2023 Heisman Trophy Odds: Caleb Williams in front heading into Week 3, but others are making waves

By Zachary Cohen  (VSiN.com Senior Editor) 

September 11, 2023 11:53 AM

Quinn Ewers gaining steam as Heisman Trophy candidate heading into Week 3

Caleb Williams was the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy before the 2023 season began and the USC star is still out in front. However, there are some other big name quarterbacks gaining on him a bit, as well as some longer shots that are starting to enter the picture. There's also some players that are underperforming, causing them to lose ground and disappear in a hurry. With that in mind, keep reading for some of the risers and fallers in the Heisman race. 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! 

MORE: Check out our Pro Picks page for college football best bets from all of our analysts

USC QB Caleb Williams +400 (was +450)

Williams was the favorite to win this award heading into the season and you’re going to get a worse price on him if you’re looking to bet him now. Williams threw for 281 yards with three touchdowns and no picks against Stanford last week, and he also added one rush for 21 yards and a score in that game. Williams has now thrown for 878 yards with 12 touchdowns and no picks through three games. To this point, he is holding serve atop the odds board, but there are some tougher matchups ahead. USC will face Notre Dame, Utah, Washington, Oregon and UCLA in five of its last six games — and the sixth game is on the road against a Cal team with a rock-solid defense. So, Williams might not light up the scoreboard in the second half of the season. That would leave the door open for some of the other candidates. The question is whether the hype train on Williams will lead to him winning this award, whether he deserves it or not. It feels like it can go either way. Voter fatigue is usually a very real concern, as we just saw in the NBA MVP race. But there’s something different about the spotlight that comes with playing at a high level in Southern California.

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. +900 (was +800)

Get used to seeing Penix Jr. putting up astronomical numbers on a weekly basis. After throwing for 450 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions against Boise State in Week 1, the lefty gunslinger threw for 409 yards with three touchdowns and one pick against Tulsa in Week 2. Penix Jr. just knows the Washington offense inside and out, and it’s a team that utilizes a pass-heavy attack. The Huskies are also loaded with talent at the wide receiver position, so Penix Jr. often has mismatches all over the field. In fact, it feels like Washington always has at least one pass catcher streaking up the field with no defender in sight. That said, it isn’t the worst idea to throw something on Penix Jr., unless you feel like you missed the boat by not getting him at +1600 before the year. He’s firmly in the conversation after the way he has started the year, and he’ll have some big opportunities to showcase his talent on the national stage. Washington has high-profile matchups with Michigan State, Oregon, USC, Utah, Oregon State and Washington State coming this season. And Penix Jr., who is PFF’s third-ranked quarterback, should pass most of those tests with flying colors.

Florida State Jordan Travis +900 (was +1000)

Travis was my favorite bet to win the Heisman Trophy heading into the season and I still think there’s some value to be had here. Travis didn’t put up the big numbers people expected from him in a 66-13 win over Southern Miss in Week 2, as he threw for only 175 yards with two touchdowns in that game. But Travis still had five total touchdowns in a massive Week 1 win over LSU, which is something that will be remembered later in the year. The exciting dual-threat quarterback also happens to be playing in an offense that has as much talent as any other team in the country — which might be underselling it a bit. So, there are certainly some more big games on deck for Travis, and the Seminoles look like a team that could very well finish this season undefeated. That is tough to ignore when looking for somebody that can win this award, especially when talking about a player as dynamic as Travis. He will win over some people with the highlight-worthy plays he makes the rest of the way.

