Ranking the Pac-12's starting QBs: Could Herbert, Costello, or Tate win the Heisman?
Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

Since Oregon reached the national championship game in 2014, the Pac-12 has earned one College Football Playoff berth in four years - and when Washington reached the semifinals in 2016, the Huskies scored seven points in a loss to Alabama.

Throw in the late-night kickoff times (though Pac-12 After Dark is one of college football's dearest traditions) and it makes sense that the conference has begun to drift out of the wider discussion about national championship contenders.

Still, the Pac-12 has a chance to rebound in 2019 because of its quarterbacks. The conference could be loaded at the game's most important position.

theScore continues its ranking of every starting quarterback in a Power 5 conference by looking at the Pac-12.

Christian Petersen / Getty Images

12. California - Chase Garbers

A returning starter like Chase Garbers wouldn't rank last in the SEC or the ACC. But most Pac-12 schools have experience at quarterback and the programs that don't have intriguing prospects.

The 6-foot-2 sophomore manned the position for a Cal team that won seven games a year ago. While Garbers completed 61.2 percent of his passes, his 5.8 yards per attempt ranked outside the top 100 nationally and 11th among 11 qualified Pac-12 quarterbacks. Only four of his 159 completions went for 30-plus yards as the Golden Bears averaged 21.5 points per game and often relied on their defense.

Still, Garbers was a freshman, so there's reason to believe he'll improve on his 14-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He's also a strong addition to the run game, having put up 420 yards last year.

Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

11. Arizona State - Jayden Daniels

Herm Edwards will lean on four-star true freshman Jayden Daniels, the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class.

An early enrollee, Daniels had a terrific high school career at Cajon in San Bernardino, California. As a senior, he threw for 4,515 yards and 60 touchdowns. He's low on this list because of his youth, but his ceiling is as high as any.

Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

10. Washington State - Anthony Gordon or Gage Gubrud

Mike Leach is among the coaches who have yet to officially name a starter, though it was widely assumed Eastern Washington transfer Gage Gubrud would win the job after throwing for nearly 10,000 yards at his previous school.

But Anthony Gordon, Gardner Minshew's backup a year ago, could start when the Cougars open against New Mexico State. The senior has thrown five passes in three years at Washington State.

Dustin Bradford / Getty Images

9. Oregon State - Jake Luton or Tristan Gebbia

Oregon State is just 9-39 in four seasons since Mike Riley left for Nebraska. With a difficult schedule, the Beavers aren't projected to be much better in 2019. However, they do have some promise at the quarterback position.

Incumbent Jake Luton played well in five starts last season, throwing 10 touchdowns to four interceptions and completing 62.5 percent of his throws. The 6-foot-7 senior has the edge in experience, but coach Jonathan Smith hasn't named him the starter for the season opener against Oklahoma State.

His competition comes in the form of - what else - a transfer. Sophomore Tristan Gebbia sat out last season after arriving from Nebraska. He has yet to play in a college game but was a four-star recruit out of Calabasas (California) High School.

Brett Deering / Getty Images

8. UCLA - Dorian Thompson-Robinson

Chip Kelly enters his second season in Los Angeles with a talented quarterback coming off a mistake-prone freshman season.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson's progress is among the more intriguing storylines in the Pac-12. The 6-foot-1 sophomore started seven games last season, throwing for 1,311 yards and seven touchdowns. In three of those seven starts, he completed under 50 percent of his passes.

The schedule isn't easy for him or the Bruins in 2019, as they begin the year with three nonconference games against teams that reached bowls (Cincinnati, San Diego State, and Oklahoma).

Christian Petersen / Getty Images

7. Colorado - Steven Montez

If you feel like Steven Montez has been at Colorado for a long time, you're not wrong. His 27 career starts rank second to Justin Herbert among starting quarterbacks in the Pac-12.

Montez threw for 2,849 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. Like his team, though, his performance tailed off. He threw 11 touchdowns and three interceptions as Colorado started 5-0, but he had eight touchdowns and nine interceptions as the Buffaloes ended the year with seven consecutive losses. This year, his experience should help provide a starting point for new coach Mel Tucker.

John McCoy / Getty Images

6. USC - JT Daniels

JT Daniels maintained his hold on the starting job through an open competition in camp. Will the former five-star recruit blossom as a sophomore with new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell?

As a freshman, Daniels completed 59.5 percent of his throws and posted an erratic 14-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He did lead the conference in completions of 40-plus yards (13), however, and he threw for 300-plus yards against Texas, UCLA, and Notre Dame.

Harrell helped mold Mason Fine into one of the country's best small-school quarterbacks at North Texas. If he can develop Daniels, USC could find itself back in the upper echelon of the conference.

Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

5. Washington - Jacob Eason or Jake Haener

Jacob Eason appears to have all the tools. A five-star recruit from Lake Stevens, Washington, he began his career at Georgia and started 12 games as a true freshman.

An injury allowed Jake Fromm to supplant him with the Bulldogs, so Eason came home to Washington. He and sophomore Jake Haener are vying to be Jake Browning's replacement.

Eason threw 16 touchdowns and completed 55.1 percent of his passes in his season at Georgia. Haener, a California native, completed 9 of 13 throws as Browning's backup in 2018.

Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

4. Utah - Tyler Huntley

If Utah meets expectations and wins the Pac-12 South, Tyler Huntley's ability to stay healthy will be part of the reason.

As a junior, Huntley completed 64.1 percent of his passes and averaged 7.6 yards per attempt. He broke his collarbone at Arizona State on Nov. 3, ending his season.

Before the injury, Huntley took care of the football, throwing only six interceptions, and ran for more than 300 yards. He now leads a Utes offense with seven returning starters, including top receiving target Britain Covey.

Christian Petersen / Getty Images

3. Arizona - Khalil Tate

We saw a different Khalil Tate in 2018.

After rushing for 1,411 yards (and throwing for 1,591) in a 2017 campaign that earned him Heisman votes, Tate ran for just 224 yards in his first year with Kevin Sumlin as Arizona coach.

If the 6-foot-2 senior stays healthy in 2019 and is able to find room to run, he and the Wildcats could bounce back from a 5-7 campaign. Tate did throw 26 touchdown passes last season and finished second in the Pac-12 with 8.4 yards per attempt.

Abbie Parr / Getty Images

2. Stanford - K.J. Costello

Based on 2018 alone, K.J. Costello might deserve to be first on this list.

He broke out in his second season as the starter, throwing for 3,540 yards and 29 touchdowns. Costello led the conference in yards per attempt (8.6) and quarterback rating (154.97) and finished second in completion percentage (65.1) and touchdowns (29).

The 6-foot-5 senior faces the challenge of leading an inexperienced offense in 2019 - the Cardinal returns just four offensive starters. But Stanford does have the luxury of playing Oregon and Washington at home.

Steve Dykes / Getty Images

1. Oregon - Justin Herbert

Oregon might be the Pac-12's best hope to produce a College Football Playoff team in 2019. Justin Herbert is reason No. 1.

A potential first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Herbert is hoping to repeat his 2017 performance, when he completed 67.5 percent of his throws. His percentage dropped to 59.4 last year, though he still threw 29 touchdown passes.

The Ducks return 10 starters on offense, so Herbert is surrounded by experienced playmakers. He'll have a chance to make a statement Aug. 31 against Auburn.

Ranking the Pac-12's starting QBs: Could Herbert, Costello, or Tate win the Heisman?
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!
Daily Newsletter
Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox