College Football QB Power Rankings: Ranking all 130 starting quarterbacks for 2021

PFN’s inaugural College Football QB Power Rankings analyzes every team’s starting quarterback situation. Who is the best for the 2021 season?

Somehow, we’re already at the tail-end of the 2021 college football season. The year has flown by, and we’re left each week with one incredible weekend of action after another. With a few weeks of the regular season left before the postseason begins, we take one last look at our in-season College Football QB Power Rankings.

Dissecting every starting quarterback situation doesn’t get any easier as the FBS season goes on. Instead, some situations become murkier, and injuries, unfortunately, take precedent. Still, we count down all 130 teams from No. 130 to No. 1 after analyzing each team’s quarterback depth chart and play on the field through the first 12 weeks of action.

College Football QB Power Rankings criteria

After Week 11 closed, we dove headfirst into the data and film on all 130 starting quarterbacks at the FBS level. Like our rankings from Week 5, we developed a high-quality ranking system for each program’s situation.

Statistics will be mentioned, but they were not the only deciding factor in ranking a player or team. This list prefers programs with one quarterback having done significant work against top-notch competition. It also dings schools for not figuring out a two-quarterback system by now.

A quarterback’s game film factored into these rankings, as did injuries during games, play-calling, level of competition, and general QB mechanics. It’s important to note that this list is not a projection towards a player’s NFL capabilities. Rather, it is a list of how each signal-caller has fared in college this season based on the skills they’ve shown.

*Editor’s note — if you’d like to jump around the rankings: 100-115, 85-99, 70-84, 56-69, 41-55, 21-40, 1-20

College Football QB Power Rankings for 2021 | 116-130

PFN’s FBS starting quarterback rankings, from No. 130 all the way down to No. 1. Which QBs have risen since our last update, and who has fallen?

130) Steven Krajewski, Jack Zergiotis | UConn

Week 5 ranking: 129 (-1)

The Huskies are going to start fresh in 2022. They’ll have a new head coach in Jim Mora Jr. and may even be headed down to the FCS level in the near future if things don’t start to turn around. It’s certainly a tough situation to be the quarterback for a team with very little in place around him, so it’s hard to blame Steven Krajewski or Jack Zergiotis for much.

There’s next to no time in the pocket for them to make clean throws. The run game put up negative yardage against Clemson in Week 11. It’s a mess on offense right now, and UConn’s lone points in the Clemson game came on a botched kick return that went for a score. Krajewski has thrown 9 touchdowns but has 9 interceptions. Meanwhile, Zergiotis has eclipsed 2,000 passing yards but has 12 touchdowns against 14 picks this year.

129) Brady Olson | UMass

Week 5 ranking: 130 (+1)

Brady Olson could be the future for the Minutemen, but as they embark on life post-Walt Bell, nothing should be set in stone for UMass. The Minutemen lost to FCS Maine in Week 11 as Olson completed just 14 of 30 passes for 113 yards. On the season, he has now completed less than 50% of his throws and has 7 touchdowns to 7 interceptions.

Olson does have some strength in his arm and UMass’ only win in two years under his belt, so there is something to grow on — potentially.

128) D’Wan Mathis, Justin Lynch | Temple

Week 5 ranking: 117 (-11)

The Temple offense has scored in the single-digits in four of their last five outings. D’Wan Mathis has subsequently been removed from the starting lineup in favor of Lynch, but neither has fared all too well this season. They’ve combined for just 9 touchdowns through 10 games, and despite trying, neither has really added anything with their legs.

The offensive play has been poor, and it’s started with the signal-callers. Mathis has accuracy issues, while Lynch is too quick to tuck his eyes and run. It may only get worse before it gets any better for the Owls at quarterback.

127) DJ Uiagalelei | Clemson

Week 5 ranking: 113 (-14)

It’s clear that the arm talent is there for DJ Uiagalelei. But it’s also abundantly clear that he is far from the quarterback head coach Dabo Swinney thought he had sitting behind Trevor Lawrence. Uiagalelei completed less than 50% of his throws against UConn in Week 11, managing 241 yards and just 1 touchdown with 1 interception.

