The annual off-the-radar picks for the best college quarterbacks usually involve someone outside the power-five conferences, like Chuckie Keeton at Utah State or Taysom Hill at BYU. (Both quarterbacks, incidentally, are out for the year with injuries. That should detract from much-deserved hype, however.)
But the quarterback who isn't getting the level of national attention he deserves is Washington State's Connor Halliday.
That's not to say that Halliday is an unknown player—he's a redshirt senior with 25 career starts—but he's been overshadowed by counterparts in his own conference.
When pundits talk about the best quarterbacks in the country, the usual names include Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Florida State's Jameis Winston, UCLA's Brett Hundley and Baylor's Bryce Petty. So it's no wonder that Halliday's name comes up less often in that discussion. He's not even considered the top guy in his own league.
It's time for Halliday to at least enter that discussion.
In a 60-59 loss to Cal—more on that later—Halliday broke an NCAA record with 734 passing yards in addition to six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Yes, Washington State's offense relies on the pass almost exclusively. Roughly 75 percent of the Cougars' plays come through the air. Therefore, there's a large degree of truth that Halliday's stats—3,052 yards and 26 touchdowns, and even seven interceptions, through six games—are inflated because of the offense in which he operates.
And yes, Cal's defense is still porous, giving up an average of 40 points per game. All of the passing defenses Halliday has played, in fact, have been bad.
Halliday is going to get the "system quarterback" label, even though every coach ever has put players in positions that play to their strengths and philosophies. Ultimately, though, Halliday has to go out and execute. So far, he's done just that, and he's been visibly sharper than a year ago.
The knocks on Halliday about playing in the Air Raid against weak defenses are just a couple of the things that inherently work against him, yet aren't really in his control.
Let's start with the one thing Halliday at least plays a part in: Washington State's 2-4 record. Wins and losses are team efforts, and Halliday contributes, for better or worse, to a team that doesn't have a winning record.
At the same time, it's hard to pin Saturday's loss to Cal on Halliday, who, as Chantel Jennings of ESPN.com wrote, "did everything he could to get the Cougars the win." Washington State kicker Quentin Breshears missed a 19-yard go-ahead attempt in the final seconds of the game.
“As a quarterback, you always want things in your hands,” Halliday said via Jennifer Chancellor of Cougfan.com. “I wish we would have taken one more shot in the end zone.”
Washington State also typically plays late at night. Four of the Cougars' first six games have started at 10 p.m. ET or later. Three of those games have been on Pac-12 Networks, which not everyone gets.
Put another way, Halliday isn't getting many favors as far as exposure is concerned.
The senior quarterback has been excellent thus far, but for a variety of reasons, he hasn't garnered as many eyeballs as he should.
Football has become a stats-happy sport that focuses heavily on quarterbacks. It's a wonder, then, that Halliday doesn't get more recognition since he perfectly fits the mold of what fans and media want.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. Stats courtesy of ESPN.com.