In less than 4 weeks, we’ll have a new Heisman Trophy winner. Votes are due in less than three weeks. And the leading candidates are NOT looking to make it easy on voters.
Although the list of top candidates has narrowed, there is still a wide swath of Heisman hopefuls throwing down huge performances that could spark attention.
Whether that buzz generates enough juice to make it New York … time will tell.
LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels’ second-half-of-the-season offensive surge has transformed him into a leading candidate and his record-breaking offensive performance Saturday in the Tigers’ 52-35 win over Florida bolsters his candidacy.
Daniels, who leads the country with 30 TD passes as well as in QB rating, became the first quarterback in FBS history to have at least 350 yards passing and 200 yards rushing in the same game, generating 606 total yards while accounting for five touchdowns. He passed for 372 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 234 yards on just 12 carries, scoring twice more.
The Tigers, of course, are a three-loss team, but that’s not necessarily an anvil weighing down a player’s chances like it may seem. 2022 winner Caleb Williams won the award with an 11-2 regular season while 2011 winner Robert Griffin III’s Baylor squad and 2016 winner Lamar Jackson’s Louisville team were both 9-3 in the regular season. There are many more 3-loss examples, including 1998 winner Ricky Williams and 1987 winner Tim Brown.
Daniels’ huge game gave him a boost in The Athletic’s latest Heisman straw poll, which is currently reflecting a four-way race between second-place Daniels, first-place Michael Penix Jr. of Washington, third-place Marvin Harrison Jr. of Ohio State and fourth-place Bo Nix of Oregon. The only other player to receive a vote among the 34-person media panel was Florida State QB Jordan Travis, who got one vote.
All four leading candidates got at least five first-place votes and could all seemingly be leading the poll a week from now depending on how this weekend’s slate of action plays out.
Daniels’ is definitely gaining some momentum with the college football media at large, including this Yahoo! Sports story detailing the dual-threat effectiveness of his game.
Daniels’ huge effort came against 1966 Heisman winner Steve Spurrier’s Gators. Spurrier was impressed, saying this week on Another Dooley Noted Podcast that: “He is a fantastic runner. He might be the best running quarterback there’s ever been in college football.”
Penix Jr., meanwhile, has led Washington to just its second 10-0 start ever after a 35-28 win over Utah. Penix Jr., the nation’s leader in passing yards, rolled up another 332 yards through the air with two scores while also rushing for a touchdown as he rallied the Huskies in the second half.
This Bleacher Report summary of the Heisman race sees it between Penix Jr. and Nix while Daniels and Harrison are right behind.
Nix, who leads the country in completion percentage, passed for 412 yards and four TDs in leading the Ducks to a win over USC, giving him 29 passing scores on the year, one off the national lead, to go with five rushing touchdowns.
Nix and Penix Jr. may be headed to a rematch in the Pac-12 title game, Both Oregon and Washington can clinch berths in the final conference championship game with wins this week.
This selection of five current college football scribes’ top 3 Heisman picks sees Daniels atop each list with Nix either second or third on each ballot and Harrison second or third on four of the five.
This is a great profile on Nix from ESPN about his emergence as a Heisman frontrunner and how he jumpstarted his game after transferring from Auburn two years ago.
Former ESPN GameDay host David Pollack, however, does not apparently own stock in Nix. He posted his current top 5 with Daniels and Penix Jr. at 1-2. Georgia QB Carson Beck was third with Harrison Jr. fourth and Travis fifth.
Harrison Jr. kept his production at a high level last week, scoring three times in the Buckeyes’ 38-3 win over Michigan State. He caught seven passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 12 for the season, one off of the national lead, as he notched his seventh game with over 100 receiving yards.
This Columbus-Dispatch story compared Harrison’s season totals to the last wide receiver to win the award, Alabama’s DeVonta Smith in 2020. Through 10 games, Smith had 83 grabs for 1,327 yards and 16 TDs compared to Harrison’s 59 for 1,063 and 13 scores. There’s a gap, but the numbers are still impressive.
Travis’ Seminoles enter this weekend perfect, following a 27-20 win over Miami. Travis threw for 265 yards and a score in the win and boasts 20 TDs this year to just one pick. He also has seven rushing TDs this year.
Michigan’s McCarthy has led the Wolverines to a 10-0 start, but he has yet to pop on many Heisman top 5 lists despite sitting second in the nation in completion percentage and QB rating. His passing numbers are more modest, averaging 219.4 yards per game.
Beck, despite leading No. 1 Georgia, has also yet to gain much traction, though he is averaging 300 yards passing a game with an 18-to-5 TD to interception ratio.