The Latest Heisman Buzz Heading Into Halloween

ESPN Reaches New Multi-Year Agreement with The Heisman Trust – The 86th Annual Heisman Trophy Ceremony to Air January 5

Halloween is right around the corner and maybe the only bigger debate this time of year than the Heisman race is where you stand on candy corn. But we’re not going to touch a hot-button issues like that, so let’s dig into the latest Heisman musings and missives from the college football media world.

If we’re using The Athletic’s 34-member straw poll as a barometer — and we are — opinions on who might win the Heisman are quite varied.

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. remains the top vote-getter, but first-place votes were split among six different players, including nine for second-place Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. and six for third-place LSU QB Jayden Daniels (coincidentally, the guest on this week’s The Official Heisman Trophy Podcast).

Also getting first-place nods were Oklahoma QB Dillion Gabriel, Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy and Oregon QB Bo Nix. As an example at how fickle college football can be, 2022 Heisman winner Caleb Williams, a leading Heisman hopeful two weeks ago, went vote-less after USC fell for the second straight game and Williams failed to throw a TD pass for the first time as a Trojan.

Penix Jr., who leads the country in passing yards per game (368.0) and is fourth in TD passes (20), had a modest game himself last week, but did help the No. 5 Huskies come-from-behind to beat Arizona State, 15-7, and stay unbeaten. He threw for 275 yards but with two interceptions and no TDs.

Harrison had a huge game for No. 3 Ohio State, who defeated No. 7 Penn State, 20-12. The junior wideout caught 11 passes for 162 yards and a late touchdown pass that put the game out of reach. He became the first Buckeye with five career games with at least 160 yards, which includes three times this year.

The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman seconded the Harrison Heisman talk here with some details on his impressive athleticism. Meanwhile, Ohio State Head Coach Ryan Day made the case for Harrison on the Big Ten Network here. 

Harrison, in fact, leads CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd’s latest Heisman Hype top 10 with McCarthy second, Daniels third, Nix fourth and Florida State QB Jordan Travis fifth.

The folks on the SEC Network pregame show were talking up Daniels’ Heisman credentials before he threw three TD passes against Army in one half last week.

Daniels is second in passing yards (2,573) and leads the nation in touchdown passes (25) and QB rating (204.3) while completing 73.1 percent of his attempts. And PFFCollege has this noteworthy stat on where Daniels stands on throws of at least 20-yards. Spoiler alert, it’s pretty good.

Michigan’s McCarthy posted season-bests in passing yards (287) and touchdown passes (four) in a 49-0 win at Michigan State to help the Wolverines get to 8-0. He is second nationally in completion percentage (78.1) and QB rating (199.1).

In this Wolverine update, McCarthy stated he’s laser focused on winning Michigan a championships, not on the trophy.

The Sooners’ Gabriel has been under the radar a bit, seemingly, but has caught potential voters’ attention with his consistent play, which included three touchdowns in Oklahoma’s 31-29 win over Central Florida, Gabriel’s former team.

The Seminoles’ Travis is eighth in The Athletic poll but is still very much in the mix after leading No. 4 FSU to a 38-20 win over No. 16 Duke. He threw for 268 yards and two scores and led the Seminoles in rushing with 62 yards and another score.

This Pro Football Network story examines his chances, noting that against FSU’s toughest three opponents — LSU, Clemson and Duke — he’s been rock solid with 899 passing yards and three scores. And Always College Football’s Greg McElroy shared his thoughts on how dangerous he can be.

Nix, meanwhile, has kept the pedal down in Eugene and led the Ducks to a 38-24 win over Washington State with 293 yards passing and two scores and one more TD on the ground. Pro Football Focus lists him currently fourth overall in its latest rankings.

Nix, by the way, was just announced as a finalist for the Campbell Trophy, also known as the “Academic Heisman”.

PFF Also has Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders fifth, noting his 2,419 yards passing and 21 TDs.