The field of candidates was supposed to expand this week with the Big Ten getting its season underway finally, but that does not appear to be the case. Many of the guys that had the potential to throw their hat in the ring failed.
Sean Clifford (+15000, via ATS.io) accounted for over 350+total yards and three touchdowns. But he also threw two interceptions that resulted in ten points for Indiana—who the Nittany Lions lost to. Adrian Martinez did not have a good day against Ohio State. Trey Sermon’s day against the Cornhuskers was nothing special.
Tanner Morgan (+20000) did not have much of a day against the Buckeyes, either. Master Teague had a couple of touchdowns against the Golden Gophers but only accounted for 41 yards.
But the Big Ten did bring us two excellent candidates (and a good one that does not have odds), which could make the race more interesting to follow as the season continues. Can they make enough of an impact, though, to be more worthy than the rest of the field?
Heisman Trophy Odds: You’ve Got Competition Now, Trevor Lawrence
Trevor Lawrence (-110) had six games to make a big enough impression with voters for them not to even think about anyone else—but he did not. He has played well enough to remain the frontrunner. But if he has another game or two as he did against Syracuse, he will not remain the favorite for long.
Scoring three times looked good for Travis Etienne (+5000), but only gaining 86 yards on 17 carries does not.
Mac Jones (+500) had another great day going 25-31 for 387 yards against Tennessee, but his only score came in the run game. Once again, Najee Harris (+3000) was responsible for much of the scoring taking in three of his carries for touchdowns (157 total yards).
DeVonta Smith (+5000) had a good day (seven receptions for 73 yards) but not one good enough to help his Heisman case.
BYU’s Zach Wilson (+3000) has been getting a lot of attention lately and had a good game Saturday night (19-25 for 287 yards and four touchdowns). But with the schedule BYU plays (they played Texas State Saturday night), it is hard to see him winning.
The real competition is, as expected, going to come from Ohio State’s Justin Fields. He certainly did not disappoint in his first start of the season against Nebraska. Fields failed to complete just one of his 21 pass attempts for 276 yards and two touchdowns, as well as another 54 yards and a touchdown in the run game.
Going 20-21 is going to impress voters, but his stats were not overwhelmingly impressive. He will need to torch the better teams Ohio State plays this year if he is going to win. He’ll get a chance to do so this weekend when the Buckeyes travel to Penn State.
But his best chance of winning will be if Michigan continues to look as good as they did against Minnesota, and then he dominates what looks like an excellent Wolverines team.
However, if Michigan is that good at the end of the season, it will be because of the stellar play of new starting quarterback Joe Milton (+3000). His numbers were not mind-blowing (15-22 for 225 yards and a touchdown; eight carries for 52 yards and a touchdown). But they were good.
But ask anyone who watched Michigan play Minnesota about him, and they will say he played an excellent game.
For now, the leader in the clubhouse is Trevor Lawrence, with Justin Fields and Mac Jones hot on his tale. Keep an eye on Joe Milton and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask (+5000). Do not be surprised if another name gets tossed into the mix in the weeks ahead, though.
Wisconsin’s new quarterback, Graham Mertz, put on a clinic in the Badgers season opener Friday night (20-21 for 248 yards and five touchdowns). His competition was terrible (Illinois), which is probably why no one has odds posted for him. Should he keep playing like he did Friday, that will change.
Oh—whatever you do, do not get too comfortable with the current Heisman picture. We get to throw the Pac-12’s guys into the mix in a couple of weeks!