It is a little too early to call the Heisman Trophy race just yet. Bad things can happen. Injuries occur.
But Bryce Young is as close to a lock as is humanly possible through the first month of the college season, buoyed both by his near-spotless performances and No.1 Alabama’s relentless success on the national stage. Young has another chance to pad his resume against Ole Miss this week, and the same is true of Rebels’ quarterback Matt Corral, who has emerged as a contender.
Corral is one of a handful of FBS quarterbacks who has not thrown an interception. Liberty’s Malik Willis, Baylor’s Gerry Bohanon and Stanford’s Tanner McKee are among the others, although none have been asked to throw as often as Corral does in Lane Kiffin’s quarterback-friendly system. Heisman Trophy odds courtesy of DraftKings on Sept. 28.
1. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Season stats: 88-122, 72.1 percent; 1,124 yards, 15 TD, 1 INT
Last time out: 20-22, 314 yards, 5 TD, I INT in a 63-14 victory over Southern Miss
This week: No. 1 Alabama (4-0) plays host to No. 12 Ole Miss (3-0), which is coached by former ‘Bama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin
Line: Alabama -15.5
Update: Not only is Young driving Alabama, he also is making noise in the NIL world. Young signed a deal with financial platform CashApp in July, and he recently agreed to host a podcast on iHeart Radio’s The Volume. The podcast will give Young a platform to explain the process that led him to become the first Alabama quarterback to win the Heisman, joining running backs Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015) and wide receiver DeVonta Smith (2020). But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Status: Young clearly is in the pole position. He set an Alabama record for most touchdown passes (four) in his first start, and his impeccable performance against Southern Miss elevated him further. Young threw his first interception of the season last week, but it came when a pass bounced off intended receiver Jameson Williams.
Heisman Odds: +180
Bryce Young’s earned a 94.2 grade against Southern Miss in Week 4
The HIGHEST by an Alabama QB since 2014 pic.twitter.com/7fj0P8FZg9
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 28, 2021
2. Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
Season stats: 100-135, 74.1 percent; 1,017 yards, 8 TD, 3 INT
Last time out: 26-36, 256 yards, 1 TD, I INT in a 16-13 victory over West Virginia
This week: No. 4 Oklahoma (4-0) will visit Kansas State (3-1)
Line: Oklahoma -10.5
Update: Oklahoma fans covet their football and their success. Remember the fan who had a red “O” inlaid on one front tooth and a red “U” inlaid on the other? Folks appear to be growing restless with an offense that has scored only 39 points in its last two games, although both were victories. Rattler was actually booed at home during the West Virginia game before leading the Sooners on a 14-play, 80-yard drive for the game-winning field goal as time expired in the 16-13 victory. “We’re not playing very good offensively right now,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley. “We have to get better, and I think we will. That’s been our history here.”
Status: Rattler entered the season as the Heisman favorite, but he needs a couple of big games to get to the head of the class again.
Heisman Odds: +2500
3. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Season stats: 66-96, 68.8 percent; 997 yards, 9 TD, 0 INT
Last time out: Idle last week
This week: No. 12 Ole Miss (3-0) visits No. 1 Alabama (4-0). The Rebels scheduled an off day last last week to help pack for the trip to Tuscaloosa.
Line: Alabama -15.5
Update: Corral had an extra week to prepare for the Alabama defense that looked surprisingly vulnerable to a Florida attack led by quarterback Emory Jones, who is much more of a running threat than Corral. At the same time, Corral picked apart the Alabama defense in their 2020 meeting, throwing for 365 yards and two touchdowns while scrambling for 40 more yards.
Status: Corral accounted for 403 yards total offense and seven touchdowns, four rushing, in a rout over Tulane on Sept. 18. For what it is worth, Rattler had 311 yards total offense, two touchdowns and two interceptions when Oklahoma squeaked past the Green Wave in the season opener. A home game against No. 16 Arkansas (4-0) is up next.
Heisman Odds: +150
"It's cool but I'm not putting anything into it. We are focusing on the now. That's what's going to get us where we need to be."
-Ole Miss QB Matt Corral on the Heisman Trophy talk and team rankings.
— Brad Logan (@BradLoganCOTE) September 27, 2021
4. Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State
Season stats: 136-186, 73.1 percent; 1,842 yards, 15 TD, 2 INT
Last time out: 30-42, 378 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT in a 38-30 victory over UNLV
This week: No. 23 Fresno State (4-1) plays at Hawaii (2-3).
Line: Fresno State -10
Update: Haener has not played the schedule of the other top contenders, but all you can do is play the games that are put in front of you, and in those he has excelled. Haener threw four of his five touchdowns against UNLV in the second half to push the Bulldogs in front.
Status: The Bulldogs returned to the AP Top 25 for the first since 2018 last week, and Haener is the reason. Fresno State has played one more game than most but will be off next week, when the rest of the nation will have a chance to gain on his FBS-leading 1,842 passing yards.
