The regular season of college football is coming to a close, and it looks like the race for the Heisman Trophy will come to a head.
Next Monday, official Heisman ballots will go to hundreds of members of the media across the country (including the author of this story), as well as all former Heisman winners. The voting deadline is December 5, after conference championship games have been played and the final College Football Playoff standings revealed.
For some Heisman contenders, that means next weekend will be their last chance to impress voters. USC quarterback Caleb Williams is not included in that group.
Williams led USC to a massive win against UCLA on Saturday night to clinch a berth in the Pac-12 championship game. Williams threw for 470 yards, rushed for 33 yards and had three total touchdowns in the 48-45 Rose Bowl victory.
Williams’ performance was electric. He was in complete command of the attack, making accurate shots and even inserting balls into tight windows on the move.
This time last week, Williams was quoted +1100 to win the Heisman. As of this writing, his BetMGM odds are as high as +125, trailing only Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud, who remains the betting favorite at -135.
Williams moved past Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, Michigan’s Blake Corum and Oregon’s Bo Nix to position himself behind Stroud on the odds board. Hooker was lost for the season with a torn ACL, Maye and the Tar Heels turned into a disaster of a one performance against. Georgia Tech and both Corum and Nix are dealing with 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 standings and will surely move up after No. 5 Tennessee defeat. The Trojans’ path to the playoffs is pretty clear if they keep winning, unless the selection committee is expected to enter the underdog of No. 2 Ohio State vs. no. 3 Michigan showdown before a Pac-12 champion with one loss.
That said, things look looking good for Williams to make it to the Heisman ceremony in New York — and maybe even win it.
(All odds via BetMGM)
Ohio State QB C. J. 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 best games as he completed just 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 just four interceptions while completing 66.4% of his throws. He leads the nation in yards per attempt (9.7) and passer rating (183.3) and leads the nation in touchdown passes. However, Stroud is at no. 19 in passing yards and No. 24 percent completion.
Ohio State is 11-0 with a home showdown with undefeated Michigan remaining on the regular season schedule. If Stroud can lead OSU past Michigan to a Big Ten title and the College Football playoffs, it will be hard for voters to overlook him.
USC QB Caleb Williams (+125)
After Williams’ excellent performance in the win against UCLA, he went for 3,480 yards, 33 touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 64.9% of his attempts. He ranks fourth nationally in touchdowns, sixth in rushing yards, ninth in passer rating (167.59) and eleventh in yards per attempt (9.0).
Williams has six games with at least 300 passing yards and has also passed the 400-yard mark twice. Williams also ran for 316 yards and seven scores on the year.
With the potential for another ranked win (against Notre Dame on Saturday) and a Pac-12 title, Williams could lead USC to the College Football Playoffs despite the Trojans having an extremely porous defense.
There is no way USC will get anywhere near this point without Williams at quarterback.
North Carolina QB Drake Maye (+700)
Maye’s Heisman hopes took a big hit on Saturday as North Carolina lost at home to Georgia Tech as a favorite by three touchdowns. UNC jumped out to a 17-0 lead but ended up losing 21-17 to a team that was rotating its third- and fourth-string quarterbacks throughout the game.
Maye, after a string of glittering performances, had her worst outing of the season. He completed just 16 of 30 shots for 202 yards, no touchdowns and one expensive 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 has thrown for 3,614 yards, 34 touchdowns and four interceptions this year. He also has 547 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground. These are tremendous stats from a first-year starter, but UNC falling short of a poor opponent might be hard for some voters to look past. Luckily, he has a chance to rebound with the regular season finale vs. NC State and the ACC vs. NC State Title Game Clemson.
Michigan RB Blake Corum (+1100)
Blake Corum had his eighth straight 100-yard rushing performance on Saturday against Illinois, and he did it in just one half. However, Corum went down with a left knee injury late in the first half. He returned to the field briefly in the third quarter, but had only one carry in the second half before finally exiting the game.
After the game, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Corum’s knee was “structurally good,” but added there would be more tests on Sunday. Corum was vague about the injury Sunday, telling the Detroit News that his knee is “good.”
“I’ll be fine. I’ll be back,” Corum said.
With the Ohio State game on the horizon, Michigan is sure to hope so. Corum is third in the country with 1,457 rushing yards and second with 18 touchdowns. With a big game against Ohio State, he can significantly boost his Heisman chances.
Oregon QB Bo Nix (+3000)
Speaking of injuries, Bo Nix limped but worked his way through in Oregon’s victory over Utah on Saturday night.
Last week, Nix injured his ankle in a heartbreaking loss to Washington that knocked Oregon out of CFP contention. Nix was an in-game decision for Saturday, but he ended up playing despite his limited mobility. Nix threw for 287 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the 20-17 win, which kept alive the Ducks’ Pac-12 title hopes.
Nix’s run was a big part of Oregon’s offense, but he only had two rushed fumbles against the Utes. One came late in the fourth quarter and resulted in a critical third down conversion.
For the season, Nix had 3,062 yards and 25 touchdowns passing 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 run, but he shouldn’t be. Duggan was a key part of TCU’s epic season. Elder threw 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 win over Baylor on Saturday and Duggan was the Horned Frogs’ standout 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 standings and can wrap up a 12-0 regular season with a win against Iowa State on Saturday. From there, TCU will play in the Big 12 title game with a CFP spot likely on the line.
If Duggan gets the Horned Frogs into the four-team playoffs, he’ll be hard for voters to ignore.
Georgia QB Stetson Bennett (+8000)
Further down the odds list is the No. 1 quarterback. 1 team in the country, Stetson Bennett of Georgia. Bennett led UGA to a national title last year and is looking to do it again this season.
Georgia leads 11-0 in Saturday’s game against Georgia. Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs have already wrapped up the SEC East and will face LSU in the SEC championship game. Over the season, Bennett threw for 3,011 yards and had 21 touchdowns: 14 passing, seven rushing.
Bennett has been very efficient for the Bulldogs, but it’s hard to see him getting much love for Heisman without the mind-blowing stats that others possess.