With just one week remaining in the 2023 college football regular season, the Heisman Trophy race is coming down to the wire.
For most of the season, it has looked like the Heisman would be headed out West as the Pac-12 was littered with explosive offenses led by experienced quarterbacks in the conference’s final season as we know it.
Caleb Williams of USC, Michael Penix Jr. of Washington and Oregon’s Bo Nix have led the way for almost the entirety of the college football season.
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And yet there’s been an SEC quarterback lurking in the shadows the entire time, even as his team was eliminated from playoff contention weeks ago.
Let’s take a look at the three players with the best odds to take home the 2023 Heisman Trophy heading into Week 13, according to Caesars Sportsbook.
Jayden Daniels, LSU: -125
The LSU Tigers lost their second game of the season on the last weekend of September, all but ending any chance of making the College Football Playoff.
LSU’s third loss came against Alabama on Nov. 4, officially ending their hopes to repeat as SEC West champions.
But the Heisman Trophy has seen an individual win the award while playing for a team with three losses, and LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels is looking to join the party.
The last player to win the Heisman despite three regular-season losses was Louisville’s Lamar Jackson in 2016, joining three other players to win the award despite the losses.
“A lot about the Heisman is it’s voted on. It’s campaigned,” Caesars Sportsbook college football lead Joey Feazel told Fox News Digital. “It’s campaigned on Twitter. It’s campaigned through media. And really the argument this week has been, really what pushed Jayden Daniels … ‘Should this be a team-based award or a player-based award?’”
“And what everybody has seen, Jayden Daniels, phenomenal on the ground [and] phenomenal through the air. And even against Georgia State, they’re up however big, and he’s still in in the fourth quarter, trying to put up numbers, trying to prove that he is the best player in college.”
Daniels has been spectacular for the Tigers this year, carrying LSU despite a defense that has allowed the second-most yards per game in the SEC.
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Daniels leads the nation in passing touchdowns (36) and has thrown just four interceptions on the season. He has also rushed for more than 1,000 yards and has scored 10 touchdowns on the ground.
He’ll have one more chance to show why he should win the Heisman as the Tigers face Texas A&M in Week 13.
“Usually when an award is done with, we’re going to see an astronomical … -2000, -4000. He’s really just in that slight-favorite space, trailed just by Bo Nix slightly,” Feazel added.
Bo Nix, Oregon: +130
The Oregon Ducks continue to roll toward a rematch with Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game as their quarterback puts up huge numbers.
The Ducks have one final hurdle to secure a berth in the title game, and it won’t be an easy one.
No. 16 Oregon State travels to Eugene for the 128th matchup between the two in-state schools, and there is quite a bit on the line. If Oregon defeats the Beavers, they will get their rematch against the Huskies. A loss and an Arizona win over Arizona State, and the Wildcats will play in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
The latter scenario would knock Oregon out of the CFP picture and likely end Bo Nix’s chances at winning the Heisman Trophy.
“If Oregon goes in there and absolutely blows out a very talented Jonathan Smith Oregon State Beavers team, then he might make a case that he is the real deal,” Feazel said of Nix.
“We’re kind of in the middle here. The race is certainly not over yet, but this weekend will certainly make big changes as we go into the final week for conference championships,” he added.
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Nix has an opportunity on Friday to showcase why he should be selected as the Heisman winner, which would give him one more chance on the big stage against Washington.
The Oregon QB is fourth in the country in passing yards (3,539), second in passing touchdowns (35) and has thrown just two interceptions. He’s completing 78.1% of his passes, which leads the country.
Nix will also have the advantage of playing one more game than Daniels should the Ducks defeat Oregon State on Black Friday.
Michael Penix Jr., Washington: +375
Michael Penix Jr.’s odds have slipped over the last several weeks despite the fact that the Washington Huskies continue to win.
The undefeated Huskies are coming off a win over Oregon State in which Penix threw for a season-low 162 yards.
It was the third straight game that Washington defeated a ranked team, which did a lot for Washington as a team, jumping Florida State for the fourth spot in the CFP rankings.
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But Penix Jr. has not had his Heisman moment over the past several weeks, allowing Nix and Daniels to gain the edge.
“There’s games where he’s made very talented throws, but they really haven’t had the separation,” Feazel said of Penix Jr. “Jayden Daniels has had the separation in a lot of his games. Bo Nix, even facing Arizona State, they spent the whole first half kind of pumping his numbers.”
“Penix really hasn’t shown that separation,” he added. “He’s running out of time, but he will have the opportunity. Obviously, he’s playing in the Pac-12 title game, so I’m not going to count him out, but he needs a big Heisman moment. And he needs probably help from the other two contenders to not get there.”
He still leads the country in passing yards (3,695) and will have two more opportunities to showcase why he deserves the award. The Huskies face Washington State in Week 13 before playing for the Pac-12 title.
Others in the mix:
Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State: +3000
Carson Beck, Georgia: +5000
Jalen Milroe, Alabama: +12500
J.J. McCarthy, Michigan: +15000