For the remainder of the college football season, Yahoo Sports will highlight the top candidates for the Heisman Trophy on a weekly basis. All odds are via BetMGM.
Can Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. push for the Heisman Trophy in this weekend’s showdown against Michigan? Or has the Heisman race been reduced to LSU QB Jayden Daniels, Oregon QB Bo Nix and Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.?
Heading into the final weekend of the college football regular season, Daniels, Nix and Penix have stood out from the pack when looking at the Heisman odds board.
Daniels is now the betting favorite at -130, followed by Nix at +140 and Penix at +600. From there, there is a significant gap between the three quarterbacks and Harrison at +3000. Another quarterback, Georgia’s Carson Beck, is also in the mix at +3300.
Daniels, Nix and Penix have put up incredible numbers all season, but Harrison will see the biggest rivalry this weekend when unbeaten Ohio State and Michigan meet for the Big Ten East crown. The winner advances to the Big Ten title game, and the loser could find themselves on the outside and in contention for the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State had long dominated its rivalry with Michigan, winning 17 of 19 meetings between 2001 and 2019. But things have changed in the last two seasons. Michigan ended its miserable losing streak against the Buckeyes with an emphatic 42-27 win in 2021 and claimed its first outright Big Ten title since 1997. The Wolverines did it again last year and the Buckeyes are on their way to another one Big Ten defeats Ten 45-23 in Columbus for title and CFP appearance.
Ohio State and Michigan were both undefeated when they met last fall. And this season, the stakes are just as high, giving Harrison a huge opportunity. With average quarterback play and several other players at the position level dealing with injuries, Ohio State’s offense has nowhere been more explosive than it has been in recent years. Harrison, who had 62 catches for 1,093 yards and 13 touchdowns, had to carry a heavy load.
He almost single-handedly beat Penn State on Oct. 21 when he caught 11 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown. If he puts together a similar performance in a surprising road game against Michigan and then has another big game in the conference title game against Iowa, Harrison could be hard for Heisman voters to ignore.
However, for Harrison to win the Heisman, he probably needs to do a few other things.
It would also help Harrison’s case if Oregon were upset by Oregon State this weekend. If Nix and the Ducks lose, they won’t advance to the Pac-12 title game (unless Arizona loses to Arizona State) for a rematch against Penix and Washington (UW has already secured a spot in the title game). That would finish Nix off one more time before the Heisman votes come up. Additionally, Daniels will not play beyond this weekend as LSU is eliminated from the SEC title game.
It’s easy to have recency bias, and Heisman voters can be prisoners of the moment. What could be better than a standout performance in the biggest game of the year?
This is probably the path for Harrison to win the Heisman Trophy.
Note: Heisman ballots will be mailed to voters on November 27, two days after the end of the regular season. Voting will take place the following Monday, December 4th, following conference championship weekend.
LSU QB Jayden Daniels (-130)
Daniels had another incredible performance in LSU’s win over Georgia State on Saturday night. Daniels completed 25 of 30 passes for 413 yards and six touchdowns in the win. Oh, and he also rushed for 96 yards and two scores, giving him a total of 509 yards and eight touchdowns.
Daniels’ season stats are ridiculous. He has thrown for 3,577 yards and 36 touchdowns with just four interceptions while completing 72.6% of his attempts. He leads the nation in passing touchdowns, yards per attempt (11.8) and passer rating (208.34). He is second in passing yards per game (325.2), third in passing yards and seventh in completion percentage.
As a runner, Daniels rushes for 1,014 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 8.2 yards per carry. He ranks 21st nationally in rushing yards and has 187 more rushing yards than any other quarterback.
LSU is now 8-3 on the season heading into Saturday’s season finale at home against Texas A&M. Among SEC teams, only Vanderbilt has a worse defense than LSU, so Daniels’ play has carried this team all season.
Oregon QB Bo Nix (+140)
Oregon crushed Arizona State on Saturday, and the Ducks’ coaches wanted to make sure Bo Nix put up big numbers before shutting him down for most of the second half. In the first half alone, Nix completed 22 of 27 passes for 381 yards and six touchdowns, helping Oregon build a 42-0 halftime lead. He played just one second-half drive in the 49-13 win and finished his day with 404 yards through the air.
It was the second consecutive 400-yard performance for Nix, who rushed for 3,539 yards and 35 touchdowns with just two interceptions while completing 78.1% of his attempts. If the season ended today, Nix’s completion percentage would be an FBS single-season record. Nix also ranks second in passing touchdowns and passer rating (191.35), third in passing yards per game (321.7), fourth in passing yards and sixth in yards per attempt (9.8).
If Nix and the Ducks defeat rival Oregon State this weekend, it will set up a showdown between Oregon and Washington in the Pac-12 title game. Oregon’s only loss of the season came at Washington on Oct. 14, while the Huskies are undefeated.
This Pac-12 title game would have far-reaching implications. The conference championship (in the Pac-12’s final season as we know it) would be on the line, as would a trip to the College Football Playoff. And Nix and Penix could be in contention for the Heisman.
Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. (+600)
Washington picked up a big win over the weekend, defeating Oregon State 22-20 in Corvallis to remain undefeated. Penix made several crucial throws, including the game-winning first-down completion to Rome Odunze in the final minutes, but he actually posted his worst statistical performance of the season.
On a rain-soaked night in Corvallis, Penix completed just 13 of 28 for 162 yards with two touchdowns and a rushing score. Both teams struggled with falls, particularly in the first half when the rain was heaviest.
With the win, Washington secured a spot in the Pac-12 title game. Before the conference championship is decided, the Huskies host rival Washington State in the Apple Cup, a game that will give Penix another opportunity to put up big numbers.
This season, Penix continues to lead the nation in passing yards (3,695) and passing yards per game (335.9). He is tied for third in touchdown passes (30), eighth in yards per attempt (9.4) and his completion percentage fell to 22nd nationally (66.5).
Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. (+3000)
Ohio State didn’t need much from Harrison in its 37-3 win over Minnesota on Saturday. Harrison caught three passes for 30 yards and a touchdown, giving him a season-long total of 62 catches, 1,092 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Before Saturday, he had reached the 100-yard mark in seven of Ohio State’s last nine games. Harrison is tied for second in receiving touchdowns and 10th nationally in receiving yards.
He’s going to need a really big game against Michigan to win the Heisman.
Georgia QB Carson Beck (+3300)
He plays quarterback for the No. 1 team in the country, but it feels like Beck’s level of play has flown under the radar.
Beck emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the country in the second half of the season as Georgia continued to pick up wins. In Saturday’s 38-10 win at Tennessee, Beck completed 24 of 30 throws for 298 yards and three touchdowns.
This season, Beck has thrown for 3,320 yards and 21 touchdowns with just five interceptions while completing 72.9% of his passes.
Georgia is 11-0 heading into its regular-season finale against rival Georgia Tech, but more attention will be focused on UGA’s SEC Championship Game showdown against Alabama. If Beck leads the Bulldogs past the Tide and back to the CFP without a loss, he should definitely pick up some Heisman votes.