Stroud showing no signs of slowing down in Heisman Trophy race
As we enter the final weekend of college football’s regular season, the Heisman race has suddenly become much tighter.
Let’s break down the favorites and predict which players can still make one final statement to improve their odds.
Heisman Trophy 2021
Sun, December 5 2021, 10:57 AM
Walker III, Kenneth
And then, there were two
After a season where we saw three or four players stuck in a weekly carousal atop the standings, the Heisman is now a two-horse race. Last week’s co-favorite Bryce Young improved from +200 to +110 after a dominant performance against a ranked Arkansas team. Young set the single-game school record with 559 passing yards, throwing for five touchdowns on 31 completions in a 42-35 win. He has now thrown 18 touchdowns in Alabama’s last five games, while throwing zero interceptions during that stretch.
Despite all that, he is no longer the Heisman favorite. That is because C.J. Stroud—who I have been high on since he was +5000 to win the award—is now a -200 favorite following his historic performance against Michigan State on Saturday. Stroud humiliated the Spartans defense, throwing for 432 yards and six touchdowns, with all six of those scores coming before halftime. He led the Buckeyes to touchdowns on all seven of their first-half possessions, and played just one series after halftime before taking a break.
Stroud’s price indicates that he has better than a 60% chance of winning the award, reflecting what the freshman has done this season. Despite missing the game against Akron, Stroud has thrown for 3,468 yards and 36 touchdowns, throwing just five interceptions on the year. Against the four ranked opponents he has faced, he has thrown 15 scores with just one interception.
Young’s numbers are solid as well, with 3,584 yards and 38 touchdowns on the year to just three picks and another two touchdowns on the ground. Like Stroud, he has done well against ranked teams, with 14 touchdowns and one pick in four games. However, Stroud has not had the cupcake non-conference games to pad those stats that Young has, with 13 of his touchdowns coming in games against Mercer, New Mexico State, and Southern Miss.
Can Walker and Corral still make a late push?
Last week’s co-favorite Kenneth Walker III went from the talk of college football to a long-shot all within a matter of two weeks. He took a big tumble from +200 last week to +2000 now, as the beatdown from Ohio State saw him carry the ball just six times for 25 yards. The Spartans fell behind so fast that they immediately had to abandon their game plan, and head coach Mel Tucker said Walker was not at 100%, as he suffered an ankle injury against Maryland. Since his dominant performance against Michigan, Walker has just three touchdowns in the ensuing three games, and has just seven touchdowns in his six non-Michigan games in October and November.
Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral also slid down to +2000, down from +550 the week before. Corral threw for 326 yards and a pair of scores against Vanderbilt, but his numbers simply have not been what they were in September, when he scored fourteen touchdowns in three games. In the month of November, Corral has thrown for just four touchdowns and hasn’t run for a single one in their three games. At this point, he will be invited to the Heisman ceremony, but his chances of winning are slim to none.
The two other longshots worth keeping an eye on are Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett and Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder. Pickett dropped from +2000 to +3300 despite throwing for 340 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Virginia. He has now thrown for 36 touchdowns to just six interceptions and will easily top the 4,000 yard mark, but a lack of quality wins is hurting him.
Meanwhile, Ridder continues to lead the Bearcats on an unbeaten season, and had his best performance this weekend against SMU. In a 48-14 rout, he completed 17 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns, while also adding a touchdown rushing and receiving—yes, you read that right. If Cincinnati remains unbeaten, he could get an invite to the ceremony, but his 31 total touchdowns simply won’t be enough.
Early in the third quarter, with @GoBearcatsFB leading 27-0, Desmond Ridder CAUGHT a touchdown pass from fellow senior Jordan Jones. It was one of FIVE Ridder TDs on the day––along with three through the air and one on the ground.— Cincinnati Bearcats (@GoBEARCATS) November 21, 2021
It's today's Fujitec Skilled Play of the Game! pic.twitter.com/eIiyZNnB0x
What to watch for
Both Stroud and Young will have huge rivalry games this week to solidify their chances, and—if Ohio State wins—they will also both have a conference championship game to make a final statement. The Buckeyes have all to play for this weekend, as the winner between Ohio State and Michigan will win the Big Ten East. Stroud could all but lock up the trophy should he dominate yet again, this time against his school’s most hated rival. He would then get the Big Ten title game against either Iowa, Wisconsin, or Minnesota, all of whom he would have a favorable matchup against.
Young will square off with Auburn this weekend, and then will face his toughest test of the year against Georgia. A win against the Bulldogs could give him the ultimate edge over Stroud, given how dominant the Bulldogs’ defense has been this season. Additionally, should Ohio State lose to Michigan, he would have two games’ worth of stats over Stroud to boost his season totals. If you believe that Young is the man to pick, this is your final chance to get any value at all on him.