat-padding opportunities ahead against Missouri, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt. And Tennessee remains in very plausible position to crash the Playoff with the right breaks. (Specifically, Georgia winning out through the SEC Championship Game and either TCU or the eventual Pac-12 champ suffering a loss at any point.) If that’s not enough to get Hooker to New York, at least, something has gone very wrong.
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(Last week: 1⬌)

2. Bryce Young, Alabama

Assuming he’s bound for the NFL Draft, Week 10’s 32-31 overtime loss at LSU goes in the books as Young’s last game with a national championship or Heisman Trophy at stake. It was also one of his worst, yielding a career-low 105.6 passer rating on a night he was under constant pressure and visibly out of sync with his slumping wideouts. That could stand in as a description of Young’s 2022 campaign in general: Dramatic, frequently spectacular, and ultimately frustrating.

Forfeiting national relevance in early November hasn’t affected his stock at the next level, but it complicates his Bama legacy a bit. Young may be the most hyped, most gifted, and most decorated QB of the Saban era; even on his worst days, he carried himself like the best player on the field and always put his team in position to win. All 3 of his regular-season losses were decided on literally the last play of the game, with Young watching.

At the same time, he’s about to go out as only the 3rd starter in 16 years to leave without making a significant contribution to a national title win, joining John Parker Wilson (2007-08) and Blake Sims (2014), names rarely invoked alongside Young’s. (He does have a ring from the 2020 season, when he was limited strictly to mop-up duty behind Mac Jones.) Neither Jalen Hurts nor Tua Tagovailoa got all the way there on their own, but their shared claim on the 2017 title lends their tenures a veneer of mission accomplished. Young’s résumé, stellar as it is, will always have that hole. His Heisman sets him apart in Crimson Tide history, but here’s betting he’d trade it in a heartbeat for another chance to climb the last rung.
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(Last week: 2⬌)

3. Stetson Bennett IV, Georgia

Georgia’s win over Tennessee was the ideal Stetson Bennett performance: 10.3 yards per attempt, 3 total touchdowns, zero turnovers, no drama whatsoever. As usual in his best games, the raw stat line obscured his impact: Virtually all of his production came before halftime, at which point the Bulldogs throttled down due to both the scoreboard and the onset of a steady downpour in the fourth quarter. (Bennett was 15-for-21 passing for 226 yards in the first half, and just 2-for-4 for 31 yards in the second.) When he’s on his mark, they’re as versatile and efficient as any offense in America.

In fact, the Dawgs’ conservative reputation in general is probably due for a reassessment. For all the hype over Tennessee’s offense coming into the game, it was Georgia that actually ended the day ranked No. 1 nationally in total offense vs. FBS opponents. If that comes as a surprise — it did to me — it’s probably due to two factors: 1), the Bulldogs are more efficient than explosive, racking up first downs without generating a lot of big plays relative to other top offenses; and 2), their commitment to spreading the ball around prevents any individual player (often including Bennett) from moving the needle statistically.

Georgia fans are used to reading about their “no-name” defense, but the dynamic applies on the other side of the ball, too. Among the SEC leaders in yards from scrimmage this season, only 1 Georgia player ranks in the top 10: RB Kenny McIntosh, at No. 10. If there’s a star of the show, it’s arguably offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who has done the job he was hired to do and then some.

So, are we talking about Bennett as a serious Heisman candidate or what? If he has a case, it’s in the Ken Dorsey/AJ McCarron vein as the long-tenured, even-keeled face of the nation’s No. 1 team — a long shot, frankly, in an era when voters have a lot more information at their disposal than in the days when it was possible to default to the guy who happens to get the most screen time in a couple of big games. With no clear-cut front-runner heading into the home stretch, though, this might be shaping up as a “default” kind of year. Bennett is certainly on the radar with two more shots vs. respectable opponents (Kentucky and Mississippi State) ahead of his closing statement in the SEC Championship Game. The numbers may not jump off the page, but a full month of performances like Saturday’s will command attention.
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(Last week: 4⬆)

4. Jayden Daniels, LSU

Daniels is efficient enough as a passer, but the Tigers control their fate in the West because of his emergence as a runner. Excluding sacks — a significant caveat in Daniels’ case, given that he’s taken more sacks than any other Power 5 passer — his 752 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing would double up LSU’s top running back, Josh Williams, on both counts.

He leads all SEC rushers in gains of 10+ yards (34) and overall yards per carry (7.3), and notably ranks 2nd in yards per carry after contact (4.5), a testament to the fact that he’s not just loping into wide-open spaces when a scrambling lane opens up but actively making would-be tacklers miss.

Now, as far as the SEC championship and a potential Playoff bid are concerned, no quarterback can survive against Georgia’s defense by his legs alone. If they’re going to get past the defending champs in Atlanta, the Tigers will need significantly more downfield pop from Daniels and their blue-chip wideouts than they’ve managed so far. Until a few days ago, though, who in Baton Rouge was even thinking about matching up against the Dawgs? That development owes everything to Daniels settling into his niche as a true dual-threat, and LSU is only going to go as far as his skill set takes them.
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(Last week: 5⬆)

5. KJ Jefferson, Arkansas

Since returning from a concussion in early October, Jefferson has operated at the extremes, following up 2 of the best games of his career against BYU and Auburn with one of the worst in a 21-19 loss to Liberty. Although he finished with 284 yards and 2 touchdowns, the lion’s share of that output came on 2 late, desperate drives in the fourth quarter that nearly but not quite managed to paper over a rocky outing overall. Prior to those possessions, Jefferson was picked twice, sacked 4 times, and hadn’t gotten the Razorbacks any closer to the end zone than the Liberty 26-yard line. This weekend’s upset bid against LSU will depend largely on which version shows up.
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(Last week: 3⬇)

