The Heisman award is one of the more unique trophies in all of sports and perfectly encapsulates who was a game changer for their team all season long. Over the past decade it has turned into a quarterback award but that goes to show how talented players at that position have become. With the rise of dual threat quarterbacks comes an abundance of video game type stat lines.
Last year was no different as star USC quarterback Caleb Williams burned opposing defenses with his legs and arm all season long en route to his Heisman trophy. He gets the unique opportunity to go back-to-back, coming in as this season’s favorite to once again hoist up the award. It won’t be easy as the opposing offensive talent is as good as it’s ever been with plenty of other quarterbacks being capable of stealing away the award.
Heisman Odds 2023
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It comes as no surprise that Caleb Williams comes in as the favorite as he comes into this season labeled the potential first overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft. He’s one of the best dual threat quarterbacks we have seen in quite some time who can fire off a pass in any possible angle your brain can imagine.
He also benefits from being in one of the most friendly offensive systems as he is surrounded by weapons at every skill position and an elite offensive line. Head coach Lincoln Riley has been coined a quarterback whisperer and he also brings ex Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury as his quarterback coach to help aid Williams development.
Simply put, Caleb Williams will be in a great position to showcase his talents once again as he continues to wow the audience and Heisman voters with his video game type style of play. Should he stay healthy then he will have a realistic chance of becoming the second ever back-to-back Heisman winner. Especially if he leads USC to the playoffs, falling just short last year in a loss to Utah to end the season.
Florida State was a popular pick last season to take the next step as a potential conference contender and they exceeded expectations off the back of Jordan Travis. They will no longer fly under the radar as they showcased elite talent that can rival Clemson and bring back a bulk of their continuity on both sides of the ball.
They just missed out on the conference championship last season by finishing a game back from Clemson, but now they are in a good position to stamp their ticket to it with the new rules for the conference. Gone are divisions, now sending the best two teams in the conference into the conference championship.
That only boosts Jordan Travis stock as he has as good a chance as ever to lead his team to a conference championship game. Like Williams, Travis is an exciting dual threat quarterback who keeps defenses guessing with his ability to take off with his elite speed and cutting abilities.
Arguably no one rivaled Caleb Williams’ Heisman hopes more at the end of the year than Drake Maye as he strung together some impressive performances from the halfway point of the season. That was until they hit a wall to end the year, losing three games in a row to Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, and Clemson. Maye was non-existent in those losses, taking himself out of contention for the prestigious award.
Maye now returns to lead the high-powered UNC offense as a potential ACC sleeper. Like USC, the Tar Heel offense is one of the more explosive units in football and will always give Maye the possibility of putting up video game type numbers. He’s one of the most lethal pocket passers in the nation, being widely regarded as a top-2 pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
He does lose star receiver Josh Downs to this year’s draft, forcing him to spread the ball around more than just relying on his playmaker. Their offensive line is also mediocre at best, potentially limiting Maye’s progressions with less time in the pocket as they get driven back off the snap. Maye’s Heisman odds are a pass for me until they prove they can maintain their elite explosiveness that we have been accustomed to over the past few years.
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In one of the bigger moves of the offseason, Sam Hartman transferred to Notre Dame and instantly boosted their chances of being a playoff contender. They were able to field a competitive unit on both sides of the ball last season but fell short due to a lack of consistent quarterback play. They now have one of the most productive quarterbacks in the ACC leading them, transforming the Fighting Irish offense.
Hartman has a rocket arm and elite vision out of the pocket, seemingly constantly connecting on his deep balls to his down field playmakers. He will find himself surrounded by talent in his new setting, hopefully not skipping a beat in his efforts to get into a rhythm early and often.
While I believe his stat lines alone will make him a contender for the Heisman, his ability to get Notre Dame back into playoff contention will be the tipping point in the voters’ heads. They have a super friendly start to their schedule with their first four games being against Navy, Tennessee State, NC State, and Central Michigan before their date against the Buckeyes in what will be a massive must win game.
The “legend” of Bo Nix returns for one more season as he looks to lead Oregon to a Pac 12 championship. They fell just short last season when Nix went down with an injury but are now poised to make another run at it off the back of their elite quarterback.
Nix has a tendency to either throw his way out of a game or lead his offense to victory, making him must see tv whenever Oregon plays. He has steadily progressed as a more consistent quarterback, flashing elite skill in his new setting at Oregon. It especially bodes well that he has one of the best offensive lines in the conference, giving him much needed protection to let his reads develop and make the right throw.
The Pac 12 is also as good as it’s ever been with nearly every team in the conference progressing as a competitive unit. This comes off of years as being the nation’s punching bag, now seemingly having a stud quarterback on every team that can lead them to shoot out style victories. If Nix can get Oregon to the conference championship, then he may see himself rewarded with a Heisman trophy for his efforts of getting out of the brutally tough conference. A conference that also features reigning Heisman champion Caleb Williams.
It pains me to say it, but Michigan is here to stay as a premier big ten team. Gone are the days of Ohio State running the conference, now having to battle it out against the Wolverines to see who will represent their division in the Big Ten championship.
Helping aid the Wolverine’s revitalization is dual threat quarterback JJ McCarthy. After being in a positional battle to start last season, McCarthy ran away with the starting role after putting up impressive numbers with both his arm and his feet. Even in a very conservative Michigan offense that revolves around the run game, McCarthy has taken advantage of stacked boxes and burned opposing secondaries with the deep ball.
Their tendency to abuse the run game hampers his Heisman chances, especially with the return of Blake Corum, but he can expect his name to be firmly in the mix should Michigan continue to keep winning and make another run at the playoffs.
No team has drastically improved their season outlook more than the Clemson Tigers heading into this season as their offense is poised to take a major leap in production. Gone is DJ Uiagalelei, now being replaced by Cade Klubnik who serves as a massive upgrade in the pass game while in the pocket.
Clemson’s offensive revitalization doesn’t just end there as they have also fired their offensive coordinator after last season’s disaster of a performance. They now bring in TCU’s coordinator Garrett Riley, largely considered one of the most sought after hires this offseason. Riley will look to stretch out their offense, specializing in explosive down field plays that will be reflected off of Klubnik’s stat line.
While this has been a quarterback award the past few years, Blake Corum finds himself high up on the list as one of the best running backs in the nation. His heavy usage and powerful style of running results in impressive performances, carrying Michigan’s success on his shoulders as an efficient running unit.
He will benefit from McCarthy’s progression as an elite dual threat quarterback, forcing defenses to spy and stretch out to respect his improved throwing and lethal ground game. That will in turn open up running lanes for Corum to capitalize on, giving him more room to work with in the open field.
It also helps that he has the comeback narrative attached to his name after suffering a season ending injury late last season, potentially swaying voters off of emotion alone. Splitting carries with Donovan Edwards hurts his ceiling, but he has proved to still put-up numbers off of less carries nonetheless.