1) Caleb Williams, QB, USC
Williams earns the top spot on this list after throwing for 4,075 yards, 37 touchdowns and only four interceptions, as well as rushing for 372 yards and 10 TDs, as a true sophomore in his first season for the Trojans after following coach Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma to USC. But did the Trojans’ loss to Utah in the Pac-12 title game open the door for other candidates? The gutsy Williams fought through a hamstring injury in the game to throw for 363 yards and three TDs, but he also threw a late pick in the game. USC not being in the CFB Playoff could have an impact on his candidacy. Still, Williams’ blend of thrilling arm talent and athleticism, along with his high-level production for the resurgent Trojans, makes him your likely favorite heading into Saturday’s announcement. He’s been the most consistently excellent playmaker this college football season.
2) C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Stroud, who finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 2021, was considered one of the preseason favorites for the 2022 award, along with Alabama’s Young. And though Ohio State’s 2022 season turned out better than in 2021, with a spot in the playoffs, Stroud’s individual numbers tailed off just a hair. Still, he was mostly excellent in throwing for 3,340 yards, 37 TDs and six interceptions, keeping the Buckeyes ranked in the top five all season and unbeaten until the Nov. 26 loss to Michigan. An injury to wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba affected OSU’s passing game, although Marvin Harrison Jr. stepped up in his place as one of the best receivers in college football. The question is whether Stroud struggling to move the ball in a deluge against Northwestern, throwing two picks in the loss to Michigan and failing to win a conference title will keep him from winning the award.
3) Max Duggan, QB, TCU
Duggan was a familiar name to college football diehards entering the season as a three-year starter, but he was not receiving national attention as a Heisman candidate until midseason. In fact, he wasn’t even TCU’s starting quarterback in the season opener; that would be Chandler Morris, who beat out Duggan in a summer battle. But Duggan replaced an injured Morris against Colorado in the first game and went on to have one of the best seasons ever by a Horned Frogs signal-caller, throwing for 3,321 yards, 30 TDs and only four INTs, and also rushing for 404 yards and six TDs. TCU became college football’s darlings along the way, authoring several thrilling, late comebacks. Despite Duggan’s heroics in the Big 12 title game, however, TCU came up just short in an overtime loss to Kansas State. Will that game keep Duggan from winning?
4) Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia
Lacking the gaudy statistical output of his Heisman colleagues, Bennett nonetheless lands in New York following another tremendous season for the Bulldogs. Last year’s national champions once more ran through the regular season unbeaten and even took a step that the 2021 team couldn’t: winning the SEC Championship Game, in a blowout of LSU. Bennett’s stats are nothing to scoff at, as he threw for 3,425 yards, 20 TDs and six INTs and ran for seven TDs. Not too shabby for a team that ran the ball more than it threw it. Bennett’s team success and rags-to-riches story as a former walk-on who had to take the junior-college route just to convince Georgia he could be the guy have added to his mythology in Athens. But his relatively meager individual statistics, plus playing on CFB’s most talented team, could also work against Bennett with Heisman voters.
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