So much of college football comes down to quarterback play. If you have a competent player under center, you’re going to win a lot of games. There’s a reason why Texas hasn’t been relevant in nearly a decade; ever since Colt McCoy left, the Longhorns haven’t had an even decent QB1 since.
Every week on CFB Country, I’ll update my QB Stock Watch, with the top 5 quarterbacks in college football this season. Just like how I rank my teams, I only rank these players based on what they have shown on the field this season. The rankings will probably fluctuate wildly early on
After Week 1, I’ll also include who is trending up, and who’s trending down.
Top 5 QB’s in Week 1
- Josh Rosen, UCLA
Love him or hate him, Rosen was on fire Sunday night leading UCLA back from a 34-point deficit to beat Texas A&M. Some of the throws he made in the fourth quarter showed exactly why he’s been hyped as a potential No. 1 draft pick. He threw from in the pocket, outside the pocket, everywhere with precision and poise. UCLA’s offensive line did little to protect him much of the night, but Rosen battled through it anyway, ending with shades of Dan Marino on the game-winning touchdown pass:
2. Josh Jackson
The only freshman to make the list played with outstanding poise on Sunday night in his first career start. The first freshman to start a season opener at Virginia Tech since Michael Vick accounted for 336 yards of total offense (235 passing, 101 rushing), and led the Hokies on a six-play, 82-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter for the game-winning score.
Here’s the long run that set up that touchdown:
It’s hard to find too many more impressive quarterback performances from start-to-finish this weekend than Jackson. The future is very bright in Blacksburg.
3. Richard Lagow, Indiana
All Lagow did was light up a vaunted Ohio State defense for 410 yards and three touchdowns on Thursday night. The Buckeyes’ secondary was replacing three first-round draft picks, but there’s plenty of talent still around, not to mention the best defensive line in college football. Indiana played with lightning-quick tempo throughout the night, and Lagow was in control the whole time. It helped to have Simmie Cobbs on the outside, whom he found 11 times for 149 yards and a touchdown. Even in a 49-21 loss, I thought Lagow was fantastic on a pressure-packed stage on opening night.
4. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Mayfield used his 27 years of college experience to help dissect UTEP, completing 19 of his 20 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions. I have Mayfield as one of my three top Heisman contenders entering the season – if he leads Oklahoma past Ohio State on Saturday, he’ll almost certainly be the early-season favorite with all of the atrocious Big 12 defenses awaiting him. He could…no, he should…have a massive senior season.
5. Will Grier, West Virginia
Even in a losing effort, Will Grier played just as well as Jackson on Sunday night. He torched the Hokies’ secondary, especially in the second half. Grier finished with 371 yards and three touchdowns. His lone interception came on a fourth down play just trying to force the ball past the sticks; it might as well have been an incompletion. I thought if West Virginia could be Virginia Tech and get on an early-season run, Grier could have generated some Heisman momentum. It’s going to be really tough now, but the Mountaineers looked like a legit Big 12 contender even in defeat.
Who do you think had the best performance of Week 1?
Eric Dungey, Syracuse
So yes, this was against Central Connecticut…but I just want to point out that Eric Dungey is going to make somebody’s life hell this season. He threw for 328 yards and three touchdowns Saturday night…but in year two of Dino Babers’ system, Dungey and the Orange are going to be a nightmare for more talented teams all season long. Babers was a part of the Baylor coaching staff that dominated the Big 12 for a half-decade, and turned Bowling Green around instantly with his fast-paced, wide-open attack. The Orange don’t have nearly the talent of the upper-echelon teams in the ACC, but they’ll pull an upset or two this season. Just ask Virginia Tech how easy it is to face that offense inside the Carrier Dome.
Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin
Hornibrook launched three touchdowns in a 59-10 win over Utah State Friday night, which wouldn’t be too much to speak about if he’d thrown more than one in any game last season. Hornibrook threw just nine touchdowns last season, and never more than one in a single game. The Badgers think Hornibrook can be one of the better quarterbacks they’ve had in a long time (Scott Tolzien anyone? Brooks Bollinger anyone else?!?!), so to see him get off to such a hot start is a good sign.
Josh Allen, Wyoming
Well, things could not have gone a whole hell of a lot worse for Allen. The Mystery Man of College Football had his biggest stage to date to show why we spent all summer that he was maybe the top NFL prospect in the country. Sooooo it didn’t go so well.
Wyoming didn’t score a touchdown. Allen threw two interceptions. Iowa is maybe…MAYBE the fifth-best team in the Big Ten. Allen needed to show more than that on Saturday. It doesn’t mean he won’t ever turn out to be a good NFL quarterback — Ben Roethlisberger threw four interceptions against Iowa and things turned out okay for him – but Allen’s dud was one of the biggest disappointments in the country last week.
Sam Darnold, USC
Like Allen, Darnold rode a colossal wave of hype into Week 1, and it nearly all came crashing down against Western Michigan. Darnold was erratic, inaccurate, and USC had to lean on running back Ronald Jones II to carry the Trojans to a win. Darnold finished 23-of-33 for 289 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. And the Jets want to tank for this kid? That ought to be the last time Darnold lays an egg like that this season if USC wants to make the Playoff.