Ranking the Heisman Favorites Heading into Week 5
Does anyone want to win the 2021 Heisman Trophy? Short of SEC quarterbacks Bryce Young and Matt Corral, the list of early contenders is changing every week.
Preseason favorite Spencer Rattler and star quarterback Sam Howell are trending down. Injuries have affected JT Daniels and C.J. Stroud. Speculative picks Malik Willis and Blake Corum popped onto the radar but didn't impress last weekend.
As the calendar flips to October, the current list of prime candidates is Young, Corral and—well, who has a dartboard?
Despite that uncertainty, the Heisman race is about to get interesting. Corral and Ole Miss travel to face Young and Alabama this Saturday, which will likely produce a true No. 1 for the prestigious award.
B/R's Heisman Trophy update is released every Tuesday. The order focuses on the current favorites and ranks those players as if votes were due today.
On the Radar
Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State
Fresno State survived a scare from UNLV behind Jake Haener's five-touchdown day. Through five games, the Bulldogs are 4-1. They recently toppled a ranked UCLA team thanks to a game-winning touchdown from Haener, and their only loss is to current No. 3 Oregon. Haener has 1,842 passing yards and 18 total scores.
JT Daniels, QB, Georgia
After throwing for 303 yards and three touchdowns in Week 3, JT Daniels took an early seat Saturday. He passed for 129 yards and two scores while playing only one quarter in a 62-0 rout of Vanderbilt. Georgia likely wanted to protect Daniels—who is still recovering from an oblique injury—in preparation for this week's showdown with Arkansas. In that clash, we'll see if he's a real Heisman candidate.
Taulia Tagovailoa, QB, Maryland
At this moment, Taulia Tagovailoa is a speculative Heisman option. His current odds at DraftKings (+10000) are equal to Coastal Carolina QB Grayson McCall and Michigan QB Cade McNamara, yet Tagovailoa has amassed 1,340 yards and 10 touchdowns with only one interception. Based on his play Friday against Iowa, he'll either surge onto the list of favorites or remain a potentially nice story in 2021.
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Because of a shoulder injury, C.J. Stroud would've played Saturday only in an emergency. Ohio State rolled Akron, giving the redshirt freshman an extra week to recover. But just like Daniels' absences have hurt him in the Heisman race, Stroud's injury hurt his chances. Stroud has encountered some rough stretches in all three appearances, so his next performance needs to be a good one.
6. Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
Spencer Rattler's inclusion here is a product of preseason expectations and nothing more.
His unimpressive start has frustrated Oklahoma fans to a stunning point. During the Sooners' 16-13 win over West Virginia on Saturday, they chanted "We want Caleb" in reference to 5-star backup Caleb Williams.
Rattler has managed 7.5 yards per pass attempt, which is tied for 65th nationally. He's thrown for 1,017 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions, and he's added two rushing scores.
Considering the lack of superstars on other top-ranked teams, though, Rattler sticks on the list. Oklahoma is 4-0, and the team's success—modest as it may be—buoys his Heisman candidacy for now.
5. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
"Progression by attrition" is perhaps the best summary.
Desmond Ridder and Cincinnati didn't have a game Saturday, yet he ascends into the Heisman rankings this week regardless. The reasons are simple: Spencer Rattler had another rough day, C.J. Stroud sat because of an injury and the Sam Howell-led North Carolina lost.
Suddenly, Ridder is listed with the strongest Heisman odds (+1500) behind Corral and Young on DraftKings.
Other players (such as Taulia Tagovailoa) have more impressive numbers, but Ridder is fine in that department. He's totaled 820 yards and accounted for nine touchdowns in three Cincinnati wins.
We'll have a much sharper view of his Heisman Trophy upside based on what happens at Notre Dame this weekend.
4. TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State
Last week, C.J. Stroud held the No. 5 spot. This week, Ohio State running back TreVeyon Henderson has replaced his teammate in the rankings.
The freshman running back followed up his 277-yard, three-score explosion against Tulsa in superb fashion this past weekend. He scampered for 93 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Buckeyes rout Akron 59-7.
Through four games, Henderson has rushed for 439 yards while averaging a sizzling 9.5 yards per carry. He's also caught three passes for 87 yards, totaling seven touchdowns for the 3-1 Buckeyes. Henderson ranks 16th nationally with 131.5 scrimmage yards per game.
At this point, his talent is clear. The question is whether Ohio State commits to Henderson as the featured runner or continues to split carries between him, Miyan Williams and Master Teague III.
3. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
Kenneth Walker III soared onto the national radar with a 264-yard, four-touchdown game against Northwestern in his Michigan State debut. Then, the Wake Forest transfer totaled 189 yards in a terrific road victory over Miami and entered Week 4 as the nation's leading rusher.
Saturday slowed the hype train, though.
Michigan State needed overtime to outlast a bad Nebraska team, edging the Cornhuskers 23-20. Walker mustered only 61 yards on 19 carries and didn't catch a pass.
Despite that, he currently ranks fifth in the nation in scrimmage yards (571), and he has scored six total touchdowns in his four appearances. Michigan State's Week 5 clash with Western Kentucky, which ranks 104th in yards allowed per carry (4.8) this season, will give Walker a good chance to get back on track.
2. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Ole Miss didn't play in Week 4, so only a disastrous performance from Bryce Young would've changed the order of Heisman favorites. And nobody had even a remote chance to leapfrog Matt Corral for the No. 2 slot.
Corral has racked up 997 passing yards and nine touchdowns with zero interceptions in only three games. He's also rushed for 158 yards and five scores, propelling the Rebels to a 3-0 record and the No. 12 spot in the AP Top 25 entering the showdown at No. 1 Alabama.
As long as Corral avoids a horrendous game, he'll remain a Heisman contender. But if the Rebels win and he outperforms Young—which likely needs to happen for Ole Miss to pull off the upset—you'll be looking at the unanimous early Heisman favorite.
1. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Bryce Young threw his first career interception this past weekend. Unacceptable!
But in reality, it was an accurate pass that Jameson Williams bobbled and basically gifted to Southern Miss.
Otherwise, the second-year quarterback had a nearly perfect day. Young completed 20-of-22 attempts for 312 yards and five touchdowns, guiding the Crimson Tide to a 63-14 victory and ending his first month as the starter with a 4-0 record.
For the season, Young has a 72.1 completion rate with 1,125 yards (9.2 yards per attempt) and 15 passing scores. SMU's Tanner Mordecai (20) is the only player with more touchdowns through the air.
It's too early for a "Heisman moment" from Young, but a strong performance Saturday opposite co-favorite Matt Corral sure wouldn't hurt.
Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.