Heisman Trophy Candidates to Watch on Saturday

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 14: The trophy presented to Quarterback Joe Burrow of the LSU Tigers winner of the 85th annual Heisman Memorial Trophy is seen on December 14, 2019 at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 14: The trophy presented to Quarterback Joe Burrow of the LSU Tigers winner of the 85th annual Heisman Memorial Trophy is seen on December 14, 2019 at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

We are now in the fifth week of the college football season, the time to start discussing Heisman Trophy candidates. Teams have started with conference play, and these are the games that will start separating the top contenders from the wannabes.

Throughout the season, I will start writing an article every Friday reviewing four players to keep an eye out for that weekend. The first two players each week will always be the two odds favorites, according to wynnbet.com. Then, I’ll wrap each article up with two players outside the odds favorite circle looking in who I think deserves some Heisman Trophy attention.

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For those reading along who enjoy making a friendly wager on who will win the Heisman Trophy, here are a few stats you might want to keep in mind.

The last two Heisman winners were from the SEC, Devonta Smith from Alabama, and LSU’s Joe Burrow. You can take that back even further and say 5 of the last 11 Heisman Trophy winners have played in the SEC, going back to Cam Newton from Auburn in 2010.

Also, since Newton won the Heisman, 9 of the previous 11 winners have been quarterbacks. WR Devonta Smith and RB Derrick Henry were the only two at another position.

With that in mind, here are my four Heisman Trophy candidates to watch this weekend.

Bryce Young

The Alabama sophomore quarterback has pretty much been favored to win the Heisman Trophy since the 2021 season kicked off. After four weeks of play, he’s still a -500 favorite to win the Heisman at wynnbet.com.

Young has been able to connect on 88 of 122 passing attempts, good for 1,124 yards, 15 touchdowns, and only one interception. He’s averaging 9.2 yards per completion and has a 188.5 QBR.

In my opinion, his best game of the season has been the opener against the Miami Hurricanes. Young went 27 of 38 for 344 yards and four touchdowns in the game. Against Bama’s toughest competition, Florida, he was 22 of 35, good for 240 yards and three scores.

Young and the Crimson Tide will have their hands full this Saturday when they take the field against #12 Ole Miss. The Rebels are coming off of their bye week, so they have had two weeks to prepare for Alabama.

Ole Miss has been giving up an average of 208 passing yards per game with nine sacks and one interception on the season. That being said, they haven’t faced competition near Alabama’s talent. If the Tide can get the win at home and Young has a strong outing, he’s sure to remain the favorite in Vegas to win the Heisman Trophy.

Matt Corral

Arkansas vs. Georgia obviously isn’t the only significant SEC game this weekend. The second odds favorite (also -500) to win the Heisman, according to wynnbet.com, is Matt Corral, the junior quarterback at Ole Miss.

This year, Corral has connected on 66 of 96 passes for 997 yards, nine touchdowns, and a 186.9 QBR. He has yet to throw an interception this season. Obviously, with Ole Miss being off last week, Corral’s numbers should be lower than everyone else so far. It’s hard to say which game has been the “best” for Corral through his first three games.

In terms of yards, he had 381 against Louisville opening weekend, but he only threw for one touchdown. Corral was able to connect for a score five times against Appalachian State, but he only tossed the ball for 281 yards. His last time on the field, against Tulane, Corral completed 23 of 31 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns.

Like Bryce Young, this will definitely be the toughest opponent to date against Alabama on Saturday for Corral. The Tide is holding opponents to an average of just 168 passing yards per game. In addition, they have 10 sacks and six interceptions as a team.

Again, this is just my opinion, but Ole Miss needs to go undefeated throughout the regular season if Corral wants to win the Heisman Trophy. That’s a tall order to fill. But, if they make it happen, I would be shocked if Corral doesn’t win the Heisman. This weekend’s matchup will tell us a lot about which one of these two should be favored.

Sean Clifford

As I mentioned at the beginning, the first two players are the favorites, according to the oddsmakers. The following two players have a shot, but they are definitely outside looking in. I think you have to put Sean Clifford in that group.

He has completed 86 of 120 passes, good for 1,158 yards, eight touchdowns, and two interceptions. I was actually surprised to see how high his QBR is at 171.4. These are impressive numbers as they are, but even more so when you consider who Penn State has played.

The Nittany Lions already have wins against two ranked teams in Wisconsin and Auburn. After playing at home against IU this weekend, they will then be on the road against #5 Iowa. Penn State wraps the season up with games against ranked opponents in Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State.

I think Clifford will have to go a little further than finishing the regular season undefeated to win the Heisman Trophy. I believe Penn State will also need to be Big 10 Champions, giving them a spot in the College Football Playoffs.

While I don’t see them having any problem this weekend against IU, I will be watching their game at Iowa next weekend. Clifford is currently one of six players with odds of +2000 to win the Heisman. If Penn State is still undefeated after next weekend, I think that number will be changing.

Desmond Ridder

While I see Cincinnati’s senior quarterback as a definite outsider looking to win the Heisman Trophy, oddsmakers currently have him as the fourth favored player at +500. Just as the other three candidates I’ve mentioned in this article, Ridder will be facing his toughest defense of the season on Saturday when the Bearcats travel to South Bend to play Notre Dame.

I’ll be honest, just like I have difficulty ranking Cincinnati #7 in the country, I have a hard time putting their quarterback this high on the Heisman list. Other than Notre Dame, they don’t play enough notable teams this season. This weekend will be their only game against a ranked opponent, as the rankings are right now.

After games against Miami of Ohio, Murray State, and Indiana, Ridder has completed 54 of 83 passing attempts. He has tossed the ball for 748 yards, seven touchdowns, and a 163.8 QBR. He has yet to throw for more than 300 yards in a game and has gotten sacked five times this season.

All of that being said, he is still fourth on Vegas’ list of favorites. As long as Cincy keeps winning, Ridder’s name must be mentioned because they are a top 10 team.

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If they don’t make it out of South Bend with a win on Saturday, I never have to mention his name again in a Heisman Trophy article.