Justin Fields has played at a Heisman Trophy level for Ohio State, but he hasn't had the kind of air time Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow or Jalen Hurts through eight weeks of the college football season.
Statistically, Fields has been on pace with the trio of quarterbacks from Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma, piling up 30 total touchdowns to Tagovailoa's 29, Burrow's 31 and Hurts' 30.
Despite his production, Fields checked in with long odds to take home college football's highest individual honor on a week-to-week basis. He wasn't mentioned alongside these favorites until this week — after Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor tumbled with his team in a 24-23 upset loss to Illinois.
Justin Fields, welcome to the party!— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) October 22, 2019
Does he get your vote in the Heisman House poll? (@NissanUSA)
Fields should've been at this party the whole time.
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You can argue in favor of his absence, if you want to. Fields produces scoring opportunities at a similar clip to the other candidates, but his yardage production isn't as impressive.
Also, Fields has a trio of primetime performances under his belt, but those came against Nebraska, Michigan State and Northwestern. While solid opponents, those teams just don't move the needle like Hurts beating Texas, Burrow taking down Florida and Texas and Tagovailoa beating Texas A&M in College Station.
But Ohio State's remaining schedule gives Fields an enormous Heisman spotlight to close the season.
It starts this Saturday when Ohio State hosts No. 13 Wisconsin.
The showdown with the Badgers lost quite a bit of its luster after they fell to the Fighting Illini last week, but they still bring the nation's top-ranked defense to Columbus. The Badgers have surrendered just 193.9 yards per game and rank No. 1 in both run, pass and scoring defense. They have three shutouts in seven games — giving up 53 points total this season.
The closest thing Ohio State has seen to this Wisconsin defense is when it faced Michigan State three weeks ago, which limited the Buckeyes to a season-low 34 points.
On the flip side, Wisconsin hasn't faced an offense as potent as Ohio State's or a quarterback as talented as Fields. Something will give on Saturday afternoon, and Heisman Trophy voters and oddsmakers will certainly tune in to see how Fields holds up.
If Fields plays well this Saturday, it could launch him down a road that ends in New York City this December.
That road would have two big stops along the way however.
The Buckeyes drew some bad luck on the scheduling front. Their season-ending matchup against rival Michigan is a long-standing tradition, but they will have to play their other divisional rival in Penn State the week before.
The Nittany Lions look like Ohio State's toughest competition for the East Division crown. They're coming off back-to-back wins over ranked opponents in Iowa and Michigan and boast the kind of offensive and defensive balance needed to compete with the Buckeyes.
Closing the season against Penn State and Michigan, plus a potential showing in the Big Ten title game, gives Fields a solid closing statement to Heisman voters. It starts this weekend against Wisconsin, though, and if Fields continues his strong play, his Heisman odds will continue to improve.