Call it a warm-up to week 1, but week 0 was well-needed for college football fans across this nation. This week featured ten teams looking to get a head start in their conference. For teams like UConn and Hawaii, week 0 was one they would like to forget. For teams like Illinois, it was the type of opening game they envisioned. All in all, we received a small sample of what should be one of the biggest seasons in history.
For this occasion and the remainder of the 2021 college football season, we will feature the top overall performers for each week. In week 0, three players stood above the rest.
1. Zach Charbonnet - Running back, UCLA
Stats vs Hawaii: six carries, 106 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns.
In a game where Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson struggled at making completions, Charbonnet rose to the occasion with an impressive display in the first half, when he registered three rushing touchdowns before the end of the half. The Michigan transfer showcased the type of speed and acceleration that could make him a top back in the PAC-12 Conference. Hawaii was clearly overmatched in this contest, yet this should not downgrade Charbonnet's performance in any way, shape, or form.
2. Jake Haener - Quarterback, Fresno State
Stats vs UConn: 20-26, 331 passing yards, three touchdowns.
Jake Haener played a near-perfect game against UConn, accounting for over 300 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. This type of performance is expected, as last season, Haener led the Mountain West and was fourth in the nation in passing-yard average per game with a 336.8. All of his touchdown passes came in the second quarter and by halftime, he had 299 passing yards. It was a hot day at Bulldog Stadium, and Haener was throwing heat all day, leading to a dominant 45-0 opening day victory.
3. Adrian Martinez - Quarterback, Nebraska
Stats vs Illinois: 16-32, 232 passing yards, one passing touchdown | 111 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown.
After a rough first half, Adrian Martinez came back in the second half and had the type of performance that reminded fans of his breakout freshman year. After being down 30–9 late in the third quarter, Martinez took the team on his back, starting with a 75-yard rushing touchdown, and a touchdown strike to receiver Oliver Martin to cut the deficit to eight. Martinez showed his ability to make plays with both his hands and feet, despite his early struggles. Despite what many may think, the only reason the Cornhuskers stood a chance in this game was because of Martinez.
4. Nick Starkel - Quarterback, San Jose State
Stats vs Southern Utah: 16-26, 398 passing yards, four touchdowns, one rushing touchdown.
Nick Starkel is the type of player that will capture the nation’s attention this season, and rightfully so. The long-time journeyman transferred twice before landing with the Spartans in 2020. In this game, Starkel showed no mercy as he dissected the Thunderbirds defense. By the time halftime reached, Starkel had accumulated 348 passing yards and three touchdowns. He would finish with 398 passing yards and four touchdowns on 16 completions. He has the arm and leadership skills to take the Spartans program to new heights. His performance in this game could be a sign of great things to come.
Illinois linebacker Calvin Hart Jr.
Nebraska linebacker Pheldarius Payne
UTEP receiver Jacob Cowing
Nebraska receiver Oliver Martin
New Mexico State linebacker Joshua Ferguson