The Trials and Tribulations of the 2023 Heisman Trophy Race

  • Caleb Williams has gone from a huge Heisman favorite to outside the top 10
  • Michael Penix’s Washington didn’t score an offensive touchdown last week
  • Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy is the new Heisman trophy frontrunner
  • Only one of the last six Heisman winners didn’t make the College Football Playoff
Heisman Trophy
The race for the 2023 Heisman Trophy has been full of twists and turns in recent weeks as the leading candidates have turned in poor performances. [Image:]

A bumpy road

Does anyone want to win the 2023 Heisman Trophy? If the last few weeks are any indication, the answer may be a shocking, and resounding, “N-O.”

set the stage for the decisive month of postseason play

Top candidates Caleb Williams, Michael Penix Jr., and others have either damaged or completely killed their stock with poor recent performances. The season is still far from over, but these are crucial weeks in each player’s campaign and will set the stage for the decisive month of postseason play.

Let’s take a look at the 2023 Heisman Trophy candidates—those who have fallen and those who are continuing to march forward.

Gone and forgotten: 2023 Heisman Trophy candidates

USC quarterback Caleb Williams was widely expected to become the second player in the history of college football to win multiple Heismans. Through six weeks, those expectations looked like prognostications, as Williams was about +250 in betting odds and USC was 6-0.

The last two weeks, however, have completely shattered the reigning award-winner’s hopes. He averaged 227.5 passing yards and threw only one touchdown to three interceptions in consecutive losses and is now as high as +10000 on BetMGM.

Washington quarterback oversees one of the nation’s most prolific offenses

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. was the player who looked like he could challenge Williams even when the latter was at his best. The Washington quarterback oversees one of the nation’s most prolific offenses and averages 368 yards per game.

However, he was also struck by the bug that plagued Williams. He only managed 275 yards and two interceptions last week in a 15-7 win against 1-6 Arizona State, a game in which Washington, which entered leading the nation in scoring, did not score an offensive touchdown.

Penix is still alive and is second in odds on most sportsbooks, but he’s fallen quite a bit from being a minus-money favorite.

On the East Coast, UNC QB Drake Maye saw his mid-season surge to roughly +1400 stopped in its tracks as his No. 10 Tar Heels lost 31-27 to the 1-5 Virginia Cavaliers. Maye finished that game 24/48 with 347 yards, three total touchdowns, and an interception, but a QBR of just 44.3.

Still in contention

Though not as recently as the three QBs above, Colorado gunslinger Shedeur Sanders has also seen his hopes dashed amid the Buffaloes losing three of their last four games, including a home 46-43 defeat to Stanford in overtime.

his 93.7 QBR leads the nation

J.J. McCarthy, quarterback of the national champion favorite Michigan Wolverines, is the favorite at most major betting sites. His 93.7 QBR leads the nation, and although he doesn’t have the same counting stats as some of his competitors, the Wolverines are an unflappable 8-0 on the year.

LSU’s Jayden Daniels, Florida State’s Jordan Travis, Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel, and Oregon’s Bo Nix are next in line as far as betting odds go. Ohio State wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. is the top non-quarterback and has a stat line of 109.4 yards per game, 18.2 yards per reception, and six touchdowns.

Last year, Caleb Williams was the first Heisman winner to play for a team that did not make the College Football Playoff since Lamar Jackson in 2016. The top four teams in this week’s national rankings are Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, and Florida State. Coincidentally, those are the top four teams in futures betting odds to make the CFP.

This batch of teams would mean that Penix, Daniels, Gabriel, Nix, and others would miss out on competing for a national championship.

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