Ranking the Heisman Favorites Heading into Week 8
Iowa's loss to Purdue threw yet another twist into the College Football Playoff discussion, but the Heisman Trophy race hasn't changed heading into Week 8.
Seriously. Like, not a thing is different.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young put together a tremendous game to retain his status as the slight favorite. Ole Miss signal-caller Matt Corral had a decent showing in a road victory, but neither Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder nor Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III shredded the box score in wins.
Oh, and Ohio State duo C.J. Stroud and TreVeyon Henderson probably spent Saturday watching games like the rest of us.
Changes are destined to come, but honesty is the best policy, and fabricating drama would be a disservice to your college football knowledge.
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
TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State
No change in his status. This coming weekend, the rested Buckeyes travel to Indiana to face a respectable run defense. The Hoosiers have surrendered 3.9 yards per carry, which currently ranks 61st nationally but is traditionally a top-50 rate.
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
Though it was his least efficient game of the season, Kenny Pickett threw for 203 yards and two touchdowns in a valuable win at Virginia Tech. He also added 38 yards and a score on the ground, nudging Pitt to 5-1 before a massive game opposite Clemson's elite defense.
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Right or wrong, Heisman Trophy voters tend to consider team success. After losing for the third time in 2021, Texas isn't holding up its end of the bargain for Bijan Robinson. Still, the explosive back collected 173 yards (135 rushing, 38 receiving) and three scores against Oklahoma State. He ranks third nationally with 161.1 scrimmage yards per game and is tied for second with 13 total touchdowns.
5. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Ohio State's well-timed idle Saturday came exactly at the midpoint of the regular season. From here, it only gets tougher.
After heading to Indiana this weekend, the Buckeyes host No. 7 Penn State to close October. They travel to Nebraska before welcoming No. 25 Purdue and No. 9 Michigan State to Columbus, then conclude the regular season at No. 6 Michigan.
If the Buckeyes emerge unscathed, it's difficult to envision Stroud not being a key factor in the Heisman race.
4. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
The good news: Kenneth Walker III remains the nation's leading rusher! He's scampered for 997 yards this season.
The less-good news: Indiana limited him to 84 yards on 23 carries—an uninspiring 3.7 per attempt—and tackled Walker for a five-yard loss on his only reception.
As a result, he held steady at No. 4 in this ranking. The double-edged sword of increasing competition also applies to Walker, whose 7-0 Michigan State team faces No. 6 Michigan, No. 25 Purdue, No. 5 Ohio State and No. 7 Penn State down the stretch.
Walker and the Spartans will spend Week 8 resting and preparing for that season-defining gauntlet.
3. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
The curse of Heisman contention is that a player's individual performance can be scrutinized unfairly.
Last weekend, Desmond Ridder hit 13 of 23 passes for 140 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions. That 6.1-yard average per attempt was far below his 9.0-yard rate entering the game. Statistically speaking, he didn't have an exemplary performance.
At the same time, the Bearcats won 56-21 because they didn't need to throw. Cincinnati running back Jerome Ford shredded UCF for 189 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, and Ryan Montgomery added another 95.
Ridder could've dropped in the rankings, but Stroud didn't play, and Walker had a similarly unremarkable day. So he stays here.
Next up for Ridder and Cincinnati is a trip to 1-5 Navy.
2. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Matt Corral's performance at Tennessee can basically explain the frustration of defending mobile quarterbacks.
Look, he didn't have a good passing night. Corral recorded season-low marks of 6.1 yards per attempt and a 55.3 completion percentage and threw his first interception of the season. He finished the contest with 231 passing yards and two touchdowns.
But as a runner, he flummoxed Tennessee. The junior scampered for a career-best 195 yards, leaning on designed runs for his production yet also neutralizing steady pressure by scrambling. Throw out sacks, and he cracked the 200-yard barrier.
Not bad at all.
This Saturday, Ole Miss meets an LSU defense that has ceded 631 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground in the last three weeks. If he's available, Corral may be headed for another huge stat line.
1. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Perhaps other than Bijan Robinson, Bryce Young was the lone Heisman contender to have a strong Week 7 showing.
Coming off a loss at Texas A&M, the first-year starter propelled Alabama to a 49-9 triumph over Mississippi State. Young completed 20 of 28 passes for 348 yards—an excellent 12.4 per attempt—and four touchdowns with zero interceptions.
Young threw for 369 yards and led a go-ahead drive in the letdown at A&M, so we weren't worried about him going forward. Still, his performance in Starkville must've reassured anyone with concerns.
Heading into Week 8's matchup against Tennessee, he is tied for second nationally in touchdown passes (24) and ranks 10th in yards per attempt (9.3).