The regular season of college football is drawing to a close and it looks like the race for the Heisman Trophy is on the line.
This Monday, the official Heisman ballots will go to hundreds of media members across the country (including the author of this story), as well as all former Heisman winners. The deadline for voting is Dec. 5, after the conference championships are played and the final College Football Playoff rankings are announced.
For some Heisman contenders, that means this coming weekend is the last chance to impress voters. USC quarterback Caleb Williams is not in that group.
Williams led USC to a huge victory over UCLA on Saturday night and secured a spot in the Pac-12 championship game. Williams threw for 470 yards, rushed for 33 yards and totaled three touchdowns in the 48–45 Rose Bowl victory.
Williams’ performance was electric. He was in complete control of the attack, delivering accurate throws and also fitting balls into tight windows while on the move.
At this time last week, Williams was listed at +1100 to win the Heisman. At the time of writing, his odds at BetMGM are up to +125, trailing only Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud, who remains the betting favorite at -135.
Williams leapt over Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, Michigan’s Blake Corum and Oregon’s Bo Nix to get behind Stroud on the oddsboard. Hooker was lost this season with a torn ACL, Maye’s and the Tar Heels delivered a dud vs. Georgia Tech and both Corum and Nix are battling injuries.
Before leading USC to the Pac-12 title game, Williams and the Trojans have another high-profile regular season game with Notre Dame on Saturday.
USC was ranked No. 7 in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings and is sure to rise after losing to No. 5 in Tennessee. The Trojans’ path to the playoffs is pretty clear if they keep winning, unless you foresee the selection committee picking Saturday’s No. 2 Ohio State loser vs. Ohio State. No. 3 Michigan puts showdown ahead of a Pac-12 champion by one loss.
That said, it looks set for Williams to go to the Heisman ceremony in New York – and maybe even win.
(All odds via BetMGM)
Ohio State QB CJ Stroud (-135)
CJ Stroud remains the betting favorite to win the Heisman.
The Ohio State quarterback helped his team go undefeated on Saturday by throwing for 241 yards and a touchdown in a 43-30 victory over Maryland. It wasn’t one of Stroud’s better games, as he only completed 18 of his 30 attempts as the Buckeyes leaned into their running game against the Terps.
For the season, Stroud threw for 2,991 yards and 35 touchdowns with only four interceptions while completing 66.4% of his throws. He leads the country in yards per attempt (9.7) and passer rating (183.3) and is tied for the national lead in touchdown passes. However, Stroud ranks No. 19 in passing yards and No. 24 in completion percentage.
Ohio State is 11-0 with a home runoff against fellow undefeated Michigan staying on the regular season schedule. If Stroud can lead OSU past Michigan to a Big Ten title and into the College Football Playoff, it will be hard for voters to overlook him.
USC QB Caleb Williams (+125)
Following Williams’ outstanding performance in the win over UCLA, he is up to 3,480 yards, 33 touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 64.9% of his attempts. He ranks fourth nationally in touchdowns, ranks sixth in yards, ninth in passer rating (167.59), and 11th in yards per attempt (9.0).
Williams has played six games with at least 300 yards passing and has also crossed the 400-yard mark twice. Williams also rushed for 316 yards and seven scores this year.
With the potential for another ranked win (Saturday vs. Notre Dame) and a Pac-12 title, Williams could lead USC to the College Football Playoff despite the Trojans having an extremely porous defense.
There’s no way USC is close to this point without Williams at quarterback.
North Carolina QB Drake Maye (+700)
Maye’s Heisman hopes took a major blow on Saturday when North Carolina lost at home to Georgia Tech as the favorite by three touchdowns. UNC jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but eventually lost 21-17 to a team that was rotating its third and fourth sets of quarterbacks during the game.
Maye had his worst performance of the season after a string of sparkling performances. He completed just 16 of 30 throws for 202 yards, no touchdowns, and a costly interception. While UNC has already secured a spot in the ACC title game, the team’s playoff hopes went out the window with the loss.
Maye this year has thrown for 3,614 yards, 34 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also has 547 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Those are great stats from a freshman starter, but UNC falling short against an underpowered opponent may be hard for some voters to look past. Fortunately, he has chances to recover with the regular season finale vs. NC State and the ACC title game vs. Clemson.
Michigan RB Blake Corum (+1100)
Blake Corum recorded his eighth consecutive performance in the 100 meters on Saturday vs. Illinois, and did so in just one half. However, Corum went down late in the first half with a left knee injury. He briefly returned to the field in the third quarter, but had just one second-half carry before leaving the game for good.
After the game, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Corum’s knee was “structurally good,” but added that more testing would be done on Sunday. Corum was vague about the injury on Sunday, telling the Detroit News his knee is “good.”
‘I’ll be fine. I’ll be back,” Corum said.
With the Ohio State game on the horizon, Michigan certainly hopes that is the case. Corum is third in the nation with 1,457 rushing yards and tied for second with 18 touchdowns. With an important game vs. Ohio State, he can greatly increase his Heisman chances.
Oregon QB Bo Nix (+3000)
Speaking of injuries, Bo Nix was hampered but made his way through Oregon’s victory over Utah on Saturday night.
Last week, Nix injured his ankle in a heartbreaking loss to Washington, knocking Oregon out of CFP contention. Nix was a game decision for Saturday, but he still played despite his limited mobility. Nix threw for 287 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the 20–17 win, keeping the Ducks’ Pac-12 title hopes alive.
Nix’s running was a key part of Oregon’s offense, but he only had two rushing tries against the Utes. One came late in the fourth quarter and resulted in a critical third-down conversion.
For the season, Nix has passed for 3,062 yards and 25 touchdowns with 513 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. And if Nix can lead Oregon past Oregon State this weekend, the Ducks will meet USC in the Pac-12 title game.
TCU QB Max Duggan (+5000)
TCU’s Max Duggan feels like an afterthought in the Heisman race, but he shouldn’t be. Duggan has been a pivotal part of TCU’s epic season. The senior has thrown for 2,858 yards and 26 touchdowns, while adding 291 yards and five touchdowns as a runner.
TCU improved to 11-0 with a last second 29-28 victory over Baylor on Saturday and Duggan was the Horned Frogs’ best player. He threw for 327 yards and a touchdown and had 50 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He made so many clutch plays in the fourth quarter with both his arm and his legs.
TCU was ranked No. 4 in the most recent CFP rankings and is able to cap off a 12-0 regular season with a victory over Iowa State on Saturday. From there, TCU plays in the Big 12 title game with a CFP berth likely on the line.
If Duggan gets the Horned Frogs into the four-team playoffs, voters will have a hard time ignoring him.
Georgia QB Stetson Bennett (+8000)
Further down the list is the quarterback of the number 1 team in the country, Stetson Bennett of Georgia. Bennett led UGA to a league title last year and is looking to do it again this season.
Georgia leads 11-0 in Saturday’s game vs. Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs have already wrapped up the SEC East and will face LSU in the SEC championship game. Over the course of the season, Bennett has thrown for 3,011 yards and has a total of 21 touchdowns – 14 passes, seven rushing.
Bennett has been very efficient for the Bulldogs, but it’s hard to see him getting much Heisman love without the eye-popping stats others possess.