2021 Heisman Trophy Watch: Week 3

Alabama’s Bryce Young stormed into the top tier of Heisman Trophy candidates with his overpowering season debut against Miami, Fla., and another statement game against another ranked team from Florida — the 2-0 Gators — would keep him right there.

Young already has the qualifications to continue the two-pronged storyline that has defined the Heisman for the last 20 years — a quarterback or a Crimson Tide athlete has won 19 of the last 20 awards.

A look at the top candidates entering Week 3. Heisman odds courtesy of DraftKings on Sept. 15:

Top Five

1. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Heisman odds: +350

Season stats: 46-65, 70.8 percent; 571 yards, 7 TDs, 0 INTs

Last time out: 19-27, 227 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs

This week: No. 1 Alabama (2-0) plays Florida (2-0) in the Swamp in what could  be the first of two meetings, The second could come in the SEC championship game, although Georgia will have a say in that.

Line: Alabama -15.5

Update: Young turned in a workmanlike performance in a 48-14 victory over FCS Mercer before leaving late in the third quarter after his third touchdown pass gave the Crimson Tide a 45-7 lead. The sophomore and Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler are 1-2 (or 2-1, depending how you rank them), as conference play nears. Young sounded disappointed after the Mercer game, despite the score. “As a team, we are not proud of what we put on film last week,” Young said. “We have to acknowledge it and push ourselves this week.” 

2. Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

Heisman odds: +800

Season stats: 50-65, 76.9 percent; 547 yards, 6 TDs, 2 INTs

Last time out: 20-26, 243 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs 

This week: No. 3 Oklahoma (2-0) plays host to Nebraska (2-1) in a game that is a ghost of what was one of the best rivalries in college football.

Line: Oklahoma -22.5

Update: After throwing more picks (two) than touchdowns (one) in a Week 1 squeaker over Tulane, sophomore Rattler lit up FCS Western Carolina in the mismatch of the season so far. He threw for 243 yards and five touchdowns while playing only a little more than a half in the 76-0 rout. Western Carolina scheduled the game for morey — it received $625,000 to make the trip to Norman to get hammered by the Sooners. Rattler did all his work in the first half. On his final snap, he took at knee to end the first half. Rattler and 2003 Heisman trophy winner Jason White are the only quarterbacks in school history to pass for five touchdowns in a half. “Really, just a mindset to just go execute,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said, “and really never got off of that. That’s what the best ones do.”

3. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Heisman odds: +1000

Season stats: 48-76, 63.2 percent; 778 yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs

Last time out: 35-54, 484 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT

This week: No. 9 Ohio State (1-1) plays host to Tulsa (0-2)

The line: Ohio State -27.5

Update: Playing from behind all afternoon in a 35-28 home loss to Oregon, freshman Stroud tried his best to save the Buckeyes from their porous defense but could not quite pull it off. Stroud’s 484 passing yards were 15 short of the school record set by Dwayne Haskins Jr. set in a 45-24 victory over Northwestern in 2018. Stroud got the ball back down seven midway through the fourth quarter, but he was sacked on the fourth play of the drive and threw his only interception on the sixth, effectively ending the Buckeyes’ comeback. Tulsa should not  be a problem.

4. Kedon Slovis, QB, USC

Heisman odds: +7500

Season stats: 51-78, 65.4 percent; 479 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT 

Last time out: 37-42, 223 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

This week: USC (1-1) visits Washington State (2-0) after being knocked out of the AP Top 25 following a 42-28 loss to Stanford 

Line: USC -8.5

Update: Kyu Blu Kelly returned Slovis’ lone interception for a touchdown to give Stanford a 28-13 lead late in the third quarter last week, but Slovis did not have much to do with it. The ball bounced off wide receiver Drake London’s hands and right to Kelly. It remains to be seen if the change from Clay Helton (fired after that loss) to Donte Williams will mean much to the offense, although it certainly will energize a fan base that had gotten tired of Helton. Williams joined USC in 2020 as the cornerbacks coach and defensive pass game coordinator, so in theory he knows what makes the passing game click.

5. Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Heisman odds: +3000

Season stats: 38-61, 62.3 percent; 560 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs

Last time out: 21-29, 352 yards; 3 TDs, 0 INTs; 104 yards rushing, 2 TDs 

This week: No. 21 North Carolina (1-1) plays host to Virginia (2-0)

Line: North Carolina -8.5

Update: Howell recovered from a dreadful season opener against Virginia Tech with a big game against FCS Georgia State, and the Virginia game will give another chance to set up against any ACC foe. He became the second player in school history with a 300/100 game, joining Marquise Williams (2014). Virginia has given up 14 points in its two wins. It is how you do against the big boys that matters.


J.T. Daniels, QB, Georgia

Heisman odds: +4000

Season stats: 22-30, 73.3 percent; 135 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT

Last time out: DNP in a 56-7 victory over UAB

This week: No. 2 Georgia (2-0) plays host to South Carolina (2-0)

Line: Georgia -30.5

Update: Daniels missed the UAB rout because of a side-torso muscle strain, suffered the week before the season-opening 10-3 victory over Clemson and exacerbated during the game. Stetson Bennett, who started early last season while Daniels recovered from a knee injury, completed a school-record five first-half touchdowns passes against UAB. Given that, Bennett is likely to start against South Carolina, but what is good for Georgia will not be good for Daniels’ Heisman chances.


Grayson McCall, QB, Coastal Carolina

Heisman odds: +15000

Season stats: 33-40, 82.5 percent; 507 yards, 3 TD, 0 INTs

Last time out: 17-21, 245 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs

This week: No. 21 Coastal Carolina (2-0) plays at Buffalo (1-1) 

Line: Coastal Carolina -13.5

Update: Sophomore McCall leads the FBS in passing efficiency and completion percentage on a team that should begin to gain some national attention. The Chanticleers are 13-1 in the last two seasons, their only loss in 2020 coming in a 37-34 overtime defeat to Liberty in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl. McCall threw for 318 yards in that one.


D.J. Uiagalelei, QB, Clemson

Heisman odds: +1800

Season stats: 33-61, 54.1 percent; 349 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs

Last time out: 14-24, 171 yards, 0 TDs, I INT

This week: No. 6 Clemson (1-1) play host to Georgia Tech (1-1)

Line: Clemson -28.5

Update: It was easy to understand the buzz around Uiagalelei when the season began. Clemson would be good. He showed well in spot duty last season. But without Travis Etienne, the Clemson offense has suffered, and Uiagalelei has  played with a target on his back. He was sacked seven times and threw a pick-six in the season-opening 10-3 loss to Georgia.

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Heisman odds: +4000

Season stats: 39 carries, 172 yards, 2 TDs; 5 receptions, 77 yards, 1 TD 

Last time out: 19 carries, 69 yards, 1 TD; 1 reception, 4 yards, 0 TDs

This week: Texas (1-1) plays host to Rice (0-2). The Longhorns were No. 15 in the AP Top 25 before their lopsided loss to Arkansas last Saturday.

Line: Texas -25.5

Update: Robinson had 355 yards on 19 carries in the final two games of last season, numbers that as expected were unsustainable. Sketchy quarterback play has kept new Longhorns’ coach Steve Sarkisian from early success with his new offense. Maybe things will improve with Casey Thompson replacing Hudson Card, but it will be too late for Robinson.

Breece Hall, RB Iowa State

Heisman odds: +10000

Season stats: 39 carries, 138 yards, 2 TDs

Last time out: 16 carries, 69 yards, 1 TD

This week: No. 14 Iowa State (1-1) will visit UNLV (0-2)

Line: Iowa State -30.5

Update: Hall led the FBS with 1,572 yards rushing last season, but both Iowa and Northern Iowa have smothered him at the line — 69 yards in both games. It takes a lot for even the best running backs to make the Heisman conversation; given the way the top quarterbacks have opened the season, Hall is a mere afterthought now.

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