Heisman Watch 2021: Examining Odds and Highlights for Finalists

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 9, 2021

Heisman Watch 2021: Examining Odds and Highlights for Finalists

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The Heisman Trophy will stay within the Alabama Crimson Tide football program for another 12 months.

    Sophomore quarterback Bryce Young is the overwhelming favorite to win the Heisman after he led the Crimson Tide to a win over the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game.

    Young will follow DeVonta Smith to make it back-to-back Heisman winners for the premier program in the SEC. Young is so much of a favorite that the odds have been taken down at DraftKings Sportsbook.

    The only question surrounding Saturday's ceremony is which order the other three finalists will finish behind Young.

    Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud, Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett and Michigan Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson are all finalists alongside Young.

Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Young was given the chance to win the Heisman against Georgia because two Big Ten players failed to take advantage of being favorites in November.

    Young claimed the top spot from Stroud and Michigan State Spartans running back Kenneth Walker III in the buildup to the SEC Championship Game.

    The Alabama sophomore threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns to down the previously undefeated Bulldogs out of the SEC East.

    Young produced two sets of Heisman moments in his past two games. The first one came on a 97-yard game-tying drive against the Auburn Tigers in the Iron Bowl. He then delivered a handful of big plays against Georgia to put Alabama back in the College Football Playoff as the No. 1 seed.

    He is expected to receive a bulk of the first-place votes and win the Heisman in an overwhelming fashion.

Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    If Young did not beat Georgia, Kenny Pickett might have had a chance to steal the Heisman from the Alabama quarterback in the ACC Championship Game.

    Pickett capped off his fantastic season with 253 passing yards and two touchdowns against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

    The senior quarterback finished in the top five in the FBS in passing yards and touchdown throws, with 4,319 and 42, respectively. His consistency inside the high-powered Pittsburgh offense might lead to him earning some second-place votes.

    Pickett was more consistent that Stroud, and he had one more week to showcase his talents to Heisman voters during conference championship weekend.

    He threw for multiple touchdowns in each of his 13 games, and he had five performances with four or more touchdown passes.

    Pickett's strong season allowed to him to finish high in the Heisman voting and to improve his 2022 NFL draft stock. He could be one of the first quarterbacks chosen in April.

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Stroud went from one of the Heisman front-runners to possible third- or fourth-place finisher in the span of two weeks.

    He took hold of the Heisman race after he threw for 432 yards and six touchdowns on November 20 against Michigan State.

    But the freshman signal-caller dropped off the Heisman radar when he threw for a pair of touchdowns in November 27's loss to Michigan. Stroud put up 394 yards and two touchdowns in the defeat, but that game was dominated by the performance of Michigan's interior players more than it was by the Ohio State offense.

    Stroud could be second or third depending on how he is compared to Pickett in the eyes of the Heisman voters. No matter where he lands, he should use his Heisman placing as a springboard to a potential Heisman-winning campaign in 2022.

Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    As of mid-November, the Heisman race was wide-open, and it could have been won by a defensive player for the first time in two decades.

    Aidan Hutchinson made that a real possibility after he produced three sacks in a dominant performance against Ohio State.

    Hutchinson had seven of his 14 sacks in his final four games, also recording three takedowns against the Penn State Nittany Lions and one in the Big Ten Championship Game versus the Iowa Hawkeyes. His Heisman candidacy took a big hit when Young turned in his offensive masterclass against the top-ranked team in the country.

    The defensive end's efforts should be rewarded with some high-placed Heisman votes, but he will not come close to winning it. Hutchinson might receive some second- or third-place votes if those voters believed that a defensive player should be rewarded in a Heisman race that did not take shape until the end of November.


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