The college football regular season is nearing its end and it looks like the race for the Heisman Trophy will come down to the wire.
Next Monday, the official Heisman ballots will go out to hundreds of media members across the country (including the author of this story), as well as every former Heisman winner. The voting deadline is Dec. 5, after conference championship games have been played and the final College Football Playoff rankings have been revealed.
For some Heisman contenders, that means this upcoming weekend will be the final chance to impress the voters. USC quarterback Caleb Williams is not included in that group.
Williams led USC to a massive win over UCLA on Saturday night to clinch a spot in the Pac-12 championship game. Williams threw for 470 yards, rushed for 33 yards and had three total touchdowns in the 48-45 win in the Rose Bowl.
Williams’ performance was electric. He was in complete command of the offense, delivering precise throws and also fitting balls into tight windows on the move.
This time last week, Williams was listed at +1100 to win the Heisman. As of this writing, his odds at BetMGM are all the way up to +125, trailing only Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud, who remains the betting favorite at -135.
Williams leap-frogged Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, Michigan’s Blake Corum and Oregon’s Bo Nix to slot behind Stroud on the odds board. Hooker was lost for the season with a torn ACL, Maye’s and the Tar Heels turned in a dud of a performance vs. Georgia Tech and both Corum and Nix are dealing with injuries.
Before he leads USC into 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 are sure to move up after No. 5 Tennessee’s losses. The Trojans’ path to the playoff is pretty clear if they keep winning, unless you foresee the selection committee slotting the loser of Saturday’s No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Michigan showdown ahead of a one-loss Pac-12 champion.
With that said, things appear to be setting up well for Williams to get to the Heisman ceremony in New York — and maybe even win it.
(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 remain undefeated on Saturday by throwing for 241 yards and a touchdown in a 43-30 win over Maryland. It wasn’t one of Stroud’s better games as he completed just 18 of his 30 attempts while the Buckeyes leaned on their running game against the Terps.
For the season, Stroud has thrown for 2,991 yards and 35 touchdowns with only 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 is tied for the national lead in touchdown passes. However, Stroud is down at No. 19 in passing yards and No. 24 in completion percentage.
Ohio State is 11-0 with a home showdown with fellow undefeated Michigan remaining on the regular season schedule. If Stroud can lead OSU past Michigan to a Big Ten title and into the College Football Playoff, it’s going to be hard for voters to overlook him.
USC QB Caleb Williams (+125)
Following Williams’ excellent 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 is tied for fourth nationally in touchdowns, ranks sixth in yards, ninth in passer rating (167.59) and 11th in yards per attempt (9.0).
Williams has six games with at least 300 passing yards and has also gone over the 400-yard mark twice. Williams also has rushed for 316 yards and seven scores on the 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 anywhere near this point without Williams at quarterback.
North Carolina QB Drake Maye (+700)
Maye’s Heisman hopes took a big hit on Saturday when North Carolina lost at home to Georgia Tech as a three-touchdown favorite. 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 run of sparkling performances, had his worst outing of the season. He completed just 16 of 30 throws for 202 yards, no touchdowns and a costly interception. While UNC has already locked up 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 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Those are tremendous stats from a first-year starter, but UNC falling short against a subpar opponent could be difficult for some voters to look past. Luckily, he has chances to rebound with the regular season finale vs. NC State and the ACC title game vs. Clemson.
Michigan RB Blake Corum (+1100)
Blake Corum notched his eighth consecutive 100-yard rushing performance on Saturday vs. Illinois, and did so in just one half. However, Corum went down with a left knee injury late in the first half. He briefly returned to the field in the third quarter, but had just one second-half carry before exiting the game for good.
After the game, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Corum’s knee was “structurally good,” but added that there would be more testing on Sunday. Corum was vague about the injury on 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 certainly hoping that’s the case. Corum is third in the country with 1,457 rushing yards and tied for second with 18 touchdowns. With a big game vs. Ohio State, he can significantly bolster his Heisman chances.
Oregon QB Bo Nix (+3000)
Speaking of injuries, Bo Nix was hobbled but gutted his way through Oregon’s win 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 a game-time 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 the Ducks’ Pac-12 title hopes alive.
Nix’s running has been a major part of Oregon’s offense, but he had just two rushing attempts vs. the Utes. One came late in the fourth quarter and resulted in a critical third-down conversion.
For the season, Nix is up to 3,062 yards and 25 touchdowns passing with 513 yards and 14 TDs 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 critical 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 win 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 can finish off a 12-0 regular season with a win over Iowa State on Saturday. From there, TCU will play in the Big 12 title game with a CFP berth likely on the line.
If Duggan gets the Horned Frogs into the four-team playoff, he’ll be hard for voters to ignore.
Georgia QB Stetson Bennett (+8000)
Further down the odds board is the quarterback of the No. 1 team in the country, Georgia’s Stetson Bennett. Bennett led UGA to a national title last year and is looking to do it again this season.
Georgia is 11-0 heading into 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 21 total touchdowns — 14 passing, 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 statistics that others possess.