Bryce Young took another step forward in the Heisman race with a four-touchdown performance against Mississippi State last week, and he remains the favorite to become the first Alabama quarterback to win it.
Yet as good as Young has been, the race may be decided by the 927 voters’ preference in style. This year’s competition has become a version of the triple option.
The multiple choices:
— Young, the pro-style passer.
— Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, the run-pass quarterback.
— Kenneth Walker III, the running back.
C.J. Stroud, Bijan Robinson and Kenny Pickett could still work their way into the highest tier, but their time is getting short as the season passes the midway point. And what about Caleb Williams? Spencer Rattler’s quarterback replacement at Oklahoma has been great, albeit in very limited work.
Overall, Young, Corral and Walker III have established themselves as best in class.
Baker Mayfield…dual threat what??? Either way Matt Corral is THAT dude. pic.twitter.com/Tw1ABIZanR
— Ray G 🏁 (@RayGQue) October 17, 2021
Young is the most dependent on his accomplices, and that becomes more apparent each time transfer wide receiver Jameson Williams turns a short reception into a long touchdown.
The pair’s 75-yard scoring play in the 49-9 rout of Mississippi State last week was their third-longest scoring connection of the season. They had a 94-yarder in the season opener against Miami, Fla., and an 81-yarder against Southern Miss.
All the easier to see how DeVonta Smith won the Heisman over teammates Najee Harris and Mac Jones and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence last season.
Anyway, here is the list.
1. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Season stats: 157-225, 69.8 percent, 2,082 yards; 24 TD, 3 INT
Last time out: 20-28, 348 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT in a 49-9 victory over Mississippi State
This week: No. 4 Alabama (5-1) plays host to Tennessee (4-3)
Line: Alabama -27.5
Update: After looking downright human in a loss to Texas A&M the week before, Young was close to flawless against Mississippi State. He had his second four-score game, and his 348 yards was his second-highest.
One stat I didn’t realize: Bryce Young was 7-for-7 for 178 yards and three touchdowns on third downs against State.
That’s with his 34 yards rushing and two third-down conversions using his legs.
— Clint Lamb (@ClintRLamb) October 18, 2021
Status: The Crimson Tide’s schedule gets appreciably easier down the stretch, with four straight home games against unranked teams before finishing at No. 16 Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Young could use that stretch to gain more ground.
DraftKings Odds: +175
2. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Season stats: 122-184, 66.3 percent, 1,728 yards; 14 TD, 1 INT; 88 carries, 450 yards, 8 TD
Last time out: 21-38, 231 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 30 carries, 195 yards in a 31-26 victory over Tennessee
This week: No. 12 Ole Miss (5-1) plays host to LSU (4-3)
Line: Ole Miss -10.5
Update: Tennessee fans should have taken out their anger last week on Corral, not Lane Kiffin, who was struck by a golf ball — a range ball, Kiffin joked — and a bucket of popcorn after Ole Miss held on in Neyland Stadium. Corral’s 426 yards in total offense was his third 400-plus-yard game of the season and 10 yards short of his career high of 436 in the season opener over Louisville. He converted four third-down runs and one fourth-down run against the Vols, once running through a defender for the necessary extra yard. A caution: after 30 carries at Tennessee, Corral may be iffy for the LSU game.
Status: Corral has accounted for 363 yards total offense per game, second in the FBS after leading the nation in that category last season. The SEC schedule is never easy, but the Rebels play four of their last six at home, with only road games at Auburn and the Egg Bowl remaining.
DraftKings Odds: +200
3. Kenneth Walker, RB, Michigan State
Season stats: 152 carries, 997 yards, 9 TD
Last time out: 23 carries, 84 yards in a 20-15 victory at Indiana
This week: No. 7 Michigan State (7-0) has a bye before playing host to No. 6 Michigan (6-0) on Oct. 30
#B1G Leaders: Rushing YPG
Kenneth Walker III 142 (leads nation)
Trey Potts 110
TreVeyon Henderson 102
Blake Corum 102
Evan Hull 94
Chez Mellusi 91
Tyler Goodson 84
Hassan Haskins 82
Stephen Carr 73
Braelon Allen 58
— Saturday Tradition (@Tradition) October 18, 2021
Update: Walker found slow going against an Indiana defense designed to contain him last week, when his longest run was 13 yards. At the same time, he has been instrumental in helping the Spartans to their best start since 2015, when they reached as high as No. 2 in the AP Top 25.
Status: Walker leads the FBS in rushing yards, is tied for ninth with nine rushing touchdown and is No. 13 with an average of 6.56 yards per carry. He is the best running back in the FBS. Games remaining against stout Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State will make or break his candidacy.
DraftKings Odds: +1800
4. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Season stats: 104-157, 66.2 percent, 1,699 yards; 18 TD, 3 INT
Last time out: Ohio State had a bye last week
This week: No. 5 Ohio State (5-1) plays host to Indiana (2-4)
Line: Ohio State -19
Update: Stroud seems completely healed from a bothersome shoulder injury that happened to him early in the season and probably had something to do with his early-season lack of accuracy. He leads Heisman contenders with 339.8 passing yards per game, and he returns to the field this week after back-to-back 400-yard, five-touchdown games against Rutgers and Maryland.
