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Heisman Watch: Caleb Williams, Bo Nix creeping up odds board

Over the past few weeks, it felt like Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker were beginning to separate themselves from the pack in the Heisman race, at least according to the oddsmakers at BetMGM.

But after uneven performances from those two in Week 10, the race appears to be wide open once again.

Hooker had moved past Stroud as the betting favorite entering Tennessee’s marquee matchup with Georgia. The Vols were undefeated and riding high but couldn’t keep that magic going against the defending national champions. Hooker was just 23-of-33 for 195 yards and an interception in a 27-13 loss that was more lopsided than the score may indicate.

Meanwhile, Stroud led Ohio State into Evanston for what should have been a cakewalk game against 1-win Northwestern. Instead, swirling wind had a major impact on the game and Stroud finished with a career low 76 passing yards while completing just 10 of his 26 attempts.

A week ago, Hooker was the betting favorite at BetMGM with +100 odds. Stroud was close behind at +175 with the next-closest candidate down at +1400.

Now, as of Tuesday morning, Stroud is the favorite at +175 with Hooker next at +300. From there, there are five others with odds of +1600 or better — all well within striking distance.

That group includes two Pac-12 quarterbacks who have been slowly creeping up the board — USC’s Caleb Williams and Oregon’s Bo Nix. Both Williams and Nix are now listed at +800.

Williams has been carrying USC, a team with an extremely leaky defense. In a 41-35 win over Cal on Saturday, Williams threw for 360 yards and four touchdowns, and did so with his top two targets (Jordan Addison and Mario Williams) sidelined due to injury.

Williams has thrown for 2,742 yards and 28 touchdowns with just one interception this year for the Trojans, who are now 8-1 and were ranked No. 9 in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings.

Nix has also been putting up absurd numbers. The Auburn transfer threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns, had two rushing touchdowns and also had an 18-yard touchdown reception in a 49-10 win over Colorado. Nix now has 36 total touchdowns on the season — 22 passing, 13 rushing and one receiving.

Williams and Nix could be on a collision course to meet in the Pac-12 title game, a game that could have both CFP and Heisman implications if it comes to fruition.

USC quarterback Caleb Williams has carried the Trojans to an 8-1 record by leading a potent passing offense. (AP Photo/John McCoy)
USC quarterback Caleb Williams has carried the Trojans to an 8-1 record by leading a potent passing offense. (AP Photo/John McCoy)

Ohio State QB CJ Stroud (+175)

Though he had the worst passing performance of his career, Stroud did what he had to do to get his team out of Evanston with a win. Stroud has been pretty reluctant to run, but he had a few well-timed bursts to help the Buckeyes move the ball in spite of the elements. That included a 16-yard keeper on a fourth-and-1 and a 44-yard run down the right sideline.

Both of those runs set up OSU touchdowns. Stroud finished the day with 79 rushing yards, a career high. And he’s still got strong passing stats — 2,453 yards, 29 touchdowns and four interceptions with a 67.9 completion percentage.

Stroud is going to be near the top of the Heisman race as long as Ohio State keeps winning. The Buckeyes are now 9-0 with Indiana and Maryland next on the schedule before the highly anticipated showdown with Michigan.

Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker (+300)

Hooker’s Heisman hopes took a big hit on Saturday. With a win over Georgia in Athens, Tennessee would have been in the driver’s seat in the SEC East and would have needed a pretty stunning collapse down the stretch to not reach the playoff. Now, the Vols have no margin for error. And even if they win out to finish 11-1, they could still end up on the outside looking in without the added bonus of an SEC championship.

