Week 1 of the college football season was all over the place. From FCS upsets to Alabama rolling, college football did not disappoint. We saw quality team efforts and elite individual performances, including UCLA’s big win over LSU. We’ll dive into the top college football players of the week and look at a team that stifled the opposition.
College Football Week 1 Top Performers: Non-running backs
Teams like Penn State and UCLA came up big but didn’t have a single player stand out as much as these guys. Only one team deserved to be in this group.
It’s not just one, but many college football players of the week. Thanks mainly to this group, Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei never got comfortable. The Tigers’ replacement for Trevor Lawrence constantly felt pressured and looked anxious when dropping back to pass. Georgia used that to start its push for the College Football Playoff.
Georgia’s defense produced 8 tackles for loss and 7 sacks on their way to a 10-3 win over the Tigers. Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean each accounted for 2 tackles for loss and a combined 3 sacks. Christopher Smith made the difference, picking off an Uiagalelei pass and returning it for a touchdown.
Tanner Mordecai, QB, SMU
It shouldn’t be a surprise to see Mordecai thriving this early with the Mustangs. The Oklahoma transfer completed 24 of his 30 passes for 317 yards and a career-high 7 touchdowns. The Mustangs made quick work of Abilene Christian with a 56-9 win, and it gave us a glimpse of what will come in the 2021 season.
Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky
Arguably the most deserving of one of the top college football players of the week, Zappe put on a show for Western Kentucky. The Houston Baptist transfer threw for 424 yards and 7 touchdowns in his Hilltoppers’ debut, and his performance gave validity to those who believe this team can win the conference.
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Another Alabama Heisman candidate? Get used to it. Young’s going to be a college football player of the week frequently. He threw for 344 yards for the Tide, a school record for passing yards in a debut. He showed great poise and made many off-platform throws, and Alabama’s offense overwhelmed the Hurricanes early and often.
Young came into the season with a ton of hype, and he’s lived up to it so far. There are some decisions he’ll need to clean up, but overall, Young looked incredible in his first start. Even with new receivers and a new running back, Alabama’s offense didn’t skip a beat.
Amare Barno, DE, Virginia Tech
In one of the most shocking results of Week 1, Virginia Tech took down the 10th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. The Hokies’ offense didn’t exactly dominate, but their defense took control of the game thanks to the leadership of their top defender.
Barno finished the game with 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, making life for North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell miserable. Virginia Tech’s defensive pressure forced 3 Howell interceptions and 2 fumbles, and Barno was constantly near Howell when the plays ended.
Week 1 Top Performers: Running backs
If you ran the football for your team, there’s a good chance you were one of the college football players of the week.
D’Vonte Price, RB, FIU
Price gets the honor of being one of the college football players of the week because he was efficient. The Panthers RB only carried the ball 5 times against LIU, but he made the most of his touches. LIU didn’t have an answer for Price, who rushed for 165 yards and 3 touchdowns. For you math wizards, that’s 33 yards per carry! According to my calculations, that is pretty good.
Mataeo Durant, RB, Duke
It was a nice consolation prize for Durant after his team was upset by the Charlotte 49ers this week. Duke’s running back finished with 255 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. That’s about all of the positivity that came out of the loss for the Blue Devils, and life won’t get much easier from this point forward.
Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
Some experts questioned why Walker transferred from Wake Forest to Michigan State, but it’s becoming clear that it was the right choice. The Spartans were looking to bounce back from a tough 2020 season, and they did so on the legs of their new running back. Walker rushed 23 times for 264 yards and 4 touchdowns.
DeAndre Torrey, RB, North Texas
Dominating an FCS team is expected for teams at the FBS level, but that doesn’t always happen (ask Washington, UNLV, and Vanderbilt). North Texas avoided an upset by taking care of business thanks to Torrey’s 244 yards and 3 touchdowns. Two years removed from nearly a 1,000-yard season, Torrey started his 2021 campaign strong for the Mean Green rushing attack.
Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota
At times, Ibrahim was the only option working for the Gophers’ offense. Minnesota’s bell-cow RB made several tough runs for minimal yardage, but many of them produced critical first downs. He also produced double-digit broken tackles in Minnesota’s loss to Ohio State, finishing with 163 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Minnesota hopes they can get him back this year, as he went down with a scary injury in the third quarter. If that was it for Ibrahim, he went out on a good note. Ohio State’s talented defense didn’t have an answer for him, and they knew exactly what was coming. That’s an honor for the best players in the country and a big reason why Ibrahim was one of the top college football players of the week.