Status: Stroud lost a little ground to the quarterbacks ahead of him, Young and Corral, during the Buckeyes’ bye, but he did benefit from Walker’s pedestrian performance.
DraftKings Odds: +900
5. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
Season stats: 143-205, 69.8 percent, 1,934 yards; 21 TD, 1 INT; 49 carries, 172 yards, 3 TD
Last time out: 22-37, 203 yards, 2 TD; 12 carries, 38 yards, TD in a 28-7 victory over Syracuse
This week: No. 23 Pitt (5-1) plays host to No. 24 Clemson (4-2)
Line: Pitt -3.5
Update: Pickett has the numbers. He has the best ratio of touchdowns to interceptions in the FBS, and his average of 3.5 touchdowns per game is better than Young’s. Pickett is averaging 352.3 yards total offense per game, second by about 10 yards to Corral.
Dabo Swinney on Pittsburgh and Kenny Pickett: "This is the best offense we've seen for sure. And the best player I think we've seen." Says Pickett doesn't get enough credit for his scrambling ability.
— Grace Raynor (@gmraynor) October 19, 2021
Status: Pickett had little fanfare entering the season, always a negative in a crowded field, but his team has become one of the top stories in the ACC as he has supplanted Sam Howell as the top quarterback in the league entering a grudge game against Clemson. Clemson had four picks and sacked Pickett six times in a 52-17 home victory over the Panthers last year. A strong showing would further usher Pickett into the national conversation.
DraftKings Odds: +2200
Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Season stats: 108-168, 644.3 percent, 1,444 yards; 13 TD, 2 INT; 37 carries, 118 yards, 3 TD
Last time out: 13-23, 140 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT in a 56-21 victory over Central Florida
This week: No. 3 Cincinnati (6-0) plays at Navy (1-5)
Line: Cincinnati -26.5
Update: Ridder ceded control of the Central Florida rout to running back Jerome Ford, who had 189 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries as the Bearcats rushed for 336 yards.
Status: Ridder has led his program to the top level, which is a big deal. But his lack of numbers and the Bearcats’ overall lack of schedule strength are too much to overcome, even for an electorate that prizes tough-guy leaders.
DraftKings Odds: +2000
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Season stats: 146 carries, 924 yards, 10 TD; 14 catches, 207 yards, 3 TD
Last time out: 21 carries, 135 yards, 2 TD; 3 catches, 38 yards, 1 TD in a 32-24 loss to Oklahoma State
This week: Texas (4-3) has a bye
Update: Consecutive losses to the Big 12 Oklahoma schools have knocked Texas out of the AP rankings and a chance at the conference title and a CFP berth, but it has nothing to do with Robinson.
Status: Robinson may be the most explosive running back in the FBS, but Texas seemingly forgets about him at times. Robinson has had more than 24 touches in a game only once, when he had 37 against TCU — with 216 rushing yards, 238 yards total offense and two touchdowns.
DraftKings Odds: +3500
YOU SHOULD HAVE COME TO ME SOONER
Caleb Williams, QB, Oklahoma
Season stats: 40-59, 67.8 percent, 609 yards; 6 TD, 0 INT; 18 carries, 215 yards, 3 TD
Last time out: 18-23, 295 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INT; 9 carries, 66 yards, 1 TD in a 52-31 victory over TCU
This week: No. 2 Oklahoma (7-0) plays at Kansas (1-5)
Line: Oklahoma -38
It's obvious the #Sooners offense has taken off since Caleb Williams relieved Spencer Rattler in the 2nd qtr vs. Texas. In case you need a stat to back up what you've seen:
Rattler's had 55 drives this year. 20 explosive plays.
Williams has had 26 drives. 18 explosive plays.
— Lee Benson (@LeeBensonNews9) October 19, 2021
Update: Williams has had a pretty good seven quarters since replacing preseason Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler — 507 yards passing, 154 yards rushing, five touchdowns, no interceptions, 100 points.
Status: Williams already has become the oddsmakers’ fifth choice to win the Heisman, vaulting ahead of Bijan Robinson in the process, but he would have to do some pretty spectacular things over the final five weeks of the season to offset the leaders’ body of work.
DraftKings Odds: +2200
OUT OF PICTURE
Will Rogers, QB, Mississippi State
Season stats: 250-339, 73.7 percent, 2,162 yards; 14 TD, 5 INT
Last time out: 35-55, 300 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT in a 49-9 loss to No. 4 Alabama
This week: Mississippi State (3-3) plays at Vanderbilt (2-5)
Line: Mississippi State -23
Status: Rogers ran up against Young and the Alabama defense, which has stuck it to more deserving candidates.
Update: Rogers has to be mistake-proof inasmuch as his production comes with a discount because it is the result of Mike Leach’s Air Raid.
DraftKings Odds: +20000