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Top 15 College Football Quarterback Matchups to Watch in 2015

Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State Spartans

Michael Vick was first. Then Vince Young.

Then it was Tebow, RG3, Johnny Football and Super Mariota.

The super quarterback is a relatively new phenomenon in college football that changed the way game is played forever.

With new rules and new offensive innovation, the quarterback has become even more important — and it was already the most important position on the field.

Despite some major names leaving for the NFL, the 2015 season is loaded with elite QB matchups that could decide championships. Here are the best quarterback matchups to look forward to in ’15:

Note: This is based on pure athletic talent, raw entertainment value and potential gravity of the situation.

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1. Connor Cook at Cardale Jones

Michigan State at Ohio State (Nov. 21)

Two potential first-round NFL draft picks will likely go head-to-head for the division, conference and potential national championship in the penultimate weekend of the year. Jones hasn’t taken a snap against a Spartans defense while Cook has topped 300 yards in two meetings with the Buckeyes.

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2. Dak Prescott at Jeremy Johnson

Mississippi State at Auburn (Sept. 26)

Prescott is a Heisman candidate whose resume speaks for itself. Johnson is poised to explode onto the national scene in Gus Malzahn’s offense. With these two meeting in September, both should be unbeaten and ranked in the top 15. Both defenses will be better later, so this early-season matchup should provide plenty of chances for both signal-callers to make plays.

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3. Christian Hackenberg at Connor Cook

Penn State at Michigan State (Nov. 28)

Hackenberg could be the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft or at least the first quarterback taken. He doesn’t have the support of the rest of the names on this list but his talent speaks for itself. Cook is a star in his own right who will spend his final season at MSU proving his first-round grade is accurate.

Related: Don't hate on the Big Ten for satellite camps

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4. Cody Kessler at Mike Bercovici

USC at Arizona State (Sept. 26)

The de facto Pac-12 South championship game should feature the best two quarterbacks in the division and possibly the conference. This game was a scorcher last year that featured a successful Hail Mary, 510 yards and five touchdowns from the big-armed Bercovici. Kessler is a preseason All-American and has elite weaponry around him this fall. Buckle up, folks.

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5. Cody Kessler at Jared Goff

USC at Cal (Oct. 31)

The first- and second-team All-Pac-12 quarterbacks meet on Halloween in the Bay Area this fall. While Cal isn’t going to contend, the aerial shootout between these two should be plenty entertaining. These are the top two most efficient returning passers in the Pac-12 after a combined 74 passing touchdowns and only 12 interceptions a year ago.

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6. Brad Kaaya at Deshaun Watson

Miami at Clemson (Oct. 24)

These are two really special talents. Watson and Kaaya proved as freshmen last year that they belong among the nation’s best. Kaaya posted 3,198 and 26 touchdowns while Watson delivered 19 total touchdowns and two interceptions in just eight games. These two sophomores could take the ACC to a different level at the position.

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7. Christian Hackenberg at Cardale Jones

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Penn State at Ohio State (Oct. 17)

Both Jones and Hackenberg could be first-round picks and no one at either school will forget the epic battle between these two programs a year ago. Ohio State’s toughest test all year outside of Virginia Tech was Penn State. That said, the Bucks will be a heavy favorite at home.

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8. Seth Russell at Trevone Boykin

Baylor at TCU (Nov. 27)

Russell is a first-time starter but there is no reason to think he won’t be electric in Art Briles’ system. He threw for 801 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception in backup duty last fall. In what could be the biggest game of the year in any league — one that featured 119 points and over 1,200 yards of offense last season — these two should put on a show.

Related: Big 12 could easily get two teams into the Playoff

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9. Dak Prescott at Kyle Allen

Mississippi State at Texas A&M (Oct. 3)

Allen proved in the second half of the 2014 season that his five-star recruiting hype was warranted. He is now the clear starter in an offense loaded with elite playmakers and great schemes. Both defenses should allow for plenty of space for both to operate early in October.

