Heisman Watch: C.J. Stroud Remains the Favorite, Marvin Harrison Among Top-Eight Odds Entering The Game

By Josh Poloha on November 23, 2022 at 10:10 am
C.J. Stroud

The Game will not only decide who advances to the Big Ten Championship Game, but it could determine who wins the Heisman Trophy as well.

There will be plenty on the line Saturday afternoon in the top-three showdown between Ohio State and Michigan in Columbus: An undefeated 12-0 regular season, the Big Ten East title and a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, a chance to potentially secure a spot in the College Football Playoff and quite possibly, the Heisman Trophy.

C.J. Stroud was the favorite to win the most prestigious individual award in college football prior to the season and throughout much of the season to date. While the odds have fluctuated from week to week, he has held the top spot every week of the season except for one. With just one week remaining in the regular season, he remains the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy after reclaiming the top spot a couple of weeks ago. Stroud (-189) is ahead of USC's Caleb Williams (+130) and well ahead of the rest of the field, according to betJACK.

Top Heisman Candidates (via betJACK)
Player Odds
QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State -189
QB Caleb Williams, USC +130
RB Blake Corum, Michigan +800
QB Stetson Bennett, Georgia +5000
QB Max Duggan, TCU +5000
TE Brock Bowers, Georgia +10000
QB Jayden Daniels, LSU +10000
WR Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State +15000
QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan +20000

Although Stroud is considered the favorite to win the Heisman by betJACK, other sportsbooks have the odds a bit closer, and some even have Williams as the favorite to win it:

  • Bovada: Stroud (-125) is ahead of Williams (+115)
  • DraftKings: Stroud (-120) is ahead of Williams (+120)
  • FanDuel: Stroud (+110) is behind Williams (-130)
  • BetOnline: Stroud (+115) is behind Williams (-130)

Stroud didn't have a great game in the Buckeyes' 43-30 win at Maryland this past weekend, but the redshirt sophomore did enough to keep Ohio State undefeated, completing 18 of 30 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown in the win.

Stroud hasn't thrown for 300 yards in any of the last three games, but he has still had quite a magnificent (and efficient) season. The gunslinger has completed 204 of 307 passes (66.4 percent) for 2,991 yards, 35 touchdowns and four interceptions (with none in Ohio State’s last four games).

With just one week remaining in the regular season, there's a reason Stroud has been at the top of the Heisman rankings throughout much of the fall. Through 11 games of the season, he ranks among the best in the country in nearly every major statistical category for passing:

  • Passing yards per game: 271.91 (19th)
  • Passing touchdowns: 35 (T-1st)
  • Passing yards per attempt: 9.74 (1st)
  • Passing yards per completion: 14.66 (3rd)
  • Completion percentage: 66.4% (24th)
  • Passing efficiency: 183.3 (1st)

While Stroud did enough to remain atop the Heisman rankings, there was some shuffling behind him. Tennessee's Hendon Hooker, who was atop the rankings three weeks ago (the only week Stroud wasn't the favorite), is no longer listed among the Heisman frontrunner. The dual-threat quarterback tore his ACL in the Volunteers’ blowout loss to South Carolina, unfortunately bringing his season to an abrupt end.

With that and USC's dominance of late, Caleb Williams has quickly emerged as Stroud’s top competition for the Heisman. In the Trojans' win over UCLA Saturday night, the sophomore completed 32 of 43 passes for 470 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 33 yards and a touchdown.

Williams has three-plus touchdowns in each of his last five games, including five touchdowns in four straight games prior to this past Saturday. The Trojans quarterback has completed 250 of 385 passes (64.9 percent) for 3,480 yards, 33 touchdowns and three interceptions and has also run for 316 yards and seven touchdowns. Williams and the Trojans go up against Notre Dame in a top-15 matchup to close out their regular season on Saturday, giving him another big stage to strengthen his own Heisman candidacy if he can lead USC to another win.

Blake Corum, the only other player that really has a shot to win the Heisman according to the oddsmakers, has put Michigan's offense on his back throughout much of the season. The junior has 245 carries for 1,457 yards and 18 touchdowns this season while also adding 80 yards and one touchdown through the air. After not reaching the 100-yard mark in each of Michigan's first three games of the season, Corum has ran for at least 108 yards in each of the Wolverines' last eight games.

The biggest question mark surrounding Corum ahead of The Game is the knee injury he suffered in Michigan's last-second win over Illinois this past weekend. Much like Ohio State's running back room, there are questions surrounding Michigan's running backs and their respective injuries ahead of the top-three showdown. So much so that Wolverines offensive tackle Ryan Hayes said Monday that “(Corum) is a great player, but everybody else is gonna step up with him out,” which seemingly hints that the star running back could miss The Game. If he is able to play, though, he’ll have his own chance for a Heisman Moment if he can lead Michigan to a second straight win over Ohio State.

Marvin Harrison Jr. might not have a shot of winning the Heisman, but he could potentially get a spot in New York for the ceremony depending on how he performs against Michigan. Arguably the best wide receiver in the country along with Tennessee's Jalin Hyatt, the sophomore has 65 receptions for 1,037 yards (7th in FBS) and 11 touchdowns (T-3rd) so far this season, including a number of insane jaw-dropping catches that have received plenty of attention.

Since the Heisman is essentially a quarterback’s award – 18 of the past 22 Heisman winners dating back to the 2000 season have been quarterbacks – Stroud is in the driver's seat when it comes to winning the Heisman if he continues to play well and the Buckeyes beat Michigan to finish the regular season with a perfect 12-0 record.

Ohio State hasn't had a Heisman winner since 2006, when Troy Smith brought the award back to Columbus. That was also the last time Ohio State and Michigan both entered The Game with unblemished records, and Smith secured the Heisman by completing 29 of 41 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Buckeyes to a 42-39 win in the “Game of the Century.”

If Stroud can put together a similar performance on Saturday, there’s a good chance he’ll follow in Smith’s footsteps and end Ohio State’s 16-year Heisman drought.

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