Heisman Buzz Heading Into A Huge Week 4

Behind the scenes at the 2020 Virtual Heisman Trophy Ceremony © Kelly Backus / ESPN Images

We are less than four days away from what promises to be a memorable day in college football with almost half of the AP Top 25-ranked teams playing each other with a handful of other marquee matchups as well.

But first! Let’s take a look at where we are among Heisman hopefuls — through the lenses of the college football media world — now that we are a full quarter of the way through the 2023 season. And careful now, sneeze and it will already be rivalry weekend in late November.

Bleacher Report gives us its top 3 Heisman hopefuls entering Week 4 here, featuring a trio of QBs: Caleb Williams from USC, Quinn Ewers from Texas and Michael Penix Jr. from Washington.

Ewers, a week after orchestrating huge win at Alabama, put in a workmanlike performance in a 31-10 Longhorn win over Wyoming with two TD passes and another on the ground.

Williams and the Trojans were off last week, but Penix Jr. had the pedal down, leading Washington to a 41-7 win at Michigan State. He threw for 473 yards and four touchdowns and has now passed for 1,332 yards in three games with 12 TDs. His 444.0 passing yards per game leads the country.

This Seattle Times article paints a solid picture of Penix Jr.’s Heisman chances. 

But it also relates the impressive fact that the Pac-12 is home to a ton of Heisman competition that also includes Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders, Oregon QB Box Nix and Washington State QB Cam Ward.

Sanders trails only Penix Jr.. in average passing yards per game (417.0). Last Saturday, he threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns to help the Buffs outlast their intrastate rival Colorado State in a double overtime win. That included orchestrating a late 98-yard, game-tying touchdown drive complemented by two OT TD passes.

Nix, meanwhile, moved Oregon to 3-0 against Hawaii, throwing for 247 yards and three scores and has still not thrown an interception this season.

Nix and Sanders are on a collision course Saturday as Oregon and Colorado square off in Eugene, one of six matchups of AP Top 25-ranked teams.

This Sporting News story analyses Sanders’ Heisman chances, taking into consideration what potential losses could do to his trophy hopes. After Oregon, Colorado hosts USC the following week.

The Notre Dame-Ohio State game will give us another match-up of Heisman hopefuls in Fighting Irish quarterback Sam Hartman and Ohio State wideout Marvin Harrison Jr.

Hartman has Notre Dame at 4-0 in his first year in South Bend and is in Bleacher Report’s second tier of Heisman favorites along with Nix, Sanders, Florida State QB Jordan Travis and Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy.

Hartman’s 13 TDs leads the country and his QB rating (217.81) is third. Hartman is in the New York Post’s current top 5 along with Ewers, Penix Jr., Sanders and Williams.

As for Travis, he has the Seminoles 3-0 and ranked third and has overcome a slow start to his career to become a leader at Florida State, as detailed in this great ESPN profile.

McCarthy, who watched running back teammate Blake Corum become a top 10 Heisman vote-getter in the 2022 balloting, appears to be their leading candidate in 2023. His completion percentage (82.4) is one-tenth off the national lead as he leads the 3-0 Wolverines into a Saturday match-up against unbeaten Rutgers. 

Depending on what transpires this weekend, a slew of more names could get a major boost in the Heisman consideration, like North Carolina QB Drake Maye, Georgia QB Carson Beck, LSU QB Jayden Daniels, Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel and Penn State QB Drew Allar.

Saturday can’t come soon enough.