Very soon, it will be Dec. 11 and the Downtown Athletic Club will be handing out the 2021 Heisman Trophy to the best player in college football. Who will get the honor of entering the Heisman House? Quarterbacks typically are the front-runners to win the award, but there is a running back in the mix this year. Last year, it was a rarity as Alabama WR DeVonta Smith took home the trophy. Here are the candidates with the best shot at winning it as well as our final pick for college football’s best player.
BRYCE YOUNG – ALABAMA
Young was among the favorites at the beginning of the season. We just had to wait and see if he could live up to replacing Mac Jones as the Crimson Tide quarterback. That question has been answered. Young has passed for 3,025 yards and 33 touchdowns already this season. He has thrown just three interceptions.
He has games left against Arkansas and Auburn in the annual Iron Bowl. Then, the Tide will likely play Georgia for the SEC title. If the Tide win all three of those games, it is likely that Young will play a great role in doing so. That is why he is the overall favorite right now to win the Heisman at +150 odds at the best sportsbooks online.
C.J STROUD – OHIO STATE
Stroud had to answer questions at Ohio State and he, like Young, came through. The redshirt freshman has thrown for 3,036 yards and 30 touchdowns. Stroud has tossed just five interceptions. Last week, he made sure that Purdue wouldn’t even think about an upset when he passed for 361 yards and five touchdowns in a 59-31 Ohio State win.
Stroud has two huge regular season games left. This week, he and the Buckeyes will face Michigan State and then end the season with the annual game with rival Michigan. If Ohio State wins both of those games, they will play for a Big Ten championship. Like Young, if Stroud leads the Buckeyes to three straight wins, he could be the winner. If Stroud does win, he’ll pay out at +200 at the top online sportsbooks.
KENNETH WALKER III – MICHIGAN STATE
The only non-quarterback among the favorites is Walker, a transfer from Wake Forest who moved on to the Green and White of Michigan State. Walker has been outstanding all season long. He leads the nation in rushing with 1,773 yards. He has scored 17 touchdowns.
What Walker needs is for the Spartans to upset Ohio State on the road next week and then beat Penn State to close the season. That would earn Sparty a berth in the Big Ten title game and give Walker, who would likely have over 2,000 yards rushing, a chance to become the first running back since Mark Ingram to win the Heisman Trophy. Walker is listed at +200 at the best sportsbooks online.
MATT CORRAL – OLE MISS
The Ole Miss quarterback is the only other player listed at better than +2000 odds to win the Heisman. Corral has had an outstanding season with 2,773 passing yards and 523 more on the ground. He has 27 total touchdowns and leads one of the most exciting offenses in college football.
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Corral’s problem is that the Rebels will not play in the SEC championship or the College Football Playoff. He would have to do some amazing things in the Rebels final two games – Vanderbilt and Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. Corral is given +600 odds to win.
KENNY PICKETT – PITTSBURGH
Then, there’s the sleeper. Pickett has numbers better than both Young and Stroud. He also has Pitt ready to capture an ACC title. The Panthers are one of the top five scoring offenses in the country. Pickett is the triggerman with 3,517 yards passing and 32 touchdowns. He’s thrown just four picks and is as cool as they come.
The Panthers have remaining games with Virginia (6-4, 4-2) and Syracuse (5-5, 2-4). Win both and they will play for an ACC title. At 8-2 now, the Panthers don’t have a realistic shot at the CFP, but Pickett definitely has a shot at the Heisman. Plus, he’s listed at +2250.
OUR FINAL PICK – STROUD
As much as we would love to latch onto Pickett for the Heisman, this race comes down to Young and Stroud. The Ohio State quarterback has two regular season games against ranked opponents giving him the better chance to stake his claim for the award. Two more outstanding performances there plus one in the Big Ten championship will give Stroud this year’s Heisman.