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On3 Week 12 Heisman Trophy Top-10 Poll

On3-Social-Profile_GRAYby:On3 Staff Report11/13/23
Andy Staples Week 12 Resume Rankings Bowl Projections | 11.12.23

The Heisman Trophy race tends to ebb and flow over the course of the season, with some candidates surging and others falling back as the games go on. Saturday was a day for strengthening positions down the home stretch, and one player did that in remarkable fashion.

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels stole the show by becoming the first player in FBS history to throw for 350-plus yards and run for 200-plus yards in the same game. That likely moved him strongly into the driver’s seat in the Heisman Trophy race.

Our experts at On3 have come together to vote on their top 10 Heisman Trophy candidates. With their votes, we’ve created a point system to rank the Heisman candidates. A first place vote netted 10 points, while a 10th-place vote netted one point and so on and so forth in between. Let’s take a look at how the Heisman Trophy race is shaking out according to our five national experts.

1. QB Jayden Daniels, LSU (50 points)

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

There has been plenty of talk about whether LSU’s three losses would prove fatal to Daniels’ Heisman Trophy campaign, but he put that question to rest on Saturday in a big win over Florida. Daniels was elite in every sense of the word, a one-man wrecking crew.

Daniels is having a season that compares very favorably to other top notch dual-threat quarterbacks that have won the Heisman Trophy in the past. He’s thrown for 3,164 yards and 30 touchdowns (against four interceptions), while rushing for 918 yards and eight scores.

2. QB Bo Nix, Oregon (42)

Bo Nix, Dan Lanning
© Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK

Not to be outdone, Nix went out and had a monster day in a win over USC, throwing for 412 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Nix still isn’t running a ton, though he had racked up four rushing touchdowns in the previous three weeks.

With Oregon right in the thick of the College Football Playoff hunt, one thing that Nix will have on Daniels is a likely conference title game — and the big stage. It’s impossible to rule him out given the production and the spotlight he’s going to get down the stretch.

3. WR Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State (41)

For the third straight week Harrison scored multiple touchdowns. It was also the sixth straight week that he had scored at least one. Meanwhile, Harrison has gone over the 100-yard mark in all but three games this season.

The versatile Ohio State wideout even scored a rushing touchdown in the win over Michigan State on Saturday. On the season, Harrison has now crossed the 1,000-yard mark, sitting at 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns receiving. He’s basically been a cheat code for Ohio State in the passing game.

4. QB Michael Penix Jr., Washington (37)

Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports

Another guy that remains well within striking range for the 2023 Heisman Trophy, Penix remains on an undefeated Washington team and the chances to be tripped up are narrowing with the season winding down. Penix threw for 332 yards and a touchdown in a win over Utah, while also adding a rushing touchdown.

Given that he’ll have a likely Pac-12 Championship Game appearance, like Nix he’s got the chance to put on a show on the big stage. Penix has thrown for 3,533 yards and 28 touchdowns, against seven interceptions. He’s also run for two scores.

5. QB Caleb Williams, USC (24)

© Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

USC’s struggles really don’t have a ton to do with Williams, who has only thrown four interceptions all season. But the Trojans have now lost four of their last five games, likely dooming any chance of a repeat Heisman Trophy bid for Williams.

The USC quarterback is still putting up monster numbers, though. He has accounted for 3,249 yards passing and 29 touchdowns. He’s also run for 156 yards and 11 scores, simply willing USC toward the finish line at this point.

6. QB Carson Beck, Georgia (23)

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Georgia quarterback hasn’t been flashy this season, but he’s been nails at executing when his team needs him the most, and he’s a big reason the Bulldogs remain unbeaten. Beck was once again fairly sharp in a massive win over Ole Miss, throwing for 306 yards and two touchdowns, though he did throw an interception.

On the season Beck’s numbers compare pretty favorably to other quarterbacks, though he doesn’t quite have the touchdown totals the other top contenders do. Beck has thrown for 3,022 yards and 18 touchdowns, against five interceptions. He’s also run for three scores.

7. QB Jalen Milroe, Alabama (18)

Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Few have juiced their Heisman Trophy campaigns the way Milroe has in the last few weeks, with the Alabama quarterback really starting to find a groove. Milroe has accounted for 10 touchdowns in the past two weeks. He exploded for three passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns in a win over Kentucky, one week after rushing for four scores against LSU.

Milroe’s numbers don’t stack up terribly well to his competition, at just 2,070 passing yards and 16 touchdowns. But he has run for 12 scores and 333 yards and his pure athleticism is beginning to be highlighted on a more routine basis down the stretch.

8. QB Jordan Travis, Florida State (13)

(Logan Stanford/Special to Warchant)

Travis has been pretty quiet in recent weeks as Florida State has failed to really blow out either of its last two opponents. Still, the Seminoles haven’t lost yet, which gives Travis the chance to vault near the top with some major outings down the stretch.

Travis has accounted for just three touchdowns in the past two games, with only a lone passing touchdown in the team’s win over Miami. Still, he’s playing turnover-free football and has his team in contention, which is about all you can ask. Travis’ season totals stand at 2,734 passing yards and 20 touchdowns, with two interceptions. He’s also run for seven touchdowns and 160 yards.

9. QB Drake Maye, North Carolina (5)

North Carolina QB Drake Maye
Bob Donnan | USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina quarterback came into the year with lofty expectations but got off to a bit of a slow start. He has really hit his stride in recent weeks. Maye has accounted for at least three touchdowns in seven consecutive games now.

He helped North Carolina pull out a double-overtime win over Duke on Saturday by throwing for a touchdown and rushing for two more. Maye’s season totals are pretty favorable, too. He’s thrown for 3,145 yards and 21 touchdowns, against six interceptions. Meanwhile, he’s run for 276 yards and eight more scores, proving to be a more than capable dual-threat prospect.

10. QB JJ McCarthy, Michigan (4)

Michigan QB JJ McCarthy

McCarthy was solid enough in a vital win over Penn State, but Michigan simply isn’t asking him to do that much on the big stage still. McCarthy finished with just 60 yards passing on only eight attempts in the game, while he did add eight carries for 34 yards.

Without a true breakout game this season it’s hard to see McCarthy vaulting himself up the list, even though he’s captaining one of the unbeaten teams down the stretch. McCarthy has thrown for 2,194 yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s thrown three interceptions and also has three rushing scores.

Honorable Mention

LB Jay Higgins, Iowa (3)
EDGE Jonah Elliss, Utah (2)
WR Luther Burden III, Missouri (2)
RB Blake Corum, Michigan (1)
RB Ollie Gordon, Oklahoma State (1)
RB Jonathon Brooks, Texas (1)
DL Kenneth Grant, Michigan (1)

There are a number of impact players on the honorable mention list for the Heisman Trophy, some of whom took a bit of a blow over the weekend. Gordon, for one, was held to just 25 yards on 12 carries in a blowout loss, and he also fumbled. Others are battling different issues, like Burden having a nagging injury he’s been playing through. Still, there are plenty of quality candidates garnering interest from the On3 experts in the Heisman Trophy race.