Texas QB Quinn Ewers +1000 (was +2200)

Last year, Ewers got hurt in a home game against the Crimson Tide, which seemingly prevented the Longhorns from beating Nick Saban’s team. This year, Ewers went into Tuscaloosa and threw for 349 yards with three touchdowns and no picks in an upset win over Alabama. The talented sophomore has now thrown for 609 yards with six touchdowns and no picks this year, while also rushing for a score. And our own Jonathan Von Tobel noted that Ewers has been so good that Arch Manning is no longer on the board as a Heisman play:

Ewers just looks completely in command of head coach Steve Sarkisian’s offense this year, and the Longhorns suddenly look like they have a great shot at making the College Football Playoff. So, there’s some legitimate value to be had here as long as he continues to put up numbers. And it’s hard to imagine he won’t with the talent Texas has on the roster. Sarkisian schemed receivers open against one of the best defenses in the country last week. He’ll continue to do so against Big 12 competition, and Ewers can make every throw in the book.

Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders +2000 (was +3000)

Sanders as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate is looking realer and realer by the week. After throwing for 510 yards with four touchdowns and no picks against TCU in Week 1, Sanders followed it up by throwing for 393 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions against a better Nebraska defense. Sanders also picked up a rushing touchdown in that game, and he is now the third-ranked quarterback in the nation in PFF’s player grades. Sanders should have no trouble turning in another huge performance in a meeting with a lousy Colorado State team this week. The question is how he’ll navigate a very difficult Pac-12 schedule. After the Buffaloes take on the Rams, Coach Prime’s team faces Oregon and USC in back-to-back weeks. Colorado also has games against UCLA, Oregon State, Washington State and Utah towards the end of the season. One would have to think that the Buffaloes would have to win nine or so games in order for Sanders to have a chance of winning this. I’m still not much of a believer in the team’s long-term outlook, so I’d personally suggest sitting this one out. But I do think Sanders will continue to play at a very high level. He looks like an NFL-caliber passer to me.

Alabama QB Jalen Milroe +9000 (was +2000)

I was on Milroe as a +6000 play before the season and he ended up opening the year at +2500 after winning Alabama’s starting job. Then, after a big Week 1 performance against Middle Tennessee, Milroe moved to +2000. I was feeling pretty good about the play at that point, but he came crashing down to earth in a lopsided loss to Texas. Milroe was just 14 for 27 in that game and he threw two costly interceptions. His final numbers saw him throwing for 255 yards with two scores and two picks, while also adding 44 yards on the ground. But that’s a stat line that looks much better than it really was. He hit a 49-yard bomb for a touchdown that kind of saved his day, but it was a disastrous performance on a big stage. Now, he’s way down the odds board and it would take a flawless rest of the season for him to re-enter the race. It’ll be interesting to watch this situation play out. Milroe is a talented player, but Saban might need to modify his offense in order to make things easier for him. Or we could end up seeing Tyler Buchner or Ty Simpson at some point.

Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke +5000 (was +10000)

I’m not sure I’m buying Van Dyke as a legitimate Heisman candidate, but his significant movement in the market is worth mentioning. Van Dyke had a lousy sophomore season, which was a bit disappointing with him having so much hype heading into the year. But new Miami offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson has Van Dyke looking very confident. And the junior just turned in the best game of his college career, throwing for 374 yards with five touchdowns and no picks in a massive win over Texas A&M. Miami would likely have to win nine or 10 games for Van Dyke to have a shot at this, and he would need to continue to put up numbers the rest of the way. But with games against Bethune, Temple and Georgia Tech coming up, the Hurricanes should be 5-0 heading into a winnable road game against North Carolina in Week 7. So, Miami suddenly looks like it has a shot at turning in a memorable season this year — especially with a Week 8 home win over Clemson no longer being out of the question.

More College Football 

College Football Odds

College Football Betting Splits

Steve Makinen's College Football Team Power Ratings

VSiN College Football Betting Podcast

back to news

Live On Air

Streaming Now: The Lombardi Line

play Watch Live radio Listen Live


The Lombardi LIne: With several high-profile CFB games this weekend, odds for the Heisman and other futures markets could shift drastically. If you have a strong opinion, bet it now to secure the best number. View more tips.

Frank Betti/Mattress Mack: Texas (-17) at Baylor. View more picks.