College football Week 1 QB rankings: Alabama's Bryce Young tops list, while Matt Corral has breakout performance

Paul Myerberg
USA TODAY

Bryce Young met the hype head-on in Alabama's season opener. 

After spending the spring and summer under a spotlight as the Crimson Tide's projected successor to Mac Jones, the second-year player kept things rolling for an offense that set program records in 2020 and may again lead the SEC in most major offensive categories a year later. 

He wasn't the only SEC quarterback to start the 2021 season in style. Matt Corral keyed an Ole Miss win against Louisville. Kentucky's Will Levis was outstanding in his first game since transferring in from the Big Ten.

But no quarterback in the SEC or elsewhere had a better Week 1 than Young. He tops this week's list of the top 10 passers in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

1. Bryce Young, Alabama

Bryce Young opened his career as a starter at Alabama with a win against Miami.

How's this for an introduction? Young set new program records by throwing for 344 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start, a 44-13 win against Miami (Fla.) that was settled midway through the second quarter. Young's 94-yard touchdown pass to Jameson Williams is tied for the second-longest score in Alabama history.

2. Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma

Oklahoma cruised into halftime against Tulane before dialing things back in the second half, which allowed the Green Wave to cut a 37-14 deficit to 40-35 before the Sooners made a late defensive stop. Likewise with Rattler, who completed 20 of 25 attempts for 213 yards and a score in the first half but had just 91 yards and an interception in the second. Look for the second-year starter to rebound as the Sooners close out non-conference play against Western Carolina and Nebraska.

3. Matt Corral, Ole Miss

Corral began building his Heisman Trophy case with 381 yards and a touchdown on 11.9 yards per attempt as Ole Miss beat Louisville 43-24. Dating to last season, Corral has thrown at least one score without an interception in five of his last six starts.

4. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA

After a sluggish opener against Hawaii — almost certainly impacted by the Bruins' vanilla offensive strategy against the Mountain West foe — Thompson-Robinson went for 260 yards and three touchdowns on 16.3 yards per pass in leading UCLA to a program-changing win at home against LSU. His growth mirrors the Bruins' larger development into a very viable threat to win the Pac-12 South.

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5. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

The four-year starter picked up where he left off in 2020 by completing 80% of his attempts with five total touchdowns in the Bearcats' 49-14 rout of Miami (Ohio). Ridder and Cincinnati will put up more crooked numbers in Saturday's date with Murray State before taking on key Power Five matchups against Indiana and Notre Dame.

6. Dillon Gabriel, Central Florida

Down 21-0 to Boise State early in the second quarter, UCF would outscore the Broncos 36-10 the rest of the way to pull off a win with deep New Year's Six bowl implications. Gabriel threw four touchdown passes with six completions of 15 or more yards in the second and third quarters to turn the tide in Gus Malzahn's debut with the Knights.

7. Will Levis, Kentucky

The former Penn State transfer was good enough in Kentucky's 45-10 win against Louisiana-Monroe to impact the Wildcats' place in the SEC East power rankings. One of the missing pieces during Mark Stoops' tenure has been quarterback play: Kentucky has ranked last in the SEC in passing yards in three consecutive seasons. That Levis went for 367 yards and four scores in just over three quarters is even more remarkable when you consider that UK threw for 2,814 yards and 16 touchdowns in its previous 24 games. Another performance in that ballpark on Saturday night against Missouri would make Levis one of the hottest names in the SEC and make it very easy to envision the Wildcats winning eight or more games during the regular season for just the second time since 1985. 

8. Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland

After an uneven 2020 season — Tagovailoa sandwiched two games with three touchdowns with two games with three interceptions — the Terrapins' second-year starter put it together in a very strong win against West Virginia, hitting on 26 of 36 attempts for 332 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. This was the second time Tagovailoa has thrown three or more touchdowns without a pick and just the fifth time Maryland has done so as a member of the Big Ten.

9. Kedon Slovis, Southern California

Kedon Slovis and the Trojans struggled in the red zone against San Jose State.

The Trojans' defense did most of the work in a 30-7 win against San Jose State as Slovis and the offense came unglued inside the red zone, notching just one touchdown out of four trips inside the Spartans' 20. The junior's overall numbers were adequate— 256 yards and two scores without a turnover — but he was largely held in check by one of the better teams in the Group of Five. Even bigger tests await, starting with this Saturday's meeting with Stanford.

10. Carson Strong, Nevada

Strong completed just 56.4% of his throws in Nevada's 22-17 win against California, the worst single-game percentage of his starting career, and tossed an interception, just the fifth in his last 528 attempts. Even when not at his best, Strong pulled the Wolfpack out of a 14-0 hole after the first quarter for the program's third win against the Power Five in coach Jay Norvell's four-plus seasons.

Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg