The Heisman Buzz Headed Into November Action

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

After another weekend of great performances, and a candy hangover from last night’s trick or treating, it’s time to take another look at the Heisman race heading into the first weekend of November games.

There were a slew of big performances from across the country, and we want to start by highlighting one from a player that may be in long-shot territory for the Heisman, but at his recent level of play, he may get more votes than anticipated.

We’re talking about Oklahoma State sophomore running back Ollie Gordon, who rushed for 271 yards Saturday against Cincinnati after going for 282 the previous week at West Virginia. 

The only other Cowboy to post back-to-back games of over 250 yards? A certain Heisman Trophy winner named Barry Sanders. That’s the kind of company you want to keep! 

His back-to-back big efforts were enough to garner a handful of votes in The Athletic’s latest straw poll, where he was seventh among eight vote-getters in the 34-person poll. This Stillwater News Press story rings the bell for Oklahoma State to start Gordon’s Heisman campaign.

Leading the field for the first time this year in The Athletic straw poll is Ohio State junior wideout Marvin Harrison Jr., who garnered 15 first-place votes, supplanting second-place Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. atop the close poll. 

Not far back was third-place Oregon QB Bo Nix, fourth-place LSU QB Jayden Daniels and fifth-place Michigan QB JJ McCarthy. Florida State QB Jordan Travis was sixth and Missouri wide receiver Luther Burden, with one third-place vote, was eighth. 

McCarthy and Daniels were both off last week, but the rest were in action, refining their resumes.

Harrison Jr. continues to make the case for another receiver to win the Heisman as he tries to follow in 2020 winner DeVonta Smith’s footsteps. He had six receptions for 123 yards and a season-best two touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ 24-10 win over Wisconsin for his fourth straight game with over 100 yards receiving and his sixth on the season in eight games. 

Former coaches Urban Meyer and Gary DiNardo discussed why Harrison should win the award on the Big Ten Network chat here.

Penix Jr. continues to grab an increasingly large share of Heisman attention as well. The senior, who leads the country in passing yards per game by almost 40 yards, battled through a nasty cold Saturday to throw for 369 yards and four touchdowns to help Washington hold off Stanford, 42-33. Penix Jr. has led the Huskies to their first 8-0 start since they made their only CFP appearance in 2016.

He squares off against 2022 Heisman winner Caleb Williams on Saturday when Washington visits USC. In this Seattle Times story, they predict Penix Jr., will remain squarely in the hunt if Washington makes the Pac-12 title game. 

Williams, on the other hand, could vault back into the race with a big game against the top-5 ranked Huskies.

Penix’s fellow Pacific Northwest football star Nix continues to earn plaudits as he led the Ducks’ 35-6 dismantling of Utah as they ended the Utes’ 18-game home winning streak.

Nix, who leads the nation in completion percentage and boasts a 21-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio, threw for 248 yards and two scores on 24-of-31 passing and also opened the game’s scoring with a one-yard touchdown run.

This Yahoo! Sports story details Nix’s chances. Oregon Coach Dan Lanning is unequivocal in his support of him, saying in the story: “I’m going to say it again, Bo Nix is the best quarterback in the nation just to be really clear. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it.”

Well, he may get an argument from Brian Kelly at LSU or Kalen DeBoer at Washington, among others, but that’s to be expected. 

This Fox Sports Radio roundtable considered who the Heisman finalists may be in December, which included, possibly, Nix, McCarthy, Penix Jr. and Travis.

Travis passed for a season-high 359 yards and three touchdowns and also ran one in in FSU’s win over Wake Forest last week. He has now accounted for multiple touchdowns in 15 straight games, the longest streak in the nation, which included this 13-yard, first-quarter TD run that got the Seminoles going.

The New York Post has him on its shortlist as it considers Heisman contenders here.

Returning briefly to Williams, he threw for 369 yards and two scores and also ran in two touchdowns in USC’s come-from-behind 50-49 win at California.

Williams is tied for the lead nationally in both passing touchdowns with 25 and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 9 while his combined passing and rushing total of 34 touchdowns leads the country.

Should he lead USC to a big November, he could make the Heisman race even more exciting than it already is.