For the rest of the college football season, Yahoo Sports will highlight the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy on a weekly basis. All odds are via BetMGM.
Can Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. make a push for the Heisman Trophy in this weekend’s showdown with Michigan? Or has the Heisman race been whittled down to LSU QB Jayden Daniels, Oregon QB Bo Nix and Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.?
As we enter the final weekend of the college football regular season, Daniels, Nix and Penix have separated themselves from the pack when you look at the Heisman odds board.
Daniels is now the betting favorite at -130 with Nix close behind at +140 and Penix at +600. From there, there’s a considerable 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 been putting up incredible numbers all season long, but Harrison is going to have the biggest stage of rivalry weekend as undefeated Ohio State and Michigan meet for the Big Ten East crown. The winner will advance to the Big Ten title game, and the loser could find itself on the outside looking in 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 over the past two seasons. Michigan snapped its miserable losing streak to the Buckeyes with an emphatic 42-27 victory in 2021 to capture its first outright Big Ten title since 1997. The Wolverines did it again last year, blasting the Buckeyes 45-23 in Columbus en route to another Big Ten title and CFP appearance.
Ohio State and Michigan were both undefeated when they met last fall. And the stakes are just as high this season, creating a massive opportunity for Harrison. With average quarterback play and several other skill position players dealing with injuries, Ohio State’s offense has been nowhere as explosive as it has been in recent years. Harrison, who has 62 catches for 1,093 yards and 13 TDs, has had to carry a heavy load.
He almost single-handedly beat Penn State back on Oct. 21 when he caught 11 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown. If he puts together a similar performance in a road upset over Michigan, and then has another big game in the conference title game vs. Iowa, Harrison could be hard for Heisman voters to ignore.
For Harrison to win the Heisman, though, he will likely need a few other things to fall into place.
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 their rematch with Penix and Washington (UW has already clinched a spot in the title game). That would take another showcase away from Nix before Heisman ballots are due. Additionally, Daniels won’t play beyond this weekend with LSU eliminated from SEC title contention.
It’s easy to have recency bias, and Heisman voters can be prisoners of the moment. What would be better than a starring performance in the biggest game of the year?
That’s likely the path for Harrison to end up hoisting the Heisman Trophy.
Note: Heisman ballots go out to voters on Nov. 27, two days after the conclusion of the regular season. Ballots are due the following Monday, Dec. 4, following conference championship weekend.
LSU QB Jayden Daniels (-130)
Daniels put together 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 to give him 509 total yards and eight total TDs.
Daniels’ season-long statistics are ridiculous. He has thrown for 3,577 yards and 36 touchdowns with only 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 is up to 1,014 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 8.2 yards per rush. He is 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 the season finale at home vs. Texas A&M on Saturday. Only Vanderbilt has a worse defense than LSU among SEC teams, so Daniels’ play has been carrying this team all season long.
Oregon QB Bo Nix (+140)
Oregon blasted Arizona State on Saturday, and the Ducks’ coaches wanted to make sure Bo Nix put up huge 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 as Oregon built a 42-0 halftime lead. He played only one second-half drive in the 49-13 win and finished his day with 404 yards through the air.
It was the second straight 400-yard performance for Nix, who has thrown for 3,539 yards and 35 touchdowns with only two interceptions while completing 78.1% of his attempts. If the season ended today, Nix’s completion percentage would be a single-season FBS 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 get past rival Oregon State this weekend, it will set up an Oregon vs. Washington showdown in the Pac-12 title game. Oregon’s only loss of the season came at Washington back on Oct. 14, while the Huskies are undefeated.
That Pac-12 title game would have far-reaching implications. The conference championship (in the final season of the Pac-12 as we know it) would be on the line, as would a trip to the College Football Playoff. And Nix and Penix could duke it out for the Heisman.
Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. (+600)
Washington picked up a huge win over the weekend, beating Oregon State 22-20 in Corvallis to stay undefeated. Penix made several clutch throws, including the game-clinching first-down completion to Rome Odunze in the final minutes, but he actually had his worst statistical output of the season.
On a rain-soaked night in Corvallis, Penix went just 13-of-28 for 162 yards with two TDs and a rushing score. Both teams were plagued by drops, particularly in the first half when the rain was at its hardest.
With the win, Washington clinched a spot in the Pac-12 title game. Before the conference championship is decided, the Huskies will host rival Washington State in the Apple Cup, a game that will provide Penix another opportunity to put up big numbers.
For the season, Penix still leads 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 No. 22 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, bringing his season-long totals to 62 catches, 1,092 yards and 13 TDs.
Before Saturday, he had topped 100 yards in seven of Ohio State’s previous nine games. Harrison is tied for second in receiving touchdowns and ranks No. 10 nationally in receiving yards.
He’s going to need a really big game vs. 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 has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the country over the second half of the season as Georgia has continued to pile up victories. In Saturday’s 38-10 win at Tennessee, Beck completed 24-of-30 throws for 298 yards and three touchdowns.
For the season, Beck has thrown for 3,320 yards and 21 touchdowns with only five interceptions while completing 72.9% of his passes.
Georgia is 11-0 entering the regular season finale vs. rival Georgia Tech, but more attention will be given to UGA’s SEC championship game showdown vs. Alabama. If Beck leads the Bulldogs past the Tide and back to the CFP without a loss, he should certainly garner some Heisman votes.