Marvin Harrison Jr. was always expected to be in the Heisman Trophy conversation this season.
It just took seven games for him to get that recognition.
Following an impressive three-game stretch for the best receiver (and arguably best overall player) in college football, Harrison has found himself right back in the Heisman conversation – or at the very least, in the conversation to be a Heisman finalist who earns an invitation to New York. Over the last three games, Harrison has totaled 25 catches for 430 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the sixth Buckeye to eclipse 400 receiving yards in a three-game stretch.
Eight weeks into the college football season, Harrison (+1700) has the seventh-best odds to win the Heisman, with Kyle McCord (+9500) much farther down the list as the only other Buckeye on the board. Harrison is the only non-quarterback who currently ranks among the top 10 in Heisman odds.
|QB J.J. MCCARTHY, MICHIGAN||+245|
|QB MICHAEL PENIX JR., WASHINGTON||+310|
|QB JAYDEN DANIELS, LSU||+320|
|QB JORDAN TRAVIS, FLORIDA STATE||+1150|
|QB DILLON GABRIEL, OKLAHOMA||+1150|
|QB BO NIX, OREGON||+1250|
|WR MARVIN HARRISON JR., OHIO STATE||+1700|
|QB CARSON BECK, GEORGIA||+3250|
|QB DRAKE MAYE, NORTH CAROLINA||+5250|
Harrison has surpassed the 100-yard mark in five of Ohio State's seven games so far this season, including all of the Buckeyes' last three games. Following Emeka Egbuka going down with an ankle injury against Maryland, an injury that has forced him to miss each of the past two games, Harrison has stepped up in a major way.
“If (the Heisman Trophy) is truly the award that goes to the best player in college football, I don’t see how he’s not in the mix.”– Kyle McCord on Marvin Harrison Jr.
Against Maryland, he had eight receptions for 163 yards. He followed that up with six receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown at Purdue. Then, in Ohio State's top-10 win over Penn State, Harrison notched a career-high 11 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown, the 12th 100-yard receiving game of his collegiate career, just two behind David Boston's school-record 14.
“I’ve got to give Marvin Harrison so much credit,” Ryan Day said. “To go for 11 catches for 162 and a touchdown when I think most teams, the first thing they look at is ‘How do we take away Marvin Harrison?’ We targeted him 16 times and I think he was open for most of those 16 plays. So he showed up in a big spot today.”
Harrison knows that Ohio State's offense will go as far as he will take them and he's prepared and ready for that. So far, so good, it seems.
“I think you could say a lot’s on my shoulders. But that’s my job at the end of the day,” Harrison said. “My teammates and coaches count on me to be the focal point of the offense, and each and every week, I know they’re going to lean on me. The offense kind of goes as I go.”
Seven games into the season, Harrison has totaled 42 catches for 766 yards and six touchdowns. For comparison's sake, he had 77 receptions for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns in 13 games last season.
Even though the Heisman is essentially a quarterback’s award – 19 of the past 23 Heisman winners have been quarterbacks dating back to the 2000 season – Harrison has earned himself a spot among the top contenders. Although he still has work to do just to be a finalist, Harrison currently has the best odds among non-quarterbacks, and deservedly so.
“If (the Heisman Trophy) is truly the award that goes to the best player in college football, I don’t see how he’s not in the mix,” Kyle McCord said of his wide receiver. “What he’s done, especially these last few games, I don’t know if we’ve seen a stretch like that, just how consistent he is, how reliable he is.”
Meanwhile, Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy has become the new odds-on favorite to win the award. He has completed 132-of-169 passes (78.1%) for 1,799 yards, 18 touchdowns and three interceptions in eight games against the likes of East Carolina, UNLV, Bowling Green, Rutgers, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana and Michigan State. McCarthy has also run for 168 yards and three touchdowns this season.
Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was the odds-on favorite prior to this past weekend when he struggled against Arizona State, throwing two interceptions with zero touchdowns. Through seven games this season, Penix has completed 182-of-257 passes (70.8%) for 20 touchdowns and five interceptions, and he still has the second-best odds to win the award.
USC quarterback Caleb Williams, who won the 2022 Heisman Trophy and was the odds-on favorite throughout much of this year, has plummeted down the board as USC has lost two straight games. In those losses to Notre Dame and Utah, Williams has thrown for only 455 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions.
The Buckeyes haven't had a Heisman winner since 2006, when Troy Smith brought the award back to Columbus. Since Archie Griffin won back-to-back trophies in 1974 and 1975, the Buckeyes have had just two Heisman Trophy winners: Smith and Eddie George (1995).
Ohio State’s starting quarterback has been a Heisman finalist in four of the last five seasons, with C.J. Stroud earning trips to New York in each of the past two seasons. If the Buckeyes want to have a representative in New York this year, it looks as though it will be a wide receiver, not a quarterback.