This analysis of the Pac-12 Conference's quarterbacks will probably look much different leading into Week 4 than it would have in the preseason.
Prior to the start of actual play, all we had to go on was hype. In fact, with some schools like Oregon, UCLA and Washington State, we didn't even know who the QB would be until shortly before the first game.
But now, we have results and statistics through the first three weeks of on-the-field performance, mostly in non-conference tuneups.
Who are the Pac-12's best QBs, so far, early in this long season?
The results—analyzed from bottom to top—may surprise you. To avoid any appearance of homerism, we've used ESPN's official Quarterback Rating Leaders statistics. The quarterback's national rating is noted after his name and school.
Kansas transfer Jordan Webb won the starting QB job over Texas transfer Connor Wood in August after roughly 10 practices, surprising almost everyone connected to the Buffs' program.
After a dismal start this season (0-3) with plenty of blame to go around, Webb was replaced by Wood at the start of the second half at Fresno State after a blowout first half. Wood didn't fare much better and was himself replaced by Nick Hirschman.
Truthfully, with all the problems on this team, it probably wouldn't matter if Ben Roethlisberger was the QB.
Webb will start this week at Washington State, as the Buffs open Pac-12 play.
Please stop shouting at me; I know Sean Mannion's ranking isn't fair because the Beavers have only played one game.
After their opener with Nicholls State got wiped out by Hurricane Isaac, and because their bye came in Week 3, Oregon State has some catching up to do.
In the Wisconsin game, Mannion was 29-of-47 for 276 yards and one TD. Entering Saturday's game at UCLA, Mannion's passing percentage is a very respectable 61.7.
Mannion will eventually catch up and move smartly up the charts.
When you get to the end of this article, you will discover that there are 13 QBs listed, not 12. How can that be when there are only 12 teams in the Conference?
Washington State has started two different quarterbacks—Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday. Both QBs have cracked the top 120 in ESPN's rating, so they are represented here.
Tuel got the start at the beginning of the season over Halliday in a close competition during fall camp and has been efficient. But, the oft-injured Tuel got injured again, reportedly (via Bud Withers of The Seattle Times) a knee—Washington State does not disclose injury information, so we don't know much beyond that—and backup QB Halliday got the starting call last weekend against UNLV.
The Cougs beat UNLV, and as you will see later on, Halliday performed well in relief of Tuel. Will we see Tuel or Halliday this week in Wazzu's conference opener?
Who knows? No one in the Palouse is talking, including the Pirate.
It's safe to say that Keith Price's performance, so far, for the Washington Huskies is disappointing.
But, if you'd been sacked eight times in three games, you might not have fabulous stats either. Price is 56-of-90 for 560 yards, but he only has four TDs against one interception.
Not bad, but nothing to write home about either.
Josh (yes, I know I'm not Andrew Luck) Nunes noses out Keith Price. Who would have called that one just a mere three weeks ago?
Nunes is 47-of-88 for 615 yards to date. He has six touchdowns but a nasty three interceptions on the year, two of which occurred last Saturday.
But, the kid just beat the No. 2 team in the entire nation, and he has boldly stepped into the shoes of an icon, so give him a break.
One would expect Nunes to be newly loaded with confidence as his team travels north on Sept. 27, to take on the aforementioned Price and his pack of dawgs.
Jon Hays took over after Utes starter Jordan Wynn suffered yet another season-ending shoulder injury and retired from his collegiate career.
In two games, Hays is 30-of-53 for 350 yards. He has three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Being thrust so suddenly into the starting role usually takes its toll, but Hays has responded admirably in a tough situation. He will only improve as the season progresses, and he gets comfortable with his position.
To Jordan Wynn we say: Thank you for your contribution to this sport we all love and best wishes for your health and life success.
Talk about your successful coming-out party. Connor (The Redhead) Halliday threw for 378 yards and four touchdowns Saturday in the win at UNLV.
One of his passes was an 81-yard TD beauty to Marquess Wilson. All four touchdown passes came in the first half. Halliday did throw two interceptions.
It's only one game, but Halliday's numbers put him on the chart and in the conversation.
It's your call, Mike Leach. Don't you just love quarterback controversies?
Cal's starting QB Zach Maynard had one of his best games Saturday at Ohio State, going 26-of-37 for 280 yards and one touchdown. He also scored a rushing TD and had one interception.