6. Will Rogers, Mississippi State

Rogers filled up the stat sheet as usual in a wild, 39-33 win over Auburn, putting the ball in the air 59 times for 357 yards and 3 touchdowns. Unusually, he was also responsible for 3 turnovers in the process: Two fumbles in the first half, followed by an interception in the second, all occurring in Auburn territory. Even more unusually, none of those giveaways factored into Auburn’s rally from a 24-3 deficit, yielding a grand total of 3 points on the Tigers’ subsequent possessions. That game rarely has much at stake, but it is always weird.
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(Last week: 6⬌)

7. Jaxson Dart, Ole Miss

Dart has flown well under the radar for the quarterback of a top-15 team, a reflection of Ole Miss’ schedule to date and its heavily run-oriented play-calling. Dart struggled in his most high-profile opportunity against LSU, deteriorating in the second half as the Tigers pulled away and exposed his limitations as a straight dropback passer. This weekend’s date against Alabama is an even bigger one: With an upset, the Rebels are only an LSU loss from first place and a clear path to their first division title. But to give them a chance, Dart’s going to have to make some plays outside of the RPO/play-action game.
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(Last week: 7⬌)

8. Anthony Richardson, Florida

Gas up the bandwagon! Coming off an underwhelming October, Richardson delivered his first “unlimited upside” performance in weeks against Texas A&M, accounting for 279 total yards (201 passing, 78 rushing), 4 touchdowns, and zero turnovers in a 41-24 win in College Station.

The viral highlight, as usual, was a breakaway, 60-yard TD run in the first half that featured his electrifying combination of size and speed in the open field — his 4th run of the season of 40+ yards, tied for 4th-most such runs in the country. But the play that had the draftniks humming was Richardson’s second touchdown pass in the third quarter, a 3rd-and-long strike on which he casually eluded two unblocked rushers off the edge (who then crashed into each other like cartoon henchman) and fired a 20-yard rope to his right while drifting off-balance to his left.

Richardson made a very similar play earlier this season against Tennessee, which prior to Saturday was exhibit A of his ability to maneuver the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield and finding an open receiver outside of the structure of the play. Of course, ability has never been the question. Before they convince him he’s ready to make the leap, Billy Napier should be reminding him as often as possible that what really matters is consistency within the structure, and that it’s at least another year away.
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(Last week: 9⬆)

9. Will Levis, Kentucky

Levis remains a tough player to assess: Clearly talented and efficient on one hand, but on a team determined to lean on the defense and running game as hard as possible. Against Missouri, he rebounded from his abysmal Week 9 outing at Tennessee by throwing 3 touchdown passes with no INTs on just 19 attempts, good for a sky-high passer rating as well as a 21-17 final score that was arguably a lot closer than it needed to be.

Kentucky has no desire to open things up it’s unless forced to — at which point it’s probably too late, as demonstrated by the Tennessee debacle — and pro scouts are far more interested in his traits and mechanics than his production. We’ll see if that approach fares any better in the Wildcats’ next big test against Georgia on Nov. 19.
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(Last week: 8⬇)

10. Conner Weigman, Texas A&M

Weigman’s much-anticipated promotion to QB1 hit a glitch last week when he came down with the flu, forcing him to sit out A&M’s loss to Florida. (That’s a freshman immune system for ya.) He’ll be back in the starting lineup this week at Auburn, hype undiminished. Assuming the Aggies still want to be bowl-eligible, they have to win out over their last three games to do it, although the idea of playing in the Mediocrity.com Bowl is a distant priority compared to a) getting Weigman settled in for the long haul, and b) the rare opportunity to spoil LSU’s season on Nov. 26.
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(Last week: 11⬆)

11. Brady Cook, Missouri

Cook had 2 rushing touchdowns in the Tigers’ loss to Kentucky but otherwise failed to move the needle, averaging just 5.5 yards on 26 attempts – the latest in a season’s worth of bland stat lines. There’s real potential at wideout in sophomore Dominic Lovett and 5-star freshman Luther Burden III, who looks like he is who the recruitniks said he was despite limited touches. Without an offseason upgrade behind center, though, they’re both in for frustrating careers, if they bother to stick around.
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(Last week: 10⬇)

12. Spencer Rattler, South Carolina

Rattler turned in his highest-rated outing of the season in Week 10, going 18-for-26 for 200 yards and 3 TDs in a 38-27 win over Vanderbilt. That fits with the general theme of Carolina’s offense, which is that it fares best when the quarterback is asked to do the least. In the past 7 games, Rattler has eclipsed 200 yards passing just once (212 yards vs. FCS South Carolina State) while leading the Gamecocks to a 5-2 record.
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(Last week: 12⬌)

13. Robby Ashford, Auburn

Ashford led Auburn’s comeback at Mississippi State mainly on the ground, running for a season-high 123 yards (excluding sacks) and 2 touchdowns. As a passer, however, he was as inaccurate as ever, finishing a dismal 7-for-22 for 75 yards. If he decides to stay on board under the next coaching staff, a position switch is a very high probability.
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(Last week: 13⬌)

14. AJ Swann, Vanderbilt

Predictably at this point in the season, Swann is struggling to stay upright. The freshman was knocked out of Vandy’s loss to South Carolina for the second consecutive game, and won’t play this weekend against Kentucky. Coach Clark Lea hasn’t elaborated on the injury except to say he expects Swann back for the last 2 games. In the meantime, the pendulum swings back to Mike Wright, the SEC’s most experienced stopgap, who’s due up for his 8th career start. As ever, if Vanderbilt has anything to offer young QBs beyond academics, it’s the chance to get on the field early and often.
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(Last week: 14⬌)