I can confidently say that this award will go to a quarterback this year. We have not seen any standout running backs or wide receivers who have a real shot at winning the award. Rome Odunze could make an interesting case, but the attention will likely be on his quarterback. Another notable observation is the number of players from the Pac-12. The West Coast is loaded with talent in their final season. These rankings are based on how I evaluate the candidates.
5 – Jordan Travis (Florida State, QB) – 1,028 passing yards, 10 TDs, 1 INT, 94 rushing yards, 2 TDs: Florida State didn’t have an easy win on Saturday, but they managed to secure a victory over Clemson. The Seminoles now have wins over LSU and Clemson, all before the end of September. Travis played a key role in both of these victories, making crucial plays in both games to lead his team to success. As a sixth-year quarterback, he has excelled in limiting mistakes and putting his team in a position to win. Florida State still has several significant games ahead, which could boost Travis’s rankings. The Seminoles are set to face Miami FL, Duke, and Florida before the end of the season, and they are likely contenders for an ACC championship. If Travis continues to make impactful plays with both his arm and legs, he stands a great chance of earning a spot in New York City when December arrives.
4 – Cameron Ward (Washington State, QB) – 1,390 passing yards, 13 TDs, 0 INT, 109 rushing yards, 3 TDs: Can we take a moment to appreciate Cameron Ward’s incredible performance? He’s been an absolute stud in the first four weeks of the season, propelling the Cougars into legitimate contenders in the Pac-12. With a completion rate of over 74% and not a single interception thrown, his talent is undeniable. Ward led Washington State to a significant victory over Wisconsin a few weeks ago and recently secured a win against a ranked Oregon State team. The former FCS Player of the Year needed a season to adjust to the FBS level, but now he’s on fire. Ward is the lifeblood of this Cougar team and an essential part of their success. Washington State is now entering a bye week before hitting the road to face UCLA. Ward will have ample opportunities to showcase his talent in the upcoming games against Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Interestingly, Ward’s Heisman odds are currently around +3300 depending on your book, which represents incredible value given what he’s already achieved.
3 – Caleb Williams (USC, QB) – 1,200 passing yards, 15 TDs, 0 INT, 71 rushing yards, 3 TDs: The reigning Heisman Trophy winner finds himself deeply entrenched in the competition once more. Williams will face at least six more challenging opponents, all determined to test the Trojans. USC is set to travel to Colorado, Oregon, and Notre Dame while hosting Utah, Washington, and UCLA. Reigning Heisman Trophy winners are always held to a higher standard. Typically, they must surpass their previous season’s performance to have a chance at winning again. For instance, Lamar Jackson actually posted better statistics in his second season than his Heisman-winning season but still didn’t secure the award. Williams faces the challenge of getting the Trojans into the College Football Playoff. Losing two games this season will make justifying a Heisman vote for Williams exceedingly difficult. USC’s defense doesn’t seem to be helping the team much, so Williams will be heavily relied upon, as he was last night in the game against Arizona State.
2 – Quinn Ewers (Texas, QB) – 1,033 Passing Yards, 9 TDs, 0 INT, 34 rushing yards, 3 TDs: Quinn Ewers may have secured one of the most significant wins of the season so far. Not many quarterbacks can venture into Alabama and emerge victorious against Nick Saban. Ewers not only defeated the Crimson Tide but did so by a double-digit margin. While it’s true that Alabama may not be as formidable as in previous years, it doesn’t diminish the significance of his victory. Ewers serves as the leader of this Longhorns team and has them performing exceptionally well. He rebounded strongly after a disappointing week against Wyoming when he faced Baylor. Ewers now has a chance to guide Texas to their first-ever College Football Playoff appearance, a feat that would undoubtedly impress voters. Being the quarterback for the Longhorns, one of the biggest brands in the country, comes with immense pressure. Texas has a relatively light schedule, which means Ewers must make the most of his opportunities to remain near the top of Heisman considerations. Texas’ next two games are against Kansas and Oklahoma, and the schedule eases up, with the Longhorns likely not facing another ranked team for the rest of the season.
1 – Michael Penix (Washington, QB) – 1,636 Passing yards, 16 TDs, 2 INT, 14 rushing yards, 0 TDs: As we enter week four, there’s a clear-cut favorite emerging in the college football landscape. Michael Penix has undeniably been the standout player in the country thus far. Penix is averaging an impressive 409 passing yards per game with four touchdowns to his name. He’s the commanding force behind Washington’s electrifying offense, boasting a completion rate of over 74%. The Huskies have been dominating their opponents, winning by an average margin of 32 points. However, it’s worth noting that Washington’s schedule has been relatively on the easier side, featuring matchups against teams like Michigan State, Cal, Boise State, and Tulsa. The real test lies ahead, with five ranked teams remaining on their schedule, including trips to USC and Oregon State, and home games against Oregon, Washington State, and Utah. Penix will face formidable defenses in these matchups, putting him in situations where he’ll need to make critical plays. Washington is in a strong position to contend for the Pac-12 championship this season, and Penix would undoubtedly play a major role in their success. While he may currently hold the top spot, it’s essential to remember that there’s still a lot of football left to be played.
Honorable Mentions: Bo Nix (Oregon, QB), Dillon Gabriel (Oklahoma, QB), Shedeur Sanders (Colorado, QB), Tyler Van Dyke (Miami FL, QB), Blake Corum (Michigan, RB), Rome Odunze (Washington, WR)
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