For the rest of the college football season, Yahoo Sports will highlight the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy on a weekly basis. All odds are via BetMGM.
Is the Heisman Trophy race starting to crystallize?
The Heisman odds at BetMGM have fluctuated on a week-to-week basis, but based on past performance and opportunities ahead, there are four players who seem to have separated themselves from the pack as we enter the final two weeks of the college football regular season.
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix is currently the betting favorite to win the Heisman. Nix is listed at -110 as of Tuesday afternoon with Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. (+375), LSU QB Jayden Daniels (+400) and Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (+550) not far behind from an odds perspective.
From there, there’s a significant drop-off on the odds board to other quarterbacks, like Georgia’s Carson Beck, Alabama’s Jalen Milroe, Florida State’s Jordan Travis and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, all of whom are listed between +3500 and +10000.
Those four play for teams still in the national championship conversation, so they should not be wholly dismissed from the Heisman conversation. But do they have the combination of eye-popping statistics and opportunities ahead on a national stage to warrant consideration from the contingent of Heisman Trophy voters?
Beck and Milroe will be able to make their case as they close out the regular season and then square off against each other in the SEC title game, but do they have the season-long track record of the other quarterbacks? Travis is the leader on offense for an undefeated Florida State team, but his overall statistical profile doesn’t stack up with some of the other Heisman contenders.
And then there’s the case of McCarthy, who fell from +600 to +10000 after Michigan’s win at Penn State. It was a big win for Michigan but a blow to McCarthy’s Heisman hopes as the Wolverines leaned heavily on the run to get out of Beaver Stadium with a win. The Penn State game was the first major test for the Wolverines in a season full of blowouts. With big performances vs. Penn State and Ohio State and in the Big Ten title game, McCarthy would have had a good case to be among the Heisman finalists in New York City. Instead, McCarthy attempted only eight passes as the coaches were content to chew up the clock and ride their defense to victory.
Ballots go out to voters across the country (full disclosure: I have a Heisman vote) on Nov. 27, two days after the conclusion of the regular season, and are due the following Monday, Dec. 4, following conference championship weekend.
This race seems to be trending toward an exciting finish.
Oregon QB Bo Nix (-110)
Back when he was playing at Auburn, it would have been far-fetched to project Bo Nix as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. But now in his second season at Oregon, Nix has put together an incredible season with a College Football Playoff berth within reach.
Nix threw for 412 yards and four touchdowns in Oregon’s win over USC on Saturday night, giving him 3,135 yards and 29 TDs with only two interceptions on the season. He’s also completing 77.7% of his throws, a rate that leads the country.
Looking forward, Oregon should take care of business this weekend at Arizona State before the regular season finale at home vs. Oregon State. If the Ducks win those two games, they will be 11-1 and headed to the Pac-12 title game for a likely rematch with Washington — the team that handed Oregon its only loss.
If Nix can deliver on that stage and propel his team to the CFP, he’ll have a tremendous Heisman case.
Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. (+375)
Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. has been among the Heisman frontrunners for much of the season as he has put up monster numbers for the undefeated Huskies. After the big win over Oregon on Oct. 14, there were a few shaky performances but the Huskies have managed to continue pulling out close victories on a weekly basis.
In Saturday’s 35-28 win over No. 18 Utah, Penix threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and also had a touchdown on the ground. Penix has topped the 300-yard mark in eight of UW’s 10 games, including three performances of 400-plus yards.
For the season, Penix has thrown for 3,533 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 68% of his attempts. Penix leads the nation in passing yards and passing yards per game, is fourth in passing TDs and sixth in yards per attempt (9.7).
Penix and the Huskies have a major challenge this weekend when they go to Corvallis to face No. 11 Oregon State. From there, UW will host rival Washington State in the Apple Cup. UW clinches a spot in the Pac-12 title game with a victory in either of those games.
A CFP berth could be on the line if Washington and Oregon have their rematch in the conference title game. It could also be a game where Penix (or Nix) wins the Heisman.
LSU QB Jayden Daniels (+400)
LSU’s Jayden Daniels is a bit of an outlier in this year’s crop of Heisman candidates because his team is not in the national championship picture. LSU is 7-3 on the year with losses to No. 4 Florida State, No. 13 Ole Miss and No. 8 Alabama.
But that should not take away from the caliber of season Daniels is having. As a matter of fact, LSU would have likely have a few more losses if it weren’t for Daniels routinely bailing out an under-performing defense.
Take Saturday’s 52-35 win over Florida for example. While the defense surrendered nearly 500 yards to a mediocre Florida offense, Daniels put together one of the best games for a quarterback in FBS history. Daniels threw for 372 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 234 yards and two more scores.
In the process, Daniels became the first player in FBS history to throw for 350-plus yards and rush for 200-plus yards in the same game. And for the season, Daniels has now thrown for 3,164 yards and 30 touchdowns while completing 71.4% of his throws. On top of that, he has 918 yards and eight TDs as a runner.
Daniels leads the nation in touchdown passes and yards per attempt (11.6), is third in passing yards and seventh in completion percentage. He also has more rushing yards than any quarterback in the country by a margin of 112 yards.
Simply put, Daniels is having an incredible season.
Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. (+550)
The Heisman is typically an award for quarterbacks and occasionally running backs, but DeVonta Smith showed a few years ago that a wide receiver can sneak into the mix. This year, it’s Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. who is trying to make a case to be the fifth wide receiver to win the Heisman.
Ohio State has had average quarterback play and several other skill position players dealing with injuries this season, so Harrison has carried a heavy load. For the season, Harrison has 59 catches for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 11-catch, 162-yard performance against Penn State back on Oct. 21 is still the high mark, but Harrison had one of his better performances over the weekend in the win over Michigan State. Harrison caught seven passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns and also had a 19-yard rushing TD to help the Buckeyes improve to 10-0.
Ohio State will host Minnesota this weekend, but Harrison will have the opportunity for his Heisman moment the following weekend in Ann Arbor against rival Michigan. OSU has lost to Michigan the past two seasons, but Harrison can lead the Buckeyes to a win in a game that has massive implications.
Others on the radar
Georgia QB Carson Beck: +3500
Alabama QB Jalen Milroe: +5000
Florida State QB Jordan Travis: +6000
Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy: +10000
USC QB Caleb Williams: +15000
North Carolina QB Drake Maye: +15000
Michigan RB Blake Corum: +15000
Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel: +15000