Heisman Odds: +5000
1. Bryce Young QB Alabama
2. Matt Corral QB Ole Miss
3. Jake Haenar QB Fresno State
4. Taulia Tagovailoa QB Maryland
5. Sean Tucker RB Syracuse
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) September 26, 2021
5. Taulia Tagavailoa, QB, Maryland
Season stats: 111-147, 75.5 percent; 1,340 yards, 10 TD, 1 INT
Last time out: 31-41, 384 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT in a 37-16 victory over Kent State
This week: Maryland (4-0) plays host to No. 5 Iowa (4-0) on Friday
Line: Iowa -4
Update: Tagavailoa and the Terrapins, still unranked despite being 4-0 for the first time since 2016, begin a make-or-break stretch against the Hawkeyes this week, a game originally scheduled for Saturday but moved for TV purposes. Maryland plays five of its next seven games against teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25, with No. 11 Ohio State next week and No. 4 Penn State, No. 17 Michigan Start and Np. 14 Michigan in November. Iowa won the last meeting, 23-0, in 2018, when Tau was a high school senior best known as Tua’s younger brother. Maryland coach Locksley likes what he has seen as he Terps enter the meat of Big Ten play. “When we eliminate the self-inflicted wounds, we’ve got a chance to be pretty good on offense,” Michael Locksley said. “And we feel like we’ve got a quarterback that can lead us.”
Status: Tagavailoa has shown no signs of wilting as he enters a high-risk, high- reward streak.
Heisman Odds: +10000
Sean Clifford, QB, Penn State
Season stats: 86-120, 71.7 percent; 1,158 yards, 8 TD, 2 INT
Last time out: 19-26, 401 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT in a 38-17 victory over Villanova
This week: No. 4 Penn State (4-0) will play host to Indiana (2-2)
Line: Penn State -10.5
Update: Senior Clifford threw for a career-high 401 yards last week and tied his career high with four touchdown passes. He is running less this season, and the Nittany Lions have been better for it.
Status: Clifford has engineered victories over then-Top 25 teams Wisconsin and Auburn, and voters love a winner.
It's not just that QB Sean Clifford won Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week.
It's that it's the first such honor for Penn State since K.J. Hamler won the award nearly two years ago on Oct. 21, 2019.
And those Nittany Lions are 4-0.
— RJ Young (@RJ_Young) September 27, 2021
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Season stats: 63-101, 62.4 percent; 963, 8 TD, 3 INT
Last time out: DNP
This week: No. 11 Ohio State (3-1) will visit Rutgers (3-1), which played Michigan within seven points last week
Line: Ohio State -16
Update: Stroud was held out of the Buckeyes’ 59-7 victory over Akron because of a lingering shoulder injury suffered in the loss to Oregon, enabling second-year freshman quarterback Kyle McCord to make his first college start. McCord completed 13 of 18 passes for 319 yards in a 59-7 victory over Akron, with two touchdowns and one interception.
Status: McCord’s play should not be enough to move him ahead of Stroud, another second-year freshman, on the depth chart, but Stroud can not afford too many more misses
Heisman Odds: +3500
HANGING IN THERE
Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
Season stats: 76 rushes, 554 yards, 5 TD
Last time out: 19 carries, 61 yards in a 23-20 overtime victory over Nebraska
This week: No. 17 Michigan State (4-0) plays host to Western Kentucky (1-2) in its final nonconference game
Line: Michigan State -10.5
Update: Walker was held in check by Nebraska’s Black Shirts, but he set up the Spartans’ game-winning field goal with a 23-yard run on the first play of their overtime possession. Walker also was the middle man in a flea-flicker touchdown pass, taking a handoff from quarterback Payton Thorne before pitching the ball back to Thorne for a 35-yard touchdown pass to Jayden Reed.
Status: Walker still leads the FBS in rushing yards and is 12th in rushing yards per carry, 7.29, the best average with more than 63 carries. He has 75.
OUT OF PICTURE
Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
Season stats: 77-121, 63.6 percent; 1,173 yards, 11 TD, 4 INT; 55 carries, 259 yards rushing, 3 TD
Last time out: 25-39, 306 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT in a 39-25 loss to Georgia Tech
This week: North Carolina (2-2) plays host to Duke (3-1)
Line: North Carolina -18
Update: North Carolina has been one of the most disappointing teams in the FBS this season, although there is little doubt that it was over-rated at No. 10 in the preseason poll after losing top running backs Davante Williams and Michael Carter to the NFL. Howell had his third straight 300-yard passing game last week, but he fumbled twice and suffered eight sacks in the upset home loss to the Rambling Wreck. His fumbles led to 10 Tech points.
Status: The team’s struggles and his inconsistency are too much to overcome.
Heisman Odds: +5000