For the season, Uiagalelei has only 1,752 passing yards in 10 games while averaging 5.7 yards per pass attempt. He’s got a lot of growing to do, but it seems like he’ll have an incredibly long leash to do so. Until he cleans up his ability under pressure and his down-for-down accuracy to every level of the field, he’ll remain low on our FBS QB Rankings.

126) Will Plummer | Arizona

Week 5 ranking: 129 (+3)

The Wildcats are playing better football over the past three games than they have all season. Still, they’re 1-2 in those outings, and their lone win of the year came on the back of their defensive prowess in a 10-3 victory over Cal. Will Plummer has been shaken up at times in 2021 and has completed just over 50% of his throws. He’s recorded only 3 passing TDs compared to 7 INTs.

Showing off his athleticism against Utah, Plummer added a 43-yard touchdown run early, but that was largely his lone highlight. He may be the answer over the other options head coach Jedd Fisch has trotted out there, but Plummer will certainly need some more help to win some games in 2022.

125) Jake Lange, Frank Gore Jr. | Southern Miss

Week 5 ranking: 119 (-6)

Originally listed with Ty Keyes on our QB rankings, the Golden Eagles have lost eight straight and have scored just 96 points in that span. In fact, they’ve only scored more than 19 points one time this season, and that was to Grambling State in Week 2. Southern Miss has had four different quarterbacks take meaningful snaps this season, and that doesn’t even include Week 11’s starter: RB Frank Gore Jr.

Collectively, their quarterbacks have completed just 54.5% of their throws for under 1,500 yards and have 9 passing touchdowns against 14 interceptions in 2021. Gore Jr. gave UTSA a game, running a Wildcat offense in Week 11. He threw the ball just 3 times for 33 yards but ran it 20 times for 123 yards and a score. Clearly, Southern Miss has to figure something out as they’re likely to finish this season on a 10-game losing streak.

124) Kyle Vantrease, Matt Myers | Buffalo

Week 5 ranking: 84 (-40)

Kyle Vantrease has been a different quarterback since MAC conference play hit. The Bulls have just one commanding FBS-level victory this year (over the hapless Akron Zips), and without fail, that’s where Vantrease’s best game came. In fact, he was even removed from the lineup in Buffalo’s loss to Miami (OH) this past week.

For the season, Vantrease has completed just 61.5% of his passes and has thrown for only 1,861 yards. Additionally, he’s thrown a career-high 6 interceptions this season. Matt Myers has fared a bit better, but he’s mainly seen action in games that have gotten out of hand. The Bulls are certainly not where they thought they would be in Year 1 of the Maurice Linguist era. As of right now, they’re on the outside looking in at a bowl game.

123) Ken Seals, Mike Wright | Vanderbilt

Week 5 ranking: 116 (-7)

Ken Seals may be near the top of Vandy’s record books for most 300-yard passing games, but if the Kentucky game was any indicator, his backup may give the Commodores a better chance to win games. Seals was completely ineffective against Kentucky, throwing for just 5.1 yards per attempt with an interception.

The situation became murky for head coach Clark Lea when Mike Wright energized Vanderbilt, throwing 2 touchdowns on 7-of-11 passing. Wright actually started close contests against Missouri and South Carolina, but he was replaced when Seals returned. For the year, Wright has 7 TDs in three starts compared to Seals’ 5 in seven starts. Wright gives this team a better chance to win.

122) Jason Brown, Luke Doty, Zeb Noland | South Carolina

Week 5 ranking: 120 (-2)

Jason Brown and the Gamecocks’ bid for bowl eligibility came up short, as their defense couldn’t get over the last hurdle. Brown won the first start of his South Carolina career when the Gamecocks knocked off Florida in Week 10, but he followed that up with a sluggish performance against Missouri.

Brown, however, has given South Carolina fans hope after they cycled through Zeb Noland to start the year, Luke Doty’s insertion, Noland replacing Doty, and ultimately Brown. In defeating Florida two weeks prior, the Gamecocks need just one win to become bowl-eligible in head coach Shane Beamer’s first year.

In his last two starts, Brown has completed 30 of 54 passes for 368 yards and 4 touchdowns. The former St. Francis QB can become a hero if South Carolina can salvage a bowl game against two formidable foes to close the year (Auburn, Clemson).

