The Heisman Trophy race heated up this past weekend in a wild week of action that changed the odds somewhat. In fact, the top two candidates in terms of the odds met up on the field in what proved to be a mismatch.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young's performance against Ole Miss and Matt Corral puts him in the driver's seat for the Heisman Trophy. https://t.co/3RnQNo61gV
While Bryce Young might be in the driver’s seat after Alabama’s Saturday victory, this is a still a race that can change at a moment’s notice. After all, we’re still not even halfway through the regular season, so there is plenty of opportunity for some contenders to step into the picture.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the Heisman Trophy race stacks up heading unto Week 6. We’ll explore it in terms of the Top 10, while also looking at those who might be either at long odds or even off the board that could make for good futures wagers.
The Top Ten
Bryce Young, Alabama (+110)
Young won the game and the matchup between Matt Corral on Saturday, coming up with two touchdown passes and 241 yards through the air. He also threw his second interception of the season, but a 17 to 2 TD to interception ratio is pretty special to this point in the season.
In terms of his Heisman candidacy, he did cede most of the spotlight to running back Larry Robinson Jr. (more on him to come), who bullied the Rebels on the ground. And his stats were similar to Corral’s, although the latter did most of his damage in garbage time.
Young is still the showcase talent on the team that is the favorite to win the national championship, and that’s going to be tough for anyone to overcome. He is perfect so far this year in playing five solid games in a row, so he is not giving his competitors a lot of room to come from behind.
Next: Saturday at Texas A&M
Matt Corral, Mississippi (+200)
Corral’s end-of-game stats were respectable, especially considering he was on the road against the best team in the country. But the fact remains that anybody watching the game knows that Corral did his statistical work in a futile second half after the Tide led 35-0 after 30 minutes.
Unlike last year, when Corral was able to keep the Rebels close in a shootout against Bama, here he was bottled up for most of the afternoon. He could only manage 3 yards rushing (seven sacks by Alabama hurt that total) while adding 213 through the air, with one touchdown each rushing and receiving.
The good news and bad news for Corral’s chances are one in the same. On the one hand, the SEC schedule stays tough, with rugged defenses galore still to face him. But the good news is that those will be opportunities for him to put the struggle against the Tide in the rear view.
Next: Saturday vs. Arkansas
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati (+1000)
Ridder took the biggest jump this week as he guided the Bearcats to the biggest win in the history of their program against Notre Dame. The statistics that Ridder put up were solid in the game, as he threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns and added 26 yards and another score on the ground.
More important than that, Ridder showed incredible poise in the victory. As Notre Dame staged a major second-half comeback, Ridder kept making plays to make sure that the Bearcats held the lead. All of that came in front of a national television audience.
Thank you to all the Bearcat faithfuls who made the trip!! Y’all showed up and showed out!! Great team win, on to the Next…🔴⚫️
Ridder’s margin for error is as slim as his team’s is if they want to make the College Football Playoffs. One bad game in the AAC and it will be tough to overcome. But if Cincy runs the table and Riddler’s starts running up the stats, he could be best-equipped to pick up the baton if Young drops it.
Next: Friday vs. Temple
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma (+1600)
Rattler enjoyed his best game of the season in the Sooners road win over a very game Kansas State team on Saturday. Much like Ridder did, Rattler was able to keep making plays as the Wildcats staged their attempted comeback so that Oklahoma could stay spotless.
The stats were there for the most part as well, as Rattler completed an impressive 88 percent of his passes for 243 yards and two scores. He did toss another pick, which gives him four on the year, a bit of an unwieldy total after five games for a guy craving Heisman hardware.
Rattler hasn’t thrown for over 300 yards since Week 1 against Tulane, so his stats are trailing some of the other high-volume passers. But the offense came to life and better things could be on the way. He’ll get an excellent chance to shine in the Red River Showdown this weekend against Texas.
Next: Saturday vs. Texas (neutral field)
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State (+1600)
Stroud was grooving on the road against a Rutgers team that had just given Michigan’s offense headaches the week before. He tossed for 330 yards and five scores in the game. That allowed him to take the spotlight away from freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson (more on him in a bit.)
