2021 Heisman Trophy Watch: Week 4

King Quarterbacks just continue to roll, and a few new names crashed the candidate list this week.

Fresno State’s Jake Haener, Ole Miss’s Matt Corral and Maryland’s Taulia Tagovailoa have been quite impressive for teams that did not open the season with a lot of national attention. 

At some point, there needs to be a discussion of numbers/stats vs. team success, but that can wait. Heisman odds courtesy of DraftKings on Sept. 22.


1. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama 

Season stats: 68-100, 68.0 percent; 804 yards, 10 TD, 0 INT

Last time out: 22-35, 240 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT in a 31-29 victory at No. 11 Florida

This week: No. 1 Alabama (3-0) plays host to Southern Mississippi (1-1)

Line: Alabama -45

Update: Young improved to 10-0 — 10 touchdowns, no picks — with three more passing scores against Florida, a game that went down to the wire. Young seemed bothered by the raucous Swamp crowd, and an untimely miscommunication with his offensive line on fourth-and-goal caused a false start forcing Bama to settle for a field goal and a 32-23 lead after having a first down at the 2-yard line.

Status: Still the player to beat.

Heisman Odds: +225

2. Jake Haener QB, Fresno State

Season stats: 106-144, 73.6 percent, 1,464 yards; 10 TD, 1 INT

Last time out: 39-53, 455 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT in a 40-37 victory at No. 13 UCLA

This week: No. 22 Fresno State (3-1) plays host to UNLV (0-3) Friday

Line: Fresno State -30.5

Update: Haener showed off his arm and his toughness when he threw for a pair of go-ahead touchdowns in the final 2:55 of a wild 40-37 victory at UCLA last week. Shrugging off numerous hits in the first three quarters, Haener limped through the final six-play, 75-yard drive before completing a 14-yard game-winner to Jalen Cropper with 14 seconds remaining. The quarterback is a special player,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said. “We threw everything at him. We blitzed him, played cover zero, rushed three and dropped everyone else back into coverage … He handled everything.”

Status: A transfer from the University of Washington, Haener leads the FBS in passing yards because the Bulldogs have played one more game. But his completion percentage, yards per game and touchdown/interception ratio match the best. This school is no stranger to top quarterbacks, having sent Trent Dilfer, David Carr and Derek Carr to the NFL. David Carr led the FBS with 4,839 passing yards in 2001 but was fifth in Heisman voting behind quarterbacks Eric Crouch, Rex Grossman, Ken Dorsey and Joey Harrington. 

3. Matt Corral, QB, Ole MIss

Season stats:  66-96, 68.8 percent; 997 yards, 9 TD, 0 INT

Last time out: 23-31, 335 yards; 3 TD, 0 INT; 13 rushes, 68 yards and four touchdowns in a 61-21 victory over Tulane

This week: No. 17 Ole Miss (3-0) has a bye

Update: Corral accounted for seven touchdowns, four rushing, in a weather-delayed rout of Tulane last week and has found a perfect fit in Lane Kiffin’s pass-first system. Corral led the FBS in total offense with 384.9 yards per game in their first season together in 2020, and is just off that pace so far, averaging 376 yards per game.

Status: The games will get more difficult when the Rebels return from their bye, visiting No. 1 Alabama and playing host to No. 16 Arkansas in their first two back with trips to Tennessee and No. 23 Auburn and a home game against No. 7 Texas A&M looming. Winning those kinds of games never hurts.

Heisman Odds: +200

4. Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma 

Season stats: 74-99. 74.7 percent; 761 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT; 18 carries, 71 yards, 2 TD 

Last time out: 24-34, 214 yards; 1 TD, 0 INT; 6 rushes, 35 yards, 1 TD in a 23-16 victory over Nebraska

This week: No. 4 Oklahoma (3-0) plays host to West Virginia (2-1) in its Big 12 opener

Line: Oklahoma -16.5

Update: Rattler continued his pattern of steady, pedestrian early-season play when he passed for one touchdown and ran for another in a closer-than-expected 23-16 victory over Nebraska last week. Like Rattler, the Sooners’ offense has yet to reach full effectiveness. 

Status: Now that Big 12 play has begun, a breakout game is needed.

