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Heisman Stock Up, Stock Down: Down to Final Four

USC QB Williams the Heisman Front-Runner

Different players have moved up and down the list of Heisman Trophy candidates and now just four players are in contention for the most prestigious individual award in college football.

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, last year’s winner, is not among the four finalists,

Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans looks to pass against the Utah Utes during the first quarter in the Pac-12 Championship at Allegiant Stadium
David Becker - Getty Images - AFP

as he went from throwing for 4,872 yards with 47 touchdowns in 2021 to passing for 3,007 yards and 27 TDs this season. Teammate Will Anderson Jr. was thought to have a chance to become a rare defensive player to make a run at winning the Heisman and he is also not among the finalists.

This has been the biggest movement when looking at the Heisman Trophy odds and the college football predictions. The winner will be announced on Saturday between 8-9 p.m. ET with the ceremony airing live on ESPN.

Here’s a look at the final edition of the Heisman risers and fallers of the 2022 season.

Let’s check the latest NCAAF picks, stats, injury reports, and NCAAF predictions. We’ve plenty of NCAAF expert picks for you to consider.

Also check on these NCAAF betting lines.

Williams in the Lead

A Pac-12 quarterback hasn’t won the Heisman Trophy since USC’s Matt Leinart in 2004 and that could change this weekend.

Caleb Williams showed up on Heisman Trophy odds during his true freshman season at Oklahoma even though he didn’t start the year as the Sooners’ starting quarterback. He didn’t end up among the top 10 when the votes were cast in 2021. The Las Vegas odds list Williams at -2500 to win the Heisman even though he couldn’t figure out a way to beat Utah, a loss that cost the Trojans a chance to play for the national title. Williams played well in both losses to Utah as he was 53 of 83 for 744 yards with eight touchdown passes and one interception.

He has thrown for 4,075 yards while completing 66% of his passes. He had 37 TDs and just four interceptions in his first season at USC. Williams transferred not long after head coach Lincoln Riley announced that he was leaving Oklahoma to take over at USC.

A true sophomore, he will be one of the youngest winners if he wins the award.

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Duggan Can’t Be Discounted

If any of the Heisman Trophy voters tuned into the latter stages of the Big 12 title game, they would certainly be tempted to vote for Texas Christian quarterback Max Duggan.

Duggan made plays with his legs and his arm as the Horned Frogs rallied from 11 points down in the fourth quarter to force overtime.

Duggan didn’t get the ball on either of TCU’s final two offensive plays as running back Kendre Miller was stuffed on back-to-back runs from the 1 in overtime. With TCU opting to go for it on fourth down and failing to score, it left Kansas State only needing a field goal to win the title.

The 31-28 loss to Kansas State might have spoiled TCU’s perfect record, but it didn’t keep the Horned Frogs out of the College Football Playoff field.

Duggan is currently ninth nationally with a passer rating of 165.5. He completed 65% of his passes for 3,321 yards to go with 30 TDs and just four interceptions. He also ran for 404 yards and six more scores.

His odds to win the Heisman were at +6000 just a few weeks ago. They have moved to +1200 according to the sportsbook.

One Bad Half Dooms Stroud’s, Heisman Hopes

For weeks, it looked like the Heisman Trophy was C.J. Stroud’s to lose.

That is exactly what happened.

Two of Stroud’s last four passes were intercepted as Michigan pulled away for the 45-23 victory in Ohio State’s regular-season finale.

Stroud has completed 66.2% of his passes for 3,340 yards, 37 touchdown passes, and six interceptions. He is still the national leader with a passing efficiency rating of 176.25.

His numbers are certainly good enough to garner Heisman’s consideration. However, when it comes to the eye test, he failed to deliver on the biggest stage and that was reflected in the Heisman odds, which now stand at +3500 – the longest for the four Heisman finalists per the college football betting lines. It was a far cry from the -135 odds that were sitting there just a few weeks back.

Quarterback Max Duggan #15 of the TCU Horned Frogs scrambles in the pocket against the Kansas State Wildcats in the first half of the Big 12 Championship
Max Duggan #15 / Tim Heitman – Getty Images – AFP

Bennett Piling Up Wins

It seems highly unlikely that Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett will win the Heisman Trophy as his odds are currently at +2200. However, with two more wins, he will have something every other quarterback in the nation would love to possess – a second straight national title.

Georgia’s defense isn’t quite as overpowering as the unit that led the Bulldogs to the 2021 national championship, so that has required Bennett to make a few more high-pressure throws than he had to make a season ago.

His numbers are good as he has thrown for 3,425 yards and 20 touchdowns. However, there are other non-finalists who had better statistics.

Bennett is 23rd nationally with a passer rating of 154.6. Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, and Oregon’s Bo Nix are among the quarterbacks who could have earned invites to the Heisman Trophy presentation.

Injuries Shake Up the Race

Michigan is the only team in the College Football Playoff field without a Heisman finalist. Head coach Jim Harbaugh will likely mention that to his team-leading into the CFP semifinals later this month.

Running back Blake Corum might very well have been a finalist had he finished the season. However, a knee injury limited him to two carries in the huge win over Ohio State and kept him out of the Big Ten title game against Purdue.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker would most likely not only be a finalist, but perhaps even the front-runner had he not been injured in the loss to South Carolina. He has the second-best passer rating in the country and with 27 touchdowns and two interceptions while playing in the always-tough SEC, he looked like a Heisman winner when he was healthy. His five-touchdown performance in a win over Alabama is still one of the signature moments in the 2022 college football season.

One Person’s Take

As a former Heisman Trophy voter, here is how the vote would be cast if I still had a say in the process.

  1. Duggan, TCU: If there was ever a vision that screamed Heisman winner, it was Duggan barely able to stand up while willing his team to a thrilling comeback in the Big 12 title game. He didn’t have the luxury of having last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner on the team, as was the case at USC with the addition of former Pitt receiver Jordan Addison.
  2. Williams, USC: There might not be a more talented quarterback in the country and both losses to Utah say more about USC’s defensive issues than the play of its quarterback.
  3. Hooker, Tennessee: If Williams can overcome games against Oregon State, Colorado, and Washington State, when he was 45 of 91 for 636 yards, why can’t Hooker be given a mulligan for throwing for only 195 yards with no TDs and one interception in a loss to defending national champion Georgia?

He helped Tennessee score 38 points against South Carolina and that should be enough to win. Hooker doesn’t play defense so the 63 points allowed by the Volunteers shouldn’t impact his Heisman candidacy. Is he really going to be downgraded for not being able to play against a dreadful Vanderbilt team in the regular-season finale?

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