Pac-12 returning quarterback rankings: Marcus Mariota or Brett Hundley?

Ezra Shaw

Ten Pac-12 quarterbacks are back this season.

1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon Ducks: When he is healthy, he is probably the best quarterback in college football. Oregon was an unstoppable machine the first two months of last season. The mere threat of Mariota taking off and running forced most teams into difficult defensive positions, and then Mariota's arm did the rest.

2. Brett Hundley, UCLA Bruins: Mariota and Hundley are so close it's hard to really discern who should go number one on this list. Both are very similar in how they affect their teams--if either is out for an extended period of time it's hard to imagine their teams surviving the accompanying offensive plunge.

The only thing that might make you consider Hundley over Mariota is the fact that Hundley seems to be the more durable quarterback. When Mariota went down there was a clear downtick in the way Oregon's offense operated. But Hundley does seem to have the occasional off game. He will have to improve his game-by-game play to become the Heisman candidate everyone thinks he's capable of being.

3. Sean Mannion, Oregon St. Beavers: In terms of best pure passers in the Pac-12, it's hard to go wrong with Mannion. He made the Beavers a very difficult team to beat last year and nearly sprung upsets on the two best teams in the conference. Biggest question: How much damage can he do without Brandin Cooks?

4. Taylor Kelly, Arizona St. Sun Devils: The most underrated quarterback in the Pac-12, Kelly has worked himself into the best of the rest. Kelly is an accurate passer, he can run quite well and he gets his team into the end zone. He struggles a bit on the road but in general figures to be a pain in the butt his final two seasons in the Pac-12.

5. Kevin Hogan, Stanford Cardinal: Yeah, I get the whole winning thing. But let's face it, you could plug pretty much any of the quarterbacks above Hogan into Stanford's offense and they'd still probably win the same amount of games and perhaps avoid the occasional puzzling upset. Still, Hogan has two Pac-12 championships, a distinction that every other quarterback on this list is two short of claiming.

6. Cody Kessler, USC Trojans: Kessler struggled for much of 2013, but he's starting to round into form as another solid USC signal-caller. During the last half of 2013 he put up a number of impressive performances, and in general was not the reason for Trojan offensive struggles. Kessler figures to be another workhorse.

7. Connor Halliday, Washington St. Cougars: Halliday has to throw a lot, and he definitely provided in the right way by getting his team some much needed touchdowns. The big issue with Halliday is the interceptions, which he threw way too many of last season and helped the Cougars blow some winnable contests.

8. Jared Goff, California Golden Bears: Your conference is doing pretty well if Jared Goff is in the lower half of the top 10. Goff threw the most passes of any of these quarterbacks last season (as a true freshman no less) and was the constant mainstay of a terrible, terrible football team.

9. Travis Wilson, Utah Utes: There are a lot of question marks surrounding Wilson next season with regards to his health and ability to really lead a winning Pac-12 offense. But he's still a load of an athlete and a difficult cover for any defense.

10. Sefo Liufau, Colorado Buffaloes: Liufau still has a lot to work on before he can work himself into the upper tier. Much of that has to do with the nature of talent he's surrounded with; outside of Paul Richardson, there was not much talent he had to work with last season.

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