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10. Jeremy Johnson at Kyle Allen

Texas A&M at Auburn (Nov. 7)

These two guys are more projections than others on this list but few rivalries have been more entertaining over the last three seasons. Both Johnson and Allen are dripping with elite upside and both play in elite offensive systems. There is no reason TAMU-Auburn IV won’t be another high-scoring affair.

Related: SEC win total projections for 2015

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11. Mike Bercovici at Jared Goff

Arizona State at Cal (Nov. 28)

USC's Cody Kessler gets the nod as the first-team All-Pac-12 signal-caller but Bercovici and Goff are hot on his tracks. Goff has blossomed into a potential superstar and Bercovici posted over 1,200 yards in three starts last fall. If the game held more importance, it would be higher on this list.

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12. Cody Kessler at Vernon Adams

USC at Oregon (Nov. 21)

Oregon isn’t bringing in Adams from Eastern Washington to sit on the bench. So the question isn’t if he’ll start but it will be how good is he? He threw for over 10,000 yards, rushed for over 1,200, and accounted for 121 total touchdowns in three seasons on the FCS level. If he comes close to that, both his big-time matchups will outperform this ranking. This is a Pac-12 title game preview.

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13. Trevone Boykin at Mason Rudolph

TCU at Oklahoma State (Nov. 7)

The first- and second-team All-Big 12 preseason quarterbacks will battle in Stillwater to begin November. Rudolph has the makings of a star and Boykin is already one. TCU won’t have many hurdles to clear this fall but a road trip to Oklahoma State might be one of the biggest of the year for Gary Patterson’s bunch.

Related: Don't listen to Nick Saban, the Bowl System is fine

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14. Vernon Adams at Connor Cook

Oregon at Michigan State (Sept. 12)

As explained earlier, projecting Adams is difficult but he has the keys to a Rolls Royce offense and should be the guy taking snaps. Going into East Lansing and winning is much more difficult a task. Cook put on a show in a loss in Eugene last year and should be extra motivated in Week 2 at home.

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15. Gunner Kiel at Taysom Hill

Cincinnati at BYU (Oct. 17)

It doesn’t feature a Power 5 team and it isn’t a conference game, but the fireworks will be on full display when the Bearcats visit the Cougars. Hill was scorching the earth before being lost for the season with a broken leg early in the year last fall. Kiel has blossomed into the five-star prospect he was supposed to become after 3,254 yards and 31 touchdowns as a sophomore.

 

Road QB

Team

Home QB

Team

Date

16.

Anu Solomon

Cody Kessler

Nov. 7

17.

Justin Thomas

Deshaun Watson

Oct. 10

18.

Mike Bercovici

Kyle Allen

Sept. 5

19.

Justin Thomas

Brad Kaaya

Nov. 21

20.

Taysom Hill

Chuckie Keeton

Nov. 28

21.

Seth Russell

Mason Rudolph

Nov. 21

22.

Everett Golson

Deshaun Watson

Nov. 7

23.

Anu Solomon

Mike Bercovici

Nov. 21

24.

Dak Prescott

Maty Mauk

Nov. 5

25.

Brad Kaaya

Everett Golson

Oct. 10

26.

Cody Kessler

Malik Zaire

Oct. 17

27.

Deshaun Watson

Jacoby Brissett

Oct. 31

28.

Vernon Adams

Mike Bercovici

Oct. 29

29.

Malik Zaire

Deshaun Watson

Oct. 3

30.

Jared Goff

Vernon Adams

Nov. 7

31.

Joshua Dobbs

Maty Mauk

Nov. 21

32.

Keenan Reynolds

Malik Zaire

Oct. 10

33.

Taysom Hill

Maty Mauk

Nov. 14

34.

Brandon Doughty

Driphus Jackson

Oct. 3

35.

Everett Golson

Justin Thomas

Oct. 24