It’s not completely out of the question that Tennessee can crack the top four, but it’s way more of a long shot than it was a week ago. Hooker and the Vols will need to refocus with three winnable games to come — Missouri at home and road games vs. South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) saw his Heisman campaign take a big hit on Saturday after a loss to Georgia. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) saw his Heisman campaign take a big hit on Saturday after a loss to Georgia. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Michigan RB Blake Corum (+600)

Michigan keeps on winning and Blake Corum continues to be a key figure for the undefeated Wolverines. Corum has topped the 100-yard mark in six consecutive games and is now up to 1,187 yards and 16 touchdowns on the year. In Saturday’s win over Rutgers, he rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

Corum is fourth in the nation in rushing yards and tied for the national lead in rushing touchdowns. Like previously mentioned with Stroud, Corum is going to stay in the Heisman race if he keeps producing in Michigan wins. The Wolverines have home games vs. Nebraska and Illinois before that highly-anticipated trip to Columbus on Nov. 26.

If Corum has a monster game vs. the Buckeyes to help Michigan get to the Big Ten title game and another step closer to a CFP berth, he’ll have a great shot at winning the Heisman.

USC QB Caleb Williams (+800)

Williams has been forced to carry a heavy load for USC and he’s lived up to the task. He’s thrown for at least 300 yards in five games this year, including four of USC’s last five outings. In USC’s most-recent three-game stretch, Williams has thrown for 1,152 yards and 14 touchdowns with no interceptions.

USC’s defense has been playing very poorly, so Williams is going to need to continue to produce at this pace to keep the Trojans’ national championship dreams alive. USC plays the Pac-12’s worst team, Colorado, on Friday before closing out the season with UCLA and Notre Dame.

Those two games will attract plenty of eyes, giving Williams a big-time platform to showcase what kind of season he’s been having.

Oregon QB Bo Nix (+800)

After his performance against Colorado on Saturday, Nix is up to 2,495 passing yards and 22 touchdowns to go with 457 yards and 13 scores on the ground. Nix has scored at least four touchdowns in six of Oregon’s nine games this season.

And much like with Williams and USC, Oregon’s schedule is about to pick up, providing Nix with some opportunities to shine on a big stage.

Nix already did that once when he and the Ducks trounced previously unbeaten UCLA 45-30 a few weeks ago. Since then, Oregon has cruised past Cal and Colorado with Nix putting up huge numbers in the process. In the next two weeks, Oregon hosts Washington and Utah before closing out the regular season on the road against rival Oregon State.

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix has a few big games coming up where he'll be able to showcase himself to the Heisman campaign. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix has a few big games coming up where he'll be able to showcase himself to the Heisman campaign. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

North Carolina QB Drake Maye (+1200)

Drake Maye’s excellent freshman season continues. Maye threw for 293 yards, rushed for 74 yards and had three total touchdowns in a win over Virginia on Saturday. It was the fifth consecutive win for North Carolina, which is now quietly 8-1 on the year and still looming in the CFP picture.

For the season, Maye has thrown for 2,964 yards and 31 touchdowns with just three interceptions while completing 71.2% of his attempts. Not only does Maye look like a future first-round NFL draft pick, he has the Tar Heels on a path to the ACC title game.

There are a few tricky games ahead — at Wake Forest and home vs. NC State — but Maye could definitely play his way to the Heisman ceremony if UNC keeps winning.

Georgia QB Stetson Bennett (+1600)

Stetson Bennett made a big jump up the odds board this week, going from +10000 to +1600.

Bennett already led Georgia to a national championship last season. Can he add another national title and maybe a Heisman to his resume this year? Bennett threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns and added a 13-yard rushing touchdown in the win over Tennessee.

Georgia has been cruising to this point and Bennett has been in command. He’s thrown for 2,606 yards with 11 touchdowns and only three picks. He’s also got six rushing touchdowns on the year.

And it should be noted that Bennett has more passing yards than Stroud (2,453), Hooker (2,533) and Nix (2,495).

Others on the radar

  • Alabama QB Bryce Young (+3300)

  • TCU QB Max Duggan (+4000)

  • UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson (+6600)

  • Texas RB Bijan Robinson (+12500)

  • Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs (+15000)

  • Illinois RB Chase Brown (+15000)

  • Pitt RB Israel Abanikanda (+15000)