We didn’t know what kind of Ohio State was going to be coming into the year, considering they had so many new faces. While Henderson has been a revelation as a runner, the Buckeyes have a fantastic group of receivers and a suspect defense, which is why they almost have to air it out.
The last two victories for the Buckeyes, albeit against weaker teams, have shown a team gaining confidence. If they can win the Big Ten, which is much tougher than in recent season, with Stroud at the helm, his stats and his stature could be Heisman-worthy.
Next: Saturday vs. Maryland
Bijan Robinson, Texas (+1800)
Robinson is one of several candidates on this list who are moving back up the ladder after an early-season stumble. In Robinson’s case, it came when Arkansas shocked the college football world and stymied the Texas offense in Week 2.
Since then, Texas Coach Steve Sarkisian called an audible and went to Casey Thompson as the quarterback over Hudson Card. That has ignited the Longhorn offense in three straight wins, and Robinson has been riding that wave with some monster numbers.
His rushing yardage has gone up in every game since the loss to Arkansas. On Saturday in the middle of a close win over TCU, Robinson shone with 216 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Next up is Oklahoma on Saturday, which will be a tough test and great opportunity all rolled into one.
Next: Saturday vs. Oklahoma (neutral field)
Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State (+2500)
Walker needed a bounce-back game after he was held to just 61 yards by a game Nebraska team the previous week. Mission accomplished, as the Wake Forest transfer carried the Spartans on the ground with 126 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Western Kentucky.
That makes four very impressive, efficient games out of five for the guy who wasn’t on anybody’s Heisman radar when the season began. Part of that was because Michigan State wasn’t supposed to be this good, and part was because many transfers struggle to start well in their new location.
Michigan State’s Schedule Still Has Some Major Whales on It as They Try to Navigate the Big Ten
Many of the defenses from those teams will be gearing up to try and take Walker away. Nobody ever said winning the Heisman Trophy was going to be an easy deal, but at least Walker is in the mix.
Next: Saturday at Rutgers
TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State (+2800)
As we mentioned last week in this column, Henderson is becoming a victim of his own success. As Ohio State finally looked the part of a national power with back-to-back easy victories, they’ve made sure to limit their freshman sensation’s workload so as not to risk injury.
That has mean that Henderson has needed to do a lot with a little, which he’s managed to do pretty well when you get right down to it. In the last two games, Henderson has just 16 carries, but he racked up 164 yards, for a 10.25 yards per carry rate and two touchdowns.
Just think if he was that efficient in a 20-carry game. Well, don’t worry about that, because Ohio State has plenty of tough tests left where the freshman will need to be more than just a part-time participant. That’s when Henderson will get his chance to make his case as a possible freshman Heisman winner.
Next: Saturday vs. Maryland
Sean Clifford, Penn State (+4000)
Clifford has benefitted from being in the spotlight perhaps more than any other Heisman candidate to this point in the season. And he has stepped up in those feature-type games against Wisconsin, Auburn, and, again on Saturday night, Indiana, which turned out to be a lot easier than the other two.
It actually wasn’t Clifford’s best night by a long stretch, as he barely completed 50 percent of his passes and throwing an interception for the third straight game. The yardage wasn’t much either (178), but he did throw for three touchdowns and added 58 yards on 5.8 yards per carry.
The bottom line is that Clifford doesn’t always look as spectacular as some of the other quarterbacks on this list. But his team is outperforming expectations after a terrible 2020, so he deserves plenty of credit for that. He has a lot of players to climb on this list, but he is certainly hanging around.
Next: Saturday at Iowa
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh (+4000)
Now in his fifth season as a Panther quarterback, Pickett is making all of his former campaigns look like chopped liver. Coming into this season, his career-high in touchdown passes for a season was 13. Through five games in 2021, Pickett is at 19 passing scores (against just a single interception.)
His numbers in Saturday’s road victory against conference foe Georgia Tech were emblematic of what we’ve come to expect from Pickett this season. He threw for 389 yards and four touchdowns on 64 passing for what has become a wildly successful Pitt offense.
Pickett’s chances would look at a lot better if not for a heartbreaking win against Western Michigan, which is preventing the Panthers from being unbeaten. The ACC is wide-open, however, which gives Pitt a chance to surprise and Pickett a chance to star as he rounds out his extended career.
