The Heisman Buzz As September Ends

We’re not sure how it happened, but we are now a full third of the way through the college football season and we don’t even have our Halloween decorations up yet. Did that go by fast or what?

Week 4 featured a slew of ranked teams in head-to-head matchups and high profile players doing high profile things.

So let’s took a peak at what the Heisman chatter is looking like heading into Week 5.

The Athletic has its first staff-wide Heisman Straw Poll out today and a slew of Pac-12 quarterbacks dominate the results with three at the top and five in the top seven spots.

Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. sits atop the first poll with 20 first-place votes while 2022 Heisman winner Caleb Williams of USC is second with 13 first-place votes. Oregon QB Bo Nix is third. Rounding out the Pac-12’s entries here are Washington State’s Cam Ward and Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders.

Penix Jr. led the Huskies to 59 points in a blowout over California, throwing for 304 yards and four TDs despite not playing in the fourth quarter. He leads the country in passing yards per game (409.0) and passing touchdowns (16).

Williams helped USC defeat Arizona State, 42-28, passing for 322 yards and three touchdowns, moving his season TD-to-interception ratio to 15-to-zero. That explains why he leads the country in efficiency  (223.07) while Penix Jr. is second. Williams also ran in two scores, giving him three this year. This strike on the run helped USC to a late, two-score lead.

Yahoo! Sports echoed the top of the poll, citing Williams and Penix Jr. as two clear early frontrunners for the Heisman here.

Per Yahoo: “As Williams looks to become the first player since Archie Griffin to win back-to-back Heismans, Penix has become his most worthy challenger through the first four weeks of the season. After throwing for 31 TDs and 4,641 yards in 2022, Penix has thrown for 1,636 yards and 16 TDs through the first four games of the season.”

Nix can’t be far behind after leading Oregon to a 42-6 throttling of Colorado that included 276 yards passing and three scores and another touchdown on the ground. He is second nationally in completion percentage (79.4).

In The Athletic poll, Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis is fourth while Texas QB Quinn Ewers is sixth, the latter garnering the only other first-place vote outside of Penix Jr. and Williams.

In Fansided’s latest Heisman rankings, the staff has Williams first, Penix Jr. second and Nix third. In fourth is North Carolina QB Drake Maye, interesting in that he did not receive one vote in The Athletic poll. But highlight reel plays like this one where the right-hander threw a TD pass with his left hand clearly swayed the Fansided staff.

Fansided had Sanders fifth despite the tough offensive day at Oregon last week and had Ewers sixth. Ewers had a modest statistical day in a win over Baylor, but did show some wheels on a 29-yard touchdown run.

College Football News also lists Williams and Penix Jr. at 1-2 with Ewers third and Travis from FSU fourth. Travis helped the Seminoles with a gutsy come-from-behind overtime road win over Clemson with 289 yards passing and three total TDs.

It also lists Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy in the eighth spot and Duke QB Riley Leonard in the 10th spot. Duke has been an early surprise this season at 4-0 and Leonard has been key to that. Notre Dame is up next for the Blue Devils, so a great chance for Leonard to move up in the Heisman race.

Speaking of, Fighting Irish QB Sam Hartman led Notre Dame to a late touchdown against Ohio State, only to see the Buckeyes mount an even later comeback for the win, scoring on the game’s second-to-last play from scrimmage. Still, Hartman is squarely is the race. 

And so is Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., widely considered to likely be the top receiver taken in next year’s draft. He is one big game away from putting his stamp on the Heisman race as well.