With Week 0 of 2022 season in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances. Each week, Athlon Sports will highlight some of the top performers in college football with its weekly awards section. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, and freshman from Week 0:
College Football Week 0 Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Ryan Hilinski, QB, Northwestern
Hilinski was a question mark coming into 2022 after an up-and-down debut at Northwestern last year. However, Hilinski was sharp in the Wildcats' upset of Nebraska, connecting on 27 of 38 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensive Player of the Week: Anfernee Orji, LB, Vanderbilt
Orji recorded three tackles and helped Vanderbilt keep Hawaii's offense out of the end zone after a score on its first drive. However, Orji's biggest play came with the game tied at seven in the first quarter. The senior returned a fumble 28 yards for a touchdown, giving the Commodores a 14-7 lead they would never relinquish.
Team of the Week: Northwestern
Northwestern wasn't given much of a chance by the oddsmakers as a double-digit underdog for the Week 0 matchup against Nebraska in Ireland. However, coming off a 3-9 mark last fall, coach Pat Fitzgerald had his team ready to play. The offense looked significantly better than it did in 2021, as quarterback Ryan Hilinski threw for 314 yards, and the ground game pounded the Cornhuskers for 214 yards. Although Nebraska's offense started fast, the Wildcats did not allow a score on its final six drives and picked off two passes to help seal the victory. Fitzgerald and his staff had the right gameplan, and their patience paid off in the second half to start the season 1-0.
Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Mike Bajakian, Northwestern
Bajakian called an outstanding game in Saturday's win over Nebraska. Northwestern effectively balanced its run (214 yards) with an improved passing game (314 yards) behind quarterback Ryan Hilinski to upset the Cornhuskers 31-28.
Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Ryan Walters, Illinois
Wyoming's offense couldn't find much room to operate against Illinois in Saturday's 38-6 loss. The Fighting Illini limited the Cowboys to 212 yards (4.2 yards per play and just 30 of that came through the air. Illinois also forced six three-and-outs and allowed Wyoming to convert just one of 12 third-down attempts.
Freshman of the Week (Offense): Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
Maye was impressive in his first start for the Tar Heels, completing 29 of 37 throws for 294 yards and five touchdowns. He also added 55 yards on four carries.
Freshman of the Week (Defense): Jayden Williams, DB, FAU
Williams was solid in coverage to help to limit Charlotte to just 217 passing yards, while the redshirt freshman also recorded five tackles (one for a loss) and one sack in FAU's 43-13 victory.