Heisman Trophy Race: Caleb Williams in front again heading into Week 6; Michael Penix Jr. still on his tail
Caleb Williams was the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy before the 2023 season began, and the USC star has moved in front heading into Week 6. Michael Penix Jr. is just behind the Trojans star in the race, and there are some other big name quarterbacks that are still alive. With that in mind, keep reading for some of the risers and fallers in the Heisman mix heading into Week 6. Each week, I'll dive into the prices and analyze how I'd play this market for the remainder of the season. It's important to see what type of stats a player has racked up already, but how will they do the rest of the way? I'll get into that — and a lot more — here!
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USC QB Caleb Williams +180 (was +400)
A big performance against Colorado was expected from Williams, but I’m not sure people knew 403 passing yards with six touchdowns were coming. That was a massive performance for last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, as he put on a clinic with the entire college world watching his team take on Coach Prime. Williams has now thrown for 1,603 yards with 21 touchdowns and only one pick. He has moved far in front of Penix Jr. in the race, but I do think some darker days are ahead. Williams will likely light up the University of Arizona this weekend, as the Wildcats don’t have a strong enough secondary to keep the Trojans in check — especially playing in Southern California. But after this, USC faces Notre Dame, Utah, California, Washington, Oregon and UCLA. There are some amazing defenses in that group, and there might be a loss or two for the Trojans in that stretch. That would cause Williams’ candidacy to take a big hit, and it’s ultimately why I’m low on him in this betting market.
Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. +380 (was +400)
Penix Jr. is coming off his worst game of the season, as he didn’t throw for a single touchdown in a 31-24 win over Arizona. But Penix Jr. was still 30 for 40 for 363 passing yards in that game, so it’s not like he didn’t play well. Still, he finds himself behind Williams after Week 5, and he now has a bye week to prepare for a meeting with Oregon. I’d suggest waiting on Penix Jr. this week, if you’re looking to bet the lefty. I’m not sure the value is there to bet him anymore, in general. However, with Williams playing a game this week and Penix Jr. not having the opportunity to accumulate stats, it isn’t out of the question that you’ll get a better price heading into Week 7. Then, Penix Jr. has a chance to really make a statement in his meeting with the Ducks. The winner of that game will have a Heisman frontrunner.
RELATED: Check out our Week 6 Betting Hub for best bets and stories for the week ahead
Oregon QB Bo Nix +900 (was +1000)
As I just mentioned, I believe the winner of the Oregon versus Washington game in Week 7 will see its quarterback shoot to the top of the Heisman Trophy board. Maybe it won’t be enough to see one of them leap beyond Williams, but I’d be shocked if they aren’t right there with him. Considering that’s a home game for Oregon, I’m now thinking there’s value to be had in backing Nix. However, like with Penix Jr., I’d wait until after Williams torches the Wildcats this week. But Nix hasn’t slowed down at all recently, as he followed up his big game against Colorado with 290 yards and four touchdowns against Stanford. I was once worried about the Ducks being a run-heavy team, but I now believe head coach Dan Lanning would like to see Nix win this award. So, I think it’s worth backing Nix at anything north of +1000. And I think you’ll get that after Williams plays this week.
Texas QB Quinn Ewers +900 (was +600)
Ewers will likely put up numbers in this weekend’s Red River Showdown, but he’s one of the players on this list that I’m struggling to get behind. And I think a lot of that has to do with the emergence of Jonathon Brooks. The Longhorns running back has rushed for 597 yards with five touchdowns this season, and he has taken his game to new heights over the last three weeks. He’s looking like a legitimate star out of the backfield, which is allowing Steve Sarkisian to call plays like he still has Bijan Robinson back there. With that in mind, I don’t see Texas relying on Ewers the way some of these other teams are leaning on quarterbacks.
Florida State QB Jordan Travis +1500 (was +1200)
I suggested playing Travis to win the Heisman last week. Florida State had a bye week in Week 5, so the dual-threat quarterback saw his odds take a hit. But I’m still big on his chances of winning this award. And I wouldn’t be shocked if this is a game in which he puts up massive numbers. Virginia Tech’s defense has been solid this season, but Florida State has had extra time to prepare for this game. And the talent mismatch on the field will be glaring here. That said, I think Travis will be able to spread the ball around to his playmakers in this game, especially with some extra time to scheme up some plays. And I can also see him having a big game with his legs when the Hokies do a good job of locking some of the Seminoles wideouts down. Overall, I think Travis has a couple of huge games in him the rest of the way. And that, combined with a perfect record, will put him in the conversation late in the year.
Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel +2000 (was +2500)
Gabriel had been one of my favorite picks to win this award while he sat at +3000. And this is probably the last time I’d suggest playing him. If Oklahoma finds a way to beat Texas this week, Gabriel is going to absolutely shoot up the board. But if the Sooners lose to the Longhorns, his case for the award is dead. So, if you have any faith in Oklahoma, you’re going to want to jump on this now. This season, Gabriel has thrown for 1,593 yards with 15 touchdowns and only two interceptions, and he has also rushed for 95 yards and four touchdowns. He’s the best player on an Oklahoma team that is a perfect 5-0 and also happens to have the third-best scoring offense in football. And the Sooners will be taken a lot more seriously if they can beat the Longhorns in the Red River Showdown. In fact, Oklahoma would suddenly be alive for a spot in the College Football Playoff if the team can pull that off.
LSU QB Jayden Daniels +2500 (was +1800)
I’m a little surprised that Daniels’ odds didn’t take a bigger hit after LSU’s loss to Ole Miss. Daniels has put up ridiculous numbers this season, as he has thrown for 1,710 yards with 16 touchdowns and only two interceptions, while also rushing for 292 yards and three touchdowns. He has been one of the best players in the country since Week 1, but the problem is that LSU is suddenly looking like it won’t win enough games for him to be considered. Perhaps the Tigers will find a way to win out — or lose one more game — but I’m not sure I see it. LSU has one of the worst passing defenses in the SEC and a few more tough games to close out the year. That said, I no longer see the case for Daniels.
Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman +3000 (was +2200)
Hartman has really slowed down when it comes to putting up numbers, but I’m not quite ready to rule him out in this race. Last week, Hartman led Notre Dame on a 95-yard touchdown drive to earn a comeback win on the road over a very good Duke team. The Fighting Irish still have a number of tough games left on the schedule, and I’m not convinced they’re going to fare well in those contests. But if Notre Dame does somehow emerge from this season with only one more loss — or finds a way to win out — then Hartman is going to be in the mix for the Heisman Trophy. The senior has thrown for 14 touchdowns this season and hasn’t yet thrown a single interception. And he has the opportunity to face Louisville, USC and Clemson in the second half of the year. So, Hartman can remind the world that he’s one of the best quarterbacks in football again, and he’ll have some chances to have some Heisman moments.
Washington State QB Cameron Ward +4000 (was +4500)
This price still feels pretty outrageous for a player like Ward. This season, the Washington State quarterback has thrown for 1,390 yards with 13 touchdowns and no picks, and he has also rushed for another three touchdowns. He’s the star of the show for a Cougars team that has the fifth-highest scoring offense in the country, and it isn’t out of the question that Washington State will win nine or 10 games this year. If the Cougars somehow beat the Bruins this weekend, it’s likely that Ward will be down to +2000 next week. So, I absolutely love this value given what we know now and I definitely feel he’s worth putting a little something on right now.
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