 Heisman Odds: +1600

5. Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina 

Season stats: 52-82, 63.4 percent; 867 yards, 9 TYD, 4 INT; 39 carries, 251 yards, 2 TD

Last time out: 14-21, 307 yards; 5 TD, 1 INT; 15 rushes, 112 yards in a 53-39 victory over Virginia 

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

Line: North Carolina -12

Update: Howell has made us forget his ugly, three-pick debut in a loss to Virginia Tech in the season opener demonstrated his RPO versatility.

Status: He remains on the periphery

Heisman Odds: +2500


Taulia Tagovailoa, QB, Maryland 

Season stats: 80-106, 75.7 percent, 956 yards; 7 TDs, 0 INT

Last time out: 32-43, 350; 1 TD, 0 INT in a 20-17 victory over Illinois

This week: Maryland (3-0) plays host to Kent State (1-2)

Line: Maryland -14.5

Update: Move over Tua. Make room for Tau. It turns out there are two quarterbacking Tagovailoas with big arms and big-play capability. Tau led the unbeaten Terrapins to 10 points in the final 2:13 at Illinois last week. Like Tua, now with the Miami Dolphins, Tau started his college career in Alabama but left after his freshman season in 2019 for College Park and the promise of consistent playing time. He is third in the FBS in competition percentage.

Status: The Terps play No. 5 Iowa and No. 10 Ohio State in the first two games of October. Let’s see what happens there. 

Heisman Odds: +10000


Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State

Season stats: 57 rushes, 493 yards, 5 TD

Last time out: 27 carries, 172 yards, 3 TD in a 38-17 victory over at No. 24 Miami, Fla.

This week: No. 20 Michigan State (3-0) plays host to Nebraska (2-2)

Line: Michigan State -5

Update: After rushing for 1,158 yards and 20 touchdowns at Wake Forest, transfer Walker III has become the go-to guy for surprising Sparty, which loves a good ground game. Sophomore Walker III had 172 yards rushing and caught a touchdown pass against Miami last week after blowing through Northwestern for 264 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the season opener. His first carry in his Big Ten debut? A 75-yard touchdown run. 

Status: If a running back can do it, Walker might be the guy.

Heisman Odds: +4000


Grayson McCall, QB, Coastal Carolina

Season stats: 46-59, 78.0 percent; 739 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT

Last time out: 13-19, 232 yards; 3 TDs, I INT in a 28-25 victory over Buffalo

This week: No. 17 Coastal Carolina (3-0) plays host to UMass (0-3) in its final nonconference game before beginning defense of its Sun Belt title

Line: Coastal Carolina -35.5

Update: McCall continues to lead the FBS in completion percentage and passing efficiency, but a lack of volume hurts.

Status: Three mid-week games in October will give the uninitiated a glimpse of his game.

Heisman Odds: +15000


C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Season stats: 63-101, 62.4 percent; 963 yards, 8 TD, 3 INT

Last time out: 15-25, 185 yards; 1 TD, 1 INT in a 41-20 victory over Tulsa

This week: No. 10 Ohio State (2-1) plays host to Akron (1-2) in the Buckeyes’ final nonconference game 

Line: Ohio State -49.5 

Update: Stroud followed his best statistical game of the season with his not-best, throwing for 185 yards in a victory over Tulsa after lighting up Oregon for 484 yards and five touchdowns. Stroud has been playing with a shoulder injury since the Oregon game but is expected to start against Akron. 

Status: Unlike predecessor Justin Fields, Stroud is not a running threat, which makes him a one-trick candidate. 

Heisman Odds: +1800


Kedon Slovis, QB, USC

Season stats: 52-80, 65.0 percent, 487 yards; 3 TD, 1 INT

Last time out: 1-2, 8 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT before being KO’d in a 45-14 victory at Washington State

This week: USC (2-1) plays host to Oregon State (2-1)

Line: USC -12

Update: Slovis was KO’d with a neck injury after being sacked on a helmet-to-helmet in the second series of the Trojans’ 45-14 victory last week, but he was to rejoin practice this week. Jaxson Dart threw for 391 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions after replacing Slovis, but the potential competition for the No. 1 job is on hold because interim coach Donte Williams said he does not expect to play Dart against Oregon State “for precautionary reasons.” 

Status: If Slovis can hold off Dart, the nation’s No. 10 quarterback recruit, he still has a slim chance. 

Heisman Odds: N/A

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