Since the Boilermakers have an off week to rest up and lick their wounds after that sorry offensive display in Madison, let’s take some time to look at the Heisman odds across college football. After eight weeks, it’s a tight race up at the top between two stud quarterbacks, but even tighter with the dark horses who have plenty of ball left to play as well.
CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State +100
A preseason favorite in the Heisman conversation, Stroud has lived up to the hype, leading the Buckeyes to a 7-0 start. He’s amassed 2,023 yards through the air on a 70% completion percentage and boasts the top QBR (92.6) in all of FBS. He’s also ranked first in passing efficiency. Ohio State’s offense looks absolutely ridiculous with Stroud under center; since scoring 21 points in the season-opening win against Notre Dame, the Buckeyes average just north of 54 points per game. Stroud leads the nation with 28 touchdowns and has thrown only four interceptions.
His Ohio State Buckeyes will, however, face the two toughest defenses they’re scheduled to see all year in the final third of their 2022 schedule. How he plays against Penn State this weekend and Michigan in the final week of the regular season will show just how close of a Heisman race this will be.
They have the top-ranked red zone offense in the country. They’re ranked 15th in total passing offense even after blowing games open early, averaging 10.52 yards per attempt; the only team with a higher average is Tennessee, which brings us to...
Hendon Hooker, Quarterback, Tennessee +200
Tennessee has been on an offensive tear this year. Virginia Tech transfer quarterback Hendon Hooker has thrown all over SEC East opponents this year, not to mention the remarkable stats he put up in commanding Tennessee to their first win over historical rival Alabama in more than a decade and a half.
He’s second behind Stroud in QBR nationally with a rating of 91.5. He’s second in passing efficiency. He “only” has 18 touchdowns, but is one of a handful of starting QB’s to surrender only one interception in 2022. He takes care of the ball, he’s more of a rushing threat compared to Stroud (averaging five yards per carry and totaling three rushing touchdowns).
His only problem is his upcoming schedule: he’ll face a solid defense against Kentucky before facing a behemoth of a defense on the road against Georgia the following week. Then he has surprise upstart South Carolina on the road two weeks after that. If he can handle himself as efficiently as he has thus far, he’ll be in good shape sitting pretty next to Stroud in December. With a less-than-stellar defense, if he stalls or looks vulnerable at any point in the season’s final third, Ohio State’s man has fewer obstacles in the way of hoisting the trophy in New York City.
Blake Corum, Running Back, Michigan +1400
The gap between the two frontrunners is a bit large, but Michigan’s Blake Corum can close the gap with strong performances against Michigan’s remaining schedule which features few defensive slouches. Michigan’s remaining games against Michigan State, Illinois, and Ohio State constitute as his opportunity to show he can do what he’s been doing against everyone.
Corum has accumulated 901 yards and 13 touchdowns on just 146 attempts. Averaging a massive 6.2 yards per carry, the do-it-all tailback is tied for first in rushing touchdowns across FBS for one of the last remaining undefeated teams. At 5’8” and 210 pounds, his low center of gravity allows him to changes direction quickly even at high speeds and earns him ample yards after contact.
With the remaining schedule, maintaining this consistency would give him a real chance to close the gap on the two signal callers currently considered more likely to earn the hardware at season’s end.
Caleb Williams, Quarterback, Southern California +1400
Rounding out the top four, tied with Corum at current odds is USC’s transfer quarteback Caleb Williams, who committed to Lincoln Riley before following the new Trojans head ball coach from Norman to Los Angeles, where he’s put up similar numbers to Hooker with a lighter schedule ahead of him.
Just shy of 2000 yards through the air. A QBR of 86.4 and a passing efficiency rating in the top 20. Only one interception. Three rushing touchdowns. I suspect he can pad all those stats quite easily with the Trojans’ remaining schedule.
His main challenges will come against one-loss UCLA and the annual hate fest against underwhelming Notre Dame, which may prove as more of a test than records indicate.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details