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Heisman Report - In a wide open race, who is the best bet right now?!

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

Where does the Heisman Race Stand Now?

This is one of the most open Heisman races in recent memory with no clear frontrunner right as November is about to start. Here are the current odds from DraftKings Sportsbook:

  • Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington (+280)

  • JJ McCarthy, QB, Michigan (+300)

  • Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU (+400)

  • Bo Nix, QB, Oregon (+600)

  • Jordan Travis, QB, Florida State (+800)

Here are the full DraftKings Heisman odds for this week.

Now, let's get to this week's article.

Who can Actually win the Award?

Michael Penix Jr. (+280)

Penix took the lead in the race, and it looked like he was going to run away with it after Washington had a massive win against Oregon two weeks ago.

However, since then, the Huskies have looked mortal. They barely escaped at home against Arizona State and then got locked in a shootout with Stanford this past weekend. Both teams are arguably the worst in the conference and Washington struggled with both. Against ASU, Penix didn’t throw a touchdown pass and had three turnovers in the game. In the game against Stanford, Penix looked great with 369 passing yards and four touchdown passes, but the bigger issue is how his team looked overall.

You can’t ignore the fact that this award is also based on how the perception of the team is doing and even if Penix plays well, Washington overall needs to look the part and they haven’t recently.

Still, Penix has massive opportunities in front of him, starting this week with a trip to the Coliseum to play against the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Caleb Williams, and the much-maligned USC defense.

Jayden Daniels (+400)

The LSU Tigers are being carried by Jayden Daniels because their defense has really struggled at times this year. He has one of the biggest opportunities left on their schedule too for a “Heisman Moment” with a trip to Tuscaloosa this weekend being a massive stage for Daniels to have a big game and a moment to seize the award.

The Tigers were off this weekend, but Daniels can’t be ignored in this race at all.

Bo Nix (+600)

Bo Nix is leading a juggernaut of an Oregon team through the Pac-12. He’s been extremely efficient and leads the entire country in completion percentage at 78.3%. He also has a 21-1 touchdown to interception ratio this season.

One of the biggest things working in Nix’s favor is the story behind it. Nix has been one of the most polarizing players in all of college football starting with his stint at Auburn. It felt like he would single-handedly lose games for Auburn, but he would also make some amazing plays as well. Since he transferred to Oregon, he’s been nothing but consistent and has been the exact opposite of what he was at Auburn.

The story of his improvement is a massive factor overall. Nix also has big opportunities in front of him with a game against USC and Caleb Williams at home and then a game against Oregon State at the end of the year too.

Obviously, if Oregon wins out they'll be playing for a Pac-12 title, which could only help his cause.

Jordan Travis (+800)

The biggest key with Travis winning the award is that Florida State needs to continue winning. The Seminoles haven’t looked completely dominant in every game, but they’re undefeated. If they continue to win, they will get into the College Football Playoff. Travis has led a team filled with talent and has the stats at 2,109 passing yards, 18 passing touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 64.8% completion percentage. The issue facing Travis is that the overall ACC conference is struggling this season.

He doesn’t have many big stages in front of him left this season with Miami being the biggest game left on their schedule. The Seminoles also have a trip to Florida on Thanksgiving weekend and a likely ACC Championship game against a yet to be determined opponent if they win out.

Still, he’ll be in the running for the award because of how well he’s playing and how well the Seminoles are playing as well.

Who Can’t win the Award?

JJ McCarthy (+300)

McCarthy is a victim of his schedule. He is right behind Bo Nix in completion percentage at 78.1%, but the Wolverines haven’t played anyone of note to this point in the year. They play Penn State and Ohio State in November, which are real tests, but they haven’t been tested just yet.

Still, McCarthy and the Wolverines deserve credit for how they looked, the issue is that the stage hasn’t been there for them. Michigan is a dominant team overall, so it might also be tougher to award just one player as well when the entire team has been playing well from the running backs to the whole defense, along with McCarthy.

Another factor rightly or wrongly will be the outside noise that Michigan is dealing with right now. That’s going to affect the entire team in some way and that includes McCarthy’s Heisman chances.

Marvin Harrison Jr. (+1200)

Harrison is one of the best players in all of college football. The issue is that he’s not a quarterback and every other player in the running for this award is a quarterback. He’s still a difference maker and has 48 receptions, 889 receiving yards, and eight receiving touchdowns.

It helps that Ohio State is undefeated and it will help if he continues his great play in November, but the fact of the matter is that there’s too many quarterbacks in front of him still in the running.

In theory, if Ohio State runs the table, beats Michigan, and Harrison is the reason why he could be in the mix - but it feels like a long shot at best.

Caleb Williams (+8000)

Caleb Williams is the biggest reason why USC is winning games, but it’s harder because he already won the award. Repeat winners are judged differently because he would have to be having an almost perfect season.

Beyond that, he hasn’t played great at times. He had a bad game against Notre Dame where he threw three interceptions and then against Utah, he didn’t throw a single touchdown at all.

It also doesn’t help that the perception of USC is that they are wasted potential this season. Williams has a chance this weekend to help make a statement against Washington and Michael Penix Jr. which would push him back into the conversation.

Still, all these factors are going to keep him out of it overall.

Follow Jake Faigus on Twitter - @Jake_Faigus


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