121) Jack Tuttle, Donaven McCulley, Michael Penix Jr. | Indiana

Week 5 ranking: 76 (-45)

Whatever luster the Indiana quarterbacks had, they’re probably happy it’s basketball season in Bloomington. Three quarterbacks have played significant time this season for Indiana, and each has been as ineffective as the other. Add in the fact that head coach Tom Allen played a fourth quarterback — Grant Gremel — against Rutgers in Week 11, and things don’t appear to be getting any better.

The Hoosiers have dropped six straight games, and Michael Penix Jr. remains the team’s passing leader despite not seeing action since October 2. For the year, Penix threw for 939 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions in five games. Jack Tuttle has battled injuries and left the game against Rutgers, while Donaven McCulley is completing just 42.6% of his throws. Something’s got to give for Indiana, but it appears this year is a lost cause as they sit at 2-8.

120) Xavier Arline, Tai Lavatai | Navy

Week 5 ranking: 126 (+6)

It’s been an ugly season for the Midshipmen, pretty much on all fronts. The offense has really only performed up to standards in one game — vs. UCF — as they’ve scored single-digits in three different outings this season. Tai Lavatai has started the majority of games, while Xavier Arline has two starts. Neither has fared very well as a rusher, but Lavatai has flashed as a passer at times.

Now, of course, saying he flashed as a passer in the Navy offense is a nice way of saying he completed a couple of deep shots. Lavatai has completed just 21 of his 40 attempts. Arline is likely the man going forward, however, as Lavatai suffered an injury against Notre Dame in Week 10. Navy’s out of a bowl game and out of the AAC — the only thing they can hope for is a victory over Army to close the year. Arline or Lavatai will have to play better.

119) Andrew Marty, Ryan Hilinski | Northwestern

Week 5 ranking: 121 (+2)

Calling it offensive production from the Wildcats is almost absurd at this rate. Their signal-callers combined to throw 4 interceptions against Wisconsin in Week 11 and have now thrown 7 picks over their past two games. Ryan Hilinski has thrown 2 INTs while posting three contests with a sub-50% completion percentage.

Andrew Marty has started the last two games for Northwestern but was relieved in Week 11 after tossing 3 interceptions of his own. He now has thrown 6 picks over his past two outings and has passed for just 370 yards and 1 touchdown in two starts this year. Northwestern’s offense continues to flail with the current regime and quarterbacks.

118) Noah Vedral, Rutgers

Week 5 ranking: 103 (-15)

The Scarlet Knights are a game away from bowl eligibility, but it’s hard to say Noah Vedral has really led them to many victories. He’s played decent football at times, but it comes against inferior foes. They’ve won just two games over their past seven outings and have put forth paltry efforts against stout defenses like Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin.

Vedral completed just 9-of-17 for 97 yards in the blowout victory over Indiana in Week 11. That gives him a passing average of just 6.3 yards per attempt, as he just hasn’t been able to push the ball down the field at all. Given the talented receivers at his disposal, the blame has to fall mainly on his shoulders, unfortunately.

117) Justin Tomlin, Cam Ransom | Georgia Southern

Week 5 ranking: 130 (+13)

A program in shambles, Georgia Southern has turned to a two-QB system with Justin Tomlin and Cam Ransom — or so it seems. They combined to defeat Texas State in Week 11, throwing for 233 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Ransom added 39 yards with his legs. Ransom may be the future, but at this rate, who knows what the future holds for Southern with Clay Helton taking over.

The duo is barely completing 50% of their passes and has combined to throw just 5 touchdown passes compared to 8 interceptions. Granted, Tomlin threw all 8 of those, so maybe the future is here for the Eagles.

116) Jake Constantine | Rice

Week 5 ranking: 99 (-17)

Jake Constantine is the man going forward, or so it appears after an injury to Wiley Green for the Owls. He’s fared well at times but has lost four straight at the helm, including a rough outing against Western Kentucky.

For the year, Constantine has shown the ability to push the ball downfield at times but has been late to reads at others. He threw 4 interceptions against WKU in Week 11 to push his season total to 7, compared to just 6 touchdowns. The former Weber State quarterback has decent arm talent, but he hasn’t been able to harness the previous success he saw at the FCS level.

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