Next: October 16 at Virginia Tech
Out of the Race
CJ Verdell, Oregon and JT Daniels, Georgia
Sadly, Verdell, who was sitting in the top 5 for much of the year after his monster performance over Ohio State, suffered what appeared to be a major ankle injury in the third quarter of Oregon’s shocking loss to Stanford. Chances are he’ll be out for a big chunk of the season, if not the rest of it.
As for Daniels, his injury situation is a bit murky, as he was a surprising DNP in Georgia’s blowout win over previously-unbeaten Arkansas. That makes two missed games out of five, and the lat injury he’s facing seems to be one that will keep him out for a little longer, dooming his Heisman hopes.
Live Long Shots
Christopher Rodriguez Jr., Kentucky (Off the Board)
If people were wondering if Kentucky’s run of early-season success was a fluke, the victory on Saturday night over Florida likely answered a lot of those questions. Rodriguez is the veteran star and heartbeat of the Wildcats, and he is suddenly on the map for Heisman consideration, albeit as a long shot.
Rodriguez had one clunker earlier this season in a tougher-than-expected victory over Chattanooga. But other than that, he has been impeccable in 2021. Grinding on a tough 99 yards on over five yards a pop, along with the clinching touchdown, against Florida was an exceptional effort.
The Wildcats Have a Typically-Tough Gauntlet Left to Run
But Rodriguez benefits from the fact that Kentucky boasts some speed threats on the outside to take the pressure off. It should be interesting to see if he can keep his rushing yards per game average at 124 as things get tougher.
Next: Saturday vs. LSU
Jahan Dotson, Penn State (Off the Board)
Dotson was exceptional in Penn State’s victory over Indiana Saturday night with two touchdown catches to spark the team’s fifth straight win to start the year. But it shouldn’t surprise anybody, because Dotson has been exceptional all year long.
You could argue that his long touchdown catch in the opener against Wisconsin was the turning point of the season in Week 1. Locked in a defensive struggle, he gave Penn State the lead and the confidence that it has displayed ever since.
Dotson now has a score in every game this year, displaying the consistency that receivers need to have to have any shot at a Heisman. He has done it against a rugged schedule as well. At some point, he needs to get some Heisman respect by at least making the odds board for what he’s done so far.
Next: Saturday at Iowa
Larry Robinson Jr., Alabama (Off the Board)
Robinson took the game off against Southern Mississippi two weeks ago, and it seems to have reenergized him to an extent. On Saturday afternoon against Ole Miss, with everybody focused on Bryce Young versus Matt Corral, Robinson was the offensive star of the game.
Coach Nick Saban clearly sensed that the Rebels were vulnerable in the trenches, and he also wanted to keep the ball out of Corral’s hands. The solution was a steady diet of Robinson, who pounded away with 36 carries for 171 yards and four short touchdown carries, an impressively old-school performance.
Maybe there is a scenario where Saban sees that as a viable way to run the offense going forward, at least in some games. That leaves open the possibility for more workhorse games lie that from Robinson. In any case, this fifth-year player is going out with a bang this season.
Next: Saturday at Texas A&M
Tyler Goodson, Iowa (Off the Board)
Most of the top ten teams are represented with Heisman Trophy candidates with good odds, but Iowa is not one of them. For that reason, Goodson, the versatile fourth-year running back, needs to be in the discussion in the event that the Hawkeyes keep winning and they demand a Heisman hopeful.
Goodson made a splash on Friday night with the entire college football nation watching. He made several highlight runs (although he only managed 65 yards on the ground), but showed off by making a long touchdown catch that helped break the game wide open.
Goodson has churned out 86 yards per game and five touchdowns on the ground, while sprinkling in 12 catches for 146 yards through the air. He’ll get the chance on Saturday to play in the nation’s spotlight game when Iowa takes on Penn State and its pair of Heisman candidates.
Next: Saturday vs. Penn State
Now that you have an idea of what the Heisman race looks like heading into Week 6 of the college football season. Check back next week to see where your choices stand on the top college football wagering sites.
Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...
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