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College Football's Best QB Debuts from Week 0

Drake Maye, North Carolina Tar Heels Football

Week 0 of the 2022 college football season is in the books. A handful of quarterbacks made their debut at a new location on Saturday, including Nebraska's Casey Thompson, North Carolina's Drake Maye and WKU's Austin Reed. 

With the influx of new starters across the nation, Athlon set out to rank the debuts for the quarterbacks for Week 0 of the 2022 season. An important note: We only considered freshmen in their first game, transfers, or those that had yet to make a start at their current school for this ranking. Quarterbacks that had previous starts had their current program were not considered for this ranking. Also, production and quality of opponent were factored into the ranking.

College Football's QB Debuts from Week 0

1. Drake Maye, North Carolina
High expectations surrounded Maye as a top-100 recruit but filling the void left behind by Sam Howell was no easy assignment. The North Carolina native gets high marks for his debut in Chapel Hill, as he guided the Tar Heels to an average of 7.8 yards per play in a 56-28 win over FCS Florida A&M. Maye was in command of the offense (29 of 37 for 294 yards and five scores) and added 55 yards on the ground. The redshirt freshman is the first player in program history to throw five touchdowns in a season opener. 

2. Austin Reed, WKU
Bailey Zappe won't be easy to replace, but Reed is off to a good start. The West Florida (Division II program) transfer connected on 20 of 34 passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns in WKU's win over Austin Peay. Reed has another favorable matchup up next, as the Hilltoppers play a Hawaii defense that allowed 63 points to Vanderbilt in Week 0.

3. Casey Thompson, Nebraska
Thompson started fast by completing 17 of his first 24 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown pass. However, Nebraska's offense cooled in the second half, and Thompson connected on just eight of 18 throws for 125 yards. Also, Thompson tossed two costly picks in the final quarter. The Cornhuskers can build on some of the first-half positives for this offense, but coach Scott Frost and coordinator Mark Whipple have to get the ground game on track to help the passing attack and avoid another second-half collapse.

4. Tommy DeVito, Illinois
DeVito was solid in a 38-6 easy victory over Wyoming. The Syracuse transfer completed 27 of 37 passes for 194 yards and two scores versus the Cowboys, which complemented a strong running game (260 yards) and defensive effort (just 212 yards allowed).

5. Zion Turner, UConn
The Huskies suffered some early bad luck when starting quarterback Ta'Quan Roberson and receiver Keelan Marion were both lost to major injuries in Saturday's loss at Utah State. Turner - a promising true freshman for coach Jim Mora - was pressed into duty when Roberson was injured and completed 12 of 31 throws for 109 yards and one score.

6. Gavin Frakes, New Mexico State
Diego Pavia started for New Mexico State but gave way to Frakes in the third quarter. The true freshman showed some potential (9 of 13 for 143 yards and one score) and could take over the starting job for the Thursday game at Minnesota.

7. Shane Illingworth, Nevada
With new faces all over the depth chart, Nevada's offense struggled as a whole (3.8 yards per play) in the win over New Mexico State.

8. Andrew Peasley, Wyoming
Big questions surrounded Wyoming's offense coming into 2022 and nothing transpired in the opener versus Illinois to ease those concerns. Peasley added 76 rushing yards but completed just five of his 20 passes for 30 yards and a pick.

Incomplete: Ta'Quan Roberson, UConn
Roberson won the starting quarterback job, but the Penn State transfer was lost due to injury in the first half of Saturday's loss at Utah State.

Podcast: Week 0 Recap, Scott Frost's Future, Previewing Thursday and Friday Games of Week 1