In three games on the year, Maynard is 60-of-90 for 754 yards, with a healthy completion percentage of 66.7. This despite being sacked nine times in 2012.
For comparison, Landry Jones of Oklahoma (who gets way too much press) is currently ranked 55 nationally, with a 62.5 completion percentage and 474 yards in two games.
I'd rather have Maynard on my team.
What? You thought Barkley would be first?
Make that No. 46 in the nation and fifth in the Pac-12 Conference. To say that Matt Barkley has struggled, so far, in his senior campaign is to be kind.
Barkley is 66-of-109 with 813 yards and 10 touchdowns, which sounds pretty good. However, the painful part is that he's thrown three interceptions and has been sacked a whopping six times. Heisman Trophy candidates are not supposed to throw interceptions, and they should be able to avoid the ground.
Anyone who watched the USC vs. Stanford game last Saturday knows that Barkley's stats are not entirely his fault. He is a victim of a fairly pathetic O-line. But, he also can be statue-like on occasion and appears to not be able to move his feet.
And, as his coach told us so elegantly, Barkley does, on occasion, make bad decisions.
This could get ugly, folks.
Who would have guessed that Barkley's cross-town rival Brett Hundley of UCLA would have better stats at this point in the season?
The redshirt freshman is 69-of-103 for 827 yards and eight touchdowns and has his team at 3-0—can you believe it?
However, there are some signs of trouble. Hundley has thrown three interceptions, and he's been sacked eight times. But with a 67.0 completion rate, the freshman is getting the job done. Hundley also has 119 yards rushing with one TD.
Is Hundley a fluke, or is he really that accomplished? One might ask the same thing about the Bruins.
Brett Hundley is barely ahead of another Pac-12 Conference starting quarterback—Arizona's Matt Scott.
The "Cats" head coach Rich Rodriguez has said that Scott is still a work in progress, according to Zack Rosenblatt of Arizona Daily Wildcat. "Matt's still learning, he's only three games into playing the new system. There's still some things he can get better at."
I'll bet that if you told Rodriguez in August that senior Matt Scott would be the Pac-12's third-ranked quarterback heading into Week 4, he would have taken it. Through three games, Scott has 995 yards passing with a 71.5 completion rate and has 190 yards rushing.
Do you think Scott is happy with the coaching change at Arizona?
Perhaps, even more surprising than Matt Barkley sitting in fifth place is Taylor Kelly of ASU sitting in second.
Even though Sparky's Gang fell to Missouri 24-20 on Saturday, redshirt sophomore Kelly performed well. He is a mobile, dual-threat QB who has surprised a lot of people.
Kelly is 47-of-65 for 674 yards with three touchdown passes and two interceptions. His pass completion percentage is 72.3. Kelly also has 128 yards rushing for the Sun Devils, who are 2-1 in non-conference play.
Are you convinced that Taylor Kelly and Arizona State are for real?
Redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota has come out of the blocks like his hair is on fire.
Locked in a tough, tough battle with presumed starter Bryan Bennett, Mariota first drew gasps of disbelief at his stellar play in Oregon's spring game. Filing out of Autzen Stadium that day, all one heard was "how can a freshman be that good?"
In three starts, Mariota is 58-of-77 for 674 yards. That computes to a gaudy 75.3 completion rate. For those of you who aren't so good at arithmetic, that means that Mariota is completing more than three out of every four passes he attempts. And, honestly, even his incompletions have looked pretty good.
Mariota has eight touchdown passes and didn't throw an interception until the third game; he has one interception on the year. Also a dual-threat QB, Mariota has 108 yards rushing.
Maybe much of Mariota's amazing performance is because of the quality of competition in the Ducks' non-conference schedule. Opening conference play Saturday against Arizona and Rich Rodriguez' high-flying 'Cats will tell us more.
But, if you talk to anyone who has seen Mariota play, they will all tell you the same thing: This freshman is the real deal, and he's not going away.
The season is only three weeks old, and conference play is just getting underway. But, there is no denying that this list of quarterback ratings is surprising.
We will revisit this topic as the year goes along, and it will be fun to see how the Pac-12 Conference's QBs develop.
In a conference famous for great quarterbacks through the decades, how will the 2012 group stack up?
Follow Kay Jennings on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KayJenningsPDX.