Ranking the Heisman Favorites Heading into Week 6
There is a universe in which Alabama toppled Ole Miss without Bryce Young leaving that matchup as the undisputed Heisman Trophy favorite over Matt Corral. But that is not our reality.
After wideout DeVonta Smith won the award in 2020, the Heisman race runs through Tuscaloosa for the second straight year.
Young headlines the field through five weeks of the 2021 season, putting up superb numbers for the nation's No. 1 team. Corral—despite the loss to Alabama—is still next up, while Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder is squarely in the hunt.
Texas running back Bijan Robinson is among the chasers, a group that changes by the week but is starting to get a little clearer. And now, they clearly know the target.
B/R's Heisman Trophy update is released every Tuesday. The order focuses on the current favorites for the award and ranks those players as if votes were due today.
On the Radar
Brian Robinson Jr., RB, Alabama
What a showing from Brian Robinson Jr. in Week 5. The senior running back powered his way to 171 yards and four touchdowns as the Crimson Tide smacked Ole Miss 42-21. Robinson is averaging 99.0 scrimmage yards and has collected seven scores. If 'Bama features him more consistently, Robinson could join the hunt.
TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State
Unfortunately for him, an unspecified injury limited TreVeyon Henderson to eight carries. Nevertheless, he provided 71 yards and a touchdown against Rutgers and has racked up 616 all-purpose yards and eight scores in five games.
Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
In the betting realm, Spencer Rattler is still a noteworthy factor. His current odds are +2500, per DraftKings. And after hitting 22-of-25 passes for 243 yards—a season-high 9.7 yards per attempt—and two touchdowns in a win over Kansas State, Rattler is trending up (ever-so-slightly) for the first time in a long time.
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Since a Week 2 loss at Arkansas, Bijan Robinson has posted 141, 191 and 238 yards from scrimmage and totaled six touchdowns in three Texas wins. On production alone, his 819 yards and nine touchdowns are worthy of inclusion. And if the Longhorns beat Rattler and Oklahoma this weekend, team success should boost Robinson into the top five.
5. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Last week, a shoulder injury kept C.J. Stroud on the sideline as the emergency quarterback against Akron. While a wise decision for his long-term health, the absence forced us to shift him from a tenuous ranking to an "on the radar" spot.
When you throw for 330 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions, however, you demand our attention. Stroud shredded the Rutgers secondary in a 52-13 victory and is back on the list.
"That Tulsa game, I wasn't feeling right at all," he said, per Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch. "But this week I could actually step into my throws and really put something into my throws without feeling like my shoulder's going to fall off."
Stroud and the Buckeyes host Maryland in Week 6.
4. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
Kenneth Walker III, who rushed for only 61 yards last weekend, responded well after an inefficient day.
Michigan State built a 26-point first-half advantage on Western Kentucky thanks to three touchdowns from Walker. As the Spartans cruised to a 48-31 win, he finished with 124 yards and later commented on his pursuit of this award.
"That is a dream of mine to win the Heisman," he said, per Larry Lage of the Associated Press. "I had that in my notes on March 8."
Walker leads the FBS at 136.0 rushing yards per game and has totaled nine touchdowns for the 5-0 Spartans. They head to Rutgers next weekend aiming for a 3-0 start in Big Ten play.
3. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Cincinnati is pounding on the door of the College Football Playoff chase following its 24-13 win at Notre Dame. The 4-0 Bearcats have climbed to No. 5 nationally and are capitalizing on a season full of losses from traditional powers.
And that legitimizes Desmond Ridder in the Heisman race, too.
In our most recent update, the senior QB already ranked fifth. Ridder backed up the billing with 323 total yards and three touchdowns—including a game-sealing rushing score in the fourth quarter—to propel the Bearcats past the Irish.
Through four games, Ridder has gathered 1,143 offensive yards and accounted for 12 touchdowns. Team success is paramount for his candidacy, but he's off to a strong start.
2. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Matt Corral missed a perfect opportunity for a statement game.
No, that's not surprising. Playing on the road against the No. 1 team in the country is never supposed to be easy. And if Ole Miss had converted its three fourth-down attempts in the first half, we might be having a much different discussion.
Instead, we're reviewing Matt Corral's 21-of-29 line for a modest 213 yards and one touchdown. Excluding sacks and kneeldowns in the 42-21 loss, he managed just 20 rushing yards.
Corral still has impressive season totals of 1,380 yards, 16 scores and only one turnover, so he's not leaving the Heisman conversation. But by the season's end, not having the head-to-head advantage over Bryce Young may sting Corral's case.
1. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Although he's not a prohibitive favorite by any means, Bryce Young is officially in the position of "his award to lose."
Alabama rolled to a 42-21 victory over Ole Miss, and Robinson landed the most attention with four touchdowns on the day. Along the way, though, Young completed 20-of-26 throws for 241 yards and two scores with one interception.
For the season, Young has collected 1,367 yards and 17 touchdowns—the fourth-most nationally—while guiding Alabama to a 5-0 record. He's tossed only two interceptions in 148 attempts.
Young's potential road to the Heisman heads to College Station for a showdown with Texas A&M, which is 3-2 yet has surrendered a mere 5.7 yards per attempt this season. It's another great chance for Young to pad his resume.